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Windows 8 review: Yes, it's that bad

Woody Leonhard | Aug. 16, 2012
A desktop OS for tablets and a tablet OS for desktops, Windows 8 is guaranteed to disappoint nearly everyone

While it's possible to jury-rig some import vectors -- for example, exporting an Outlook Contacts database to a flat file and importing it to Google Contacts -- in general, there's no way I could find to get my existing stand-alone Office Outlook Calendar or Contacts, or Windows Contacts (Vista, Win7), into any of the Metro apps.

There's a new Metro app on the default Start screen called, simply, Bing. Tap or click the Metro Bing tile and you get a Bing search screen that links directly into Bing's Trending list, with current hot news topics such as "Evelyn Lozada of Basketball Wives T-Shirt Shop Entrepreneur." The search screen also gives you one-step-removed search results.

Other Metro Bing apps have seen some improvement. The bug in the Bing Finance app's Russell Index listing that I mentioned previously is gone, although Bing Finance continues to offer only 20-minute time-delayed stock quotes. Metro Bing News now updates its main news item much more frequently than it did during beta.

Metro Bing Travel was dealt a heavy blow earlier this week when Google announced it was buying the travel guide publisher Frommer's. A very large percentage of the travel articles in Bing Travel -- including almost all of the Featured Destinations descriptions, and hotel and restaurant recommendations -- come from Frommer's. That's likely to change shortly, I should think.

The Windows Store expanded greatly with new offerings, including eye-candy Metro versions of Solitaire and Minesweeper, both published by Microsoft Studios, the Xbox developer group inside Microsoft. The legacy version of both programs -- indeed, all of the old Windows games -- have been retired. (No, the new versions don't have the same old cheats.)

Metro Photos and Metro Video remain devoid of any editing capability. Fortunately, Microsoft released a marginally improved Windows Photo Gallery and a substantially better Windows Movie Maker last week. Metro Music continues to amaze with a nearly complete dearth of useful features, although the app makes it easy to order music from Microsoft.

Slight changes to the Windows desktop

There are few user-noticeable changes in the Windows desktop programs; as best I can tell, the changes are almost entirely cosmetic.

One exception: with the Enterprise version of Win8 now available, Windows to Go -- portable Windows 8 on a USB stick -- comes out of the closet. In my brief tests with WTG, I was surprised to find that it worked on any machine I could find, as long as it could boot from USB. WTG even managed to conjure up some esoteric drivers. On the downside, it's painfully slow without a USB 3 connection, and the software required to create the bootable USB drive is only available in the Enterprise version of Win8.


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