Feeds

back to article Here comes Windows 8.1! Microsoft grits teeth, pushes upgrade to world

Microsoft today unleashed Windows 8.1, the version to soothe folks ruffled by the touchscreen-friendly user interface. Crucially, the software giant really didn’t want to make this particular upgrade: it's effectively stepped back from the original Windows 8 blueprint. At 4am Pacific time (7am Eastern, 12 noon UK time), …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

Bronze badge
FAIL

Still not enough

Still not enough. Users don't just want the Start button back. They want the start MENU back. They don't want the Start button to make the entire screen suddenly turn into a smartphone.

Users also want Office to start acting like it's meant to use on a computer again. That means when you click on the "File" menu, you get the File menu, not a touch-optimized colossus sliding into the entire left third of the screen.

Microsoft needs to get it through their thick skulls that a desktop computer with a keyboard, mouse, and upright screen is NOT A TABLET and any "touch-optimized" user interface elements are also "desktop-hobbled." *ALL* of these elements need to be presented in a desktop-optimized mode when running on a desktop.

110
9
JDX
Gold badge

Re: Still not enough

Do they? Most regular Windows users (i.e. non-techies) don't really seem to like the classic start menu... nested menus are fiddly and you can never find anything. That's WHY so many Windows PCs end up with the desktop totally full of icons... which is not dissimilar from the W8 start screen.

I've yet to see anyone explain why a full-screen start screen is a bad idea, only to keep reiterating that is. When the start-menu is in use, you cannot use another application, the UI is fully modal. So making full use of the screen rather than force you to look in one corner while the rest of the screen is unused isn't really a bad thing.

You only have to look at OSX, regarded as easy to use, to see this is not some controversial new design. On OSX both the Applications and Launch-Pad thing open a big tiled window. Granted it's not full-screen but it's far more similar to Start Screen than Start Menu.

The Metro UI is clunky on a desktop, for sure, but that is now optional.

17
73
Silver badge

Re: Still not enough

In OSX, Applications opens up either a menu or a resizable folder window. Launchpad is a relatively new addition, and it is full screen. Like the iPad, and unlike Windows 8, you can arrange programs into folders, so all the stuff you open once in a blue moon such as the printer settings prog from your printer manufacturer can be shoved into a System folder out of the way of everything else.

16
0

Re: Still not enough

I do get that beating up on Microsnot and Windoze is a popular (and official) pastime these days. However:

I've been using Windows 8 since October last year. Even though I run it on a Series 7 Slate (i.e. with touch screen), the only Metro app I've used relatively frequently is Video. Everything else I do on the desktop (which really is a vast improvement on 7). My single most compelling reason for Windows 8 is taking notes and drawing diagrams with a stylus in OneNote (insanely good).

But this is about RT. So, even though I've not found a single WinRT app in the store that is compelling enough to use daily, I'm actually slowly warming to the idea of creating WinRT apps. Now that the store submission requirements have been relaxed, I think we might actually see touch-based apps on Windows that are usable.

I've a Surface Pro 2 on pre-order, so for now I can only offer my expectation - that the Pro2 will allow me to use a tablet as I would an iPad, and when I need to, to run Visual Studio, SQL Server and Office as though I was on a desktop (small screen notwithstanding).

9
18
Anonymous Coward

Re: Still not enough

I concur, Mr Foobar

EPIC EPIC EPIC FAIL.

I want Metro to die, and everyone who stood there and let it happen, to be thrown into an industrial mincer.

48
8

Re: Still not enough

And when people rely too much on the desktop, it quickly turns into a humongous mess of randomly placed icons stretching far and wide. It's useful for a couple of dozen shortcuts, but that's not how most people use it.

The same problem applies with the start screen. It quickly becomes a sea of mess and requires a chunk of effort to re-arrange and organise. Personally, I prefer the Start Menu as I can pin a dozen of my most frequently used programs there, most the others I've used recently appear below (yes, I always expand the size of my Start Menu to make it more useful), and if it's not in either list, typing the first few characters usually brings it up. And if I don't want to do that, things in it are nicely sorted by company/program automatically for me in a hirarchial way.

