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back to article Windows 8 has put the world's PC market to sleep - IDC

The global PC market is dwindling, and Windows 8 could be to blame, according to the beancounters at IDC. The analyst firm released its rundown of global PC shipments on Tuesday, and the year-on-year double digit decline blows a cold wind for traditional PC makers like Dell and HP, and OS-slinger Microsoft. "It seems clear that …

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Anonymous Coward

If you manipulate geolocated imagery, such as multiple ecw or geotiff images weighing gigabytes (not uncommon), you will find the HORRIBLE state current tools are in. Have eight cores? No worry! They'll be helpful in prolonging the life of your processor since there will only one active at a time and that keeps the other 7 cool.

Consumer applications are bad. Enterprise tools are as bad.

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Multithreading much image processing is straightforward, I can easily keep 4-8 cores busy and GPU via CUDA etc. is useful - what software isn't doing this? SSD helps too so plenty of reasons to use an up to date system for more demanding applications.

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But what about applications for which multicore techniques aren't as well optimized because the job, by its very nature, works best with one or few threads? Take media encoding. Any attempts to make them use GPU resources have fallen flat because the most important part of the process, motion estimation, is inherently divergent and not well-suited for GPUs. It's still OK for multicore CPUs though, as you can slice the media in a few ways (doing it by keyframes, for example). As I understand it, if a job requires a very rigorous schedule and/or timing, then it's not well suited for multithreading, either, because of the risk of race conditions.

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A lot of media encoding/processing doesn't need to be done real-time, or at least doesn't needn't be processed at highest quality levels in real-time. Real time - what you are referring to isn't really a technical problem in practice with modern hardware, these issues you allude to were more of a factor several years ago when people were trying to push slower PC CPU/GPU beyond some intrinsic limits. Still a problem on most current ARM and Atom devices but nobody seriously expects to run the more demanding stuff here until upcoming performance bumps are available.

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It's not just the lack of a Start button or the UI changes that are keeping people away from Windows 8. It's the Appleification of the entire OS - the walled-garden app store; the requirement to sign in to a Microsoft account to use the system (or at least the constant nagging to do so if you choose not to), and the concomitant spying that goes with it; the remote-control mentality; and the emphasis on cloud rather than local storage.

No doubt the Windows 8 fankids will counter by saying "but you can get around those by..." but that's not the point. I shouldn't have to "get around" these restrictions. They simply shouldn't be there. My computer is mine, not Microsoft's, and the sooner they realise that it is this Apple-like control-freak mentality as much as the radical UI changes that is keeping businesses and individuals alike away from it, the quicker their market will recover.

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Anonymous Coward

Getting tired of being a Gooogel, Faceboo, Microsoph bitch! But its not a cause to be sad...

I have a suspicion that a lot of people are fed up with overpriced Windows 8 Ultrabooks when Win7 / XP netbooks will suffice....They are also fed up with privacy issues from searches engines to social networks, such as the 'sign in to a Microsoft account to use the system (or at least the constant nagging to do so...)'.

That's going to leave a heap of people sitting on the sidelines-- not spending-- not buying. And that is quite exciting, because I think its going to bring new innovation. The PC market became stale long before Vista! But Vista took the biscuit!

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Anonymous Coward

I agree with you about the desirability of keeping a PC personal and I'm not happy either with some directions in the Microsoft user model. However to be fair there are definite benefits from cloud integration and the way the Windows 8 store app approach lets me use my data and apps across the several devices I use day to day.

Desktop apps on 8 are used the same way as with 7 so for the time being 'Metro' is not a problem in practice - just don't use the store apps if you have an issue with them. My concerns are more about what might come next if opportunities for spying etc. become non opt-out in future Windows versions.

I'm not convinced these issues account for much about current sales figures of PCs though. Consumers seem happy to buy into suspect systems Apple, Google or Microsoft. Enterprises move slowly with many other reasons that market remains mainly a Windows 7 business this year.

.

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@AC 1:12

I agree with you.

I upgraded to Windows 8 on my machines and I find it great, after a short time getting used to the changes.

As to the market slow-down, I think this has more to do with the move to ultra portable devices and tablets. These have less power than desktops from 4 or 5 years ago, which means that if the OS runs fast enough on a new Atom based tablet, then it is going to be more than fast enough on old kit.

