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back to article Windows 8.1 start button appears as Microsoft's Blue wave breaks

Microsoft's Blue wave of Windows, tools and services updates has started breaking complete with an early glimpse of the Windows 8.1 start button. The company revealed on Tuesday the availability of Windows Server and System Center 2012 RT, Windows Intune and SQL Server 2014 and Visual Studio 2013. MSDN subscribers had started …

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Windows

Windows 8.1 start button appears

Pics / Playmobil or it didn't happen.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Windows 8.1 start button appears

As much focus as there is on the missing start button, the problems with Windows 8 are far more than just a missing start button.

Until the make it Windows 7 with the speed tweaks of Windows 8, I won't be buying it. I need my PC to be a workhorse, not a plaything, designed for media consumption at the cost of making it really useless for much else.

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FAIL

Re: Windows 8.1 start button appears

I'm building a machine just to be a toy, and even *I* won't put up with this shit.

My toy machine will be running 7 until the start MENU is back.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Windows 8.1 start button appears

And what do tablet users do with a desktop OS on a tablet? see this is the problem. How to get Microsoft into the tablet world without making a scaled up phone.

Enterprise users expect a Windows tablet to work with standard Windows resources, domain controllers etc. Rather than spend months or years adding this sort of stuff to a phone OS they decided to just use the desktop OS as the basis for the tablet OS.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Windows 8.1 start button appears

At the risk of a bazillion downvotes: This is exactly, pretty much word for word what was said when XP came out by many many people (myself included). The difference now is the amount of people getting together on the Internet and this amplifying their opinions.

Companies need to be able to develop, otherwise products stagnate. It's not unreasonable to expect someone to put in a modicum of effort to learn a new OS. Something Henry Ford said is appropriate here: "If I made what my customers wanted, I would be making faster horses."

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Re: Windows 8.1 start button appears

@AC 08:43: Microsoft are of course able to develop, and Windows is stagnating because of it. I would argue that that's as a result of the decisions they've made, and especially the one about the Start button. Reintroducing it is not the solution; it needs to work in pretty much the same way it did on Windows 7.

Why should people be forced to change the way they work if it works for them?

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Re: Windows 8.1 start button appears

Actually MS has been using the desktop OS on tablet pc since 2003 (XP Tablet Edition) and all later versions are fully tablet pc compatible (The "Starter" may be an exception). Nothing new there, works fine and since the SSD became "mass market" the final durability problems (HDD damage) is gone.

And with a proper tablet pc (Wacom/NTrig inductive stylus equiped) - the system works fine. And without the need to wipe the screen every few minutes to clear the fingerprints.

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Joke

Re: Windows 8.1 start button appears

>Why should people be forced to change the way they work if it works for them?

Precisely! The Program Manager from Windows 3.1 worked really well for me - I could organise my programs however I wanted to in a nice big folder, but now Microsoft are making me use this crappy start menu thing.

They need to add an option to Windows 8 to make it work exactly like Windows 3.1 did - why should I be forced into using Microsofts crappy new "user friendly" UI when what they had before worked perfectly fine for me?

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@ Another Justin

You reminded me of this xkcd. One of the few I understand :)

http://xkcd.com/1172/

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Re: Windows 8.1 start button appears

i wouldnt say its even designed for media consumption. you cant even open an image and then see the next one in win8 and i have to use old media player to create a movie playlist.

for a home device win8 on a touch screen isnt bad. but it needs loads of work. using the desktop at 1080p on a 11.6" screen is a bit of a ball ache and i tend to use a mouse for that. also, you can increase dpi to increase the size of desktop items but then some apps fall in a heap and render off screen. (i have since found that this might be fixable in the shortcut options)

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Re: Windows 8.1 start button appears

"They need to add an option to Windows 8 to make it work exactly like Windows 3.1 did - why should I be forced into using Microsofts crappy new "user friendly" UI when what they had before worked perfectly fine for me?"

The argument I've been using for about the last 10 years.

Program Manager was simply a fancy desktop. If you think otherwise, you're not looking at it carefully enough.

So why can't I have a group of icons on my desktop anymore? Lost functionality.

What can't I minimise / show that group as my tasks change? Lost functionality, kinda shoehorned back in in recent versions in the guise of pinning junk to the taskbar, putting "folders" on desktops.

