My father-in-law’s PC, at six years old, is getting a bit long in the tooth (especially for a machine expected to juggle his collection of 1100 digital photos). With performance slowing down and errors cropping up, we decided to get him a new PC for Father’s Day.
Friday night, we copied his files over to the new machine, cranked it up, and got ready for the magic of WIndows 8. Because we had his old and his new PC side-by-side on the desktop, we were eager for him to see just how fast and exciting a new Windows 8 machine could be.
Except … it was’t that way at all. The new HP with Windows 8 was slow and cranky. The Start screen sported lots of tiles dedicated to pre-installed crapware. The photo viewer displayed photos oddly, if at all, with just as many gray squares (unrendered photos) as thumbnails popping up on screen. Launched apps — Music and Maps and even Weather — took forever to display information.
Worse, the new WIndows 8 is just terrible, with navigational controls fading away without notice, leaving the user to guess how to get from A to B. Even though Clyde and I had taken classes on the interface, we spent ages just figuring out how to do simple things, like making it easy for my father-in-law to use the apps he depends on every day. Amazingly, Joe’s six year-old PC running Windows 7 felt zippier and more responsive than the brand new HP PC with Windows 8.
Worse: my father-in-law’s favorite thing to do with his PC is create DVDs of his photos, so he can share them with his friends and watch them on the TV in his exercise room. But Windows 8 lacks the familiar Windows DVD Maker, making it impossible to generate photo DVDs without buying third party software.
We ended up boxing the new PC up and returning it to the Best Buy from which it came. At the Customer Service desk, the young woman behind the counter asked, “What’s wrong with it?”
“Windows 8,” I said.
She nodded in agreement. “I hate it. I need a new computer, and I won’t buy one, because I don’t want one with Windows 8 on it.” She lowered her voice. “No one does. We get these back all the time.”
I’m not a “fanboy.” I think people should choose the computer and software that’s best for their needs, whatever the operating system. That said: Microsoft is just going to have to do better than this. When brand new computers are slower than PCs that are six years old … when starting up a new PC becomes an exercise in frustration … when it’s next to impossible to figure out what to do and how to do it … when beloved and simple apps are booted in favor of complicated, X-box enabled crapware … well, that’s a problem and it doesn’t bode well for That Little Company in Redmond.