Saturday, September 1, 2012

No Windows 8 Metro Apps For Netbooks

Having been defeated by VMware 9 in my quest to build a Windows 8 virtual machine, I decided to blow out the Windows 7 Home Premium on my little netbook and see how it ran Windows 8. In fact, I am typing my post currently on Windows 8. So far the experience has been both wonderful and horrible. Wonderful because overall it runs smooth as silk. The hitching that I get watching video on this underpowered machine on every other OS goes away with Windows 8. It also somehow triples the Wi-Fi connection speed that I get way up in my hidey-hole room on the top floor. It's absolutely fantastic.


But, I cannot run any Metro apps and I never will be able to, if what people on the Internet are saying is true. Because pretty much every netbook on the market fails to meet the minimum hardware requirements of Metro.

I'm struggling to understand why Microsoft did this. Windows 8 don't-call-them-Metro apps are guaranteed to have a resolution of at least 1024x768. That's just great, except that pretty much all Netbooks currently on the market run a 1024x600 resolution for their 10 inch displays. With this one little requirement they rule out most netbooks from truly supporting Windows 8.

Now, correct me if I'm wrong here, but I thought the big push towards their Metro interface was to have a uniform consumer experience between all (usually small) devices. That's the reason I decided to install it on my netbook. I figured it was designed for small devices like phones, and well, a netbook is a small device, right? It seemed like a perfect fit.

It runs so well that I basically have no choice but to keep it. I either have to nuke all the Metro apps that don't run (which are most of them), or use a horrible workaround, which makes Windows scale the display to 1024x768 and stretches it. The work-around can be found here. It works fine and all the Metro apps work, but just that little bit of stretching makes everything on the screen look hideous. I think I'm going back to 1024x600 and I just won't use Metro. I'm not sure I could get used to the screen stretched like this, but for the record the work-around does work.

Again, other than not being able to use the main key feature of the operating system, the netbook is fantastic with Windows 8. I get most of my writing done in this room and do quite a few file transfers, and I have barely been able to get a connection here. File transfers take forever and sometimes time out. I don't know what it does with the radio, but the Wi-Fi is a whole different experience with it parked in the same place it's always been parked. Same hardware. Impressive.

And it plays youtube videos so smoothly now that it just blows away the best I could get it to work under Windows 7 Starter or Home Premium. This single core Atom netbook is barely powerful enough to surf the Internet, but it's almost a whole different machine under Windows 8. It's just really a shame that Microsoft doesn't support netbooks with this new version, because Windows 8 could be great on this little machine. Not everyone wants to do all of their work on a tablet and not everyone wants a bulky laptop or notebook.

So I have to choose between a stretched, hard to read screen or none of Metro working. I guess I'm just going to screw Metro and treat Windows 8 like it's Windows 7 with no Start button. Heh, how sad is that.

From what I am reading, there isn't any plan to change this requirement of Metro. But then again, there wasn't any plan to make Vista suck less either. So, we'll see what the consumers have to say.

My netbook's highest resolution is too low for Windows 8 Metro
My netbook's highest resolution is too low for Windows 8 Metro


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