Joshua Henderson writes:
I am currently running Windows 7 on my desktop and mostly use it for playing games, doing word processing, graphic design, Internet browsing, and listening to music. Recently my computer has become slow, and not as productive as I would like it to be. So I have been contemplating moving to Windows 8; after using it in a virtual machine, I feel impressed with it. I am not sure if I should upgrade though because I don’t want to lose productivity (I am a student so I need to be able to start working quickly). So I was wondering if you think that Windows 8 on a desktop is good for productivity?
Great question. As many in the LockerGnome community know (and I consider you all members of a community here, regardless of your level of participation), I’ve been nothing less than forthright about my opinions regarding Microsoft’s latest desktop operating system. Nearly a year ago (and still months prior to Windows 8’s official release), we demonstrated why regular people may not like Windows 8 Consumer Preview, introducing my own dad to the operating system while doing my best not to influence his opinion one way or another.
As it turned out, my dad did not take well to Windows 8. Granted, this was still a version of the OS that was a work in progress, not yet ready to be released to the public. The main point was demonstrated, however: Metro (the name for one aspect of Windows 8’s user interface) was difficult for my dad (and therefore, the the typical consumer) to comprehend. My dad is an intelligent man, too, and probably slightly more tech-savvy than the majority of Windows users out in the wild. Some of you out there may disagree about my dad being representative of the typical consumer, but I think I know my dad better than most, and even if he does still prefer Windows XP to Windows Vista or Windows 7, the transition from XP to either of those operating system wouldn’t be nearly as paradigm-shifting as the transition to Windows 8.
With a touchscreen, however, I’m certain my dad would have fared somewhat better. He can handle touchscreen devices such as his iPad without issue, though getting work done on the tablet is somewhat limited. There’s nothing like being able to open up and work with a spreadsheet or type out lengthy correspondence using a traditional keyboard. Windows 8 is a bit different, of course, as it offers both the traditional Windows desktop experience combined with its new Metro interface. (For more on Metro, reading our recent article Is Metro Good for Desktops?) One can jump back and forth between both interfaces, a scenario that will work well for some. For others, the shift between interfaces will seem jarring at best, while downright frustrating and unacceptably unusable at worst. Another problem for many will be that you can only work in one application at a time while using the Metro interface.
Now, if you find you’re not discombobulated by all the bouncing around when using Windows 8, then I will admit that the productivity apps are all there. The Microsoft Office suite of applications are available to you, as are the most popular Internet browsers. Depending on the graphic design application you’re using, the most popular ones are or will soon be made available for Windows 8. (If you use a touch input device with your desktop computer, you may even find yourself enjoying performing most of your graphic design tasks almost exclusively using touch input.) Listening to music won’t be a problem; even iTunes — which you may already know is not my favorite music application — works fine in Windows 8, though the user experience (UX) is quite different from that of iTunes running on a Mac. And yes, games play nicely with Windows 8.
I’m still standing by my opinion that many Windows users are going to be turned off by the confusion-inducing UX of Windows 8, but even here among the LockerGnome corps of writers there is dissension. Maximilian Majewski today expressed that it’s a “silly notion that Windows 8 on desktops isn’t productive”. For more on his opinion, read his own take on Windows 8 Consumer Preview, written in May of last year. For more recent opinions, simply type “Windows 8” into the search box on our website to pull up a wide variety of content related to Microsoft’s latest operating system.
I’m open to hearing more dissenting opinions, as well, so chime in — especially if you own a desktop PC running Windows 8.