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Microsoft co-founder dings Windows 8 as 'puzzling, confusing'

Gregg Keizer | Oct. 3, 2012
Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen today called Windows 8 'puzzling' and 'confusing initially,' but assured users that they would eventually learn to like the new OS.

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen today called Windows 8 "puzzling" and "confusing initially," but assured users that they would eventually learn to like the new OS.

Allen, who co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates in 1975, left the company in 1983 after being diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease. He is best known in the Pacific Northwest as the owner of the NFL's Seattle Seahawks and the NBA's Portland Trailblazers, and as a part-owner of the MLS' Seattle Sounders FC.

In a post to his personal blog Tuesday -- strangely titled in the third person as, "Paul's take on Windows 8," Allen said he has been running Windows 8 Release Preview -- the public sneak peak Microsoft shipped May 31 -- on both a traditional desktop as well as on a Samsung 700T tablet. The latter, designed for Windows 7, not its successor, has been handed out or loaned in quantities by Microsoft to developers, analysts and members of the press in an effort to convince them to create software, or try out the touch-first features of Windows 8.

"I did encounter some puzzling aspects of Windows 8," Allen wrote, and said the dual, and dueling user interfaces (UIs), were confusing.

"The bimodal user experience can introduce confusion, especially when two versions of the same application -- such as Internet Explorer -- can be opened and run simultaneously," Allen said.

Windows 8 has come under fire from some quarters for a variety of reasons, but the one most cited has been the double-UI approach, one dubbed "Modern" or "Windows 8 style" (formerly "Metro") that features a flattened, minimalist look and responds best to touch and gestures, and the other, called "Classic" by a few, that resembles a tweaked Windows 7 desktop sans a Start button and Start menu.

Allen also repeated criticisms of Windows 8 that have been long-expressed by users, Microsoft watchers and analysts.

"Strangely, there is no way to set the desktop as your default view ( there should be)," Allen wrote. "This is one of the single biggest changes in Windows 8: the lack of the familiar Start menu."

He also took Windows 8 to task for not helping users learn the new Windows 8 style UI and for hiding the shutdown command, points others have made. "Personally, I think it would have been nice to provide some sort of a visual cue indicating that commands are available, and how to invoke them," he said.

"I found myself wishing that a Power tile was available on the Start screen to make these commands more accessible," Allen said.

Microsoft does offer a very animated tutorial during setup that demonstrates how to access the Charms menu, but that's the extent of its opening-round assistance.


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