Windows 8 review of reviews: Fireman’s poles, tiles and hyperbole?

Let’s for one minute, strip away the hysteria and PR hyperbole that accompanies every Windows release and get down to the brass tacks of this latest release. Is it really the best thing Microsoft has produced since the dawn of time as it would lead us to believe? Microsoft is saying it’s the biggest upgrade to the operating system in 17 years, but what do the reviewers make of it?

Charles Arthur at The Guardian reckons it’s more like Windows 7+1 and uses a wonderful analogy of sliding down the fireman’s pole if you want to visit the more familiar Windows 7 desktop.

“The “Start screen”, as Microsoft calls it, consists only of those big tiles, and completely replaces the desktop you first see on Windows – although, let’s be clear, that old Windows desktop is still there. It’s just hidden one layer down, and if you want to jump down into it there’s a perfectly good fireman’s pole in the form of a tile called “Desktop”. Click or touch that, and you’re in Windows 7″


Engadget opens up with perhaps a more obvious statement on the much heralded tiles:

“It’s safe to say the Windows Phone-esque Live Tiles have been the single most polarizing thing about Windows 8. Which makes sense: the new, mobile-inspired Start Screen looks wholly different from anything we’ve seen on previous versions of Windows. What’s more, you can’t even interact with these apps the same way: they run at full-screen, and can’t be minimized or re-sized like the windows you’re used to. In short, these tiles are the cornerstone of the Windows 8 experience, and they’re impossible to avoid, even if you plan on doing much of your work in the traditional desktop”

Matt Warman, Consumer Technology Editor at The Telegraph on the other hand discusses whether or not trying to combine an operating system for both tablets and PC’s is a wise move: “If you have an existing PC that doesn’t have a touchscreen, Windows 8 is more of an enticement to buy a new one than it is a reason to upgrade”


And then goes on to highlight the more eccentric aspects of the OS:

“For new users, Windows 8 will sometimes be infuriating – how do you close a programme? Why are there two versions of Internet Explorer, one for desktop, one for Windows 8 proper? (Because Windows 8 proper is more powerful.) Why is there no Facebook app, when Microsoft is a Facebook investor? Why is logging in to a wired network different from a wireless one? None of these are crises, but all of them indicate that Windows 8 remains the future – it will certainly not be the present until Intel chips power it to its full potential. And by then, the software will have been polished and the apps library filled. January can’t come soon enough”.

It seems the jury is out as to Microsoft’s bold tactic of trying to crowbar one operating system into two platforms, but reviewers are united in their praise of Live Tiles although confusion will reign at first as Jim Martin from PC Advisor says: “It’s at this point which many people will feel lost, but as with any new interface, it takes only a few minutes to gain your bearings and figure out where things are and how to accomplish tasks.”