Why can't my desktop arrangement stay the damn same for the life of my computer like it did back then? (I've given up rearranging desktop icons and now just don't use the desktop at all - Moving to Metro would be... interesting, from the testing I've done, so I've installed Classic Start Menu on Windows 7 so I can at least bring my desktop productivity layout forward if I move - BTW I have a free upgrade to 8 Pro at any time I like, and have had for the last year or so).

Why the hell could a 386 show that menu without so much as a blip of activity on a decent spec, but I still spend a lot of time waiting for "explorer.exe" (which is basically progman.exe) to respond? (All hardware driver, architecture changes aside - why can't I just have a simple menu draw in roughly the same time?)

I used to have a perfect tiled layout on Windows 3.1, and the program did exactly what was asked of it and nothing more. It was a way to group and layout icons to run programs, and keep them consistent. I could have every icon I wanted on the screen and an icon for certain groups that - when clicked - overlaid the window *I* wanted on the interface with whatever icons I've stored in it (i.e. games is overlaid when I open the "work" group of icons)/ But now explorer is a mess of a program that interferes even in file copies.

If CSM had an option to replace explorer with a progman.exe equivalent, I'd tick it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Windows 8.1 start button appears

Trust me: install Start8 (or one of the alternatives) and you'll have pretty much exactly what you wish for (without the interface bling of 7 of course).

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Re: And what do tablet users do with a desktop OS on a tablet?

I don't give a crap what the hell you pansy ass tablet users do with your tablets. Keep your frelling hand off my desktop. Steve Jobs was a dictatorial bastage, and even he wasn't damn fool bastage enough to try to force a tablet OS on his users.

Maybe, maybe if you're a brilliant developer you can have common kernel for your desktops and your tablets and save some development costs. But the fully assembled OSes are vastly different animals and need to be differentiated. If you aren't a brilliant developer, or at least haven't hired a few to oversee your OS development work, you'd probably better keep them separate.

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@AC

"At the risk of a bazillion downvotes: This is exactly, pretty much word for word what was said when XP came out by many many people (myself included)."

With one huge difference: XP still provided a working progman.exe, so if you really didn't like the start menu and wanted to go back to the way it was you could.

People had a choice in the matter, even if it did require some in-depth understanding how this stuff works.

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Meh

except henry ford didn't say that

he said 'if i'd have asked my customers what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse.'

ie. customers can't imagine something new until you show it to them. that's why the general public were lost without something familiar - the start button.

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@Justin

They need to add an option to Windows 8 to make it work exactly like Windows 3.1 did - why should I be forced into using Microsofts crappy new "user friendly" UI when what they had before worked perfectly fine for me?

I know you're joking but quite frankly that is exactly what they should have done. Because when Windows 95 came out, which basically introduced the start menu to the masses, it still retained the option to use progman.exe, and that feature has been included with more modern Windows versions for a long time. Some people fell back to that but eventually everyone picked up on the start menu.

But I do believe that this is the main reason why Windows 8 is the catastrophe it is today: people aren't given a choice, so they''re simply making one themselves by not getting involved with Windows 8 at all.

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Facepalm

Re: Windows 8.1 start button appears

"Something Henry Ford said is appropriate here: "If I made what my customers wanted, I would be making faster horses.""

If people are buying your product thats one thing, if your product is forced upon them then thats something else entirely. Henry Ford didn't insist people bought one of his cars before they could use the road but thats effectively what MS does when you buy a PC.

And FWIW , if its the early 20th century and you're living down the end of a long rutted dirt road or in the middle of nowhere with no roads at all, a faster horse WOULD have been more use than a car.

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Windows 8.1

The "we've figured out how to stop those 3rd party hacks from integrating seamlessly" edition.

Any word on whether you can remove the TIFKAM button and replace it with a Start button?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Windows 8.1

For that matter, any word on whether they've made the Start button go to where people want it to go, instead of just to the Fisher-Price menu?

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Re: Windows 8.1

You've got the Windows XP Start Menu on your Windows 8 machine?

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Joke

Re: Windows 8.1

So start appears at the end.

How very Microsoft...

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Re: Windows 8.1

No, I have the Windows 7 start menu on my Windows 7 machine. Windows 8 Pro sits in a virtual machine being used occasionally to see how crap it is this week, until the UI works properly.

