back to article Windows 8: Microsoft's tablet-desktop still painful to swallow

Microsoft's Windows 8 is now in the hands of developers and IT administrators subscribed to MSDN or TechNet. They are the first people other than close partners and fearless torrenters to try the final code. Anyone expecting major changes from June's Release Preview, or concessions for those missing the old Start menu, will be …

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I actually LIKE aero

Microsoft is in full-blown 'tablet and touch device whoring mode' now, and I can see how disabling Aero fits into their strategy. I think battery life is enhanced without Aero. Enhanced by how much, I don't know.

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Re: I actually LIKE aero, but MUI is mooey on stone tablets

I suspect the decision on Aero was determined by useability considerations outdoors. Punters would just shoot themselves in the foot with it, and blame M$.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I actually LIKE aero

Am I the only person to routinely switch off aero amongst other eye candy to give the computer a chance to do something useful somewhere? Microsoft were so 'look - this is great' over aero a few years ago, now it's gone and good riddence

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Facepalm

Re: I actually LIKE aero

OK, that's just retarded, they remove Aero, but they don't return the Advanced Appearance Settings so you can get rid of that stupidly fat border padding without diving the registry, which was only put there so you could see the Aero effects.

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Re: I actually find Aero visually confusing

One tinfoil hat way to look at Aero is as the excuse MS needed to fundamentally change driver model and that's the excuse they needed to freeze XP at DX9. Gamers would then migrate rapidly to Vista/Win7 for DX10 and games would swiftly drop XP support forcing migration (which didn't happen).

Well the hardcore gamers have moved, the casual ones replaced their PCs and the diehard XP users aren't budging, there's no longer any need for the ploy. So it's dropped with no way back.

A more realistic theory: WP7/8 devices aren't really up to running something like Aero and Win8 has to be hoobled to that level to avoid making the phones and tabs look bad in comparison. It's the whole Win8 story, an OS downgraded to promote a different product few will ever own.

Wonder what would happen if Android took advantage of it's shiny new GPU accelerated 2D to add bling. A mad rush at MS to resurrect Aero?

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Anonymous Coward

"The truth is, in my opinion, it works rather well once you learn some new tricks, such as dusting off the Windows key on the keyboard that you have never used before."

What a load of twoddle. How's the weather in 2006, not seen you since Vista?

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Meh

I also liked this bit......

" now you'll find most things in Windows work pretty much as before, for desktop users."

So, you can make it work like windows used to in the olden days so why, for the love of all that is holy didnt MS just have a tick box in the installer, I don't know, maybe "Use Windows Clasic interface" or some such.

I havent tried Windows 8, I probably won't till service pack 1 (although I think the X-box interface is suppose to be "like" the new UI in Windows 8 so I have used it in that respect, left me feeling a bit "meh")

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FAIL

MUCH worse than WindowsME.

Window's ME problem was that it didn't really improve on Windows98 very much, and the areas it did improve, nobody was interested in, it also came out too soon and nobody wanted to pay again.

Windows 8 is MUCH worse. MetroUI (or whatever it's now called) is now the default user interface, and it frankly sucks donkeyballs on a desktop screen. It's a mobile phone UI, and that's where it should have ended.

Yes you can go back to an intentionally gimped Aero-less "proper" Windows UI, but you have to switch back every time, and it's nowhere near as good as the Windows7 experience.

So why upgrade? So Microsoft can sell you new Metro apps? That's the only reason I can see....

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Meh

Re: MUCH worse than WindowsME.

"... and it's nowhere near as good as the Windows7 experience."

For me, the Windows 7 experience on my new laptop was nowhere near as good as the XP-Pro experience on my old laptop. Having said that, for the past year the XP-Pro experience consists of getting 'essential' updates every time I turn my old laptop on. It's now running far slower than it used to, which makes me very suspicious.

I'm now developing the 'skill' of using my Asus Transformer Pad (which has its own problems) for as much as I possibly can and am seriously considering using my old XP laptop to install and learn how to use Linux.

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Re: MUCH worse than WindowsME.

Windows ME's problem was that it was not designed to benefit the consumer.