I find it easier and simpler to use and often find the Start Screen overspilling into a huge mess in comparison. And when you go to the Apps part of the Start Screen, you just get EVERYTHING. It's like putting all your documents into one gigantic folder and is not pleasant to use IMO.

19
2

Re: Still not enough

>Users don't just want the Start button back. They want the start MENU back.

Not bloody likely, thanks. After using Windows 8, going back to a Win7 installation is horrible - especially the crappy Start Menu!

9
62
Silver badge
Thumb Down

Re: Still not enough

I know five non-geeks unfortunate enough to have a computer installed Windows 8, only one of those expressed anything positive about it (and even then it was qualified with 'once you get used to it').

Just because a menu or a dialog box has the focus at this point in time, it doesn't mean that everything else should disappear. Remember when Windows 95 finally came out and those modal dialog boxes blocking all other input were finally dead and buried and people thought it was a good thing? That's because people could move or switch windows when they wanted or look at data in one window while inputting data in another without having their workflow interrupted. TIFKAM is worse, not only is it modal it completely removes those other windows. The Start Screen is jarring because you're temporarily placed in TIFKAM land.

On OS X the Applications is a folder like any other (it's incorrect to say it's a tiled window because you can have hierarchical, details, or cover flow) and Launchpad can be totally ignored if you want to, you can even delete it from the dock and never see it again.

31
0

Re: Still not enough

Speak for yourself ITF. Most of us have personal preferences or ideas for what constitutes an ideal desktop environment. I don't miss the old start menu or classic application menus everywhere. but don't claim to be a spokesperson for other PC users to promote my preferences.

11
6
FAIL

Re: Still not enough

Let's wait and see.....

Personally, as a heavy end CAD and graphics user - hence large screen and desktop PC - I find that a touch-focussed interface is fundamentally unusable. I appreciate that it is now perfectly possible to boot directly into desktop, add a second large monitor and install a mouse etc.. But all of these things involve bending the system to meet my requirements in a way that MS seem to regard as alien to their objectives. I'll stick to a system which meets my work requirements without my having to kick and punch it into compliance. (Have MS forgotten what business computers are used for?) I will not be getting Win 8.1.

8.1 looks like a brilliant system for consuming internet content on a phone or tablet, but so are iPads, Chromebooks and Android phones etc. - and they are already well established in the marketplace. Add to this Microsoft's blatant hubris, and focus on monetisation at any cost, and it is easy to see why they have lost their old position as the de facto OS and software supplier of choice. Ignoring your customers and hacking them of is far and away the best way to lose them for good, particularly if you do it at a time when a range of viable and economical alternatives are increasingly available.

MS will not disappear overnight, but their days of dominance are over. I'm happy to be proved wrong, but as I said above, let's wait and see. Give it 6 to 9 months, to sort out units shipped, units sold, and units actually in use. But I'm not holding my breath....

32
1
Silver badge

Re: Still not enough

JDX has a point about the desktop full of icons.

It's not a really common occurrence, but I do get a couple of calls a month from users saying that they don't have x program on their computer. Investigation always finds that they DO have the program on their computer, but they DON'T have a shortcut to it on their desktop.

People like these would probably benefit from the start screen, at least as long as it was well organized.

7
1

Re: Still not enough

"it is easy to see why they have lost their old position as the de facto OS and software supplier of choice."

Thats only in the consumer world. In business they still have the game.

4
2
Bronze badge

"don't claim to be a spokesperson for other PC users"

Exactly. Well said, qwarty.

I like Windows 8. I am obviously well aware that a lot of people don't. Fair enough. I also liked Mac OS9 when a lot of people didn't, and I can't stand iOS on the iPhone when a lot of people seem to think it's the greatest interface of all time. But there appears to be no-one out there capable of understanding that some people like Windows 8 and some others don't. No, no, it's always "I hate this and therefore SO DOES EVERYONE IN THE WHOLE WORLD."

It's a lot like politics in that respect. God knows why.

16
4
Bronze badge

Re: Still not enough

A full screen start menu is one thing.

But the start page in Win 8 is supposed to be more than that, with live tiles flashing news updates, new emails, etc. But it's pointless on a desktop.

