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back to article Satisfy my scroll: El Reg gets claws on Windows 8.1 spring update

Microsoft’s Windows 8.1 Update 1 – with pain relief for those suffering from “customer satisfaction issues” – is widely expected to be released in early April. It'll probably coincide with the Build developer conference starting on 2 April. This spring update has already gone to computer manufacturers to install on their new …

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Unhappy

Think

I'll wait until Windows 9 before considering an up/down grade from win7

Or just go Linux mint on everything

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Re: Think

Being a bit of a Luddite, I currently face the prospect of finding something to replace XP on my machines.

Installed Mint on them all last week. Kept one with the option to boot into XP for those times when only Windows will do.

Think I'll give 8.x a miss. If 9 looks better I'll try it. Assuming, that is, that I feel I need to go back to Windows.

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Linux desktop

The Linux desktop is struggling at the moment, thanks to KDE4, Gnome3, the "Unity crack pipe" etc. Your choice is to opt for modern but unstable (Fedora, Mint, Ubuntu, Mandriva) or older and stable (Centos, RHEL).

With the former, your scanner is likely to stop working any time there is an update. On the other hand, Centos and RHEL won't be able to drive your scanner in the first place. It would be nice if there was a distro in the middle. Stable, but with reasonably modern enough kernel.

NB I am a Linuxtard for many years now, please don't flame me that you compiled such-and-such a kernel for scanner X or whatever. A system where you are doing kernel experiments is not a stable one.

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I'll wait until Windows 9 before considering an up/down grade from win7

Well it wouldn't make sense for W8 to radically change and still be W8, really. W7 is essentially Vista with the problems fixed, but it makes more sense it is a separate version. Much easier to say "we realise we mucked it up, this new version fixes it" than try and get everyone to notice that W8.3.2 suddenly addresses all the problems with W8 - people aren't going to listen/care/notice.

Most likely we'll all be waiting for W9. Vista didn't really hurt MS - they carried on selling XP and then they had massive uptake on W7 afterwards.

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Re: Linux desktop

You missed out Debian in there. I find it a good stable OS and whilst it's true I don't use bleeding edge hardware with it, I find it supports what I need. For front end, I have Xfce which meets my needs.

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Re: Think

@Cornholio

Windows 7 can be hacked into a working approximation of the XP interface with Classic Start Menu; a registry hack to bring back the quick launch; plus an explorer replacement because the one that ships with windows is in fact 2 separate windows and the thing you think is selected ain't necessarily so (you only delete the My Documents folder by accident once before looking for an alternative). My explorer replacement is Explorer++. All the above is free; and the whole lot combined is an improvement on XP, I feel, because it's a lot more stable and just as easy to get about.

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Coat

Re: Linux desktop

I'll just remind Mr Orlowski and the poster above about Enterprise Linux 6 (RHEL/Oracle Linux/CentOS/Scientific Linux/Springdale Linux) which has application updates until 2017 and security updates until 2020. Gnome 2.30, a range of kernels including i686-PAE and 64 bit. Very very solid.

Then I'll get my coat and leave this forum to the Windows people

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Re: Linux desktop

<<<The Linux desktop is struggling at the moment, thanks to KDE4, Gnome3, the "Unity crack pipe" etc.>>>

KDE4 has been sorted out for a long time now. Even the older version of KDE4 shipped in RHEL6 is ok.

<<<On the other hand, Centos and RHEL won't be able to drive your scanner in the first place.>>>

Never had any problems with CentOS and my scanner.

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Anonymous Coward

@Jim59 - Re: Linux desktop

You say you have been a Linux user for years, yet you speak about RHEL as a desktop OS. I'm flaming you for this, however I didn't give you any downvote.

And no, Linux desktop is not struggling at all in my opinion. You still have a lot of choice and if you feel Linux desktop is really terrible, for a modest fee Win8 with its Modern interface is waiting for you with arms wide open.

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Re: I'll wait until Windows 9 before considering an up/down grade from win7

> Well it wouldn't make sense for W8 to radically change and still be W8, really. W7 is essentially Vista with the problems fixed, but it makes more sense it is a separate version.

Agreed. Why fix the crap for free now when you can offer a proper upgrade later and charge handsomely for it.

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FAIL

Re: I'll wait until Windows 9 before considering an up/down grade from win7

Vista didn't really hurt MS - they carried on selling XP and then they had massive uptake on W7 afterwards

Complete bollocks. Vista really and persistently damaged the image that Microsoft had carefully cultivated with XP (the merger of the DOS bastards and NT). It had huge hardware demands and, although intrinsically more secure, it managed to have application permissions so confusing that most people looked for the "Michael Rimmer" switch to disable it!

