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.