Windows 9x had a feature that allowed DOS programs to suspend Windows and take over the system. It was there to keep compatibility with some old DOS based software but was primarily used by games. The problem for MicroSoft was that BEOS discovered that it enabled a workaround to MS' "no dual boot" cause in the OEM agreements since BEOS was simply being loaded as an app from the desktop (then reboot back into windows when you are done).

I doubt it was any coincidence that right after several OEMs started installing BEOS on the desktop that MicroSoft rushed out a new version of Windows whose only real change was to disable that feature and since OEMs can only install the latest version of Windows the BEOS loader was effectively dead.

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Linux

Re: MUCH worse than WindowsME.

I can only agree. In a nutshell, I am being offered a "new" MS Windows which can, with some effort, be made to work like the familiar windows interface we have been used to for decades. However, it does not allow me to make the "old" UI the default, so that whenever I switch on I have to navigate away from Metro (or whatever it is finally going to be called) before I can start doing any productive WORK. Never mind all the other pros and cons listed in other posts here, this alone is enough to make Win 8 a total non-starter, at least in my work environment (CAD type design and graphics).

As an enterprise user making long term decisions on future software and hardware needs, my recommendation is that we stick with Linux. If we do need Win to run any legacy or similar software, we'll virtualise an old copy of XP or Win 7. But I don't see us ever going back to MS for anything

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Re: MUCH worse than WindowsME.

I also hate the way the Windows 7 taskbar encourages you to have numerous pointless big icons across the bottom of your screen (a horrible import from Macs). The KDE taskbar is superior and a much more efficient use of screen space.

Instead of tweaking the Windows 7 UI, Microsoft have instead gave up on improving it and instead decided to make everything more complicated by adding additional UIs.

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Facepalm

438 per cent better, but that is for drawing rectangles

..and that's important to someone, I guess.

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Silver badge

Re: 438 per cent better, but that is for drawing rectangles

Should speed up Solitaire...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 438 per cent better, but that is for drawing rectangles

its clearly a secret plan to make it easier to steal Apple's design patents!

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Re: 438 per cent better, but that is for drawing rectangles

only if they draw the rectangles with rounded corners

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Re: 438 per cent better, but that is for drawing rectangles

Yes, - but are they rectangles with rounded corners?

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DJO
Silver badge
Boffin

Re: 438 per cent better, but that is for drawing rectangles

All rectangles have rounded corners if you magnify them enough, the radius might be measured in ångström but it is still rounded.

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Silver badge

Re: 438 per cent better, but that is for drawing rectangles

"Should speed up Solitaire..."

Only if the cards don't have rounded corners.

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Silver badge

Re: 438 per cent better, but that is for drawing rectangles

Fine- Minesweeper it is, then.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 438 per cent better, but that is for drawing rectangles

Nobody has love for Freecell? Hearts?

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Re: 438 per cent better, but that is for drawing rectangles

"up to 438 " - does that mean anything at all?

'at least...' might have some value, but 'up to...' ?

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Trollface

Re: 438 per cent better, but that is for drawing rectangles

Rainbow Dash: But is it 20% cooler?

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Silver badge
Holmes

Small article correction...

"Microsoft's Windows 8 is now in the hands of developers and IT administrators subscribed to MSDN or TechNet. They are the first people other than close partners and fearless torrenters to try the final code."

No; Windows 8 is now available to developers and IT administrators who are subscribed to either MSDN or TechNet.

I have a TechNet subscription myself, can confirm the availability (released per 15/8/2012) but that's it. I have no intention what so ever to grab and try this since I don't use touch enabled devices.

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: Small article correction...

"Windows 8 is now available to developers and IT administrators"

Nice try amigo, but I note that Tim didn't say Win 8 was in the hands of all developers and IT admins ;-)

C.

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Anonymous Coward

I've got to pretty much echo the article. I want to like Windows 8, why? Well I've found it very fast and very stable. I haven't seen a blue screen. This was looking like an actual replacement to my XP machines. However the Modern UI is awful, it randomly opens apps in Modern or the desktop. Which is USELESS as all my bookmarks are in the other version!

