Paul Allen

Lots of writers have been weighing in on Microsoft’s Windows 8, but it’s safe to say that none of them has the history that this particular reviewer does. Paul Allen, the Microsoft co-founder, has published an extensive review of Windows 8 based on his experience using a preview version of the upcoming operating system on desktop and tablet computers.

In summary, he likes it — mostly.

Allen calls the new tablet features of Windows 8 “bold and innovative,” and says he’s impressed overall with Microsoft’s implementation of a “bimodal” interface, as he calls it  — using the same operating system to support both desktop PCs and tablets. He likes the way the company has implemented touch-screen gestures, and he finds Windows 8 overall “snappier and more responsive than Windows 7.”

However, he writes, “I did encounter some puzzling aspects of Windows 8.” For example, he says …

The bimodal user experience can introduce confusion, especially when two versions of the same application – such as Internet Explorer – can be opened and run simultaneously. Files can also be opened in either of the two available modes. For example, after opening a PDF attachment in Outlook from the desktop, Windows opens the file in Microsoft Reader, an application more suited for use on a tablet, rather than the desktop Acrobat Reader. A manual switch is then required to return to desktop mode.

Later on in the piece, he offers tips on resolving this issue by changing file associations.

His biggest problems came when using Windows 8 on a traditional desktop machine. For example, he struggled with his multi-monitor setup, and while he likes the tablet-friendly Start screen, he disagrees with Microsoft’s decision to prevent users from setting the traditional Windows desktop as their default view after booting up.

There’s a lot more to the piece, including annotated screenshots from Allen, and it’s a useful read for anyone who is thinking about buying a new Windows 8 PC this fall.

In the end, Allen writes, “I’m confident that Windows 8 offers the best of legacy Windows features with an eye toward a very promising future.”

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  • Guest

    Great review from the Idea Man! We appreciate Paul’s assent with our belief that Windows 8’s bold, mobile-device-like styling is exactly the pantsular kick that Microsoft needs to raise PC sales from their already lofty levels (350 million this year!) to even higher numbers in the years to come. Of course it’s different — that’s what makes it so fresh.

  • Anonymous

    He can’t say it’s a total UX failure so he gives a “balanced” review. LOL.

    • Adam Kalisz

      I don’t know, but I would call Android UX failure, not Windows :-D (No flame…)

    • guest

      Your comment says more about you and your agenda than his. He didn’t have to review it at all.

  • justd80010

    haven’t read the full assessment but I agree with the statements Allen makes in these excerpts, the only major issue I have with Win8 is with the application that open in BOTH Metro and the desktop, such as IE. I’ve been using the OS for months and cannot get used to the Metro version of IE. But, as Allen states, it’s up to me, the end user to customize my file associations to my liking.

    I disagree with Allen to the extent that any Win8 machine should boot directly to the desktop, I’ve had no problem with calling the desktop when I need it and staying in the desktop app for as long as I’ve needed to without any issues. There’s no reason a machine needs to boot to desktop that I can see.

    • Vroo (Bruce Leban)

      “There’s no reason a machine needs to boot to desktop that I can see.”

      There’s no reason a user should NOT be allowed to boot to the desktop. If you don’t want it, that’s your choice but that doesn’t explain taking the choice away from everyone else. And why is it either/or? Why are there two different versions of IE instead of two different views of the same IE?
      See Model-View-Controller (Wikipedia)

      My favorite feature of Win8 – hiding commonly used features so users can’t find them. Like the start menu which is hidden inside third party products.

      • justd80010

        Wrong, there are plenty of GOOD reasons to start on the start screen, but I cannot think of one good reason to boot to the desktop, beyond the assertions of a Luddite that believes technology must remain as it’s always been in THEIR memory.
        As a consumer I wouldn’t want yet another version, before this a common criticism of Windows was how many different version of the OS were available and how to choose. For my part I’m glad they’ve flattened it.

      • guest

        Yeah, and while we’re at it why doesn’t it just boot to DOS? I really miss the command prompt. Selecting the icon from within Windows uses at least a second of my time, which is so incredibly precious that I can spend it here spewing my subjective opinion about what MS should and shouldn’t be allowed to change in their own OS, or asking dumb questions like why aren’t there two different views of the same IE, when in fact there are two different views of the same IE and the reasoning can be easily found on the building W8 site.

  • Forrest Corbett

    I just read the whole thing… I gotta say I’m actually impressed with his assessment. When I read statements like “I’m confident that Windows 8 offers the best of legacy Windows features with an eye toward a very promising future.” I am at a loss as to how he could think that without just spewing marketing fluff. But he does actually address many of the problems users face, rather than ignoring them.

    For my own usage, there’s no way I can use W8. I’ve used the GM a fair amount now, and it just doesn’t work for a desktop power user. Mr. Allen does address these issues, and says there’s third party apps which will solve the problems. I disagree with the idea that a company should release an OS which requires third party apps for fluent users to remain efficient.

    I’m still waiting on MS to tell us exactly which third party DVD playback apps are “high quality”…

    • Adam Kalisz

      I don’t know about you, but I use Windows 8 since Developer Preview on a desktop/laptop (15,4″ and/or 24″, depending). No touch.
      I am quite comfortable with multimonitor setup, it’s well supported also in Metro apps. (You can drag the app on a different screen if you like).

      I don’t use DVD’s much, but you can still open the DVD folder and just convert the stuff in a more usable MP4 – H.264 with Handbrake for instance. It takes a while, but you don’t have to use the legacy storage anymore.

      Btw. I run the final RTM version for about a month and half now. The improvements are bigger, than the “puzzling” features, you just have to rethink your usage/ adjust.

      • Bugbog

        I was trying to find a date on when he published his review (there isn’t one). But I have a feeling he was running the Consumer Preview, then maybe early Release Preview, as some of his comments seem odd. (i.e. they no longer apply).

        The current build (early RTM) has resolved most of these ‘niggles’ of his.

  • Guest

    When discussions of Windows 8 come up, there tend to be personal attacks over preferences. But preferences are just that – personal. Wile there are operational improvements in Windows 8, I have built several computers for family and friends (unfortunately with apparent lifetime support). Most were with XP and the last few with Windows 7. My user group contains one person who is semi-computer literate. The others, not so much. They do things they need to do whether it is word processing, browsing or email. There are quite a few human factors issues when thinking about changing them to Windows 8, and there are millions and millions of users in the same category. The GUI is very important. If you have a small or even a large business, training costs can be significant considering many employees are interested in doing their jobs which doesn’t entail finding their way from the Metro screen to the desktop for different applications.
    I personally like my old GUI and the nice picture from France on the desktop. It seems a lot nicer than a bunch of colored rectangles. I don’t feel any angst about those who like the other.

    • Bugbog

      I think most of the people having ‘problems’ with the new Win 8 GUI are [us] old fogey’s! (aka win95 puppies). Although that said, I love the new GUI, as it is immensely flexible!

      (And BTW, I also love my wallpaper on my double wide-screen monitors. But the beauty of win 8 is I get to see it twice! First as a Live Tile, then in full glory when I go in!)

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