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Microsoft Windows 8: Mostly A Crap Wreck
After Windows 8 Consumer Preview was installed, it was off to check out the new Metro user-interface and other new functionality of this latest version of Windows. One of the first items I noticed on a positive note is the Windows 8 boot speed: it is very good. Windows 8 on this Sandy Bridge notebook was faster booting than Ubuntu Linux or any other Linux distribution I have tried on this particular hardware. Ubuntu and others were focusing upon fast boot speeds for a while, but they seem to have lost interest and only with Ubuntu 12.04 did they return to focusing on boot speed performance. Windows 8 introduces "Hybrid Boot" as a hibernation-like feature on shutdown to allow for the faster start-up times. While I did not test this out yet on Windows 8, Microsoft's OS usually wins as well when it comes to power efficiency / overall power consumption. With most hardware vendors catering exclusively to Microsoft Windows and their standards (and Microsoft doing a heck of a lot more QA than many Linux projects), this isn't a huge surprise, especially seeing what a shoddy mess the PCI Express ASPM situation became (as far as the Ubuntu 12.04 power consumption goes, it's a mixed power story). On my main system I still use an Apple MacBook Pro running Mac OS X and then Ubuntu virtualized atop that with VMware Fusion since I sadly get better battery life that way than running Linux bare metal on the hardware. Suspend and resume has also improved greatly under Linux in recent years, but still is not 100% perfect.
Now onto the big end-user change for Windows 8: the Metro UI. Up to trying it out myself, I heard mixed views about Metro on Windows 8 but overall most comments seemed to be positive. After trying it out though, for Windows 8 on the desktop I see Metro as an absolute shit wreck. Metro may work very well for phones and tablets and game consoles, but for the desktop I see it as a disaster. Metro really isn't intuitive for the desktop, is complicated and very confusing after the common Windows desktop workflow since Windows 95, and overall makes Canonical's original Unity desktop environment seem better than Metro. I would take Ubuntu's Unity or the GNOME Shell any day over Windows 8 with Metro.
One of the other big user-facing changes of Windows 8 is the Windows Store. This digital distribution platform is yet another way Microsoft's trying to follow in the ways of Apple's success. I tried a few free applications from the Windows Store and it all worked out fine, aside from still hating the Metro UI. Having a centralized digital software distribution mechanism isn't new to Linux users at all, and I haven't seen any areas where Microsoft really innovates with this software store compared to the software stores/centers in Ubuntu or Mac OS X, etc. Gabe also criticized Windows 8, but this is not too much of a surprise, especially as it will compete directly with Valve's Steam software distribution platform.