A phone spends 90% of its time in your pocket, you whip it out for a quick glance to check if anything needs attention. Live tiles and a home screen work fine for that - a nice summary, the first thing you see that tells you anything important.

On a desktop, you do work - 99% of the time you're working on a desktop app or browser, you pin the programs you use frequently to the taskbar, so you hardly ever need go to the start page. So putting live tiles showing anything important that needs attention there is pointless. And on the odd occasions you are looking to launch a less-used program you don't have pinned, the last thing you need when you go looking for it is flashing tiles showing you that some bloke has been deliberately losing snooker matches or whatever.

Microsoft still does not seem to understand that phones and desktops are not just different in terms of the interface (finger / mouse), but are used in different ways too.

I've always thought that they'd have been much better off adding the new Metro platform as something that runs in the widget bar (which was removed from Win 8). Being able to run apps in a sidebar, especially the same ones as you run on a phone, would be far more useful than the awful full screen mess in Windows 8.

31
0
Silver badge

Re: Still not enough

"I want Metro to die, and everyone who stood there and let it happen, to be thrown into an industrial mincer."

That's harsh. But not, I regret to say, harsh enough.

41
2
Bronze badge

Re: Still not enough

> And on the odd occasions you are looking to launch a less-used program you don't have pinned, the last thing you need when you go looking for it is flashing tiles showing you that some bloke has been deliberately losing snooker matches or whatever.

True, but you could of course deliberately hit the Windows key in order to see updates. Then you hit it again to hide them. I don't see that that's much different from swiping down to see notifications in iOS then swiping back up to hide them again.

I see your point about wanting notifications to pop up and disturb you when you're in the middle of something. I know some people like to work that way (Terry Pratchett, for instance, somehow managed to concentrate on writing novels while having six or eight screens of crap open in front of him). But not everyone. Personally, I like not seeing notifications unless I ask for them.

3
5
Bronze badge

Re: Still not enough

At least the Mail App in Modern does show a "new mail" reminder on the desktop, same for the Message App. Since those are the only LiveTiles I use on my privat box I can't say about others.

And if I use a full sized (Application) mail/message tool like Outlook or Notes than nothing has changed anyway.

1
2

Re: Still not enough

And I'm happy for people like yourself to use the Start Screen, I truly am. I don't necessarily want Microsoft to drop it altogether, I just want them to give users a choice - that's all anyone is asking. Microsoft always used to do this - until Windows 8 came along. As I've said before in other threads, users shouldn't have to install a pile of third party tools to get Windows to work in a way that suits them - especially when what suits them was the first choice interface in the previous version.

I want a version of Windows where I can enable a Start Menu and some nicer looking desktop windows (I hate W8's dreary collection of "themes"). Until Microsoft can offer me a version that I can easily tweak to work how I want without 3rd party tools and hacked DLLs, I'll continue to avoid it and will stick to a version (ie 7) that suits the way I work.

16
0

Re: Still not enough

> I've yet to see anyone explain why a full-screen start screen is a bad idea,

The main use case I know of is when following instructions to run a specific app when there are multiple apps with similar names. it is useful to be able to see the instructions and the start menu at the same time.

4
0
Bronze badge

Re: Still not enough

What MS cannot grasp, is that to the user, the interface IS the product. Users don't give a damn about what's going on inside the box.

The problem with W8 in any version is that it's NOT WINDOWS. Call it somerthing else and give Windows users the option to downgrade to W7.

25
0

Re: Still not enough

I wish I could triple up-rate the OP.

"Microsoft needs to get it through their thick skulls that a desktop computer with a keyboard, mouse, and upright screen is NOT A TABLET and any "touch-optimized" user interface elements are also "desktop-hobbled." *ALL* of these elements need to be presented in a desktop-optimized mode when running on a desktop."

More to the point: different tools have different purposes. A hammer is not ideal for putting in a screw and a tablet UI is not ideal for a desktop/laptop. The purpose of a hammer is different than a screwdriver; the purpose of a tablet is different than a desktop/laptop. Microsoft forget this important rule.

