Last week I ordered the Acer Iconia Tab W500 windows 7 touch pad (W for windows A For android based tablets). I didn’t really want to order one, but I also didn’t want to run Windows 8 on my desktop or continue to run it on my laptop. I’ve had Windows 8 CP running on my laptop that sits next to my couch since the CP got released. It was a very frustrating experience. I run my own computer repair business so whether I like it or not I have to learn windows 8 to help support my customers (god help me), so I thought I might as well test windows 8 out in the environment it was clearly designed for. A tablet.
Last night I decided to do a Video review of my experience with Windows 8 on the new tablet. The Problem is, I’m not very good at talking on my feet, so what I ended up with was 9 minutes of word vomit. So I thought I would write my review instead. It’s a lot easier to edit a written review when you make a mistake than it is to go back and rerecord. Like when I called Metro Metroid and referred to Windows Phone 7 as Windows 7.
The icona W500 tablet comes preinstalled With Windows 7. Inside the device it has 2GB of ram an AMD c-60 low power CPU, 32GB SSD and a keyboard dock, which lets you dock the tablet with a keyboard for when you want to do some serious typing.
Windows 8 CP first impressions
Windows 8 is a very fast operating system. Boot times, launching of applications and accessing the Metro UI via the charm bar on the side or via the Single Windows button on the bottom of the device was very snappy. Application load times were also very good. Considering it was running on a low powered CPU it performed very well.
The Metro UI was very smooth and worked very well with my finger (as it should it was made for the finger) When I would take my finger and slide the metro bar side to side or launch a metro application, everything seemed very fluid. Sliding my finger from the side of the screen inward to reveal the charms bar also was as smooth as butter.
Metro by itself is good. The issue I had is when I would leave Metro and go back to the desktop environment. I will say for the most part the Windows desktop / aero UI does work better than expected with a finger. Large icons are easy to press, Small labeled menus are often selected on the very first try without issue.
I am puzzled by one thing though. When I first heard that they would remove the start menu from Windows 8, I thought it doesn’t make for a good user experience on a desktop / laptop to replace the start menu with metro tiles. But I was sure that Metro and touch would work a lot better than the old start menu. As it turns out, I think the start menu, at least for a few things does make more sense / would have worked better than Metro.
To access Computer on a device with a mouse and keyboard you put your mouse in the bottom left of the screen and then right click the Start box and select “Computer”. On a tablet device you cannot access the start button in the bottom left. You have to use the charms menu on the right hand side of the screen. That start (metro button) doesn’t have the option of right clicking (press and holding only opens it). So the only way I could get to computer on the tablet is by tapping the explorer icon that was pinned on the taskbar and then tapping the small labeled “computer” on the left hand side.
I personally think it would make far more sense t have our old fashion start menu in the bottom left where it has always been. Then when someone wants to access “Computer” all they would have to do is tap the large start button in the bottom left and then tap “Computer” or even “Control Panel". That method does sound easier and more useful. In the case of control panel It would be a tap, tap instead of a Slide, tap, tap.
The one feature they tout in on the desktop is that you can open the titles and just start typing to access the application of your choice. Where on the tablet you have to slide from the right, tap the search box then tap inside the search box. So on the desktop it's click / type. On the tablet it's slide, tap (search), tap, then type using the on screen keyboard.
I just installed Classic shell onto Windows 8, and Oh my gosh. it's so much easier to navigate on the desktop environment using the classic shell than it ever was using metro. Now I don't have to stop and type for crap I can just tap it.
On screen keyboard
The On screen keyboard is big, responsive but on a 10.1 inch tablet on the desktop, it takes up 70% of the screen. So any application that you want to type in gets covered up by the keyboard. Some desktop applications like Chrome are keyboard aware. You click the text box and you get the windows 8 keyboard. Almost all the other applications you tap the text box and then tap the keyboard icon located in the system tray. I would not want to write this entire review or even a few lines of it on a tablet.
Internet Explorer 10
The first thing I did was try to navigate Firefox 11 using my finger. There seems to be a bug in the way that Firefox handles touch. Navigating the web using Firefox and your finger works ok, but using Firefox Menu’s such as bookmarks or the bookmarks bar, don’t work so well. When you tap the menu it drops down but when you go to select an item in the menu the menu disappears and nothing happens. Turns out you have to press and hold the menu and pull down, then you will see a colored bar highlight different items as you pull down. When you are on the item you want, you just lift up your finger and it opens.
Chrome on the other hand works great. Very touch friendly and as mentioned before is also keyboard aware. One issue I had was when it would bring the keyboard up, sometimes the keyboard no matter what I clicked, the keyboard wouldn’t leave the screen. The issue seemed to go away once chrome got silently updated to the new version.
Internet explorer 10 on the desktop also works really well with touch. I also tried the Metro version of IE 10. I didn’t really like that experience at all. It just seemed clucky. I was looking for the favorites menu, and upon researching found they removed favorites and replaced them with pinning websites, which I think is stupid. So for now, I’m going to use either Chome or IE.
Metro applications strike me as interactive web pages. I guess that is maybe what they are going for . They look nice and provide some good information, but overall the Metro applications I have used thus far feel nice but not very useful productivity wise. To be fair once Windows 8 is released more applications will be available and hopefully they will look better. Comparing them to Ipad applications they feel very simple and not full featured and look sort of BLAH! They are ok for consumption, not for productivity.
Over all thoughts and conclusion.
Windows 8 at least on the x86 and x64 side of things, tries to be too many things to too many people. You are going to have people who love aero and hate metro, love metro and hate aero or people who just don't like Windows 8 at all because they tried to have both Metro and Aero all at the same time.
On the ARM side of things you will have Windows 8 tablets that will be Metro only and won't even be able to run x86 or x64 applications. Which if that is the case why didn't they just bring Wp7 OS from the phone over to a tablet like the Apple did with the IOS? It already had a large catalog of applications.
I installed Red Alert 3 on the tablet because I thought a touch screen might work really well for the game. The touch screen did work very well in the game. The only issue was, the game also required you to use the right and center mouse button, which the touch screen didn't' have. The good news is, I don't think it would be hard for these companies to modify the game for Windows and touch screens.
So do I like Windows 8 on a tablet? Metro is touch friendly and if all I'm doing is consuming information it works pretty well. But once I'm dumped back into the desktop environment I'm left wondering , why am I touching my desktop? Sure it works pretty well (better than expected even), but I would never want to write a book on this thing. I would never want to edit video or do anything that I do on my desktop . While touch works better than expected on the desktop of the tablet, the mouse is WAY more productive.
I also think 10.1 inches is probably as big as I would want to carry around. I wouldn't want to carry a 12 inch tablet. By the time you get to that size and that weight, I would rather carry a laptop.
I'm also going to get responses from people who will say "This is not the final version, it will change!". Sorry to say, but it's not going to change. There will be some bug fixes and some cosmetic editions but 98% of what we current see in the CP is what we are going to get in the RTM of Windows 8.
Will Windows 8 Fail on the desktop as hard as people say it will? Not sure.
While I was using Windows 8 on an x86 tablet I was reminded of a quote from movie "The Social Network". A girl tells Mark "You're not an *******, Mark. You're just trying so hard to be. "
In the case of Windows 8 on an X86 tablet
You're not a very good tablet OS Windows 8, You're just trying so hard to be"