Microsoft, please listen, 90%+ (Guess) of your users still use a keyboard and mouse. We don't need a clunky, odd, badly thought out front end. The start menu was more than adequate. My perfect OS would be the Win 8 back end with the XP front end. I don't need fancy visualisations, I need my computer to be fast, snappy and reliable. Also please consider us IT professionals, we don't need Windows to protect it's self from the us, we know what we are doing. The pop-up (slide-in) menus are a pain as everytime you go for red X or the File menu, a Windows menu insists you didn't want that and that you really wanted a Windows menu.

On a final thought, the bloody shutdown button is now buried under a right hand slide menu, then settings, then power, then shutdown. In this power-usage obsessed world, that is just plain madness.

Windows 8 UI, written by many, overseen by no one.

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Anonymous Coward

"On a final thought, the bloody shutdown button is now buried under a right hand slide menu, then settings, then power, then shutdown. In this power-usage obsessed world, that is just plain madness."

And that's after you scroll right horizontally to see that menu.

Horizontal scrolling is fine on a tablet but I hate it with a passion on a desktop.

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I can't believe the shutdown function made it through usability testing, knowing how much Microsoft does.

The most palatable methods seem to be:

1. Ctrl-Alt-Delete, and click the Power button in the bottom-right of the lock screen

2. Use Win-R to open the Run prompt, and run shutdown -f -s -t 0 (or create a desktop batch file to do the same thing)

3. Use the physical power button on your machine (you can teach Windows to do a graceful shutdown for this via Control Panel > Power Options > "Choose what the power buttons do")

I'd love to see some Microsoft metrics which state which of these methods is used most often, and how that compares to the magic invisible charm menus.

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Silver badge

can't you alt-f4 it till everything closes then once more to bring up the "shut down" prompt? I thought that prompt had disappeared from win7 till I discovered this method...

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Anonymous Coward

No more BSOD in Win8

FYI, there's no more BLUE screen of death in Windows 8. It's just a purple-turquoise-teal error screen with a dorky large emoticon.

And the new error screen has been dumbed down, there's much less technical information. Good luck troubleshooting and running diagnostics.

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Anonymous Coward

New Microsoft religion: Start button bad, tiles and charms good!

It's blind faith, not usability. Apologists will demand that you start using the WinKey for the most rudimentary operations.

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"I do also like the suggestion above to just use the power button on the computer."

Sadly my wife and I keep our PC's well out of arm reach behind sound blocking pieces of furniture, so that's the least appealing option.

Anyone checked if the sleep buttons on many keyboards will do the trick on Win8? (A button I'd completely forgotten on mine!)

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Even better in Server 2012

If your logged in you can't shut down the server, but when you're logged out anybody can shut down the server :)

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Silver badge
FAIL

Sorry MS

This is the first time since ME that I've not installed a new OS on my PC on the day of release. That includes the server versions too.

I fought with it for a couple of weekends on a laptop, then gave up.

Maybe in a month or so?

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Im getting really tempted

Well I mainly used Ubuntu up to version10.10 (loved it) got disenchanted with the whole unity thing and spent some time trynig all sorts of OS out. Now run a Win7/Ubuntu 12.04 desktop but have become very accustomed to not being wholly tied to any specific OS in the last couple of years and hence ive found Win8 to be not that challenging to get used to and use. Ive been running Win8 release preview on my 6 year old laptop and its fast.

To be honest Ive been really impressed with Office 2013 preview and cant wait to try it out on a tablet - to see how it handles as a cut down version for mobile client work. Office 2013 and Win 8 really do go very very well together - most impressed ive been with MS for many years. Win7 has been a decent enough desktop for sure though.

I always thought i'd get a tablet when eventually Ubuntu had one out and then partner full time with a Ubuntu desktop and run a virtual of Win7 for legacy apps, but this tablet seems to have stumbled for whatever reason, does anyone actualy know why?

