Windows 8.1 Experience

Bottom right corner of my desktop reminded me that I have 85 days left for the evaluation license of Windows 8.1 Enterprise. I thought may I should share some of my prejudices of this fresh and new release from Microsoft. I call it prejudices because it has only been 5 days since I installed the OS.

In a nutshell, great usability improvements and everything touch proof.

Now let me elaborate my experience. First I cleared the clutter in my user (downloads, pictures, videos, music & documents)¬†folders of Windows 7. Even though maintain important documents in a separate drive, I was not doing cleaning for a while and accumulated a lot of clutter on the way. So after deleting a lot of unimportant files using the help of SpaceSniffer program (I’ve not tried others, but this is a good one), I’ve moved the important files to the backup location in non-OS drives. I’ve been doing these because I would have to format the main drive to make way for the new OS.

In the mean time I struggled a lot to download the evaluation version of Windows 8.1. I’m having a pre-historic broadband connection and a 4 hour power cut regime from state owned electricity department. The slow internet connection is my bad, because I choose the lowest speed to reduce spending. And the power cut problem could also be my bad in a long shot, because I’ve not replaced the batteries in my costly UPS (which can hold for an hour or more).

Anyway the problem is when I started the download of the 2.7GB ISO file, there is no pause and resume possible. If interrupted, you’ve got to start from the beginning. So somehow I found the magic spot of continuous download period and got the ISO.

After getting the ISO, the process was a breeze. I loaded the ISO into a USB stick and started the installation. Though I don’t remember how long Win 7 took to install, Windows 8.1 installation was faster (I think).

First impression was WOW. Well usually when you see something new and shiny, that is what you think. It takes a lot of time to put the critic cap on.

I got disappointed at sometimes when what I’ve expected didn’t happen. Most of these expectations are from the prolonged usage of Windows 7. Someone who is completely new to Windows family may feel differently. The start menu and the taskbar satisfied me in a way that it acted as a link between Windows 7 and Windows 8.1.

You know like expecting a program to be in the taskbar to open or switch. Clicking the start button to open a program. I know I’m irritating the user by throwing in the word program instead of application. Believe me I’ve been doing this intentionally. Even though I knew it would irritate the most patient of the readers, my intention clearly was to establish a link between the old ways of the windows with the new one.

We’ve started calling programs as applications, long before even windows 8 was introduced. But Program Manager and Start > All Programs are the ways windows called the applications.

Like my annoying way to establish a link to the past with the word Program, Microsoft’s attempt to establish a link to the old OS is annoying at sometimes. Though it is very important to keep it this way to support the applications developed for Windows 7, these older platform applications strike a contrast with the new metro style applications.

When I used some of the new avatars of older applications like calculator and media player (video/audio app), it is evident that these are apps are designed in such a way that you work only on that one application alone at any instance. The immature feature of having 2 apps run side by side, doesn’t come any where closer to having 4 or 5 windows open with all windows visible at the same instance.

As a developer I can monitor the task manager and sql profiler, write queries in sql server, couple of lync chats with fellow developers and a training video playing in windows media player. Instances for having this many windows simultaneously may be less for the majority of the people who are going to use the OS. But a developers life is complex and we like it that way ;). So viewing only part of a window and the rest blocked by another window is out of the question.

I think it’s the effect of trying to provide a single platform for both mobile and desktop devices. There is still hope because Visual Studio 2013 is still a old style program. And I hope most of the developer tools are going to be. It is essential to feed the complex brain functions of a developer.

That said, for leisure purposes like watching movies or reading the new metro style apps are great. Because you only see one app at a time and can deep dive into that task only. People who research our brains say that ours is not designed to do multitasking. May be it’s good for the developers to relax once in a while into the new apps.

But the old way of windows may become very costly like the 4:3 monitors which are developer friendly.

I hope to get more insights and getting used to the new way of Windows 8.1.