[Update: I've been playing around with Windows 8 Pro for a few hours since receiving it from Amazon (Win 8 Pro is only $66 on Amazon!), and I have a few more observations:
- For an IT staffer or someone doing normal Windows configuration—adding printers, changing TCP/IP settings, etc., Windows 8 is almost exactly the same as Windows 7, with some typical version-to-version text and icon arrangement changes.
- Using gestures with a mouse in a virtualized environment is a pain. Keyboard shortcuts are easier, but require more learning. I'll probably install a start button app.
- Metro is mostly out of the way, but certain things have to be done through the metro interface, and on a computer with a keyboard and mouse, those things are not immediately intuitive (see notes below).
- Interface animations and transitions are pretty smooth; still not as unintrusive as iOS, but better than anything else I've seen (including Android).]
I've been playing around with all the Windows 8 preview releases, and reading a bunch of early preview reviews, and current reviews. This review from Ars Technica highlights the highs and lows of Windows 8, but almost all the most annoying aspects of the new version of Windows have to do with the 'desktop' vs 'Metro' ('modern ui') divide. This paragraph summarizes my thoughts exactly:
There is a hard and dividing line between the two worlds. Far from allowing seamless switching between the two environments, they barely even acknowledge the other's existence. It's extremely limited, and it means that as a person who has to use the desktop for some things, I find myself avoiding Metro apps for all things. Bridging the gap is just too painful and annoying.
At this point, I'm still of the opinion that Apple has it right: Full-featured desktop OS optimized for keyboards, mice, and trackpads called Mac OS X, and Full-featured tablet/phone OS optimized for touch called iOS.
I had hoped Windows 8 would be a desktop OS on the desktop (or when you have a mouse/keyboard attached to your Windows tablet), and Metro/modern ui when you're using a tablet. Trying to have both worlds on both platforms feels terrible, especially on the desktop. Instead of feeling like a 'modern' ui, Metro feels like a thorn in Windows' side because of how annoying it can be. Even with all the (hard-to-learn) keyboard shortcuts.
Hopefully Windows 8 will improve it's desktop experience dramatically, or I fear it will be another Windows Vista (maybe worse) in terms of early user acceptance/perception.