Once upon a time, there was a computer operating system called DOS. It was a command-line, non-graphical OS that required users to type in commands to run the programs they wanted to run. And for a while, Microsoft Windows ran on top of it. Your computer would start up into Windows, but you could exit it and run DOS programs. Windows and DOS each had extremely different user interfaces and different ways of doing things, even though they both ran on the same computer.
Running the Consumer Preview version of Windows 8 is like living back in the days of DOS.
I’ll elaborate further, but suffice it to say, from everything I’ve seen so far of Microsoft’s newest OS, I’m not a fan. Windows 8 is designed first and foremost for tablets with touchscreens instead of PCs with mice and keyboards. It draws heavily from Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform, prominently featuring the multi-colored tiles of its Metro UI, while pushing anything resembling a traditional Windows desktop as far away as possible. On a touch-based tablet, this approach makes sense (even if Metro itself is hideous), but on a laptop or desktop, this touch-centric paradigm is a train wreck. Microsoft has clearly bet the farm that everyone will be using only tablets in the future, somehow forgetting that the majority of its customers are enterprises that deploy thousands of laptops and desktops daily.
Here are my initial impressions after playing around with the Consumer Preview: