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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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