Vista was supposed to completely replace XP but, once PC makers found that they couldn't sell it, Microsoft extended XP's lifetime so that they could at least sell that. It put corporate customers off upgrades they might otherwise well have done and entrenched Microsoft's reputation as a purveyor of shoddy browsers with a synthetic restriction on which OSes get which browser.

Because they make so much money from Office and the volume licensing that they have the damage to the bottom line didn't show up immediately. But Vista killed Silverlight and a host of other technologies that Microsoft was hoping to force down the world's throat.

Windows 7 is a fine OS in the XP tradition - I primarily use MacOS and am not a huge fan of Windows - but everyone I know is reasonably happy with 7: it's stable, has all the apps and drivers you could ever want and you know where things are.

Windows 8 was a clownish attempt to tell the market what it wanted. It proved to be both Sinofsky's and Ballmer's (and who knows who else's?) exit pass. And it still doesn't work. Now that the PC/tablet inflexion point has been passed, Microsoft's bottom line is much more susceptible. It's managed to come up with a strategy that satisfies neither touch nor desktop users. Microsoft has massive traction in the installed base and is still managing to lose market share.

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Re: Linux desktop

"The Linux desktop is struggling at the moment, thanks to KDE4, Gnome3, the "Unity crack pipe" etc."

Got four words for that: Ex Eff See EEEE.....

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Re: Linux desktop

Oops missed Debian - it is in the old/stable camp with RHEL an CentOS. Debian is easily the best small server OS in the world IMO. And XFCE is my choice too. But on the desktop, Debian's kernel is just too old for some peripherals, eg nework scanners.

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Re: Linux desktop

Thanks keithpeter but the latest RHEL 6.5 kernels are, as I said, too old to talk to some modern peripherals, even after much post-install tinkering. On he server side, RHEL is a winner obviously.

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Re: Linux desktop

KDE4 has been sorted out for a long time now.

Light yesrs better than earlier versions, but KDE is still a confuising place to do any serious business. Sure you can do your accounts if the file manager widget will stop rotating for a minute, but the user experience is still "7 out of 10" or thereabouts.

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Re: @Jim59 - Linux desktop

@AC (who posted the politest flame ever) - thanks

...you speak about RHEL as a desktop OS.

Latest RHEL comes with Gnome 2 as standard, making it a desktop OS right out of the box. And what a pleasure it is to use. A simple, calming GUI but with pulsating server power behind it. Being enterprise though, the kernel is still old and lacks many of the drivers of the 3.* kernels. A desktop user has his work cut out making it talk to modern peripherals, or even the latest laptops.

I'm a committed Linux desktop user (Fedora/XFCE), but I feel that Gnome/KDE are moving further away from desktop glory, not towards it. Windows is trembling now and the desktop market is likely to open up sooner or later. I just wish somebody would do a "business desktop" distro - stable, with a sober GUI, but a newish kernel - maybe about 6 months old. Think of it as "small business" as opposed to "enterprise". Users could then sacrifice just a tiny bit of stability for increased hardware compatibility. Otherwise, Google might step into the desktop gap and foist something hideous on us.

Sorry for the interminable and off-topic waffle.

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Re: Linux desktop

I cannot help feeling that if Ubuntu/GNOME etc. had stopped p***ing around and just improved boring old Gnome 2, then Linux would have captured about 10% of the desktop market place by now.

This urge to change everything for no particular reason has just given MS a "get out of jail free" card, and, two years to backtrack from the "Modern" disaster.

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Re: Linux desktop

KDE 4 has been out for 6 years now. How is it 'struggling'?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Think

Ditto...since XP went I've moved to Mint too and use Wine to run Photoshop and Dreamweaver. Will wait for Windows 9

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Re: Think @Boris the Cockroach

I think many are waiting for Win9 not necessarily because they will move to it, but because they believe it may give an indication of how successful Satya Nadella's has been in refocusing MS on its customers and specifically it's enterprise customers.

The question is whether the Linux community can deliver a compelling competitive product suite offering in the same timeframe thereby giving business a real alternative if MS stumbles...

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JLV
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Re: Linux desktop

>your scanner is likely to stop working

Good points, but, to be fair, it seems to me that many scanners really, really, hanker for Windows, at some deep down level so they are kind of a special case. Or at least they were in the past.

I've had 4 so far, since 2003 or so, and the first 2 flat out refused to work on Linux or OSX. Canon, looking at you. On the other hand, my Fujitsu Scansnap and the preceding Epson V300 were quite happy on Linux, Windows and OSX - I had done my research in advance by then.

