Windows 8 - What to expect?
This is not a review of Windows 8. You can read a lot of reviews and surely many of you are already familiar with the new features offered by the system, and for sure and some of you have tried some of the official beta versions.
Graphic design has certainly been one of the faster changing professions in the last decade, but like all other design disciplines it is a part of today’s global crisis. We have always designed for the future: in hope of increased pleasure, comfort, power, efficiency and return on investment. This time around we must design because of the past. We must counter a legacy of designs that left us with too much clutter, misinformation, pollution and dangerous inventions. We have progressively learnt to adapt to a world of increased acceleration and complexity. It is now time for the designed world to adapt back to humanity and for us to bring solutions of slowness and simplicity. Innovation should be defined not by novelty, but by sustainability. This is my viewpoint for Windows 8 – as a regular user and as a graphic designer.
Microsoft is giving Windows its most radical change since 1995 and even its most devoted users won’t recognize the venerable computer operating system in this new incarnation, called Windows 8, when it appears Oct. 26. In fact at first glance the biggest changes are the missing Start button and new Start menu. All other changes are under the hood – improvements from Windows 7 and adding some new features, new tools and changes in some of the familiar standard Windows applications. The first thing you feel on Windows 8 is better optimized using of system resources – Windows requires less resources to work, and leave more resources for the programs. Windows 8 is a great system not only for tablets or touch screens, but also for professionals and regular desktop users. Windows 8 is perfectly normal and natural extension of Windows 7.
The new Windows 8 is now cloud-connected – sign in and your device is instantly sync with your apps, settings, personalization, desktop background, language preferences, and browser favorites. Last week I had the opportunity to enjoy the Windows Phone 8, but since I had no chance to enter my outlook account, I cannot confirm whether Windows Phone 8 will sync bookmarks and history from Windows 8 (like Chrome for example). But it would be great if so.
With the new Windows Store, you’ll be able to browse and compare thousands of apps, all grouped in easy-to-find categories. The presence of a Store in the new Windows 8 is one of the most significant things that were presented by Microsoft. Now you can download and purchased Metro-applications and games, as well as desktop programs and games. The apps are increasing every day. And some of them are unique.
As designer I use two monitors and I like the dramatically improved performance for multiple monitors – the taskbar can now be shown on multiple displays, and each display can also show its own dedicated taskbar. Wallpapers can also be spanned across multiple displays, or each display can have its own separate wallpaper.
The biggest changes that worry most people are visual changes and especially the change of the Start menu. Many times we talked about the tastes and personal preferences – they can’t be put under one denominator and there will always be someone who is unhappy. Visually the new Windows 8 is a lighter and cleaned from unnecessary shadows, glows and gradients, focusing mostly on the content, with no redundant interface. Is removed and transparency too – the Aero interface. The good news for all candy lovers is that there are third party themes that return the transparency, as well as the classic Windows 98 theme – for all who like it.
The new Start screen is nothing else but the old Start menu – transformed and full screen. It’s added outstanding functionality and organization unique and convenient interface and more natural than previous Start menus. Find applications in the same familiar way of Windows 7 – press the Start button and typing the first letters of the program you are looking for. You can group and sort all apps as you wish. The new Start screen has all of the information you care about in one place, such as your contacts, the weather, and the next appointment on your calendar. You can pin everything – websites, playlists, photo albums, contacts, and your favorite apps. Because you decide how to organize and group things on the screen, viewing and interacting with content is faster than ever.
With the new Start screen Microsoft risks confusing traditional PC users. But I like it and I support the new approach in Microsoft’s attempts to break the rules ratty, traditional and static iconic interface that we see everywhere – with something new, dynamic and different. There are people who do not give a chance of anything new, precisely because it is different. I would say that this is an evolution of the graphical environment. You know, once men — or their progenitors — had tails and hair all over their bodies, and much sharper senses than they do now. Why don’t we have them anymore? For the same reason people don’t wear goggles and dusters when they drive anymore.
Sometimes you outgrow a thing. It gets to a point where you don’t need it anymore. I think that happens to the Start menu and with the iconic interface. Tell me what you think about Windows 8 in the comments below.