D'Arcy from Winnipeg
Solution Architecture, Business & Entrepreneurship, Microsoft, and Adoption

Thoughts on Brian’s Windows 8 Evaluation

Saturday, December 29, 2012 1:53 AM

So some guy named Brian Boyko posted a video on YouTube entitled “Windows 8: The Animated Evaluation”. Brian laments his attempt to use Windows 8 for 30 days on an Acer laptop, and begins to rant on all the things that are wrong with the operating system. You can check out the video (available on YouTube) below:

Brian makes a number of comments/claims, and definitely skews his message towards the negative for Windows 8 – but are his points 100% valid? And what can we learn from his experience?

A Tale of Two Interfaces

Brian was very confounded by Microsoft’s decision to create two user interfaces for Windows 8 – the Modern UI that’s optimized for touch, and the traditional Desktop mode.


At face value this may seem like a strange decision. Why support two totally different user interfaces that share no similarities from a user interaction point of view? Brian actually answered his own question in his slide (pictured above): Modern UI is optimized for touch, and Desktop is for mouse and keyboard.

I use Windows 8 on my machine at work. I start my laptop and go directly into Desktop mode, where I happily use all my programs the same way I did in Windows 7. In my 3 monitor setup, my laptop monitor I set as my Modern UI view – usually with some news reader displaying the latest headlines. I don’t do Modern UI much on my laptop – why? – because I don’t have a touch screen laptop. If you have a non-touch laptop and have Windows 8, Modern UI doesn’t hold a lot of value for you.

This early in the game, it may seem that that’s a huge drawback. Not so – Microsoft is setting itself up for the next wave of Microsoft computing.

According to Yahoo Finance, Apple has sold almost 45 MILLION iPads from January 2012 to early October 2012. From January 2012 through June 2012, TechCrunch is reporting 28.8 million iPads were sold compared to 8 million Macs (Mac Book Pro, iMac, etc.).

I mention the above stats because we need to draw a difference between Microsoft and Apple. Steve Ballmer stated back in May 2012 that Microsoft expects 350 million Windows 7 PCs to be sold this year. And that’s *just* this year! So what makes the most sense – create a new OS for a new form factor, or create the next version that brings touch to the forefront while not alienating its user base? For Apple, iOS made sense. For Microsoft, it doesn’t.

We’re also going to be seeing less and less hardware come out that isn’t touch enabled. Eventually touch will be as commonplace as trackpads are for laptops. Windows 8 will prime the user base for this next wave.

The Experts Don’t Get It

Brian included some quotes from Neilson Norman Group folks:



Let’s deal with Raluca’s quote first. Windows 8 Modern UI is optimized for content consumption rather than production/multitasking. Windows 8 Desktop addresses the need to create content on a Windows PC. So her comment that “Windows 8 appears to ignore that” suggests that she didn’t really delve deep enough into the OS. Her remarks are unfounded.

Jakob is not only being nit picky here, but also incorrect. In Windows 8 Modern UI, you *can* have two applications docked and working simultaneously. I realize he’s talking about the traditional Windows Desktop, but that’s still there so…not sure what his point is actually. Also c’mon Jakob, you know that Windows is a brand – I’m pretty sure he’s just being cheeky.

It Doesn’t Work Right

Brian laments that the trackpad gestures in the Modern UI are too close to mouse movements and just don’t work.


Again, Modern UI is meant for touch and not mouse/keyboard/trackpad. I do agree that it is unfortunate that such a huge piece of the new OS will be difficult/unusable for people who don’t have a touch screen – believe me I get that. The fact remains if you want the best experience with Windows 8 Modern UI, you need a touch-enabled device.

Another annoyance for Brian was finding the Task Manager. He eventually went to Desktop mode, then Windows Explorer, then Desktop – and complained that the Desktop items weren’t actually visible on the desktop.


Now, he could have opened the Charm menu and gone to search, but he’s using a trackpad so that might be too cumbersome. Well, there are keyboard shortcuts. Windows + F will bring up the Search charm, while Windows + C will bring up the charm menu. But keyboard shortcuts aren’t an option for Brian because…

*Note: I’ve added text to this pic from his presentation representing what he says at this point in the video.

