Not good news: early look at Windows 8 ‘baffles customers’

From an Associated Press story:

Tony Roos, an American missionary in Paris, installed a free preview version of Windows 8 on his aging laptop to see if Microsoft’s new operating system would make the PC faster and more responsive. It didn’t, he said, and he quickly learned that working with the new software requires tossing out a lot of what he knows about Windows.

“It was very difficult to get used to,” he said. “I have an 8-year-old and a 10-year-old, and they never got used to it. They were like, `We’re just going to use Mom’s computer.”’

Reports of how Windows 8 is so much different that previous versions of Windows have appeared in these pages before. By now, hopefully everyone knows that this is not their father’s Windows…or even, their older brother’s.

What’s particularly disturbing about the AP’s story is Roos’ little girls. Anyone who has a child old enough to communicate effectively knows that kids can be much smarter to pick up technology than the rest of us, possibly because they seem to take a fresh, non-nonsense approach to learning that doesn’t require unlearning previous methods.

To quote Groucho Marx: “Why this is so simple, a child could do it! Now, find me a child!”

Point being: if kids can’t work with Windows 8, and it’s supposed to be so intuitive, what chance do the rest of us have?

Here’s another anecdote, from the same article:

Technology blogger Chris Pirillo posted a YouTube video of his father using a preview version of Windows 8 for the first time. As the elder Pirillo tours the operating system with no help from his son, he blunders into the old “Desktop” environment and can’t figure out how to get back to the Start tiles. (Hint: Move the mouse cursor into the top right corner of the screen, then swipe down to the “Start” button that appears, and click it. On a touch screen, swipe a finger in from the right edge of the screen to reveal the Start button.) The four-minute video has been viewed more than 1.1 million times since it was posted in March.

That YouTube video can be seen here.

But before you throw your hands up in frustration that you’ll never be able to use it, there are positive reports:

Sheldon Skaggs, a Web developer in Charlotte, N.C., thought he was going to hate Windows 8, but he needed to do something to speed up his 5-year-old laptop. So he installed the new software.

“After a bit of a learning curve and playing around with it a bit more, you get used to it, surprisingly,” he said.

The computer now boots up faster than it did with Windows Vista, he said.

The lone bad point to Skaggs’ story is that he’s a web developer, which means he has some rather honed computer skills. People don’t fall out of bed in the morning and ZAP!, become web developers.

Paul Otellini, CEO of Intel Corp. and someone who, a few weeks ago, made some news he probably wished he hadn’t was quoted thusly in the AP article:

Intel Corp. makes the processors that go into 80 percent of PCs, and has a strong interest in the success of Windows. CEO Paul Otellini said Tuesday that when the company has let consumers try Windows 8 on expensive “ultrabook” laptops with touch screens, “the feedback is universally positive.” But he told analysts that he doesn’t really know if people will embrace Windows 8 for mainstream PCs.

“We’ll know a lot more about this 90 days from now,” he said.

I have to agree; that we will.

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