I will be installing 8.1 tomorrow. But I already know it doesn't get rid of my second grievance of Windows 8: the fact that the UI is hard on my eyes. The square corners with just two colors just make it hard for my eyes to focus on anything. Windows 3 had more color contrasts. AND THE ALL CAPITAL LETTERS ON KEY MENUS ALSO MAKES IT HARD TO FIND WHAT YOU NEED. (That is the reason why I will not install Office 2013.) Windows 8 is two features short of being very good: A proper start menu and the return of Aero. I say this in truth, Windows 8 would be on my primary computer if Aero was still around. Start8 solves the other problem with Win8.

12
0
Bronze badge

Re: Still not enough

I agree. I have window 8 and like it. I don't miss the start menu... funny how you have been marked down so much.... and the op was marked up so much... the more down votes you have the more you were right ;)

3
16
Silver badge
Thumb Up

Re: Still not enough

May I humbly suggest that the output from the mincer be made into Burgers and force fed to Balmer and his BOD?

7
1
Silver badge

Re: Still not enough

> I've yet to see anyone explain why a full-screen start screen is a bad idea, only to keep reiterating that is.

Well for one thins, it is a very major visual distraction.

Mobile phones *have* to do it because they have so little real-estate to work with.

To have the screen change so much to perform a fairly small action is not ideal. It makes the eyes feel uncomfortable, particularly if you are having to perform it frequently to switch between apps.

The reality is that the interface is not bad for touch. Some people like it, some people don't.

The main issue is that it is patently clunky for mouse and keyboard use. Why have to "put up" with an interface that is clumsy when we have established paradigms that work well for "traditional" use.

MS have really lost the plot with Metro. In their zeal to merge touch with desktop use, they have created a monster that caters well for neither. If they'd just spent a little more time trying to come up with a programming and design paradigm that could handle both the traditional and the touch then they might have had a winner. Unfortunately, they went down the obvious and failing strategy of trying to force feed touch onto a desktop without touch capability. Although they seem to be trying to superficially back off from that position now, they have so much invested in Metro that they seem institutionally incapable of backing up and taking another direction.

Don't get me wrong, I don't criticise MS for trying something new. But if you're brave enough to try something different, you must also be brave enough to admit when you make a mistake.

13
0
Silver badge

Re: Still not enough

How sad is it years after he has died Microsoft still has not broken out of the way Steve Jobs framed them in the I'm a Mac and PC commercials. Don't get me wrong I would much rather develop on a Windows box (f__k Objective C) for Windows (than Apple but actually prefer *nix over both) but that is not the bling people want when they get to choose off the desktop.

4
1
Silver badge

Re: Still not enough

Besides who cares what the user wants? Its all about what best for the corporate strategy going forward.

5
0
Silver badge

Re: Still not enough

> Thats only in the consumer world. In business they still have the game.

That's merely a question of time. Turn over in business is a *lot* slower than in the consumer world.

8
0
Bronze badge

Re: Still not enough

"but they DON'T have a shortcut to it on their desktop. ... People like these would probably benefit from the start screen"

No people like this would still be lost. They need someone to place and organise such app's on the desktop/start screen for them...

2
0
Thumb Down

Re: Still not enough

So imagine yourself the start screen full of crap - no different than desktop and just as dysfunctional.

As windows 8 user all I can say about it's esthetics is soc-realistic eyesore (and not solely because of the start screen).

And forcing me to install a service pack through their store is awkward (if simply because I have no intent on binding my system to real person, definitely MS will never see my CC info).

5
0
Bronze badge

Re: Still not enough

>That's WHY so many Windows PCs end up with the desktop totally full of icons

No most desktops end up full of icons because when software installs it typically defaults to putting a shortcut on the desktop. Most people, including IT support, tend not to put any effort into organising the desktop. You only need to look at the typical iOS or Android device to see exactly the same level of attention - how many use folders on the iPad?

2
0
Bronze badge

Re: Still not enough

"But the start page in Win 8 is supposed to be more than that, with live tiles flashing news updates, new emails, etc. But it's pointless on a desktop."

