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If you’ve been following me this week you know I’ve covered Windows 8 as a business decision, Windows 8 through the eyes of a tablet user, today I’m going to be covering Windows 8 through the eyes of a desktop user, and in my opinion this is where the story starts to get interesting.
As I’ve stated before my primary focus is end user computing (EUC) technologies, which covers desktop virtualization, server based computing, and application virtualization. One thing about EUC being my primary coverage area means I’m more concerned about Windows 8 from an enterprise perspective. I’m not really that concerned about the tablet market, or the desktop market, or a thin client market, in the EUC world I want whatever OS the organization is running to work from any device that an end-user consumer is going to use. This approach enables consumerization which also enables bring-your-own-device (BYOD), but it also means I get to take the stance of not being tied to any single end point choice. My job is to enable organizations to deliver a similar experience regardless of the end point. Which leads me to today’s discussion: What is the experience like on Windows 8 when the end point isn’t touch enabled?
As you know I think there are a lot of good things about Windows 8, we’ve been over that, but where the story changes is when you attempt to use Windows 8 from a non-touch device. I’ve said already that I am very happy Microsoft sent me a slate device to test with because before they did, I had been trying to understand the logic behind Windows 8 and it was truly lost on me. Extremely important menus in Windows 8 are hidden off screen, easily brought in when using a touch and swiping with your thumbs, are absent when using a mouse. (I was at TechEd when I learned the trick, you have to drag your mouse to the top-right corner, wait a second, and the right thumb menu will pop out.) Prior to this incident, I can’t tell you the last time I had to ask someone how to do something in a client OS.
This problem of the corners being heavily used is multiplied when you access the OS remotely. I often remote into a client OS, I imagine many IT administrators do the same, these menus that are difficult to access locally using a mouse and keyboard become next to impossible to access when the OS is accessed through a remote window. Imagine my frustration of needing to bring up the Metro interface (the new Start Menu) on a remote computing when my local computer would interpret the Windows key and there was no way for me to get this key stroke to be sent to the remote OS. The only way to access the remote OS’s Metro was to get my mouse in the bottom left hand corner of the remote display (which is difficult considering I’m doing this windowed and can’t just drag my mouse to where it stops in the corner), wait a second for the mini Metro icon to pop up, then click on it. This is one of my more disappointing moments in my testing of the new OS because remotely accessing a Windows OS is my thing. I already was struggling using Windows 8 on a local desktop, I gave up using it on a remote desktop, and that was very disappointing considering I’m very excited for the RemoteFX features in Windows 8.
As I said in Part 1, I think the decision to move to Windows 8 was a solid buiness decision to get into the tablet market. In Part 2, I even praised the OS when used from a tablet because it’s so much more than just a tablet OS, its Windows. Unfortunately, my area of expertise is enterprise desktops, and those desktops have a keyboard and a mouse; and as much as this doesn’t make any sense, it seems to me that Microsoft forgot about this when they designed Windows 8.
The two issues I shared in this blog only scratch the surface, I have many more thoughts about Windows 8 and its lack of mouse input, but those thoughts lead me into tomorrow’s blog where I stop looking at the end point and just focus on the OS itself. I expect it to be pretty interesting and for those of you who have tested Windows 8 you can be assured this is where I dig into the Metro UI, see you then.
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