The great Windows 8 experiment
By Frédéric Desbiens-Oracle on Dec 21, 2012
Two weeks ago, I decided to make the plunge: I upgraded my personal workstation to Windows 8. Why? Sure, I wanted to check if JDeveloper and WebLogic worked correctly. But I must admit my main motivation was curiosity. You see, when I read quotes such as: « On a regular PC, Windows 8 is Mr. Hyde: a monster that terrorizes poor office workers and strangles their productivity. », it was hard to resist the temptation of forging my own opinion.
Today, I am writing this post under Windows 8. And I have no intention to go back to Windows 7.
I have very little to report about Oracle's Java tools. They simply just work, as I expected. The JVM abstracts the underlying OS as on any other platform. I only had two small glitches up to now.
1. Starting the JDeveloper installer for versions 126.96.36.199 and 188.8.131.52 brought a menacing message on the screen, like the one below.
It basically says that SmartScreen prevented an unrecognized application from starting. This happens because the JDeveloper installers are not digitally signed. I was able to proceed anyway by following the Informations complémentaires link (More info in English), then clicking on a button labelled Exécuter quand même (Run anyway). JDeveloper then installed as usual, and runs withtout any problems. I must admit the new, simpler UI theme of the Windows 8 desktop suit it well.
2. Using the Application Developer installer to deploy the ADF runtime to a standalone WebLogic 10.3.6 server, my workstation failed the prerequisites check as shown below:
Clicking the Continue button had the expected effect. My standalone WLS instance works without any problems.
I must admit I like the look of the Windows 8 UI; it is cleaner and simpler, without the unneeded transparency that plagued its predecessors. I never liked the Start Menu before, especially in its Vista/7 incarnation. I find myself more productive with the Start Screen. I also find the Windows Key + X keyboard shortcut very useful. Having all those admin-level options available anytime is a great time saver. Obviously, the transition between Windows 8-style apps and Desktop-style ones is abrupt; the UI styles are very dissimilar. And the « charms bar » is difficult to discover and use, since the features it offers vary according to the context. But those are minor annoyances, and I got used to them in a few days. The faster boot times and tighter security easily offset them.
Truth is, no OS currently on the market offers a smooth and coherent user experience. On Linux, QT-based apps clash with GTK-based ones. On OS X, Apple introduced iOS-like behaviors and applications that are not well-integrated with the rest of the system in the last few versions. The industry is in a transition phase, and it shows.
Personally, Windows 8 was criticized the way it was because of one simple thing: resistance to change. This typical quote extracted from a review expresses it well:
« Use Windows 8 for a few minutes and chances are you'll hate it. It takes a lot longer than this to get used to the Modern UI and the way that most things scroll left and right instead of up and down. »
Resistance to change is one of the major factors why Windows XP usage is still hovering around 40% in December 2012. It will likely hinder Windows 8 adoption for quite some time.
By the way: if you want to install and run Oracle VM VirtualBox, be sure you don't have the Windows Hyper-V virtualization feature installed. You will have to use one or the other. Guess which one I kept? :-)