I have been using Windows 8 for just over a couple of weeks now. Purists would argue that it isn’t a pure Windows8 experience as I am running it using VMWare on my Mac and I haven’t experience the Tablet or Mobile version yet, but I think there are some interesting conclusions to be drawn already.
First is the dual mode experience. It is like Microsoft has layered a tablet experience on top of Windows 7. It is a simultaneous experience: you can switch easily from a tablet to desktop and back again easily. But, it is interesting to note that the applications are that are available in each view are actually different applications. Even third party apps open in different windows if you access them through the different modes. I was under the impression that that this wasn’t going to be the case: one OS for all devices I thought meant one version of an app for all devices. We shall find out shortly with the development of our first Window 8 mobile app.
Second is that it took me 24 hours to get the complete hang of the ‘tablet’ UI on a desktop. Tapping and swiping is always going to be easier that pointing and clicking. But still… and it didn’t help that the “start” button has gone missing even in desktop mode!
Third is that there are some hidden commands that need to be found out to be make use on a desktop better. Here’s a couple: “Windows + I” brings out the setting bar. Moving the cursor to the top left bring up a nano window to allow toggle between windows. Moving the cursor to a right hand corner – either top or bottom – until the Charms bar appears (a Charms bar is the Search, Share, Start and Devices menu). You can also use the WINDOWS + C keyboard shortcut to display Charms. There’s a lot more listed here on CNET.
On the subject of making a desktop experience better, the Tablet mode with its full screen layout, heavy use of white space on so on really does start to create a ‘lean back experience’ on a desktop – especially with the three finger swipe trackpad of a Mac. You start to create a different interaction experience with a desktop. This will be in an interesting consideration for Enterprise apps.
As will the use of live tiles on the homescreen on the tablet view for pulling in information from across the business. You can see sales data, latest Yammer posts, task data from mobile apps etc all being pulled into the live tiles on desktops and tablets.
So what have we learned so far?
- It might not be one app for all versions
- The UI and hidden commands might mean that it takes a little time to be understood in the workplace and therefore get adopted (as will the licensing agreement and compliance drive this)
- The blurring of the ‘lean back’ and the ‘lean forward’ experience will be useful for businesses apps in terms of productivity
- Live tiles could become that fabled Enterprise