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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Re: Pet peeve

I also bought Start8. It's a shame it is needed... but with start8 and modern mix, W8 is quite nice...

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Re: Pet peeve

For some reason I thought that also disabled the Charms Bar. Which you need because they've hidden some settings there for some bizarre reason.

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Windows 8

An explosion inside a spaghetti factory. In slow motion.

At least they seem to have fixed the colour interface now - full 16 colours, modeled on the OS/2 Shell. None of that MsDOS monochrome stuff. Oh... wait a second!

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The one Modern App

I consistently use is the Weather app. It provides more detailed information that I've seen from any iOS or Android weather app, and is easier to navigate than most weather websites.

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Re: The one Modern App

A new weather website could be developed at any moment and you could start using that any time.

However, you won't ever get an alternative metro-weather app -- it's too much effort for MS to update, and it's too specialised a market for an application developer when compared with developing an HTML5 website.

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Re: The one Modern App

The best Metro program I've come across is Windows Media Center, but it's not included in Win8.x, maybe because it runs on the old fashioned desktop?

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Anonymous Coward

A change is as good as a rest

Switched from Windows 8 to Snow Leopard via a secondhand Mac Mini with 2gb RAM. Less fretting about cryptolocker, zbot or similar nasties and a better gui. Now my Windows PC can be just for gaming.

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Having used every desktop version of Windows since 3.11,

8 has been the only version where I couldn't sit down in front of it and find what I wanted straight away.

I don't oppose change, but MS has made a huge mistake by not giving people what they want. Technically, my phone, tablet, and desktop all run Linux, but it doesn't take a genius to see why Android is not installed on my desktop.

Take the hint, MS, and make whatever-you're-not-calling-Metro go away on desktops - no more half-measures.

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Re: Having used every desktop version of Windows since 3.11,

Ditto. Win8 (or rather, Server 2012) has been a PITA for me. Try driving a touch-oriented interface over a slightly iffy shared remote desktop session not actually having used said interface before. And then trying to work out where the hell everything's gone.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Having used every desktop version of Windows since 3.11,

I simply don't believe comments like this. Windows 8 has excellent system wide search, you just need to type the name of what you want and its icon appears. The desktop is pretty much untouched from Win7.

Everything is still in the same place under the hood (with the possible exception of logoff/shutdown), it's just got a different start menu. The people that I've spoken to who made comments like this just freaked out about the start menu and didn't move from that point of view.

I fully accept that many people don't like Windows 8, but the "I can't find anything at all, and I'm an IT Pro" says more about the person saying it than it does about the OS.

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Re: Having used every desktop version of Windows since 3.11,

You would think Microsoft would understand the problem, given how well they navigated the shift from Windows 3.x to 95. But then again, all those really smart people are long gone by, right?

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Re: Having used every desktop version of Windows since 3.11,

That the IT Pro has been using the existing paradigm for 20 years and finds Win8 simple does things odd?

MS trained us to work this way, and things you learned in Win386 still worked after all these years until now. Things like setting the properties on the icons so you can zoom around uber fast. Worked in Progman.exe, all the way upto Win7. Now, the default UI won't let you do that, you drop down to Desktop mode, that has been deliberately knobbled. I still find it staggering that even after all this noise is being made, MS is STILL trying to force this through and these tweaks are minor at best, and users are being forced to install Start button programs to get back lost functionality.

That whole 'charms' thing, NO obvious UI hints to that at all, suddenly there's hidden things appearing? And... right clicking in Windows Store for more options, not having a menu in place to start with to know there IS a menu? It just breaks everything UI design has been working towards since UI design was thought of.

Why is MS fighting it's own users so hard on this?

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Anonymous Coward

I never understood the fascination with touch screen in the home. People don't want it, it was never asked for and was never dreamed of in the "HOME OF TOMORROW". Yes, it works very well on a phone or tablet, but that is because they have teeny tiny screens not 22inch widescreen HD res monitors (and that size and res is constantly increasing).

When you are at home you don't need to have a touchscreen. Like most people my PC is at a desk, the monitor around 3/4 of an arm length away, so using it as a touch screen would be uncomfortable, and annoying.

What people actually wanted to have was gesture control, something microsoft could have easily achieved by getting windows 8 to support the Kinect out of the box, that way they can sit in their chair and swipe through docs and webpages without having to lean forward in a unnatural and uncomfortable position. Even if it was gesture support rather than touchscreen though there would be a limited requirement for it, most people would use it for the gimmick it is over a couple of weeks then go back to the trusty mouse and keyboard anyway.

