Surface, Windows 8 Debut as Big Stakes Product Launches for Microsoft

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2012-10-26 Print this article Print

As you already know by now, Windows 8 starts up by running a tiled interface. It doesn’t look anything at all like the familiar desktop. Instead your apps are on tiles and you can scroll the windows to find them. But the old Windows 7 desktop is still there.

All you have to do is click on the “Desktop” tile, and it pops into existence. This is handy because Windows 8 runs Windows 7 applications as well as those meant for Windows 8. You can launch either type of app from either interface, but some users might find it easier to relate to the original desktop.

But the new tiled interface is very attractive. As I write this, I have three machines running Windows 8 in the final update of the Release Preview. One copy is running on a machine I bought in August for exactly this purpose. Tomorrow I’ll take advantage of the upgrade coupon and get the released version of Windows 8 for about $15. I’m looking forward to it.

The fact is that as I use Windows 8, I find myself using the tiled interface more and more—and the desktop less and less. It’s clear that a mouse and keyboard aren’t the ideal choice for Windows 8, but they work well enough. In addition, I’ve added a Logitech Wireless Touchpad which makes using Windows 8 almost seamless.

Of course, where Windows 8 really shines is when you can touch the screen. Right now, touchscreen monitors are pretty rare in most offices, but they don’t have to be. A quick check of shows that there is a wide selection for rational prices (meaning not much different than non-touch monitors). The tiled interface on Windows 8 really shines in the touch environment and with applications written for touch.

Unfortunately, most Windows 7 applications aren’t intended for touchscreens, so you’ll need some kind of pointer that works for them. But when you can move to a touch environment, Windows 8 will feel completely natural, perhaps more natural than the icon-based interface from Apple.

Ultimately, though, a tablet is where Windows 8 really needs to be used and there are plenty of those. Microsoft’s Surface is just one of about a dozen Windows 8 tablets that were shown at the launch. Some of those run Windows 8 Pro and some run RT, but both work the same way if you’re a user. The way they work is highly intuitive once you realize just how easy to use the new Windows 8 really is.


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