Windows 8 is NOT useless with a mouse and keyboard

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I have been noticing a lot of negative comments being directed at Windows 8 lately. It has become the new thing that’s cool to hate even though it’s not that bad in reality. Among the chief complaints I have seen state Windows 8 is virtually useless without a touch screen. These critics act as if a keyboard and mouse are not good enough to navigate Windows anymore. I don’t know how they came to that conclusion, but trust me when I tell you Windows 8 is perfectly serviceable with a mouse and keyboard.

My setup for Windows 8 is as consumer friendly as it can get. I have an Asus laptop that I purchased in the summer with Windows 7 pre-installed and a wired, three-button Logitech mouse that I have used for years. I have never done anything technically fancy with my laptop from a software or hardware perspective. When I installed Windows 8, I told the software to keep all my files and settings and only replace Windows 7. I’d imagine a lot of consumers will do the same thing.

When Windows 8 boots to the lock screen, it’s clear Microsoft designed it for touchscreens. You can click and drag the lockscreen picture to expose the password input box, but you can also click anywhere to arrive at that screen instantly. Is that really so hard? No, it’s not. Let’s move on.

The next thing you’ll see is the infamous start menu. It’s populated with icons from many apps such as Mail, the Windows 8 App Store, Calendar, Bing Maps and several others. This screen scrolls from left to right, and is ideal for touchscreens. However, it’s just as easy to navigate with a mouse. All I have to do is move the scroll wheel on my mouse. Instead of moving the screen vertically, Windows 8 tells my mouse to move the screen horizontally instead. If my super old mouse can do that, I’m sure most mice can as well.

What about trackpads? I can’t speak for every computer, but my trackpad supports two-finger vertical scrolling. When I’m on the start page, two-finger scrolling moves the page horizontally just like my mouse. Scrolling is smooth, easy and does not inconvenience me any more than scrolling down a web page. I can also perform a pinching motion on my trackpad to get a zoomed out view of my apps.

These control schemes are present across every Windows 8 app I’ve tried. So far, I have no idea what’s so complicated about basic navigation in Windows 8.

To be fair, there are some gestures that I cannot duplicate with my mouse and trackpad. Closing Windows 8 apps with a mouse is admittedly not as intuitive as it can be. You have to click on the top of your screen, essentially grab the app, and drag the mouse down to close the app. OH MY GOD HOW HORRIBLE RIGHT?! But do you know what else you could do to close the app? Press alt+F4. What? Don’t tell me we’re above keyboard shortcuts all of a sudden.

Keyboard shortcuts also instantly bring up the Charms menu (Windows+C), settings menu (Windows+I) and can perform a ton of other common actions. Some of these shortcuts are very useful for those that just can’t be bothered to move their mouse around the screen to access new settings.

The best part is that all of this goes away once you enter desktop view. From there, you can access everything you love about Windows 7 in the same manner you used in Windows 7. If you right click on the space where the start icon used to be, you will bring up shortcuts to the control panel, device manager, programs and features, task manager and more. It’s all still there.

If you’ve been scared off by spiteful comments regarding Windows 8, I urge you to try it for yourself. The complexity of using Windows 8 without a touchscreen is way overblown. It’s not a perfect experience with a mouse and keyboard, but it’s nowhere near as bad as some people are making it out to be.

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  • Dan

    I have been using Windows from Windows 95 through Windows 7, as well as a few versions of Linux. Windows 8 is, without question, the worst op sys I have ever encountered. The whole thing is geared to look like a freakin’ phone, rather than actually function as a COMPUTER. I disagree with your position; Windows 8 IS useless! Any new builds I do will be Linux based or, possibly, W7. I can only assume that you work for Microsoft. Otherwise, you would have nothing positive to say about the abortion called Windows 8.

  • BW022

    Sorry, but the fact you can use it with a mouse is not the point. Most users will compare usability to Windows 7 or XP. They *know* there is an easier way to work either in Win7/XP or just getting to the desktop.

    a) Right-mouse click. Forces you to move the mouse off the object, move to the top or bottom, select an item, and move back. VS. a popup menu with the options right there. Wasted time.

    b) Charms and task areas. Moving the mouse to a specific small and hidden area and then waiting to see (some) options is slower than right-clicking or clicking on a visible target. Having to move the mouse again (to some hidden) area, and wait, to see the other applications is more wasted time.

    c) Swiping. Again, this requires moving the mouse further than you would normally do and unlike a scroll bar, you may have to do this repeatedly rather than just hold the mouse down. On a touch moving one finger is a lot easier/faster than moving your entire arm and mouse large distances across a screen.

    d) Keyboard shortcuts are not using a mouse to accomplish a task. May I remind you that in order to use a keyboard, you need to take your hand off the mouse, moving it a foot, position your fingers on the keyboard, hit a few keys, then move your hand back to the mouse, and then reposition your arm/mouse. And you have to think and remember the keyboard short cut.

    e) Areas which popup stuff merely because the mouse is there is an issue with a mouse over a touch screen. If you are working in the desktop and try to click the [X] (upper right) or browser back button (upper left) and some charms/app list pops up it’s a waste of time. You have to move your mouse away, wait for it to go away, and then ‘think’ how to carefully move your mouse to click the object without the popup happening.

    f) Big user interfaces on 1080p displays means a lot of extra mouse moving. Titles and such mean you have to move your mouse further to get to the next option. Rather than have 50 albums on a screen (like WMP) you have 18 titles and scrolling plus multiple extra screens — rather than another list to the right.

    Can you physically use a mouse with Windows 8? Of course. Is it as fast and efficient to do so as Windows 7? And that is what people are complaining about.

  • wisegeek

    What is driving me insane about windows 8 is the side swipe from the right which opens the charms menu.
    Imagine being on a stores website looking at clothing, you are scrolling down a list of items on their webpage (the scroll bar is inevitable placed on the right of the screen), you find the item you want to purchase and move the cursor towards the item to click on the link but in doing so you have technically swiped in from the right causing the charms menu to open together with a huge clock…..aaaaarrrrrgggghhh – get it OFFFFFF

  • SR

    “From there, you can access everything you love about Windows 7 in the same manner you used in Windows 7.”

    Really? Then show me how to access the Win7 Start Button…

  • Robert

    With the help of a couple of third party apps you *can* make Windows 8 as useful as Windows 7 and quite fast I must say. But as it stands, Windows 8 is terrible on a non-touchscreen device, there is really no point to it.

  • Caroline

    O yeah.. that blasted Charms bar appears unwanted every few seconds (despite me going into the Registry Editor to disable it as much as possible) and if I could disable it entirely, I would.

  • Daniel

    Windows 8 is useless with a mouse or without. The mistake they made that I can tell is removing dvd play back which has kept me from using any of the programs that I need. Microsoft was being greedy when they made this OS and that’s what causes it to fail. If my programs don’t work on it, I don’t want it. Im upgrading to windows 7. 7 had its problems but at least you could install programs.

  • Scott

    Microsoft is a basically a bully they’ll take your money and there’s nothing you can do about it. Microsoft support is a joke. I have a $500 laptop with Win 8 preinstalled, I also have a $69 tablet I get more use out of the tablet thanks for nothing Microsoft.