Windows 8 – Quickie review

The good:
* Hard to explain how much I like the interface.
* The screen looks crazily busy in screenshots, but when actually using it, this is every bit as much of a grand step forward for keyboard-heavy users.
* Omnipresent, keyboard accessible search.
* The MetroUI PDF reader is absolutely excellent. Like Mac OS X’s PDF reader, it is lightning fast. Much faster than even Chrome’s built-in reader (the only thing that keeps me sane at work). This is one area where the fullscreen-by-default approach of MetroUI seems like a clear win.

The meh:
Changes in MS Paint leading up to Windows 7 radically increased the utility of that simple tool, but progress seems to have stalled.
* Games: For better or worse, stock Windows games that we’ve had since Windows 3.0 are now gone.
* Game size: While some are still downloadable from the MetroUI app store, Minesweeper somehow crazily gobbles up over 140MB of storage space when installed.
* Took multiple reboots to perform the install and to later install Hyper-V (total 4 – 2 to get it to recognize I’d enabled AMD-V prior to installation and 2 installing). However, many driver updates (ATI Catalyst Radeon drivers, etc) strangely no longer require it. You win some, you lose some.
* Media center – Pretty clear why they’re currently giving it away. I didn’t use it in Windows 7, but it doesn’t feel at all like it was redesigned in any meaningful way for Windows 8 and MetroUI.
* Yes, they took away DVD decoding. Who cares – They also added in so many other codecs to the stock environment that it’s better than it was. Only DVD and MKV playback required additional software.

The bad:
* My PC hung up on both of the first two times I booted into Windows 8, locking hard w/o a BSOD or any functional human-interface devices. No repeats after patches, as noted by many other reviewers.
* The absence of a Start Menu and constant need to flip back and forth between the conventional desktop and MetroUI interface is unnecessarily jarring. Really wish there was a middle-ground/a mini-MetroUI that could be brought up where the Start Menu used to be.

Well, that’s about it – Planning to note other issues as they arise in separate posts, including some keymapping details.

(Hard to find a good answer via Google at the moment, and harder via Bing, but YES: Scancode Map key remapping in the registry works w/no changes.)