Photo: Steve Kovach, Business Insider
Whether those who got their hands on early copies of Windows 8 loved it or hated it, one common theme stood out:Microsoft’s new operating system can feel pretty daunting to those used to the classic Windows look and feel, especially when using it on a traditional laptop or desktop computer. That’s because Windows 8’s interface is designed with touchscreen tablets in mind first, desktops second.
But in addition to the touch-based Start menu, Windows 8 will let you switch to a classic “Desktop” mode that looks nearly identical to the Windows 7 interface you’re used to using. That’ll help you use older Windows apps like Microsoft Office.
Now that we’re less than two months from the big Windows 8 launch on October 26, PC manufacturers are showing off their final product designs, which include a few tweaks that’ll make the transition to the new operating system a bit easier than just switching to Desktop mode.
The first major manufacturer to go on the record with its UI changes is Samsung, which announced three new touchscreen all-in-one PCs this morning that will ship on Windows 8’s launch day.
(Samsung isn’t alone. I’ve heard other PC manufacturers will have similar tweaks in Desktop mode to ease the transition to the radically new Windows 8 design. (And by “heard” I mean I’ve seen them with my own eyes, but I can’t tell you what they are or who makes them yet because I agreed to an embargo. Oh, tech journalism!))
I got to check out Samsung’s new all-in-one Windows 8 PCs last week, and I was impressed with some of the tweaks the company added to the desktop mode.
First, there’s a new Start menu widget that hovers above the taskbar in desktop mode. Samsung cleverly designed it to look similar to the Start menu from Windows 8, giving you access to apps, documents, photos, etc. There’s also a Settings menu that functions much like the Control Panel on Windows 7.
It’s possible the UI tweaks won’t change there. Samsung also told me some other exclusive Windows 8 changes could be coming, but they’re are still subject to approval from Microsoft.
In my limited experience with Windows 8, it can be a real pain to use on the desktop. And if I’m having trouble, I know people who are not as technically inclined will be utterly lost. Good for Samsung
PS: Yes, I get the criticism that Samsung’s new Start and Settings menu icons look a lot like the dock icons in Mac OS X. But You have to realise Microsoft has limited its hardware partners on how it can tweak Windows 8. Samsung didn’t have much of a choice. And in the end, it’s a good move for users making the switch to Windows 8.
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