As Microsoft Launches Windows 8 in Kenya Tonight, Here is My Experience

Posted In Applications - By robertalai On Thursday, November 15th, 2012 With 1 Comment

Microsoft is tonight launching its latest OS which is targeted at both Desktop and Mobile (Windows Phone 8) users. The Windows 8 launch will be at Sankara from around 6pm. There is not much you will gain from the launch since Africa launch happened in South Africa a fews weeks ago. So the local launch is just for formalities.

Pundits criticised the Windows 8 as full of many promises and not much delivery. There are promised experiences but few can be proved by even the top Microsoft leaders. It was also surprising that the head of Windows 8, Steven Sinofsky, resigned just two weeks after launching the OS to the world-wide consumers.

In this era, do people really use Operating Systems or applications? I believe that people use more of the latter than the former. The OS just need to be delivered in a very transparent manner to act as a worthy platform for the applications. Again it is the age of the cloud and so it will be hard to convince any business or individual that their application will run on a single OS.

In the age of smartphones, tablets and ultrabooks, you ove from one device to another and so it is the “ecosystems”—Microsoft, Apple, or Google – that will matter. Not a single OS.

But that still matter in Africa where it is not yet over for the PC. The users of the desktop still want to see their apps run smoothly. Cloud is a foreign word to many businesses and others in Africa. The migration from one platform to another will be a great challenge to the support specialists who will deal with such minor issues as the disappearance of the “Start” button.

Windows Vista never got acceptance in Africa for a reason. It was just ambitious of Microsoft and messed up the native apps. This changed with Windows 7. Windows 8 is a different take since it is too touch focused.

Many questions will have to be answered by Microsoft honchos tonight in Nairobi to convince the CIOs and other users that Windows 8 is a safe bet. Among the questions are;

  • Will the users of Windows 8 still experience the PC as it has been?
  • Will the change be for better?
  • Why does Widnows 8 require and depend so much on cloud apps? Should the African consumers migrate considering the challenges of connectivity in the continent?
  • What investment will be needed by the current PC and mobile users to migrate to Windows 8? Will the current machines be just fine without major investments on expensive touch displays? C
  • Will a migration to Windows 8 lead to romance with the new platform or immediately withdrawal remedy would be required?

PC World has been selling Windows 8 laptops in the market for the last two weeks. In fact the advert for the laptops with pre-installed OS was on newspapers a day before the global launch.

First, Microsoft tries to copy Apple so much when they to get you to tie your Windows 8 login to your Microsoft account. Remember being asked to have an Apple account to use a Mac, iPad and iPhone? Yeah!!!  It is not compulsory in Windows 8 but when you link the two then the Windows login and password serve as your Microsoft account login and password respectively.

Windows 8 is designed to be part of and ecosystem which also has the Windows Phone and Windows RT. The Windows 8 user interface was previously called Metro. Now the PCs with the new OS will boot into the new interface. There is just no way you will bypass the Metro aka Windows 8 interface ans access the desktop.

The interface will act as the start button and when you click on it, instead of the columns of small programs icons, all your apps show up as tiles on the Windows 8 carpet (you know what I mean?). You can also search for an app from the start screen. The result will autosorts as you type more characters.

The start screen exists as a launchpad for applications, not as a desktop replacement and it occupies the entire display. The launched Windows 8 apps occupy the entire screen. In the previous OS, the desktop applications used to run in a window on the desktop.

Again not all desktop apps will be visible on the Start screen. You will get the usual  accessory apps, such as Paint on the Start screen.  But this is easy to change as you can pin apps on to the Start screen by right-clicking them. If you need to get to the Apps screen, it is simple. Just right-click a blank area in the Start screen and then select the All apps icon.

Now Windows 8 change the how you interact with Windows in that previously you needed to right-clicking an object on the desktop  to bring up a choice of actions to take. With Windows 8 interface, right-clicking produces a bar at the bottom of the screen containing assorted items. This change makes lots of sense when you experience the OS on a tablet.

Context-clicking is still working the same way as in the previous instances.

Among other key features introduced on the Windows 8 Start Screen is live tiles. The non-live tiles measure 150 by 150 pixels while most of the live tiles are 310 by 150 pixels and display dynamic information. A tile like “People” shows you tweets and Facebook posts which you subscribe to after setting them up. Again as you install apps from the Microsoft Store, you will get more dynamic tiles.

The Start Screen is easily navigated with a mouse with a wheel. Just scroling the wheel  moves you to the left and right. You can also scroll left and right on the touchpad by just swiping to the respective direction. You can also drag tiles to any location.

Microsoft has segmented apps into “Windows 8” apps (“Metro” apps) and desktop applications. The latter are those programs like Microsoft Office.

With the inability to boot into the desktop, certain applications like those for point-of-sale PCs will have problems. So the supermarkets or CRM users like Supermarkets should just stick with the previous versions of Windows.

Otherwise, you can simply launch an application by clicking its tile in the Start screen. Again for a superior file management, you will have to access the desktop. Just boot the machine and then press the Windows Key. Don’t expect Windows key to be consistent as it behaves differently when you press the key while you are on an app. It always return you to the Start key when you press it while you are using an app. Pressing it again takes you to the most recent Windows 8 app. You need to muster the Windows-D shortcut to easily access the desktop. If you have used no app recently, just click on the lower left of your screen.

The desktop has no unique characteristic from what we experienced on Windows 7. To access the Control Panel, the Widnows Explorer, and Run command, just right-click the lower-left corner and you will access the simplified Start menu. You can also try accessing the same through the Windows-X shortcut or getting to search and typing what you are looking for.

The desktop on the Windows 8 and Windows 7 are just empty and the same. But you can add the “System” and other shortcuts on the desktop by right-clicking the desktop and selecting the Personalize menu. You can then just pin the icons to the Windows 8 Start screen.

Windows 8 greatly simplifies connecting to networks once you have the right drivers installed. The platform displays, all of your networked devices, folders and other devices on the network, in all file manager window.

The appearance of individual windows has changed from the transparent edges to a flat appearance. Clicking one of the menu items like “view” will have each window show a Ribbon similar to the Office 2010 Ribbon.

There isn’t much to learn from the new desktop as it offers most of what the old version offered. The most intimidating feature will be the absence of a Start menu.

The Widnows 8 is just boring without a proper plan of having your machine connected to the internet. Just beware when you are planning a migration.

About - Robert is an African Tech Blogger, Critic, Net Evangelist, Speaker, Mentor for Young Boys and Girls, Editor @TechMtaa and likes to Provide Sanitary Towels To Poor Women through the DishAPad Initiative

  • Caleb Nyagah

    Windows 8 is a great OS, and so far I am loving it. The only limitation I find is that you need a constant supply of internet for thee to fully exploit its potential.