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Re: Windows 8.1

Lol...I thought it was just me. Yes, it's sitting in a VirtualBox, waiting for the day MS fixes that Start Menu permanently, or I break down and decide that StarDock will remain a a must-have feature of Windows 8. I get my Start Menu (and Program Groups, etc.)...Windows 8 gets a chance at running on bare metal, provided there are no other nasty surprises waiting for me.

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Re: Windows 8.1

"Any word on whether you can remove the TIFKAM button and replace it with a Start button?"

Start menu replacements such as Classic Shell have completely replaced the start button since Vista. If it doesn't work immediately on Win8.1, I can't imagine it taking too long.

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Re: Windows 8.1

Version 3.6.8 general release (Jun, 2013):

Added support for Windows 8.1 Preview

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Stop

Visual Studio 2013?

"The company revealed on Tuesday the availability of Windows Server and System Center 2012 RT, Windows Intune and SQL Server 2014 and Visual Studio 2013.".

Not quite correct. As you can read on Microsoft's techblog they announced the upcoming build preview of Visual Studio 2013, that will be available at the end of the month.

Visual Studio 2013 itself is expected to be available later this year, according to that same blog that is.

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Anonymous Coward

Windows with a "Start" button... hmmm there's a novel idea... are they sure it'll catch on?

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Devil

Sourceforge & Classic Shell to the rescue!

M Gale, Please look at Classic Shell on Sourceforge.

If they haven't already, they will have a Start Button fix for Windows 8.1 "Blue" up and running within a couple weeks. looks like they know windows better than MS does.

I have been using their shell on Windows 7 Pro for some time and it is excellent and would assume they can do the same for Win 8

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Re: Sourceforge & Classic Shell to the rescue!

M Gale, Please look at Classic Shell on Sourceforge.

I'd rather not. I have Linux for an OS that separates the UI from everything else. It's designed to let you swap out a shite UI for one that you might like better.

Windows on the other hand, is not designed around this. If 8.1 is anything to go by, it's made by people who are actively hostile to this approach. As you yourself say, Classic Shell needs to have a "fix" for an entirely deliberate problem. To quote the site admin here, "There is no official release of Windows 8.1 yet. At this time it is unknown if Classic Shell will work on it as is or will require modification."

I'll stick with 7 until either Microsoft see sense, Linux takes over the desktop (hah), or it becomes impossible to run anything new in 7.

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Stop

Re: Sourceforge & Classic Shell to the rescue!

I'd rather not. I have Linux for an OS that separates the UI from everything else. It's designed to let you swap out a shite UI for one that you might like better.

You've always been able to replace the Windows shell. I don't really understand how you can suggest otherwise given that you yourself then go on to talk about something that does exactly what you suggest is difficult to achieve.

List of shells.

You've only got to write a replacement for Explorer exe then change a registry value:

MS even document it.

And so do other people.

It's just that most people have never felt the need to bother and don't need to indulge in flame wars with other Windows users about which shell is best.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Sourceforge & Classic Shell to the rescue!

Windows 8 problems are much bigger than a missing start button.

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Re: Sourceforge & Classic Shell to the rescue!

Your absolutely right. One OS two interfaces don't work.

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Re: Sourceforge & Classic Shell to the rescue! (@AndrueC)

Precisely, I've done that for years on dedicated kiosk systems where they need to login (auto-login is a feature that's been there for a long time) and setting the explorer.exe replacement for that particular user.

It's staggering just how many developers of "embedded" (kiosk) systems using full Windows don't know this and calmly boot to explorer as the shell then auto-load their application. All it takes is a use to alt-tab and they have total control of the system. If a maintenance user of the embedded / kiosk system needs access to the explorer shell it's a simple matter of running explorer.exe from within the kiosk application and access is given.

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Re: Sourceforge & Classic Shell to the rescue!

Windows 8's main problem is people with stupid opinions who haven't even attempted to use it properly.

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@AndrueC

M Gale's post is pretty well thought through, and indicates familiarity with alternatives shells for Windows.

The relevant point is that Linux is designed to implement various shells as a feature, not a bolted on afterthought that is likely to break with each new revision of Windows no matter how minor. Sort of like they did with Lotus 1-2-3 and then Quatro Pro until they finally ensconced Excel in that position.

