As Microsoft Press's premier Windows title, Tony Northrup's "Windows 8 Inside Out" has some mighty big shoes to fill. Tony is quick to point out he isn't bound to the Microsoft party line. He says, "I've published about 30 books for Microsoft Press, and I have a bunch of Microsoft certifications. I'm not, however, a Microsoft employee and I'm not required to say nice things."
Here's what he does say:
Windows 8 is amazing. There's a ton for power users and enterprises to love: Faster everything. All your hardware and desktop apps still work. The death of rootkits and bootkits (really!). Awesome keyboard shortcuts (Win-X!). Windows to Go (for enterprises to run Windows from a flash drive). Storage Spaces (I can finally use all my old hard drives). Improved Task Manager (immediately find that problem app). Refresh/Reset options (un-screw-up your PC in minutes). And more.
The touch interface: It works great, but you have to learn it. Ten years ago, people expected to learn a new user interface, but today we think we already know how to use everything we pick up, which makes people think it's broken. Take 15 minutes to read Chapter 1 of "Windows 8 Inside Out" (it's free, click the cover image at Amazon.com) and watch the videos. My book is for power users, but even we need the help.
About the Windows Store apps: The infrastructure is technically better than the Apple and Google app stores, which matters only to the nerdiest among us. Here's what matters to everyone else: Windows Store doesn't have the app they want, or it costs more, or it isn't up to date. For example, while you can buy the Angry Birds Star Wars app, it's $5 instead of $1, and Rovio hasn't yet released the "Hoth update," which has caused angry consumers to use literally dozens of exclamation points in their one-star reviews.
The integration of desktop and touch is terrible, but I can't run Word, Lightroom, Photoshop, and VirtualBox on my iPad, so in that respect, Windows 8 is the best around.
Still, there's plenty of room for improvement. Here's my wish list for Windows 8: Give new users an interactive tutorial. Every game now uses the first level as a tutorial, so why shouldn't Windows? Port the rest of the built-in tools to touch: Control Panel, Notepad, Calculator, Remote Desktop, File Explorer, Paint, etc. Let users run Windows Store apps on Windows 7/Vista. Developers shouldn't have to maintain two versions of every app, so let me run Windows Store apps in a resizable window on the desktop, so they don't consume my entire 30-inch monitor. Let me run Windows Store apps on different monitors simultaneously. Hide the lock screen by default on nontablet PCs.
Oh, and one last thought: Windows 8 is new technology. New technology is a pain, but it gets better with time. If you're not the "early adopter" type, it might be better to wait.