Windows 8 usability..

This is a very good piece on how to navigate Windows 8 if you are into using the keyboard more than the mouse..

The guy also has a mega multi monitor setup too, so not everything will work for you as it does for him. However, it does show that Windows 8 can work for you, and can be fun. Since encapsulating Windows 8 in VirtualBox, I haven’t made too many sorties to it, but I will note some of what is in the article and give it a whirl.

A while ago now, I wrote to the authors of some of the Vista and Windows 7 gadgets, asking if they were thinking about doing a Windows 8 app version. At the time, gadgets did run in the first releases of Windows 8, and I was told that there would only be development if Windows 8 proved to be popular. I suspect that this is still the case even though gadgets have been entirely scuppered in the RTM.

Network MonitorOf course, some gadgets will never translate particularly well into a full screen display because there is not much to see. This one is a prime example..

All it shows is the computers which have an active connection to the DPC 3825, BUT I can see at a a glance who is going to squawk about having no connection, and who should NOT be connected because they should be shutdown and asleep.

It has no universal appeal because most people don’t care or don’t know about it and single users have notification in their own taskbars, but I see it as a failing in Windows 8 that it can’t be used. It is as important to me as a ‘System Admin’ to computer illiterates as Facebook is to the individual users.

It is one thing to have to change the way that one works on a computer, but it is plain annoying to lose useful little features that one has got used to using. One application particularly missed is Outlook Express which was brimming with features. Microsoft have tried to sell us all Windows Live Mail and now, but they are NOT the same, and the feature where one could set up individual password protected accounts is missed by many. Newsgroup handling was good too.

So Microsoft decide that some features are not for them anymore, but a computer is not just about a gateway into what Microsoft wants us to see or do. Whatever happened to the maxim ‘Where do you want to go today’? If it is still there, I don’t recognise many of the routes anymore. 

I was in Windows 8 this morning and found a couple of apps which I recognised.

The CBC news app is very good, and I liked the way that I could read the news items, full screen and without annoying ads. The Weather Network which delivers more accurate weather for Canada than other services has an app too, but it has ads running on it, and a load of links which I can do without. It is a pity that WN couldn’t produce an app as informative as the Bing weather app.

Presently, I use the Weather Centre gadget which can pipe in the Weather Network data but without the adds. It also flashes up weather alerts, something that you might not see in a Windows 8 app unless you happened to be staring at the Windows 8 Start screen. This is another annoyance where you have to go back to the Start to see things which have since Vista been available as gadgets, always on view in a nice neat package.

The Windows 8 Start menu is something of a double edged sword. It works well if you have the time to spend there, but not very well if you just want quick glimpses now and again.

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