That either means, there is no need to upgrade from Windows 7, because you don't see Windows 8 bringing you any advantage or you want Windows 8 and the old hardware suddenly runs faster than before, so why bother buying new? The only benefit buying new brings is a touch screen or maybe a touch enabled mouse or trackpad.

Add to that an economic downturn and soaring costs on essentials, like food, heat and electricity, it isn't really a wonder that people are looking at the current performance of their devices and saying "if it is still working, why would I replace it?"

According to figures, Windows 8 is selling in similar volume to Windows 7 during its entire life (20 million a month), although pundits looking to cast it in a bad light will look at the percentages, because there are more PCs around now than there were back then...

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Stop

Maybe Apple's frog boiling has been successful on me, but I believe that as far OS X 10.8 goes you can get still by quite well without an Apple ID and the Mac App Store. It certainly doesn't nag you as much as Windows 8 does nor does the GUI lurch around like a wounded elephant.

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Lack of Start button?

I offered my kids the low cost Win8 upgrade licence that came with my puny netbook which I bought last year and they turned it down because of the 'too different UI'. One of them uses a Nokia Lumia WinPhone. They like new things, usually.

They discovered the Windows key +D combination last week and are now kicking themselves.

Perhaps Microsoft DO need to point out that Windows 7 is still there, kinda. I think this will be putting a lot of people off. Average Joe Public doesn't think about walled gardens. The kids thought the Metro Start was 'too simple' and wouldn't offer them the flexibility of the familiar near twenty year old desktop experience.

I bet the software engineers envisaged the Win8 Start screen as an introductory bridge to the Metro UI, which was clearly designed for touchscreen devices, so that they could have the same look and feel across phones, tablets and PCs. The marketing people probably just decided to go all in for Metro and neglected to point out that Windows is still there for proper computers and real working environments.

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@Andrew_b65 - Re: Lack of Start button?

Wrote : _ "They discovered the Windows key +D combination last week"

But I understand that even the desktop mode lacks a Start Button (without a 3rd party add-on). Is this true or not? I have never used Win8 and it sound's like you haven't either - can anyone help here?

Moreover, according to a review I read, some apps MUST be run in Metro mode, and others MUST be run in desktop mode, so the user needs to switch between them.

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Facepalm

Re: Lack of Start button?

When I first upgraded to WinXP, I vaguely remember there being an option to "take a tour" and review a load of the features. Upgrading to Win8, I was just presented with TIFKAM and no instructions or help - which I could see most people getting very confused over.

Maybe a new install of Win8 (as opposed to an update) has a walkthrough - I don't know. What I do know is that as a game developer, the first game I launched got a lot of flack for people not knowing how to play, which dropped off almost immediately after I put in a tutorial mode which was the default play mode on the first run. Surely something similar with Win8 would not be too difficult to implement and would help with this?

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Re: @Andrew_b65 - Lack of Start button?

Metro apps run in Metro mode.

Desktop/Standard apps run in the Desktop like they have for decades.

It's basically you now have a choice of two kinds of the same app in a way. Metro version or Desktop version.

If you don't want to use the Metro version (for many of us why would we) then you just uninstall it and set your default applications to the Desktop/Standard ones and carry on as normal.

Takes all of 5 minutes.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @Andrew_b65 - Lack of Start button?

Yes. What you say is true, and they have a saying for things like this in the north. "It's W@nk."

It's an operating system, and they expect people to do mulitple jobs at once on it. If I wanted a glorified web browser I'd use Android, and do, because it was designed from the ground up.

Thankfully, Windows 7 will last me until I retire.

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Re: so for the time being 'Metro' is not a problem

any defense of an OS that starts with 'so for the time being' failed well before your fingers touched the keyboard.

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Anonymous Coward

@Andrew_b65 - Re: Lack of Start button?

Win8, Nokia Lumia! Are you really doing this to your children?!

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Re: I read, some apps MUST be run in Metro mode,

therein is the nub of the problem, and which I broached in my post above. Yes the idea of forcing a mouse and keyboard machine into a touchscreen metaphor is abysmally stupid even for Balmer. But what is truly worrisome is the future road map. Management at MS have clearly indicated they aren't happy with their current revenue model and want to move to subscription, which is effectively what the Apple Store is. So while Win 8 MIGHT support the old stuff, they clearly intend for it to be a legacy bridge and not the operational model.

