Photo: Julie Bort/Business Insider
We’ve had our hands on a Samsung Series 7 Windows 8 tablet PC for the past couple of weeks.Microsoft just might have a winner on its hands with Windows 8.
But that’s only if Windows users are willing to forgive Microsoft for the many stupid design mistakes it made with its new operating system.
There’s a big learning curve to Windows 8, just like there is for most new tech. The thing that’s particularly infuriating is that so many of these things should be intuitive.
- You have to relearn stuff like how to close a file and an app. The familiar “X” is gone. Now you have to tap a window until it changes size, then drag it to the bottom of the screen, and for some reason, this doesn’t always work with every app.
- You have to find the secret way to see your open windows: Grab a window, swipe it to the right, THEN swipe it back to the left until it magically changes into the open windows list.
- You can swipe screens to the right to move through each window in the order you opened them. But you can’t swipe to the left to move forward.
Insane. Infuriating. But here’s the thing. None of that matters. Because eventually, users will learn that stuff.
And that’s where the brilliance of Windows 8 comes in. Because the full “Windows 8” operating system, the one that runs on an Intel chip, is both a full-fledged PC and a tablet. With this one device, a typical knowledge worker, student, or home-office worker has everything in one device.
The PC can run Windows 7 software (even if the new user interface for Windows 7 is a little clunky). They also have a touchscreen and portable device for playing games, reading, watching video, and so on.
This particular Samsung Series 7 included an electronic pen, great for drawing, and a keyboard, which no one in my family loved. It felt cheap and the keys tend to pop off. Users will definitely want a decent keyboard. Plus they will need the real keyboard for Windows 7 “desktop” mode because the onscreen keyboard doesn’t support the old Control-Alt-Delete trick to bring up the old Task Manager.
The key to Windows 8 happiness will be cost. If comparable Windows 8 tablets cost too much, then an iPad and MacBook combo start looking more attractive. If they are priced low enough, why not get it all in one device?
There’s absolutely no reason to upgrade a Windows 7 PC to Windows 8, unless your device has a touchscreen. Or you want to torture yourself with the awkward user interface for no reason.
One more word of advice. Go for the full Windows 8 device over the tablet-like Windows RT device.
To explain: Windows 8 actually comes in two flavours. One is called Windows 8. The other is called Windows RT. Windows RT is Windows 8 without the ability to run Windows 7 apps. So it’s essentially a tablet and not a PC.
RT doesn’t seem worth it, mostly because there isn’t a whole lot of Windows 8 software available yet. If you want a straight tablet, RT will have a hard time beating the iPad.
But for those looking for a new PC, put Windows 8 on your list. You’ll be able to play with them as of October 26 at Microsoft’s Windows Stores.