Definitely, what is needed is for the Start Page/Window/Desktop to be minimised to the desktop system tray and for it to show status change notifications, like other sys tray icons. Click on the icon and the Start page is brought to the fore.

0
0
Bronze badge

Re: Still not enough

>the fact that the UI is hard on my eyes

Yes I hate the fact that none of the standard desktop themes for Win8 and Office 2013 provide any real level of contrast - but then I liked the clarity and highly functional nature of the WfWG interface...

2
0
Mushroom

Re: Still not enough

They still may have the game in businesses but they are doing their best to get rid of that as well. What's with the sudden price increases that punish those that stayed loyal? And how about even more complicated licensing structures that even M$ themselves doesn't understand, at the same time as sending new BSA extortion letters to the confused IT managers?

No better time than now to move away from this bully and reposess your own IT.

6
0
Silver badge

Re: Still not enough

> That's WHY so many Windows PCs end up with the desktop totally full of icons...

I recall that when Win95 came out MS claimed that "at last we have got rid of the 'hated' Win3.11 Program Manager*". I disliked having icons on the desktop (and particularly hated the active desktop of Win 98, but so did everyone else). My 'desktop' is covered by my working programs, I don't want to lose sight of those just because I want to start another.

I know some people can't cope with multiple applications. On Win95-Win7 they minimize their current app, select the next with the desktop icon or task bar. Only one Window open at a time. They probably find Win8 OK to use. I have several desktops (I dumped Windows a decade ago) and each with multiple Windows and can easily switch between these or start new ones _without_ going to desktop icons.

* Actually Win3.x worked OK. You could Alt-Tab to PM to start a new task without it taking over the whole screen.

1
0
Bronze badge
Linux

Re: Still not enough

"Until Microsoft can offer me a version that I can easily tweak to work how I want without 3rd party tools and hacked DLLs, I'll continue to avoid it..."

Holy oyster buttocks, Batman! If MS actually provided the ability to customize the UI it would be no different than...

LINUX!!

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!

4
1

Re: Still not enough

Icons may be randomly placed on your desktop, but not mine, and when I've looked over the shoulder of others the placement looks random to me but matches the items they consider the most important or most frequently used.

I've suggested the use of briefcases to users with lots, and I mean LOTS of icons on the desktop, and found after initial comments that it's not for them, a few weeks later they know exactly which briefcase icon has the apps they use less frequently.

One man's random is a librarian's perfection - just because you don't understand suggests it is not mportant you do.

1
0

Re: Still not enough

Oh irony that this comes after ~12 years of XP whining if it can please, please, please clean those unused icons from your desktop and hide them where the sun doesn't shine...

2
0

Re: Still not enough

Not really. Users want some of the things that the Start Menu gave access to but certainly not everything.

But I agree that just a button that takes you to the start screen is not what most people want either.

0
0
CLD

Re: Still not enough

I concur with the two of you... even after 18 years of the start menu (going back to Windows 95), users still don't know how to use it. I have also spoken to a lot of people who simply cannot find an application if it doesn't have a shortcut on the desktop. Tech staff typically either pin the applications to their task bar, or touch the Windows key then start typing the application name. Win8 provides the same function.

The restistance to change is amazing... honestly, how much time do you spend in the Start menu??? I personally don't see it so much as a start menu, rather a hop off point to certain apps (which thanks to the live tiles can provide real-time updates) and another interface for developers to create tools that may not work particularly well in the desktop arena.

I believe the slump in PC sales can be put down to a few reasons, and none of that has to do with Microsost's OS. Firstly, the hardware of the last 5 years is still more than capable of running any of the new OS's... I am running Windows 8.1 on a Dell D630 laptop with a core 2 duo and it runs great. it had Win7 and before that WinXP. Win8 is fast and sleek... i have no requirement for new hardware. From a business standpoint, most organisations seem to be falling into the same boat; the three year refresh cycle has given way to a four year (or more) refresh cycle (because the hardware still works). The second reason is the global economic climate... most businesses are under pressure to cut costs - IT does it's part, and because the hardware is still usable, the warranties get renewed for another year rather than CAPEX expenditure for new PC's.