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No need to "get around it" since most of the thinks you claim are simply not there. Windows asks ONCE to register an MS-Live accound to your user IF you are not in a Windows domain (and most privat users are not). After that it asks no more.

The App-Store is coupled to an account - just as in iOS or Android. I use Win8 since it came out and the ONLY apps I use on my privat boxes are Mail and Messenger (on the company T731 I use Outlook). Standard desktop programs install as they have for decades and offer better functionality so why use an App?

Where is "cloud" emphasised? SkyDrive is included as a software but that's it. OneNote offers it as an option as it did under Win7 (and likely Vista - skipped that) and that makes sense for privat use (company units likely use a company-owned and VPN-accessed Sharepoint) If you want "cloud emphasised" look at iOS/Android/Chrome not at Win8.

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Re: @Andrew_b65 - Lack of Start button?

And where is the problem of doing more than one job on Win8? Like running a Firefox, an Eclipse, an Android Emulator and a PDF reader all at once like I do right now (Waiting for the stupid Android to start)?

Guess my old friend Bill aranged for sending me a special version of Win8. Like he did with Win7, WinXP, 2000 and NT4...

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Re: I read, some apps MUST be run in Metro mode,

There is no "forcing a touch screen metaphor" on Windows. Looking at the way most people use WinXP / Win7 they drop the commonly used programs on the desktop and/or taskbar and use the "Start" menu for shutting down the PC.

On Win8 my most used programs are on my Metro start screen, the taskbar only contains the running programs and instead of "Right click Taskbar->Choose Display Desktop" to get at the lesser used programs on the desktop (Taskbar-space is scarce in Win7) I do "Hit Win-Key". After selecting the program I get returned to then desktop and do NOT need to re-open/re-arrange windows. They are all as I left them

About the only thing missing is the "last used documents" feature of the start menu. Something most people are not even aware of due to the way the start programs from the menu (IF they do that at all, see above). And most programs have that feature build in anyway even under Win7.

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aqk
WTF?

Re: @Andrew_b65 - Lack of Anti-virus?

Do you have an anti-virus program on your Windows? Is it the integrated Win-Defender?

No? Then it is a 3rd-party add-on. Better get rid of it.

How about your anti-spyware or registry-cleaner. Oh. Don't have those, huh?

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Trollface

Muahaha---

Make your kit-shifting dependent on a rape-bus piloted by a head salesman with the meat sweats and staffed with his band of motley fools and serfs trying to follow the yuppie transporter in front.

Reap what you sow.

On a related tack, I'm sure state-worshippers will demand that "austerity" measures be relaxed for a righteous uptick in sales. Yeah, that's gonna help (as if there were any in the first place)

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Anonymous Coward

Just consider this real-life equivalent. You buy a new car.

It is a tad faster than your old one, corners very slightly better and returns a slightly better fuel consumption.

Would you then expect the dashboard and controls to be so awful that you woudl then willingly go down to your local motor mart to have the gear shift taken down from the roof and reinstalled on the prop tunnel, the square steering knob replaced with a round wheel and the dashboard you had to rotate to view one dial at at time, replaced with a couple of convetional instruments.

Would you find that accceptable?

That, friends, is the real-world analogy of the excerable wonder of Win 8.

Probably a product only loved by those managerial staff who should be leaving on the "B" Ark and those prople who use the word "Leverage" as a verb.

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This post has been deleted by its author

But this is actually happening. Not to the main driving controls, but to all the others. Some manufacturers have started putting touch screens into cars, which makes it difficult to change something like the radio/heater without taking your eye off the road because you can't just feel the button/dial like you used to.

Hopefully car buyers will reject this and good old fashioned buttons and dials will stay - or the various laws in the world about operating phones/satnavs on the move will expand to cover stupid car touch-screens too.

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Happy

Square steering wheel.

With that one analogy you made me think of W8 as the Austin Allegro of operating systems.

Was' nt that a fugly mess that was forced on us by arrogant management & thrown together by a demoralised work force too.

