Does Windows Start Screen Get in the Way of Productivity or Not?

I’ve been using Windows 8 off and on again since the early “Developer Preview” days. In that time, I’ve went from a Windows 8 enthusiast, to a major critic and then finally settled in with loving Windows 8.

For a long while I was also of the opinion that removing the Start Menu and Button was a foolish mistake on Microsoft’s part. Forcing us to use a touch-optimized UI is absolute rubbish, I thought. Now that I’ve been comfortably been using Windows 8 solidly for over 6 months (including later previews and the final commercial version), I have totally changed stances, sort of.

I still don’t use the Metro/Modern apps hardly EVER. They don’t suite me. I have a 27-inch monitor and usually have multiple windows running side by side (Microsoft Word, Google Chrome, etc), I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’d say 95% or more of my time is spent in the desktop.

That said, when I let my preschool-aged daughter use my PC, she loves the new apps and the new UI. She also easily knows how to get from the desktop to the modern UI, and back again.

The change in my stance and attitude towards Windows 8 was when I slowly realized that Microsoft isn’t forcing ANYONE to use the Start apps or UI. At least not really.

Windows 8 Still Has the Start Menu

The Start Menu is still there, and in many ways seems more fluid than Windows 7. Let me further explain this. I consider myself a computer nerd, even though I may not be the most advanced power user out there by a longshot. I also know what I want to do with my computer, the names of my apps, etc.

So in Windows 8, life is easy. I hit the Windows key on my Keyboard, I start instantly typing what I’m looking for: Computer, Disk Management, Sims 3, SimCity 4… whatever I type, it finds VERY quickly. I click on it, I’m back in the desktop and down to business.

Going to the full-screen start menu (aka Start Screen) doesn’t hinder my productivity or entertainment efforts, if anything they enhance it.

Windows 8 is faster, and its task manager is better

I honestly love the new task manager. It isn’t going to be considered an improvement by everyone, but it does the job rather well. Most of the changes to Windows desktop are subtle and I really feel like the desktop just feels faster.

I forget I’ve upgraded…

To put it bluntly, I often forget that this is a change from Windows 7. I use it the EXACT same way as I always have, other than my search for apps is a tiny bit different and the occasional restart or shutdown takes a bit more effort.

After spending a little time with Windows 8, I don’t get all the complaints. Is it worth upgrading? Maybe not. I can’t say it has improved my PC experience all that much, but it certainly hasn’t hindered it.

For many users, buying an upgrade key probably won’t bring them any major changes worth having unless you are someone who likes to have the latest and greatest software. On the other side of things, I see absolutely NO reason to pay for a downgrade on new Windows 8 PCs. Windows 7 and Windows 8 co-exist perfectly, and Windows 8 is every bit as capable as Windows 7– if not much better. If you really can’t get past the Start Screen, get something like Start8.

I respect other people’s opinions and know that some will adamantly disagree with me. That’s fine, as this is my opinion and that doesn’t make it fact. What works for some doesn’t for others, but in my own experience, NO, Windows 8’s new UI doesn’t get in the way of productivity in the slightest bit.

I’d love to get a better idea of the other side of the opinion spectrum, though. Instead of just saying “Start Screen sucks, Windows 7 FTW”, I invite Windows 8 critics to share with me how Start UI has gotten in their way and why just typing instantly for apps can’t work for them, just remember to be respectful and understand that there isn’t necessarily right or wrong when it comes to opinion.

I imagine there might be legitimate scenarios where Start Menu was better for somethings, it just doesn’t seem to matter for my own particular usage patterns. For a great majority of users though, the hatred for Windows 8’s new UI is more based on misunderstanding or lack of willingness to give it an “honest try” more than any real hurdle caused by the change.

What do you think, do you agree that Windows Start Screen really doesn’t hurt the desktop experience or not? Share your thoughts below.

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