I panned Windows 8’s modern UI when I first saw it, and then again when it finally came out. Now I’ve actually installed it on a desktop PC I’m starting to think differently. It’s actually pretty good and now I’ve played with it for a few hours I love it.
Above is my somewhat customised ‘Start Screen’ that everyone seems to hate. It’s the first thing you learn about Windows 8 and it soon becomes the first thing you hate. Use it for a while though, and it starts to make sense. I have logged into my facebook, twitter and google accounts so the left side of my screen is filled with useful bits of information.
My calendar (using this tweak you can sync more than one google calendar, a limitation of the built in calendar app), email, and facebook/twitter updates all appear without needing to load the websites in my browser (Sounds silly, but it’s handy)
The middle tiles are all custom made using a program called OblyTile along with tile images I found around the internet. The result is quite snazzy I think. The tiles for Microsoft Office are custom too since the automatic tiles are a bit poor (See the chemistry programs a few tiles down).
The modern UI in Windows 8 isn’t bad at all. It just takes getting used to. Learning the keyboard shortcuts is a must on a desktop or laptop without a touchscreen. Win+C opens the ‘charms bar’ which is a context sensitive shortcut bar to everything you’re probably looking for. An example of this bar is seen to the right.
Modern UI apps (or ‘metro’ as they were originally known as) can be stuck to the side of the screen sort of in an aero snap way (like you could in Windows 7). As I am writing this post in Windows Live Writer (which runs in the desktop mode) I can see my Skype permanently stuck to the right-hand side of my workspace. Any modern UI app can be run like this. You can see this below with the standard included weather application.
So far I am really liking Windows 8 (from two weeks ago when I absolutely hated it). My girlfriend is jealous of the social aspect of the start screen and wants it on her laptop. Time will tell if I continue to like it or whether it’ll get in the way when I try and actually get some work done. I will report back in a few weeks.