To cap it all it became known as the "All agro" in the trade too!

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Actually had my wheel replaced with to steering levers so I could "feel like grandpa" during my last trip to France. Took the scenic root throug the Netherlands and Belgium he recommended

Worked nicely. Locals where a tad unfriendly so

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Re: Square steering wheel.

I remember them - some had a "square" steering wheel (actually square with rounded corners - something for the Apple eaters to ponder upon), and a gearbox that felt like you were stirring marbles with a long spoon.

A very sad day for the UK motor industry when that got approved for production :(

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aqk
FAIL

BS.

The car analogy does not work here.

Doing all those things on your car above takes hour and hours and costs lots of $$.

In my case I installed a FREE one-meg utility (much smaller than either my anti-virus, my anti-spyware or my registry cleaner)

And it took two minutes.

My Win-8 now looks like XP (or preferably like my old "classic" Win2000). And it is fully supported too!

Say- did you write that old "If GM designed cars like MS designed Windows"? Hmm.. which of these two companies went broke a few years ago?

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Re: BS.

"In my case I installed a FREE one-meg utility (much smaller than either my anti-virus, my anti-spyware or my registry cleaner)"

The thought of having to endure Windows 8 made me switch to Linux Mint Cinnamon edition (after road testing a couple of other desktops along the way)... By default I have a start button and don't need anti-virus, anti-spyware or a registry cleaner.

Apart from Metro, horizontal scrolling (ugh!), no start menu, signing in to MS accounts, apps not quitting from the X button, schizophrenic menu options depending whether you right or left click, hidden options/menus/hot corners, ugly flat window decoration, constantly being unexpectedly dumped between desktop and Metro... I'm sure Win 8 is lovely.

Thank you Microsoft for finally producing an OS so atrocious that it gave me the impetus to do something I'd been meaning to try for years. I feel at home again with my PC, like I've got all the best bits of usability from XP and 7 with the security, stability and customisation of Linux. The future's bright, the future's Minty.

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Devil

Some people say 'different is better'. If they annoy you, just point to Windows 8.

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Contra-productive since you help them proof they are right. Win8 IS better than the alternatives.

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Mushroom

Remember when the Windows fanantics would say "...but its not like Windows..."

The biggest problem Microsoft have it is guided by Arrogant bar stewards that believe they have a $deity given right to everything IT related and customers should be grateful to be able to use Microsoft's offerings.

This could be the tipping point that's been building up for years as all the major PC builders were quite happy to go along with any legal or illegal tactic as long as they got a cut.

There could have been a switch to Linux or BEOS or many other alternatives but they chose instead to keep the monopoly going.

You can fool all of the people ..etc.etc..

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Re: Remember when the Windows fanantics would say "...but its not like Windows..."

You have a point.

Linux advocates took the track of "My gran can use Ubuntu - it's easy" or "My three-year-old can use Mint", but this was never good enough for Windows fans, because it wasn't "just like Windows."

Now Windows is not "just like Windows".

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Re: Remember when the Windows fanantics would say "...but its not like Windows..."

Maybe switching to another OS is NOT as simple as some people believe. Even Solaris, a well-maintained, long term (10+ years) stable OS with NO distribution wars would have problems to replace Windows. Let's assume Oracle "sets the x86 version free" (or sells it for Windows-style prices). That would still mean

+ Games won't run. Win7 games (and many XP games) run fine on Win8. And games are one of the reasons for a home pc

+ No MS-Office. And as Munich shows nicely(1) Office is deeply integrated in many workflows in companies and cities. And changing the software is often not an option due to costs. OTOH elder office versions run on Win8

+ No SQL Server. And that is a rather common database, one of the "big three" when it comes to commercial products. Even if one does not use Triggers/Stored Procedures most of the "free" replacements are not in the same league and the commerical ones (DB/2, Oracle) cost a lot more

+ Need to set up a completely new user structure, new software distribution systems etc. Windows desktop often means Windows Server (at least for Login/Authentification) and Windows Software Distribution systems (that work beautiful in a Windows setup)

+ No Sharepoint, no Exchange, no Outlook. The latter two can be replaced by Domino/Notes - for at least the same price. The former has no integrated replacement

...

