Archive for Oct 26, 2011

Windows 8 and apologies

I apologize for the lack of  posts recently artistic, new space or otherwise. I've been playing with the Windows 8 developers preview on my asus slate ep 121 tablet along with the long anticipated alpha version of blue stacks.

NOTE: the following is mostly my opinions and impressions of Windows 8 and Blue Stacks, I am not yet a professional software developer, just a lucky guy with smart friends.

So apparently Windows tablets aren't too popular, and honestly Microsoft has no one but Microsoft to blame. Windows 7 is a far superior operating system to vista ( as i write this i am having a fight with vista home premium over Starcaft 2 on my desktop pc). However, 7 still falls short in its usability on touch based devices. Much of the interface still requires more precision in a cursor to manipulate than all but the most dainty of oriental fingers can muster. Although my tablet came with a stylus, using it as the primary input method misses much of the fun and the popularity of this generation of touchscreens.

Enter windows 8. Before I preach the wonders of my magical experience with the latest iteration of windows, I must ask; is it too little too late? While Apple spent the decade familiarizing the public with its brand and adapting them to a now ubiquitous user experience across its products; Microsoft seemed to have the reaction time of a drunk lashing out at a sobriety test proctor. All that is to say that windows tablets are nothing new, so the implementations I found in my developers preview seem a couple years too late.

The welcome screen has a large finger friendly icon with the user name and the familiar photo frame. Inside the user is greeted with a green screen full of large bright icons for apps and suites, including a revamped windows Internet Explorer 10. Potential security vulnerabilities aside, IE snaps open and takes up the screen real estate on the way we are accustomed to on newer smart phones. Pulling at the left of the screen switches applications, tugging from the bottom brings up the address bar, and the top holds multiple tabs. None of the more intrusive toolbars are onscreen to obscure the experience of the web.  The start menu appears to have been replaced by the splash screen after login, although there is a desktop icon which brings up the standard windows taskbar and desktop. from any screen pulling from the right brings up a sparse menu bar which feels incomplete, but this is not a release candidate and far from finished. I hope that the promise and progress made in the user interface will be reflected in navigating the folders on the hard drive, as currently it is the same as 7 an unfriendly to touch. To truly capture a fun and hassle free touch experience, every aspect of using windows must be revamped to be accessible without the use of a mouse or stylus. The onscreen keyboard is not yet complete but is responsive, if too large. only IE will change formats to accommodate the keyboard and all windows apps should do the same without maze of fixed boxes cluttering up the screen.

Blue Stacks does what I expected, however I am not able to fully use the multi touch of my tablet in the virtual machine like software on windows 8. Expect a full review after I reinstall 7.