I shake my head. Those who abandoned the mouse have learned to rely on keyboard shortcuts. These tended to be power users, because who else would remember all those key combinations. And the mouse was just so much easier to use!

In time, touch will be just as easy, but right now not all Windows 8 devices are touch enabled. This is the pain that gap is causing – people want a touch experience with their mouse/trackpad and can’t be bothered to learn simple keyboard shortcuts in the interim.

Also, I’d suggest there are more people that use keyboard shortcuts than Brian thinks. Saying nobody uses the “frickin” Windows key is a little ignorant.

Where’s my Product Key?!

Brian’s gripe here is some what legit – at least in the sense that people will have no idea about this change unless they actually delve into Google/Bing and do some research. It sounded like Brian didn’t even find a reason, and just assumed Microsoft let something dumb happen.

Ok, what am I talking about – so Brian decides he wants to re-format his new Acer so that he can get rid of 3rd party crapware, install a faster drive, etc. Two problems…


First, he can’t find his product key. Normally product keys are located on stickers underneath a laptop or at the back of a desktop. For those that buy a Windows 8 device from a manufacturer like HP, Acer, or Samsung, you won’t have a sticker anymore. This is because the product key is embedded and encrypted directly in your computer’s BIOS.

Say what?!

Yup – for what I’m sure are a whole slew of reasons that have to do with piracy, you don’t actually get a product key. More so, you don’t actually get media or the opportunity to create a media disk. Instead, you create a Repair disk that will let you repair your installation of Windows 8 in case something buggers up.

Check out what Brian found on the Acer website:


Yes this creates a whole slew of questions, some of which I don’t have the answers to. For instance:

- If you want to swap out the bundled hard drive for a new one, how do you reinstall the OS?

- If your motherboard dies, and you need to replace it, how do they transfer your OS license?

Interesting questions, looking forward to getting the answers. The key point here is that your OS license is tied to your machine. Really, this isn’t new; just because you got a copy of Windows XP for your HP desktop didn’t mean you could use the same license to re-install it on a different machine. Microsoft has just taken new steps to secure the license to its associated machine.

Screw This, Give Me Windows 7!

Now if all of this is just too much for you right now and you just want Windows 7, fair enough. Brian makes a statement that Windows 7 is no longer available anywhere! Could that be true?!


Of course not. You can still buy computers from Dell, Best Buy, Future Shop, etc. with Windows 7 on it. You can also still buy retail versions of Windows 7. Now, will Windows 7 eventually be unavailable? Of course – you can’t buy XP anymore can you? But the notion that there’s no option to Windows 8 is ridiculous.

In Closing…

I find it funny that there’s this expectation that Windows 8 must be so intuitive that little to no training is required; people should just be able to start it up and get productive in it right away. Yet that same standard isn’t held up for any other technology that we have.

Brian himself points out that (note again, the quoted text is a quote he makes in his presentation):


Why didn’t he say “I turned on Linux and started using it.”? Because he admits he had to teach himself Linux! With any new technology, there’s going to be a learning curve. So yes, you have a Charm menu instead of a Start menu. Yes, you have a new way of interacting with Modern UI based apps and yes, there is a big difference between Modern UI and the Desktop. But all of these need to be learnt and understood before judgements can be made about them – otherwise, we’re just making unfounded rants based on conjecture rather than fact.

So if you’re interested in learning what Windows 8 is really all about, don’t just take it from the many reviews that are out there. Go to a store and play with a device that has Windows 8 installed, find a friend or co-worker that has it, or attend an information session by local retailers. And give it an honest 30 days before you make up your mind and not a few hours.


# re: Thoughts on Brian’s Windows 8 Evaluation

Fred, this is Windows we are talking about here not a totally different OS so you should be able to dive right in and get to work without having to relearn the fundamentals all over again. I've used Windows 8 only a couple of times and I immediately felt like I was using a totally different OS. Yes it is different from previous Windows but cone on.

