Windows 8: When Two Worlds Collide

Windows 8 developer preview, which was unveiled last week at the BUILD conference, has garnered largely positive reviews. However, many of these positive reviews are from journalists comparing Windows 8 with iOS for iPad. The new immersive Metro UI offers a fantastic gesture based touch computing experience that should enable Microsoft to compete with the iPad. However, as a mouse-keyboard desktop operating system, Windows 8’s bewildering inconsistencies will most probably end up frustrating the average user.

The biggest problem with the Metro UI is that it feels oddly glued on top of the classic shell. Metro doesn’t seem self-sufficient. For example, venture into the Metro Control Panel and try to change how Windows Updates are downloaded and installed. You simply can’t. For this you will need to switch to the classic Control Panel. Do you wish to uninstall an app? Once again, it’s the same story.

Even while using the classic shell the inconsistencies don’t stop. Just take a look at the two different dialogue boxes that open up on clicking the battery icon and the network icon in the system tray. Why does clicking on two similar buttons bring up two entirely different kinds of dialogue boxes? Many a times Windows 8 seems an incoherent mix and match of blue and green.

Windows 8 Power Options
Windows 8 Network Options

It’s not just user interface inconsistencies that hurt Windows 8. Microsoft has also made some questionable decisions regarding the environment. In the Metro interface, there is no way to close an app. Microsoft has taken leaf out of Android’s book, and has eliminated the exit option. All Metro apps are automatically suspended within five seconds of losing focus. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always work. I have had games that continued playing its audio track even after losing focus. The only way out was to use the Task Manager to kill the app. Of course, this might due to a bug in the Developers Preview. Even if such issues are ironed out in the future releases, fact remains that all apps in the background will continue to consume RAM. Microsoft chose to introduce complications by removing an option that most users will invariably look for.

Windows 8 also has a slight learning curve, especially if you are using mouse and keyboard. To get things done in the Metro interface without a touch-sensitive device, you will need to familiarize yourself with a few of the new hotkeys. Once again, Microsoft’s poor design decisions are responsible for making things tough for users.

Windows Vista was criticized for the poor placement of the Shutdown button. However, Windows 8 takes things to an entirely different level. Have a look at the Charms screenshot embedded below. Can you venture a guess as to how to shutdown Windows 8?


Windows 8 makes powering off the computer so confusing that people are actually writing tutorials on it. Here’s what you need to do to actually switch off your computer.

  • Select Settings.
  • Then select Power.
  • And finally select the desired option (Shutdown, Sleep, or Restart).


Why Microsoft put the power options within Settings is anyone’s guess.

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Pallab De

Pallab De is a blogger from India who has a soft spot for anything techie. He loves trying out new software and spends most of his day breaking and fixing his PC. Pallab loves participating in the social web; he has been active in technology forums since he was a teenager and is an active user of both twitter (@indyan) and facebook .