Windows 8 annoyances

technology windows 8

I’ve been pretty negative about Windows 8 in the lead up to it’s release. I think the goal of trying to have one platform to rule PCs, tablets and phones is highly ambitious and likely to be a disaster. I think that’s a bit harsh and it will all work out, but having been hands on with it I have mixed results.

I’ve been running Windows 8 RTM for only 2 days now. I will admit some parts of it are better than I expected and there’s a lot of potential. But there’s a lot of annoyances that are going to piss people off.

I face some extra annoyances because I am running on a MacBook Pro – but that’s my choice and where it was clearly related to the H/W I’ve omitted it from this list. But following are some of my beefs for now.

People who’ve had more experience with Windows 8 may already have complained about these, found solutions or just know how it is meant to work. I’m happy to hear if there are things I am doing wrong in the situations below.



Doesn’t feel polished

This is very much a V1 of a major overhaul and there’s plenty of jarring user experience that makes it feel like an unpolished product, plus the issues below. The fact that you can be on the Start menu one moment, go forward into something and when you exit out be on the desktop? Very confusing for a user. Maybe this is by design and I’m missing something but it’s a jarring experience.



Can’t configure wireless network

Windows detected my Wi Fi network, it let me enter a password and click ‘Connect’ but then did nothing. No error, no connection. This frustrated the shit out of me. The only workaround I could find was to get out the Control Panel and manually configure a wireless network. A second wireless network suffered the same fate and could only be added manually. I hope this is somehow specific to me, I can’t imagine this has gotten through testing.



Camera App unsupported

One of the default tiles on the Start menu (or whatever it’s meant to be called – Metro browser?!) is for a Camera app. I tried to run it but got an error that it was not supported on this operating system. WTF? So I removed the tile because it was annoying. Later in the Store I found the Camera app again and reinstalled because the description specifically mentions support for a webcam. So I figured it was meant to support a laptop / desktop PC and not just a phone. Reinstalled and suffered the same fate. Why would you let me install this if it wasn’t supported on my OS FFS!

The webcam works fine in Chrome with Google Hangout without any trouble. If the OS manufacturer can’t get their camera app working then they have issues.

Music won’t play

The Music app starts up and tries to show me music that is trendy and popular now. I’m a nerd in my thirties, I don’t give a rat’s arse about that f-shizzle. Just let me play my locally stored music. I have to scroll to the left to access this, and then every time I play a song it crashes after half a second. Ridiculous. I could potentially write this off to being on a MacBook Pro, but I installed WinAmp which plays the music fine. Not sure what is going on here.

Shutdown, Logoff hard to find

So how do you uh, logoff? A bit tricky to find but you mouse over the top-right of the screen to show the Choices panel (or whatever it is called). From there you have to click on Settings, then Power to then chose Shut Down, Restart. If you’re in the desktop mode you can just Alt + F4 your way out to get the traditional prompt if you please.

Tiles

I spend a lot of my day on Android devices – phone and tablet. This is a world with widgets. The Tiles on Windows 8 seem to support a concept like this because they are updating content. They are also mixed in with just pure links to Apps which can be a bit confusing. I’m not sure how to add new content Tiles (these would be called widgets in Android). Or what is available. I installed a weather app and expected to have a nice new weather tile available but didn’t. Either the app didn’t support that, or I can’t work it out or both.

This is an area that has a lot of potential though.

App Store

Wow there’s a lot of tumbleweeds rolling through the App Store. I know the product has only just gone RTM for MSDN, partners etc. and doesn’t become generally available until October. But it’s sad to see the ‘Great Apps for Windows 8’ list finish at 9 apps!

The other annoyance is related to the Camera App example above. Surely if the App Store has apps that are OS specific it can filter them out like the Google Play Store? It could have just been an error with the Camera App itself.

Does anyone know if the App Store is region specific?

Region

I installed the Windows 8 Enterprise United Kingdom edition for some mad reason. I figured it would give me a head-start on changing all the date / time formats etc. But this meant that the info on the Start tiles defaulted to UK centric content. I’m in Australia. It took me a long while to work out that I needed to change the Region to Australia in Control Panel. Trying to modify settings of the Tiles themselves was not available or the way to do it.

My quick hack to get to the Control Panel is to hit Windows Key + E (opens Windows Explorer), right click on Computer and then click on Properties. This is technically a Control Panel window and you can navigate to the root of Control Panel. Search for Region.



Navigation – Back

Do Windows Phones have a back key? Some of the Windows Apps have a back arrow in the top left of the screen to navigate back to the previous view / pane. This works well. But sometimes this is missing, or maybe it’s just not there because you’re at the root of that app. I find this confusing and would prefer to be able to back out back to the Start menu. Yes I know I can hit the Windows key to bring it to the surface, but if you’re in a flurry of back activity you don’t want to have to switch commands to achieve your final destination.



Conclusion

I’m sticking with it, it’s very early days. I expect to see some things improve when more Apps are available and when I get more familiar with the new way of the world. I’m sure I will look back and wonder how I ever missed some of the cool features once I get to know them.