(1) The Limux "migration" makes massiv use of Citrix. So massive than Munich has double the permanent staff than any other german city. And permanent stuff in germany is very costy/difficult to get rid of - for short term jobs everyone uses contractors

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Anonymous Coward

underlying issues

Shortages of touch panels look like continuing through most of the year keeping costs high for the new convertible/detachable formats. DRAM prices are up. Battery life boost via Haswell only hits the shops second half of the year and Atom processor upgrades are very late, not expected until end of year. Improvements to desktop processors is slow this year on account of focus on mobile power usage. On the plus side, SSD prices continue to fall.

Many OEMs add to the underlying problems by offering notebook 768p displays which are often lower resolution that the 6 year old notebook a user may consider replacing.

All adds up to 2013 being a less than satisfactory time to upgrade notebooks and desktops for cost/function/battery life reasons, although the price function equation may be better by last quarter.

It would be interesting to hear some estimates of what proportion of PC sales represent replacements and what are new installations. I suspect much of the slow down is due to notebooks and desktops being kept for longer and the number of PCs in use is still increasing at >10% per year despite the 'death of the PC' catchphrase.

Understandable that Microsoft and others who make a significant fraction of revenue at time of purchase of a new PC but for many of us its the installed base that counts.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: underlying issues

I wonder what 2/3rds of the world population thinks of this? the 2 in ever 3 people who are hard pressed to get a decent meal, who live in shanties, and or have little to no medical facilities, money etc...

"Oh no... microsoft sales.... Damn...!"

and I wonder how many of you people reading this, are spending $5000 on a home entertainment system, while people in your own town, have no home, no one to talk too, need a hand around the place doing things, blah blah blah blah....

It's the goverments job to fix society up....

No - it's your society, it's your world, you fix it up.

Start by throwing the TV out.

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@Oh4FS - Re: underlying issues

Oh4FS wrote :- "2 in ever 3 people who are hard pressed to get a decent meal, who live in shanties, and or have little to no medical facilities, money etc... "Oh no... microsoft sales.... Damn...!"

You sound a bit depressed this morning. Way off topic. Why not paste this rant into every discussion?

But perhaps it is relevant to world hunger after all. If people and corporations are no longer forking out for every "upgrade" that Microsoft want to ram down their throats, like they have these last 20 years, with the associated tossing of hardware into landfill, maybe there will be more resources left over for other things, like food. Personally, I am not saying "Damn!" ; I glad to see Microsoft being cut down to size.

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Re: underlying issues

"Many OEMs add to the underlying problems by offering notebook 768p displays which are often lower resolution that the 6 year old notebook a user may consider replacing."

Don't you mean ALL - I've yet to find any OEM who can offer an equivalent (or better) screen size and resolution to my 2008 midrange Thinkpad. I'm at the stage where I'm seriously considering doing a disk upgrade (to SSD) and an LCD panel replacement (dead pixels and colour fade), whilst not cheap it will enable my laptop to last a few more years.

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Holmes

Re: On the plus side, SSD prices continue to fall

I can understand you get memory for double the price when added by the manufacturer, but a laptop "with an SSD" will cost you 350 more when the part itself is just worth 50 more! So people won't buy a laptop with an SSD because they don't want to feel scammed.

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Re: underlying issues

Spend about 3000€ for household goods last year. That kept quite a few people with a 9/10 years schooling (and low grades in that) in employment at delivery drivers/assembly guys. So spending money is good, keeps the economy running.

As for the "poor guy in <third world country of choice>": If he wants money he should ask his "esteemed leaders" about it. Maybe suggest that "infrastructure not nuclear weapons" / "hundreds of new tanks/planes/an aircraft carrier" is a nice idea of using the state budget. Might need a few meters of hemp and some sturdy trees to convince the replacement of the replacement of the current government to see it the same way. But places like India, Pakistan or Korea would be a lot safer after that...

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Re: underlying issues

Upgrading core2duo and better units with SSD, 64bit OS and more memory is currently the most common "new notebook" variant. The basic speed is still good enough, spare parts for the upgradable systems are resonably cheap to get. Used systems with 2nd gen core-i (sandy bridge) CPU are coming on the market and again they get the treatment. I.e T731/T901 is no longer current but replace the HDD with an SSD (easily done), upgrade the memory and it can still do 90+ percent of what the T732/T902 can do(1). And the better units from that generation even have user-replaceable batteries enhancing their lifetime even more.

