This is unfortunate, but necessary. I must start this blog with the disclaimer that Microsoft is not a client of Neuralytix.
Over the last several weeks since Windows 8 was launched, there has been nothing but article after article, blog after blog, tweet after tweet of reviewers, analysts, and reporters who all seem to have disparaged the disappearance of the Start Button. I for one am sick of these reports. I disagree with them. I disagree with them all.
These reviewers, analysts and reporters seem to have forgotten the very raison d’être for being in the technology industry in the first place – “to go boldly where no man has gone before”.
Certainly, the Windows 8 UI is a very distinctive departure from the previous versions. However, Microsoft was very clear in why it undertook such an initiative. It wanted to bring the world of mobile, touch and traditional clients closer together.
I for one welcome this change. I believe that the “modern UI”, as I understand is the proper nomenclature for the new interface, achieves Microsoft’s goal very well. In my opinion, Windows 8 finally legitimizes the poor Windows key that has sat mostly in the proverbial wilderness of the 104 keys on a keyboard for over 17 years.
Now, the Windows key operates much in the same aspect as the Windows key on a Windows 8 Phone, the home key on an Android-based phone or tablet, and the home key on an iPhone or iPad. This is smart!
While I must admit that in the week or so I’ve been using Windows 8, the left to right scrolling of the Start screen takes a little getting used to, it’s not exactly taxing my cerebral capabilities. After a few days, I’m now quite comfortable changing from my laptop running Windows 8 and my desktop running 7, my Nexus 7 running Android, and my Android based smartphone.
This argument over the loss of the Start button is a mere distraction from what is essentially the first true progression in the Windows user interface since 1985 when the original Microsoft Windows was originally introduced.
If this discussion over the Start button is the only thing reviewers, analysts and reporters can gripe about, then frankly, Microsoft has done a magnificent job. For those die-hard needy users who won’t use their computers without a Start button, Microsoft, I think has generously promoted a cottage industry and micro economy for Start button replacement applications to be developed.
Change is difficult at the best of times.
I encourage users to try the new interface for a couple of days. I also encourage other users, as I did, to go back to Windows 7 or XP (or Vista – ugh!) for a couple of days and then come back again to Windows 8.
For me, Windows 8 has a very careful balance between those of us who (like me) prefer the use of the keyboard rather than a mouse, and those who are progressing forward to using tablets and touchscreens.
Although I have been accused (and probably rightly so) of being a “power user”, the way I utilize my computer is not much different to most others – my primary applications are the Microsoft Office applications, namely Word and Excel; web surfing; email; instant messaging; and for notetaking, Evernote.
I found the upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 8 completely seamless. Some of the personalization applications that I have installed to make my life easier have no issues running in Windows 8. All my peripherals such as webcams, printers, etc. all work without modification or fuss.
Do I question some of the UI decisions Microsoft made? Yes! However, it is a case of getting used to the new interface. I like the Windows Store concept Windows 8 employs, that aligns very closely to the way I use my tablet and smartphone.
In fact, as a result of Windows 8, I have been able to uninstall several applications because the functions are now native to Windows 8. These included my full disk encryption application as Windows 8 Pro comes with BitLocker – a program that I encourage everyone to use.
On my HP Envy Spectre XT with an Intel Core i5-3317U 1.7GHz processor and 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD, I believe that I can notice an improvement in performance. (At the very least, my Windows Experience Index has gone up! And for an analyst, anything that goes up and to the right is a requisite!!)
For me, I have barely scratched the surface. There are many more things to get used to. But this is absolutely no different (to me) as when I get a new laptop and the configuration of the Home/End, PgUp/PgDn, Insert/Delete keys have been moved. It is no different to adjusting between a touchpad, a pencil eraser top-style mouse on a laptop, or a new shape of a mouse.
Once more, to all you so-called, self-identified, or even genuine reviewers, analysts and reporters, this is a call to action for you to help users evolve and progress. I want to understand how to take advantage of Windows 8, not read multiple pages of rhetoric of why Microsoft ruined your life because you can’t find the Windows button on keyboard!
 You must pardon my need to be pedantic. I have been critiqued so often for splitting infinitives that I couldn’t bring myself to consciously make that mistake (Thanks @DaveReinsel)