While it would be nice to have 'Nix systems that automagically deal with every scanner, I find it more practical to give my business to scanner manufacturers that use technologies that allow proper low-level compatibility with OSX and Linux, however that gets achieved. And skip the others.

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"Is it time to "reimagine" Windows again, so that tablet and phone users get one experience, and PC Windows – if it has to do anything - simply provides a runtime for these phone and tablet apps?"

Yes. Next?

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Anonymous Coward

Kernel

"Microsoft has implemented many excellent optimisations within Windows during the past five years, distancing the operating system's kernel from the version in Windows 7 and Vista"

What? "Windows 8.1" is Windows v6.3. Just like "Windows Vista" is Windows v6.0.

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Well I told them at the time

but would they listen?

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I just uninstall the Modern Apps on any Windows 8/8.1 machine.

Its the simplest solution. If people are complaining about them then just get rid of them.

You don't need them if non-touch. Then you just stay Desktop forever.

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Pirate

BOFH?

So you get rid of the people who are complaining about the modern apps? Sweet. I've got to try that..

Do you prefer a trip down the stairwell or the cattle prod?.

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Re: BOFH?

Personally, I prefer the tape safe.

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Windows 9?

Just wait for Windows 9 since 8 is clearly today's Vista.

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Devil

Re: Windows 9?

Unless Win 9 is tomorrow's Vista.

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Re: Windows 9?

That's rather a simplistic way of putting it, but I see a couple of flaws in this statement. The first is that nobody knows for certain what Windows 9 will have in it and when it is likely to come out. All we can do about that is wait and see.

The second, more likely problem is that Microsoft have proven themselves as too bloody minded about this whole thing and while it shouldn't be that much of a problem to set it up to run as it did all the way back when the first trial versions came out (e.g. the one where you could actually switch the system between desktop and TIFKAM and get on with your life, including the availability of the whole start menu as per Windows 7), Microsoft will avoid this for as long as possible purely because they cannot accept that they were wrong.

What I see here (I'll say more if and when I see it for myself) is yet more fudging around the main issue which is that Microsoft shot itself in the foot the moment they foisted Windows 8 upon the world. It isn't all bad, but Microsoft tried too hard to force the computing world to adopt their view when, firstly, they had no control over the market they wanted to take over and, secondly, the majority of users that were most likely to need Windows (the PC and laptop users, their numbers far higher than Windows tablet and smartphone users) didn't really want or need this change. Until Microsoft gets the message and admits its mistakes, Windows 8 will find it hard to shake its negative image.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Windows 9?

Please don't take this personally, I know you're not the only one... but that's an appalling solution!

Microsoft aren't listening, they're only adding a few "mousey" things out of desperation, or they would have done something since the W8 Preview/Beta response.

What if 9 is just as lame..are going to cling onto 7 until 10 comes out? Think about the current situation with XP.

/!\ You all need to act soon - either "up"grade, or switch /!\

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Flame

Re: Windows 9?

... but who is to say that Windows 9 will be significantly better?

Microsoft are between rock and hard place, and they need to make some hard choices to retain their position on desktop and in the server farm. Not all of them will be to the liking of customers, I think this we can take for granted. So, what will these choices be?

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Meh

Re: Windows 9?

Windows 9 since 8 is clearly today's Vista.

It was always thus with Microsoft. You'd almost think they have a development strategy of alternating between pushing the envelope(*) and pissing people off and consolidation. Win8 was always going to be a bit of a lame duck. Win 9 should be pretty good.

MSDOS was the same. 3=good, 4=buggy, 5=good, 6=buggy. 2.0 would be exception to this rule but it was early days. Perhaps they hadn't formulated their strategy at that point.

(*)As far as MS can ever be said to have pushed the envelope.

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Re: Windows 9?

Nail on the head.

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Re: Windows 9?

Yes, their bloody mindedness is a wondrous thing to behold. Loved the bit "But users of Windows 8 on non-touch devices were in general a little less satisfied". Unfortunately that doesn't sound like a company that has learned anything.

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Re: Windows 9?

"Microsoft are between rock and hard place, and they need to make some hard choices to retain their position on desktop and in the server farm"

Retain their position on desktop? They almost have a monopoly on the desktop. The desktop is a shrinking market.

Win 8 was not about retaining desktop position it was about how much they dare piss off desktop customers and risk loosing desktop position in order to gain in the fondleslab and phone market.

I don't see much indication that it is working or feel it is likely to work in the future but Microsoft having already done most of the damage will probably keep trying.