I dont bother with a smartphone, mainly as where I live doesnt have much/any 3G coverage so I stick to any old GSM mobile and have been trying to decide which tablet to go for. Well after trying Win 8 Im really considering heading to Asus and getting their 810 win * transformer book their bringing out. Will cover my legacy apps, new office 2013 in both desktop with keyboard and tablet when not docked with clients out and about..... its really, really tempting....... all they need to now is bring out some kind of ARM based 7 inch screen tablet too and I'll *ditch all my bitches and make the switch* to Win 8.......... wow cant believe im thinking that, but I reckon its gonna happen.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Im getting really tempted

This is what made it all clear to me:

"...the availability of paid apps... new touch-friendly interface... perceived overall performance boost on the desktop... excellent Hyper-V virtualisaton... Storage Spaces for pooling hard drives... much faster reconnection to Wi-Fi networks; ... running Windows on a USB device without touching what is installed on the host PC... the ability to mount an .iso CD/DVD image file with a double-click."

Have you noticed these are all popular features of Ubuntu? Software Center... Unity... better performance,.. Xen and KVM hypervisors... UnityOne... quick wifi connections... liveCD / liveUSB / wubi... .iso mounts.

Microsoft is trying to catch up to Linux.

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Re: Im getting really tempted

Absolutely agree.... just wish Ubuntu has gotten some hardware sorted re tablets/phones and to be honest if it cant then simply release the code to flash our own devises ... but this just seems like its not happening for whatever reason.

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Re: Im getting really tempted

Hopefully by SP1 or 2 Microsoft should have their Unity/GNOME Shell clone sorted out.

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I trialed Windows 8 for a month on my desktop. I've used Windows since W/386 so quite accustomed to change, but this was the first time I'd experienced dramatic backwards steps in ergonomic and cognitive handling.

1. I found my wrists hurt from moving the mouse around a lot more to get things done.

2. Where the new and old UIs clashed was really messy

3. I don't want my attention taken fully away from my desktop view when I consult the start menu. As soon as that happens I start losing the context of what I'm doing there. It's very jarring.

When I use a device in tablet mode I have rather different expectations and usage patterns. But even with Windows 8's performance improvements, it's not worth having it reduce *my* performance when I'm at the desktop.

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Boffin

Clean install....

A clean install of Windows is generally a pleasurable experience. 6 months down the line, maybe less so. Lets see how 8 fares in the long term. As for the UI, I think M$ is just coping the open source crowd (again) by pissing people off, a la KDE, Gnome, Unity...

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The problem is, every time they bring out a a new OS, they don't fix stuff that was wrong or missing in the previous versions, they just put a new front end on and say it's faster.

It is 2012, Windows is 27 years old but it can't do PDF thumbnails, Explorer can't show you the size of a directory and device management is a mess. For example.

That is, frankly, pathetic.

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Anonymous Coward

I can't speak for Win8, but most of that is there in Win7. I have pdf thumbnails in Explorer from Acrobat Reader and the status bar (if you turn it on) shows the directory size. But, yeah, device management is a mess.

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PDF thumbnails do not work out of the box in Windows 7 and the add-ons to enable it don't work in Windows 7 64 bit, or Windows 8:

http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=35505

PDF is a very popular, open format, MS's operating systems should be able to support it out of the box and it is pathetic that they cannot.

Folder size is not available in an Explorer column, hasn't been since the hack for XP that enabled it was broken by Vista.

And you agree that device management is a mess.

So I can't see how you make that "most of that is there in Win7" ?

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It's pathetic that Adobe make it open to everyone except Microsoft who they shackle mightily in taking advantage of this "openness"

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"every time they bring out a a new OS, they don't fix stuff that was wrong or missing in the previous versions" like a lot of car models sadly.

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Ah, I see the new trend is to write off everyone who doesn't like the horrific new interface as being "old fashioned" or "afraid of change." Nope, that's not the case. It's just bloody horrible to use on a desktop.

I think everyone can agree that under the hood there are improvements worth having. So why, for the love of Mithras, is there not a big option in the control panel called "turn that Metro shit off"?

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Coat

There probably is an option to "turn that Metro shit off" but nobody can find it.

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Unhappy

I thought microsoft specifically has said they deleted the start menu code in windows 8 so there is no way of undoing their stupid UI change.

Everything other than the new UI is very nice, but the Ui changes are just a deal breaker. Hidden things are bad UI design on a desktop and those are now required knowledge to use windows 8.

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