Windows 8 review: still a two-headed beast

New 'fit and finish' enhancements in the final RTM version of Windows 8 don't ease the underlying tension between the interface formerly known as Metro and the traditional Desktop.

By Preston Gralla, Computerworld |  Software, windows 8

Launched today, Windows 8 Release to Manufacturing (RTM) offers only minimal changes to June's Release Preview version, including new graphics (what Microsoft calls "tattoos") for the Start screen and Lock screen backgrounds and interface polishing for some of the Windows 8-specific apps that ship with the operating system. In addition, there have been a variety of bug fixes and performance enhancements, as well as some minor tweaks to the operating system's look and feel.

Apart from that, though, Windows 8 remains essentially the same: a two-headed operating system featuring a new Windows Phone-like tiled interface and Start screen (once called Metro, but now apparently called simply Windows 8) as well as the traditional Desktop interface. As with earlier preview versions of Windows, these two interfaces uneasily coexist, with the new Windows 8 interface better suited for tablets and touch devices, and the Desktop the better choice for desktop PCs and laptops.

[ FREE DOWNLOAD: Windows 8 Deep Dive Report | Windows 8: The 10 biggest problems so far ]

The Start screen in Windows 8 RTM hasn't changed much from the Release Preview.

I tried Windows 8 RTM on a tablet that can do double-duty as a traditional PC with the addition of keyboard and mouse, and tested it in two ways: solely as a touchscreen tablet and solely as a traditional PC.

As a tablet interface, Windows 8 serves its purpose beautifully, its large tiles with constantly changing information inviting interaction via touch. Designed from the ground up to display information, it provides a significantly different experience from using an iPad or Android tablet -- information-centric rather than app-centric. (While Android widgets do offer live information, they're much smaller than Windows tiles and feel like an afterthought to the bounty of apps that typically take up the screen.) Windows 8 falls short on tablets only when you want to get to the Desktop, but considering that tablets are generally used to consume content rather than create content, you likely won't need to go there.

Originally published on Computerworld |  Click here to read the original story.
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