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FAIL

Re: @AndrueC

designed to implement various shells as a feature, not a bolted on afterthought that is likely to break with each new revision of Windows no matter how minor

And my point is that the same is true of Windows. There is nothing new about that registry key and nothing new about replacing Explorer. According to Wikipedia that registry value came in with Windows 95:

It aint no 'bolted on afterthought'

Replacing the Windows shell has been a supported, fully documented feature for over a decade. Almost longer than Linux has existed. Now whether or not a particular replacement shell works with all versions of Windows depends - like all executables - on how it was written. But in general most Windows applications run on all version of Windows.

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Windows

Re: @AndrueC

"According to Wikipedia that registry value came in with Windows 95:"

Indeed, and prior to that you could replace PROGMAN.EXE with the shell of your choice by tweaking either WIN.INI or SYSTEM.INI. (I forget which.)

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Paris Hilton

Re: @AndrueC

> boot to explorer as the shell

Can anyone enlighten me as to what people consider a "shell" in Windows?

In Unix, the "shell" is the command interpreter (the program) input/outputting to an interactive text interface (in olden days, a line printer complete with fanfold (hell yeah!), nowadays, some window in graphical user interface)

Clearly that's not it.

The "Windows shell" seems to be something on a sliding scale between the whole UI system (corresponds to X, swappable in Unix, not so much in Windows unless you want to look into the kernel), the look and feel of it (Gnome, KDE, XFCE) and some file navigator / application (Dolphin, Konqueror etc.)

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Re: Sourceforge & Classic Shell to the rescue!

>Windows 8 problems are much bigger than a missing start button.

And Microsoft's problems are much bigger than Windows 8.

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Boffin

Re: @AndrueC

> Can anyone enlighten me as to what people consider a "shell" in Windows?

Good question :)

For the purpose of this discussion (ie; 'what's wrong with TIFKAM') the shell would be Explorer. That is an application that uses OS functions to render icons, menus, windows, etc. It does this in pretty much the same way any application does. So Explorer.exe on it's own would be useless. It is reliant on the GDI and USER spaces to render images on the screen.

One thing that most shells have to do is display certain well known aspects of the Windows UI - things like Control Panel. It would be entirely possible to write your own CP but it's a lot of effort and probably further than most developers would want to go. So instead they leverage the existing .CPL libraries. If third party Windows shells are vulnerable to change this is probably where they most are. It's conceivable that MS could get rid of .CPLs in the future and then there'd be problems. Or they might change the way they are invoked.

So is the Windows 'shell' the same thing as 'X'? I think not. I'll confess I don't know much about 'X' but I believe that it includes everything right down to the 'video drivers'. In effect it's a self contained graphical environment. Explorer.exe isn't that. Explorer.exe is just an application that uses Windows to display menus and respond to use input.

Oh and yes, there's a cmd.exe which is a command prompt and might also be called a shell. That's even easier to replace.

So in my view: For the purposes of discussing TIFKAM and how to replace it - Windows has a fully supported and recognised mechanism for doing it. Period.

However it is possibly not as flexible as Unix since 99.9% of shells are going to be reliant on the OS for drawing on the screen and also most likely for rendering menus. Now resources can be changed so that menus look different so I don't know whether it matters that shells ask the OS to render their menus.

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Re: Sourceforge & Classic Shell to the rescue!

Thank you for a genuinely useful post! I had messed around with Stardock stuff, but it was always cumbersome and some themes, though nice, would glitch our here and there, and my worst foible is (was?) that I do actually like Aero, even on Vista, it was so nice that I tired to get 3rd party apps on XP to mimic it, but they were a poor substitute. Then Windows 7 came and I was impressed with the speed and the improvements were excellent.

I'd over looked shells since then, so now I've installed Classic Explorer, with Windows 7 style selected. Seeing an ordered version of old Programs menu is a welcome return.

Oh Windows 8? As a developer I've found it to be a downright nuisance, so after three months of use on a secondary machine, I've disposed of it. Oh and I don't like Unity for Ubuntu either, feels like a copy of MacOS, but nowhere near as bad as Windows 8. The solution for the Linux machine was simple, I switched to Mint.

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Re: Sourceforge & Classic Shell to the rescue!

@Furbian:

What is the problem with Win8 in development? Most time in Development is spent in the IDE anyway with a fistful of additional tools. That works just as well, IMHO better in Win8 since I no longer need to pin stuff on the desktop or taskbar nor do I need the mouse so hands remain on keyboard,

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Meh

Re: Sourceforge & Classic Shell to the rescue!

