Windows 8 book authors dish on Windows 8

14 top-selling writers who dug deep into Windows offer a range of perspectives that show how controversial the new OS is

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Mark Justice Hinton

Mark Justice Hinton
Credit: Merri Rudd

As the name implies, Mark Justice Hinton's "Windows 8 for Seniors for Dummies" squarely aims for the graying market, but don't let that fool you. It's a serious and very popular introductory book -- with a larger font and magnified screenshots -- tailored for one of the few Windows niches that's actually increasing in size. This is Mark's sixth book.

His comments:

Change is inevitable, especially with computers, where hardware and software developments are never in sync. Each version of Windows has improved on the previous version (even Vista -- there, I said it), and no version has been perfect (not even beloved XP, more than a decade old). Windows 8 is a huge shift like Windows 95 was. It will be a while before some people appreciate that and the rest of the market catches on. More great changes are coming in the next year or two. Using spectacular and elegant apps, Windows 8 adopts a model proven successful on other devices. However, this is no clone but a bold twist on the familiar with plenty of innovation and power, unifying Windows from Windows Phone to Xbox to computers of all shapes and sizes.

My book is geared toward older beginners, and I wasn't surprised by the uptake of Windows 8 by many of them. They are well acquainted with tablets such as the Kindle. Now, we can do more than read on a tablet. No one needs to be stuck behind a desk to use a real computer thanks to Windows 8.

Although there are some great apps, such as OneNote and Netflix, there are far more that are awful. Too many are nothing more than repackaged Web content or public domain literature -- why bother? The Windows Store does little to help you find the gems, although more user reviews may help. I rely on third-party reviews to point me to the better apps.

I would like to see more standardization of the app interface, such as whether the app bar is at the top, bottom, or both and what functions will be found on any app bar. How about an option to pin the app bars, if you want that? (For that matter, the Charms bar and app switcher should be pinnable.) There should be an option to install app updates without user intervention. Descriptions of updates should contain real details or link to such on the Web. "Fixes bugs and adds features" is a worthless description.

As you add apps, you discover how hard it is to keep the Start screen orderly. There should be options for pinning new apps to the left or specifying the group for a new app during installation. We need more levels -- zoom out and drill down -- so that the Start screen might have a few icons, each of which opens a screen of icons, etc., on down as many levels as you deem necessary. Perhaps each icon should have a Show On option, where you could select Start or some other group / level. As it is, Start serves those with ADD, not OCD -- we have needs, too.

Stop me before I find more complaints! I like Windows 8 for the most part and accept that change is inevitable and usually for the better.

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