Yes there are some interesting aspects of the new OS but overall it's just too different. Anyway I guess we need these iterations of the OS to get to an optimal version. I just wish Microsoft would bake their ideas a bit longer because they always feel rushed, incomplete or just plain buggy. 1/5/2013 8:56 AM | Dan

# re: Thoughts on Brian’s Windows 8 Evaluation

Brian is absolutely correct and has hit the nail on the head. Windows 8 is user hostile and should be recalled. Microsoft has failed us miserably. 2/14/2013 11:29 PM | Ron

# re: Thoughts on Brian’s Windows 8 Evaluation

Generally, I agree with Brian's assessment. I realise in a few places he's used a degree of creative "license" but otherwise he's succinctly nailed most of Win 8's problems.

A major issue (for me) is that Win 8 designed primarily for a touch-screen interface. BIG mistake! The majority of home-based PC users are still using desktop machines with mouses, and with (non-touch-screen) notebooks coming in second.

In fact, with an all-in-one desktop computer, I can't reach the display's touch-screen—even with my arm fully extended! So that's a major (touch-screen) issue for me, and obviously from a Win 8 user's viewpoint. Do Microsoft really believe that mouses and touch-pads will be totally obsolete in 2 years, or 5 or ten? Major marketing error.

Then again, Microsoft have—in the past—made more than a few subsequently embarrassing corporate marketing errors haven't they? Win ME anyone LOL.

I'll stick with Win 7 thank you very much Mr Ballmer. You'll be getting no more of my hard-earned in the foreseeable future..... sorry. 3/20/2013 4:58 AM | Geoff

# re: Thoughts on Brian’s Windows 8 Evaluation

Microsoft Licensing for Windows 8 is opposite of every OS ever sold by Microsoft. The concept is ignorant and USER HOSTILE just like the rest of the Windows 8 rollouts.
As for Shortcut keys that is only used by maybe 15% of the Windows users. (POWER USERS) 85% of Windows users do not have a clue what the hell they are. Again USER HOSTILE!
The biggest problem with Windows 8 is the amount of help the OS offers. NONE!!!!! User hostile!
5/1/2014 11:43 PM | Rich Gilbertson

# re: Thoughts on Brian’s Windows 8 Evaluation

I think you kind of missed the big point that Brian was trying to make: There's no payoff for the user to have the touch interface and the desktop interface shoehorned into one OS. And the Modern UI is so poorly designed that there aren't any cues as to how it's supposed to be used.

And by the way: You don't use all your programs the same way you did in Windows 7. You know how I know that? Because there's no freakin' Start menu. I had Windows 8 on my machine for months. The *best* you can do to approximate the Windows 7 experience is open an app and pin it to the taskbar.

Did Microsoft have to go with a touch UI? Sure, but not in a desktop OS. Leave that for the tablet world, for now.

Seriously, apologists upset me greatly.
2/12/2015 7:52 PM | Brian Hartman

# re: Thoughts on Brian’s Windows 8 Evaluation

THe real problem here is choice. M$ is a monopoly on software, and it is deliberately restricting choice of an OS. Many things about XP for example are simply better than VISTA and later versions...for example search is much easier and more comprehensive because all of the restrictions on access to files are much less and transparent. M$ is making PC's that are based upon marketing and money, which may in some cases (media users) make a more useable PC. But a significant number of PC users use PC's for something else (work, development, etc), so forcing a new OS on someone when their is a monopoly on the product is a form of extortion and not appreciated. If M$ was really sincer in its efforts, it would make these new features as options and ensure backward compatibility. Instead it seems they are deliberately making systems incompatible fo the purpose of selling an inferior product. Of course it make consumers angry, and given the M$ is more than just another company and actually is required (becasue of its self-imposed monopoly status) to actually make this country run, I think really the FBI and lawmakers whould take a close look at what they are doing. Their softwares are written for thrid party people, and this violates privacy and also steal user's CPU cycles (and thus also their money of time). If people want this for their particular product, then fine, but their needs to be competition then, open source drivers, etc. M$ can't have it both ways for a computers which are so important for our civilization function in the current age. 9/11/2015 3:17 AM | zact

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