Much has been made of the Windows 8
Metro Modern UI Style interface and the problems some users are having with it – especially in a desktop computer environment. Even on the tablet side, where opinion generally seems to be more positive, there are concerns about the way Microsoft is rolling the software out – and specifically the confusion the two different versions will likely cause.
Up to this point I’ve been a pretty loud supporter of the new operating system anyway. I installed the consumer preview on a Samsung ultrabook and that process went fairly smoothly, with only a few snags (that are to be expected in any operating system upgrade). I played with the new interface and actually liked it – even on a laptop.
But then I realized how tightly integrated the new OS is with Windows Live – and that’s when the whole thing started to go right off the rails.
The Windows Live service is used to log you in to your computer in Windows 8 (in most configurations) which is useful since Windows 8 is very tightly integrated with related, online Microsoft services like Skydrive (for online file storage) and Xbox Live.
If you turned on a computer for the first time this week you’ve likely never set up a Windows Live account, and creating a new one goes pretty smoothly. If, however, you’ve ever used any kind of Microsoft product or online service you likely already have a Live account. And if you can’t remember your password, or if – God forbid – you want to update your info, here’s where things start to go south.
The system is built to automatically remind you of your credentials or allow you to update info. But it doesn’t work. A quick search of the Microsoft Answers site shows dozens of unsolved support requests from people who are locked out of their accounts after trying to perform basic administrative tasks.
For example, the email verification system is broken. If you want to update your email account, the system does allow you to do that. But then it tries to prove that you are the owner of the email account. Verification emails sometimes get sent, but often the links they contain do not work. Attempts to resend the links sometimes work, but after a few tries the account locks you out, telling you the system is not able to send emails.
So now you’re locked out of your account because without being able to verify your email account, you’re not able to do any of the administrative functions on your account – like update your profile information or change your email account back to something else.
And here’s where it gets really good. The Microsoft support sites require you to be logged in to post requests for help. But you can’t log in, because it won’t let you in until you verify your email account. Which is what you’re there to get help for. Which is when your head explodes.
Microsoft is not designed to offer tech support to personal users, so at this point you’re pretty much screwed. Searching for answers reveals dozens of people with similar problems, but virtually no answers, and surprisingly few people who even have suggestions.
And all this, keep in mind, BEFORE Windows 8 is even officially launched. Just try imagine the mess this will be when use of Windows Live goes up exponentially and the system gets crushed by millions of new users who install Windows 8 and then start logging in to those accounts.
For me, this has been enough to send me scurrying back to Windows 7, where I will stay for the foreseeable future. This experience has turned me from an excited early adopter, to someone who will wait quite a while after the launch to try the new version again. I’ll be happy to wait until Microsoft fixes Live before I make that mistake again.