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Re: Windows 9? @AC

Well, this is the problem, innit? If we vote with our wallets and don't buy any non-touch Win8 PCs, they conclude "the non-touch market is toast" and don't waste any further effort catering to it. If we do buy them but complain a lot, they may notice but it won't provide the wolf-at-the-door stimulus that a sales FAIL provides, so you get these half-hearted concessions as seen here and in 8.1 gold version.

And of course what of us, that is to say our actual need for a desktop/laptop computer? We still need the thing, so what are our alternatives?

1. Mac. They conclude we've moved to a richer market segment, so fuck us.

2. Chromebook. They conclude we've moved to a poorer market segment, so fuck us.

3. Just buy the thing and put Linux on it. They never know*, and they made their money anyway.

*This is one bit they might actually tumble to over time, if they care to. Because any significant usage of metro apps == Windows Store tracking data for them (and that's what it's all about after all), if they notice that there's only one active Windows Store sub for every 10 Windows non-touch devices sold, then I guess that tells them that they're not getting what they actually want out of that operation. And maybe, just maybe, this moves them to give a shit about the 90%. But I wouldn't bet the farm on it.

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Re: Windows 9?

I guess the new paradigm that MS haven't really understood is that the market they control is ever diminishing and the market they would like to control has alternatives, and very good ones. It ain't the 1980s, or 90s or even noughties...

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Re: Windows 9?

Yeah I agree, better to pay a few quid (and it is just a few) to upgrade smoothly to 8 than to try and make a big jump later.

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Re: Windows 9?

Windows 9 since 8 is clearly today's Vista.

I'm going to be contravertial and disagree with that, windows 8 is actually really good under the covers, it was just lumbered with a UI that is rubbish. From my experience, most of the stuff that made me want to punch someone was sorted out in 8.1, which is at least a free upgrade... unlike Vista to 7 :)

There are still annoyances, and I have to rely on the search to find options instead of just going to a sensible place, but it certainly now a usable interface on top of a pretty slick underlying OS.

Cards on the table, i do have a touch screen laptop, but i rarely use it for more than swiping the side menu on. I boot directly to desktop and don't use any 'modern' apps. Occasionally I still press the start menu by mistake, expecting it to do something useful, but the side menu/search has pretty much replaced that and i'm almost used to it.

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If you want to have multiple UI's, a moused desktop one and a touch tablet one, you still need a single API and a single app. That app reconfigures itself based on being in a desktop or a tablet state.

Next.

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Happy

Say what you will ...

I'm sticking to Vista, XP, OS 10.6.x, OS 10.7.x and Android wotevah!

At the same time I acknowledge the incredible functionality we now take for granted oh-so-easily-peasily nowadays.

Things like home movies, large MB digital image files, ... Heck even one.com online facilities and utilities work with Mac OS and who needs ftp nowadays?

Interim conclusion: I'll stick with what I have as it does the job nicely and I see no need to change

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A touchscreen optimised UI on a desktop PC is as useful as a steering wheel on a washing machine.

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Mark this for posterity; I want to wheel it out when iOSOSX gets half a makeovertouchscreen and everyone can't remember criticising WP flat UItouch on the desktop.

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Facepalm

But...

It won't. They did put something touchy-friendly, Launchpad, and it proceeded to be the least used app on OSX. They did notice this and thus no forced touchy interface for OSX. Compare to Microsoft.

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The funny thing about OS X is that there really wouldn't need to be that many UI changes to enable proper touchscreen support. The dock would be well suited for launching and managing programs, they've already implemented full-screen support in most applications, and full-screen applications are treated as their own virtual desktop in the desktop switcher.

They've been adding small elements from iOS to OS X at a slow but sane pace since 10.7 appeared. Basically all OS X would really need for a touch-screen MacBook would be to increase the icon size in a few applications. My only fear about future OS X interface tweaks is that they might decide to implement the icons from iOS7.

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Happy

Actually, a steering wheel on a washing machine has already been done back in the 1940s.

They called it the VolksWagen. :)

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Mushroom

Pet peeve

If I had a penny for each time I'd accidentally shifted to a Modern app from the desktop, I'd have....uh...a couple of quid.

I'd sell a couple of toes to stop the corner activation.

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Re: Pet peeve

Save the toes and use your couple of quid to buy (almost) Start8. Then tick "Disable all Windows 8 hot corners when at the desktop". Job done.

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FAIL

Re: Pet peeve

It drive me f***ing mad. And I can't install a new bit of software on each machine I have to use. The number of times I've moved the mouse a bit incautiously and whatever it was I had in front of me has suddenly vanished to be replaced by the sodding screen full of useless rectangles!

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