It's handling of multiple desktops isn't very clever so it can be awkward sometimes to keep an application or folder view that you are monitoring visible. More often than not you ending up wasting one or more screens by having the start screen visible.

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Meh

hmm

I hope there is some way to turn this start button off. I've quite enjoyed not having it there.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: hmm

that's the stop button. You press it

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So...

Did MS actually revive the Start Menu on this one, instead of having the Start button go to the kiddy toy thing?

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Re: So...

Did MS actually revive the Start Menu on this one

No.

the Start button go to the kiddy toy thing?

Yes.

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Start button - Never used it anyway.

Always used ctrl + escape to open it. (Since forever - Windows 95 probably).

Now I use the Windows Button and type exactly the same as what any sane person does on Windows 7 anyway.

(The other stuff from the start menu is on Windows + X which is far more convenient to get to stuff than messing around).

I can see people having resistance to change when it wastes time but none of the superficial changes made from 7 to 8 do.

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Re: Start button - Never used it anyway.

Unfortunately you are a "power user" and have entirely missed the point.

99.999% of Windows users are not not power users. They have not memorised arcane keyboard shortcuts, they often don't even know that there are keyboard shortcuts (especially helped by MS's stupid insistence on hiding them as much as possible). They can just about wield a mouse in anger, often don't understand the shift key compared to the caps-lock key or know how to cursor through text instead of hitting backspace until they find the offending mistake and then retyping what they just deleted.

Users require an indication that there is some functionality available, this is a basic, fundamental aspect of good user interface design. They should not be given an artistically blank and meaningless screen and expected to somehow "know" how to bring up some functionality on it by clicking / thumbing arbitrary screen locations. This is why buttons were created in user interfaces (and hyperlinks in HTML documents) to give a user an indication that there is an action available. Unfortunately now we've gone backwards and the "artistic" (form over function) trend is to hide anything vaguely functional so a user is left having to randomly thumb an interface or patiently wave a mouse cursor over it hoping for something interesting to be revealed.

For what it's worth, I've been a specialist in User Interface design for over 20 years. I also use keyboard shortcuts extensively :)

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Re: Start button - Never used it anyway.

"Users require an indication that there is some functionality available, this is a basic, fundamental aspect of good user interface design."

This. 1,000 times this. There are no cues for discoverability. In TIFKAM there is no indication that right-clicking does something in most applications, for example.

The installation "point your mouse at the top right" instructions are useless and tell the user nothing. The fact that when you press F1 for help (assuming you know that shortcut) it tells you how to do it on a touch interface first is stupid - MOST OF US DON'T HAVE A TOUCH INTERFACE.

Here's an example:

End of day one using Win8. Mostly okay, as once in the desktop it's just the same as all the other windows versions, save the crappy default applications dumping me in TIFKAM. Anyhow, time to go home, turn off the computer. A simple task usually, but...

After years of MS telling me NOT to use the power button to turn off the machine, I am sat facing the W8 screen looking for "turn off". I think "Oh, I know, in the last iteration it was in Start". I now know to press the Windows button for that, and up comes the start screen. No "turn power off". So next I think, how about if it's where my logon ID is up in the top right, that would make sense, maybe a series of options "switch user, log off, power off, restart, sleep etc". No dice.

So I press F1 type in "shutdown" and am told "Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, then tap Search."

WTF???

I don't know the proportion of users with touch, but I am guessing the non-touch ones slightly outnumber them. Also why do I have to search for a "turn it off" button?

So I read the rest of it and eventually discover I should use the hardware button, for the first time since I had my Amiga.

Where is it discoverable that I should now, after years of conditioning NOT to use the power button, I should now use the physical power button?

Then, and I still can't work this out, using the power button to turn it off keeps my NUMLOCK on reboot, using the software one (move mouse to bottom right of screen, click on the settings cog, then on the power symbol, obvious really. Yep, hidden in an unobvious place in a hidden menu. Yessir, that's a good spot for something used at the end of every day) turns NUMLOCK off, so I can't use the numberpad to login the next time I turn it on. Which I forget, so my alphanumeric password fails every morning.

This drove me nuts, I thought there was some BIOS/UEFI problem, turns out it's just crap windows coding.

Was someone paid to design this stuff? What logic were they using?

I know I can make a shortcut for it - but here's the point - WHY SHOULD I HAVE TO? This is a basic operation, not some complex only 1% of all users ever do it thing.

I think I need to go and lie down somewhere for a while...

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