1
2
Bronze badge

Re: Still not enough @ skelband

> Why have to "put up" with an interface that is clumsy when we have established paradigms that work well for "traditional" use.

Established paradigms like the Desktop, you mean, which is still there?

I simply do not understand all these people who complain about Microsoft forcing them to use Metro all the time instead of the Desktop. The Desktop is still there. Metro is optional. What's the problem?

That being said,

> The main issue is that it is patently clunky for mouse and keyboard use.

I don't have a touchscreen, and I love it.

0
3
Bronze badge
FAIL

Re: Still not enough

No offence, but if this is a company you're talking about then it's a management failure to not train people in the basics of using their computer. Admittedly now maybe 80% of the population have access to a computer it's less common that it used to be, but this highlights why it can still be important if only to ensure a baseline of IT skills.

0
0
Bronze badge

Re: Still not enough

> especially the crappy Start Menu!

I can happily live without the start menu. It is easy enough to put shortcuts onto the desktop and into folders (like program manager on windows 3.x) and to use the command shell. (Just like using an old Linux).

However, I'm not sure normal (non techie) users will agree on this one.

The thing I detest is the jumping to full screen for metro and metro apps, it is hideously jarring, and unlike MSDOS mode in windows 9x, doesn't give you an option for it to be within a window.

This for me is the show stopper. (And the price) Had the facilities to remove it been available when the cheap version of 8 was available, I would have purchased, but I found the preview so awful to use, I didn't bother.

0
0
Facepalm

Re: I've yet to see anyone explain why a full-screen start screen is a bad idea...

>sigh<

Ok, try this. You've installed an application (note: proper desktop application, not Metro-crud-app-a-like). Lets say, Office 2010. It would be rather spiffing if an icon for Word or Outlook could be right-dragged from its home on the start menu to the desktop for instant access, without having to flip to a whole other screen first. Ok, no problem. Lets just... oh, wait...

1
1

Re: Still not enough

How is the desktop in W8 a vast improvement over W7? Seriously, I'm genuinly interested. I personally find Windows 8's desktop themes to be dreary, flat and lifeless, I do like the new task manager, but am not impressed with the "ribbonised" Windows Explorer. Hence overall, I actually prefer the feel of Windows 7's desktop overall.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Still not enough @ skelband

> I don't have a touchscreen, and I love it.

Well it turns out that you are in a minority.

Most people without touchscreens don't.

But perhaps more importantly, it depends what you use the interface for. For media consumption, your interaction with the machine is small and therefore wouldn't really be an issue. For development work, which is increasingly becoming the dominant use case for desktops and laptops, it really is a non-starter.

> Established paradigms like the Desktop, you mean, which is still there?

Indeed, and this is getting better. The initial incarnation of Windows 8 had Metro popping up for basic functions even when you selected the desktop paradigm as your principle.

This had it coming over as a hasty mash of two different interfaces that coexist very shakily indeed and uncannily interrupt each other in inexplicable ways. Things are getting a little better but most of the comments from people I read about with regards to Windows 8.1 is "it's not as shit as it was". This is *not* a recommendation.

0
1
Bronze badge

Re: Still not enough @ skelband

And what IS the problem for development? After one year and some heavy Java including EJBs as well as classic frontends I still can't see a difference.

1
0

Its the UI changes that kill it for me...

Really need to upgrade my 80ish mother's PC, but no way will she be able to learn a new user interfacr

So right now it looks like the best option might be to keep the old box until it dies and get her an android tablet for web browsing.

9
6
Silver badge

Re: Its the UI changes that kill it for me...

She can use an Android tablet but can't learn a new interface.

Right. Remind me not to ask you to think anything through.

14
24

Re: Its the UI changes that kill it for me...

Or get her a new PC with whichever version of Windows she fancies? I dislike MS stuffing their new trend down our throats but truth is, it won't affect you if you don't allow it to. Noone forces you to buy a new machine with a new system on it, there are multitude of alternative custom made systems that will be shipped with whatever system you fancy and happen to pay for, or without any.

3
2
Silver badge

Re: Its the UI changes that kill it for me...

Try looking at a chromebook if your mum isn't running any windows programs.

6
2

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.