Windows 10 feels like… Windows 8 with a Windows 7 theme.

Posted: December 1, 2014 by ryanlecocq in Features, Technology

windows_10_0

Damn you all for killing Windows 8.  Yeah that’s right, I said it.  With the 8.1 update, I finally had an OS that I felt was an evolution of what Windows could be.  It was faster, less cluttered and more efficient.  I could get to anything on my computer with a couple of keystrokes and I was never more than one screen from where I wanted to be.  Now, after several years of bitching and whining from everyone over the age of 20 (besides myself and a select few others), you finally get what you want; your old, clunky Windows back.  So here’s your Tesla with a vintage Volvo body on it, you fucking curmudgeons.

While I’m not exactly pleased to see a crude start menu replacing my fully streamlined and customized start screen, I will admit I’m intrigued by some of the new features.  I still believe that Windows 8.1’s “three layered” system was ideal.  You had your desktop for doing stuff, your start screen for starting stuff and your full app/function menu for keeping stuff you seldom use.  All without ever needing to go into a cascading menu.  That being said, the concept of multiple desktops has promise.  I had gotten used to keeping my desktop completely free of icons, as I had them broken into categories on my start screen, but now I could easily keep several desktops at once.  Once for working, that would have icons for Office and Internet Explorer.  One for time-sinking, that has Google Chrome and shortcuts to my blogging and streaming apps.  Another for gaming, with shortcuts to Steam, Origin and Battle.net.  I’ll have to see how effective it is in practice.

While Windows 10 is still in very early technical preview, I have to say from what I’ve seen so far, it’s not enough of a giant leap to justify the numbering.  Every part of it just feels tacked on top of a neutered Windows 81. build.  The UI isn’t even consistent in its current form.  For example, some menus and visual elements are always Windows blue, regardless of what you choose for a color scheme or background.  It’s a minor gripe for a technical preview, but it really adds to the feeling that the new UI is just stapled on top of the place where the old one went.  The charm bars have been removed and most of their functions have been crammed into the (now very cluttered) taskbar.  While it puts everything back on one screen, it just feels like a step backward from the progressive flow of using Windows 8.1.

I may be the one person to ever say this and my voice may be lost in history as we move in the direction we’re calling forward, but I liked Windows 8.1.  All other operating systems are confined by an adherence to ‘one thing on the screen at a time’.  I think when Windows 8 hit the scene and suddenly people were getting bombarded with functions and overlays, they just panicked and wanted to go back to the familiar.  Well, it worked and you got your maze of menus and windows back.  Now I’m just waiting for the effect where people get Windows 10 and suddenly miss 8, just because they’re used to whining about something.

We’ll see how things shape up in the coming months.  Hopefully Windows 10 will develop into the ultimate build to please everyone that Microsoft hopes for.  I really, really hope we’re not seeing a growing trend of Microsoft capitulating to every criticism.  While shutting down the Zune division and selling the Xbox One without Kinect were definitely good capitulations, a policy of doing this every time a new idea doesn’t immediately hit home would be a mistake.  We should keep in mind that Microsoft has drastically changed their operating systems many times in the past.  When Windows released, it was still many years before a lot users were willing to leave DOS behind.  Yet now, nobody is demanding a return to DOS.  When confronted with new options, it’s easy to want instead something that just does all of the same things better.  Yet in a few years we find we do completely different things with computers and those old functions don’t matter to us anymore.  The growth of computers themselves is limited by what we can conceive of them doing, so we have to innovate in operating systems if we ever want the function of computers to evolve in surprising and novel ways.  Here’s hoping Windows 10 in its final form continues the innovation, rather than taking a step back.

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