Companies that did not lease the notebooks do the same. And some that did lease them consider "buy and upgrade" at least for the "non manager" users since the units are still good enough and well supported

(1) The fact that T731/T901 came with a non-touch matte display as an option makes this an interesting alternative

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Bottom line

If I wanted my interface to look/behave like a tablet and be forced to use Apps, I would be using a tablet. MS's tight-linking of the GUI with the OS/Kernel is coming back to bite them in the ass.

Here's a hint: decouple the two and (assuming you've done a proper job of it) you can run the same OS with a desktop GUI on a PC and a tablet GUI on a fondleslab.

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Boffin

Re: Bottom line

Um, the GUI has been uncoupled from the Kernel for a long time. Probably for ever. The graphics engine got moved back in with the Kernel but not the GUI. You can replace the Windows 'shell' very easily and have always been able to.

List of replacement shells

Some of those are actual replacements, others just resource changes but Classic Shell addresses your main point by providing a Win7 or XP experience for Windows 8.

There's no technical reason why MS had to provide the same experience on all versions of Windows. It's purely a marketing choice. They obviously felt - wrongly in my opinion - that Windows should mean the same thing and look the same regardless of hardware.

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@ Neoc

Dude, the old Windows desktop is still there. Just hit the Windows key +D i.e. "Desktop mode"

Microsoft really need to point this out. What you think is probably the prevailing understanding of Windows 8. It's wrong.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @ Neoc

My work mate now has a new Windows8 laptop for a project, and the Fsck'ing thing keeps throwing a 'metro' at him when we least expect it during desktop mode work. I don't know why, maybe some magic non-obvious wiggle on the touch pad, but it is annoying as hell.

Makes Unity desktop look like a model of sanity :(

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Meh

Re: @ Neoc

Just hit the Windows key +D

True but that's an extra key press that ought to be optional. When you get there you discover that the Start Menu has gone. You can work round it (put icons on the desktop, task bar and use the Run dialog) but most users seem to find that inconvenient. Another problem is that with a multi-monitor set up there are glitches and gotchas that grate if you prefer the traditional desktop view.

It's not really 'Desktop Mode' at all. More like 'Desktop if You Really Have to' - like a separate part of the GUI that Microsoft have left in place for legacy applications. It can make you feel like a second class citizen for not using the computer they way Microsoft intend.

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Flame

Re: @ Neoc

No, the 'old Windows desktop' is not still there, not for the average corporate worker (where the money is). No Start Menu may as well mean no desktop for most of them. You and I may use shortcut keys without thinking about it, but I guarantee you if I walked around a corporate office and asked the staff if they know how to use Windows shortcut keys (Office perhaps less so) they'd give me blank looks. I could put that down to training, or down to simplification, but it's how most people in business use computers, because of and/or thanks to Microsoft.

They made the Start Menu a paradigm for 17 years; with a straight face they've then turned around and completely redesigned the GUI and application ownership/privacy models. They did it because they saw Apple and Google take a slice of developer app profits and now it's monkey see, monkey do. They did it because they wanted to have their cake and eat it, 'saving' money by developing one OS for two completely different use cases, bolting TIFKAM on top of the old OS. Separately they're both decent UIs - combined they turn the equally decent OS underneath into a miserable abortion of a product.

Now we've seen Windows Blue, we know that there's another year or so (at least) of the same ahead, and adoption in the Enterprise will remain negligible (and no Microsoft, claiming Software Assurance upgrades constitute actual usage of Windows 8 licences that will never be installed does not cut it).

Time to eat humble pie MS, and strip that crap out for a 'Corporate Desktop' edition, or something, anything. If you won't listen to business, we sure as hell won't listen to you.

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Re: @ Neoc

The average office user does not use the start menu except to switch off the PC. He/She has a few "big, bright icons" on the desktop and is trained to klick on them and then use the software. Re-Training them can be done in 30min (With use of electricity) to 8h (without). No need for "tons of shortcuts", those users only need the "Win" key (back to desktop is "klick the shiny grey icon")

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