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Learning Windows 8: Hampered by "A la recherche du temps perdu"

As an undergraduate, I took Alan Sonnenfeld’s fabulous class wherein we read Ulysses, The Magic Mountain, and the Marcel Proust book whose French title is in my blog title, usually translated as “Remembrance of Things Past” (or perhaps more appropriately “In Search of Lost Time”). I was reminded of the alternate translation for this title as I have struggled with Learning Windows 8 over the past week, and again as I read Paul Thurrott’s “…Call For Common Sense” blog this morning.

Perhaps the reason why so many people, including myself occasionally, are qvetching about Windows 8 right now is because so much of what they know about previous Windows versions’ behavior and capabilities is coloring their perception and appreciation for what the new OS represents, and especially how this new OS really works. My favorite point in Thurrott’s blog is “The desktop is not the OS. It’s an app.” Yeah, sure, it’s a pain to learn to work without a Start button and menu but there are plenty of other good ways to get around Metro and the Desktop without it, too.

I think the real issue is that while Windows 8 doesn’t necessarily obviate what most people know about Windows, it does short-circuit their quick instinctual behaviors to get around inside the Windows 8 runtime environment. But hey, it’s about learning something new, which means it’s important to let go of those old, ingrained instincts and start developing new ones. It’s like exercise or learning a new skill: difficult at first, and perhaps occasionally even a little painful, but with practice and repetition new neural pathways and automatic behaviors will form. Give it time, and we’ll all start seeing Windows 8 as natural rather than “a crime against nature” or a deliberate violation of what we know and understand about Windows 7 and XP.

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