David Pogue at the New York Times: Windows, Revamped and Split in 2:
I mean the two different worlds within Windows 8 alone, one designed primarily for touch screens, the other for mouse and keyboard. Individually, they are excellent — but you can’t use them individually. Microsoft has combined them into a superimposed, muddled mishmash called Windows 8, which goes on sale Friday at prices ranging from $15 to $40, depending on the offer and version.
You can easily imagine how Microsoft got here. “PC sales have slowed,” some executive must have said. “This is a new age of touch screens! We need a fresh approach, a new Windows. Something bold, fluid and finger-friendly.”
“Well, hold on,” someone must have countered. “We can’t forget the 600 million regular mouse-driven PCs. We also need to update Windows 7 for them!”
And then things went terribly wrong.
“Hey, I know!” somebody piped in. “Let’s combine those two Windows versions into one. One OS for all machines. Everybody’s happy!”
Hey, what could go wrong?
Unfortunately, in Windows 8, you can’t live exclusively in one world or the other.
Even if all your programs live in TileWorld, you’ll still have to use Desktop Windows to work with files or disks, connect to networked folders or open the Control Panel. And even if all of your programs live in Desktop Windows, your PC still starts up in TileWorld, and you still have to use TileWorld to perform tasks like searching and address-book lookups.
The free program Pokki helps a lot. It restores the Start menu to the desktop, and can even take you straight there at start-up.
Even so, two worlds means insane, productivity-killing schizophrenia. The Windows 8 learning curve resembles Mount Everest.
When users have to rely on someone else’s free program to make your UI work for them, you have a problem. Pokki isn’t the only one who noticed this either. PC makers like Lenovo and Samsung have their own Start menu programs as do other 3rd party software vendors.