On this day – Windows 8 Released!


5 years ago today, October 26th, 2012, Microsoft released Windows 8 to the general public! I did the full icy plunge back then, and installed it on every computer I owned. Including my desktop, and laptops.

Windows 8 was not a horribly bad Windows OS, especially under the hood. However, design wise, it was very tablet-centric. It took some time to get used to Windows 8, especially with charms, the start screen, hot corners, etc.

It can be argued, without Windows 8, we would not have Windows 10. Also, any of the highly innovative hardware we have today. Most especially, the Microsoft Surface Pro tablets, and any of the Yoga style laptops!

Comments (22)

22 responses to “On this day – Windows 8 Released!”

  1. ErichK

    Wait, what? I don't see a Start button in that screen shot...

    Ha ha. Yeah, I went against the tide and bought it too back then, as soon as it came out. Also a Surface RT.

    • jimchamplin

      In reply to ErichK:

      Same here. I really jumped all in on the vision. Personally I thought using 8 was really fun, even on a desktop machine.

      Alas, it wasn't meant to be and the groupthink of the geek elite drowned out any average nerd who liked it, influencing the general public who'd never even seen the thing.

      • hrlngrv

        In reply to jimchamplin:

        . . . influencing the general public who'd never even seen the thing

        I think you're grossly underestimating the average human's aversion to change, especially the resistance most would show to what they perceived as pointless change, aka Change just for the sake of Change.

        There was considerable experience on PCs with lots of the UI changes which came with windows 8. It's just that that experience came from people using replacements for Explorer as the desktop shell (LiteStep and a few others). Hidden UI elements were more disliked than liked. True to form, MSFT paid no attention to the experience of others. Especially not when they had phones and tablets to foist on an innocent public.

        • jimchamplin

          In reply to hrlngrv:

          Oh there's no way I can defend the really bonehead stuff like hiding the Start button. Sinofsky's team also very poorly explained the changes to the public. 8.1 with the final update was the actually finished product. Even I couldn't stand having to use 8.0 at this point.

          The pitiful little tooltips that would pop up never adequately explained the thing, and there was nothing given to the mouse user to make the rest of the system more accessible. With that final update, at least the titlebar was accessible in full-screen Metro apps.

          It wasn't perfect, but it wasn't the madness people made it out to be.

          In the end it should have never been Windows 8, and instead been the replacement for the Tablet PCs variant. I still would have liked it more than 7. It was just so fun!

      • ErichK

        In reply to jimchamplin:

        I hear you, but in the end I'm not sure how to feel about it. I was up and running with the OS in not much time, but the more I heard arguments about how many of the user interface elements were "non-discoverable" I started thinking that maybe those who disliked it had a point.

  2. Paul Thurrott

    A date that will forever live in infamy...

  3. Tony Barrett

    Having just had enough of Windows 10 (instability, update issues, black/blue screens etc), I've just installed Win8.1 on my laptop, along with a start menu replacement. So far so good.

  4. kzrystof

    Working with that in a desktop environment was not fun at all.

    However, with the new Surface RT, the experiment was very promising: I was able to read / edit documents (word / powerpoint) in the bus and easily share them with the rest of my classmates. It was also great at taking notes in class (with OneNote). This is something I tried with my iPad at the time and it was not useable.


    Just when you thought that Vista was the worst thing that could happen to Windows.

  6. Luis_Sohal

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  7. Win74ever

    The beginning of the end for Windows.

  8. rameshthanikodi

    aka the day Steven Sinofsky's Apple envy killed his Microsoft career.

  9. AshlyThompson

    I updated my Windows 8 to 10, I'm used to the interface, I'm happy with everything. But! How scary it is when the system starts updating in the middle of the night when my computer was already in sleep mode.

  10. hrlngrv

    Under the hood it was at its best. I still have it on a VM.

    That said, I had used LiteStep a lot in the early 2000s, trying out dozens if not hundreds of themes. One thing I noticed then myself and in comments from others: hidden UI elements exposed by moving the mouse to corners or edges was more often than not disliked. Maybe that sort of thing makes sense on phones and tablets, but things like the Charms Bar was a bad idea for PCs.

    Which leads to what was really and spectacularly wrong with Windows 8: it was meant to force PC users to get used to MSFT's phone/tablet UI. It was MSFT hoping it could herd PC users like Apple herds iSheep. Fortunately, IMO, PC users appear inclined to think for themselves, so MSFT's grand scheme blew up in their faces.

  11. harmjr

    I did too. I still have the cases it came in. I was so excited for this. I drank the cool aid and it was vinegar.

    It was great UI on tablets once you could get your head around the desktop being an app.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to harmjr:

      Except that the desktop was only treated as an app. Unlike all the other apps, the desktop was never shut down or suspended. It was always running. Then with 8.1 (or was it 8.1 Update 1?) there was an option to start on the desktop and return to the desktop when no apps/applications were running, at which point the Start screen became a launcher app.

      In philosophical terms, this isn't much different than putting This PC on the desktop, and the desktop being just one item in/under This PC.

  12. wunderbar

    Windows 8, technically, was a very good OS. Windows 8, in terms of UI/UX, was a disaster.

    In many ways, Windows 8 is very similar to what Vista was. Without Vista we don't get Windows 7, and without Windows 8 we don't get Windows 10.

  13. irfaanwahid

    Strangely, one of my favorite Windows has been Vista. I really liked all the technologies it introduced, rather what Longhorn was set out to be but never fully realized, *cough* WinFS.

    I think 8.1 was a good refinement to 8 and bringing back that little button changed things a lot. It rocked on my SP1 then, without a doubt it was meant to live in tablet world, unlike its older brother Windows 10.

    Another point I must say, is the excitement around Windows. I remember during XP, Vista days.. there was so much excitement upgrading your OS. I would sit hours upgrading and tinkering with the shiny new OS.

    Somehow the charm of Windows is lost since the introduction of Windows 10.

    It is fun to have Windows every 6 months, but it is no more a big bang. You are done exploring MAJOR new features within few minutes.

    Also, there was a lot of fun playing around with Pre releases, first beta, Release Candidates. With opening of Insider Previews, that is also gone.

    I guess, the era of OS is gone and devices are in.