So by designing a whole UI around a "product" that no one has and no one wants in their home MS have totally alienated a massive section of their target market. MS are just lucky that Google is focusing on "cloud OS" solutions and that the Linux community are only good at scaring people off when they ask a basic question rather than developing a coherent OS as otherwise many people would jump ship to an alternative.

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Joke

lean forward in a unnatural and uncomfortable position

I think that's called "bending over"....

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"Like most people my PC is at a desk"

Define most people!

Most people outside of the techie circles are ditching their PCs in favour of tablets and laptops. Just look at the sales stats. The desktop is dying

The only significant people left buying PCs are enthusiast gamers and techies who market wise are in the minority and should know how to fix an OS to suit their means anyway.

FWIW I can count the people I know with a desktop PC on one thumb and personally,as a travelling contractor I've relied on laptops for the past decade

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Anonymous Coward

It was always a gamble

They thought that by putting Metro on the pc, people would automatically flock to Windows Phone because it offers the same experience. Sort of a revere Trojan; whereas they used to try and foist Windows onto every conceivable product (phone/pda), now the reverse is true.

As some people have pointed out already, the interface was never meant for 20" and up screens. If they could modify the screen so that it would provide me with actually useful information about my system, contacts, email &c then that would be a step up, but as with Apple, they clearly don't care about professionals anymore.

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When humans evolve...

...grease free fingers then Touch will be truly ready.

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On a laptop it's fine. Scrolling up and down documents works very naturally, pinch to zoom and rotate in graphics apps.

As a use case, touch isn't applicable to everything but where it does, I find it works well.

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Coffee/keyboard

Re: When humans evolve...

It's called soap.

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Anonymous Coward

"Define most people!"

People who still use a desktop PC. Rather than a laptop or tablet.

"Most people outside of the techie circles are ditching their PCs in favour of tablets and laptops. Just look at the sales stats. The desktop is dying"

People outside of the techie circles are KEEPING their PCs, and adding on a tablet or laptop to their arsenal. But they are still interested in upgrading to the latest version of windows (new shiny shiny effect in full flow). you are also forgetting the main market for new desktop PCs, offices. The desktop will not die out for a long long time especially whilst we still have small offices with employers looking for the cheapest solution.

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Thumb Down

Most office folk still use desktops - despite the constant intrusion of their personal mobile phones into the work environment. I see see very few offices with workers doing their day to day duties on tablets and phones.

As you are being pedantic, I suppose you use your laptop on your lap rather than a desk in your contracting duties. do you have your own custom written laptop OS as well ?

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Anyone in a proper office with desks and chairs needs a machine with a keyboard at elbow height and a screen at eye height. When you see a tv shot of a place where people use computers to do work, e.g. type stuff, that's what you see. They're not sitting poking fingers onto little fondle slabs.

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Take this gesture

"What people actually wanted to have was gesture control"

I think you are right. I often find myself using gestures towards my windows PC. However if it explicitly followed them it be disappearing up its own arsehole

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Re: When humans evolve...

>It's called soap.

Unfortunately, soap is something many little boys are allergic to! and they find it difficult to understand and/or remember the TV screen doesn't respond to touch whilst the small 'TV' (displaying the same/similar UI) does.

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Anonymous Coward

Apart from anything else, I like my screens to be clean. When people are looking at my screens and poke at them, I slap them.

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Headmaster

I can count the people I know with a desktop PC on one thumb...

Then you're out of touch, Mr Rimmer. As a travelling contractor, I'd say at a rough count that 60% of my customers have a desktop or all-in-one as their prime computer, even if they have one or several laptops and tablets in the home. Why? Well, a lot of it seems to come down to age. Older people tend to prefer a more formal seating arrangement, with a desk, nice big screen, etc. And though laptops do feature as the main PC in a lot of homes I visit, it's not nearly as often as desktops or all-in-ones.

Sure, I'd agree that the market is moving away from desktops, but now that they offer respectable power, all-in-ones are taking up the slack for those who like a more formal office-like environment.

Don't forget that lappies really don't like being used on the mains 24/7, unless you like your li-ion crystallised, and many people know this. Having said that there's nothing wrong keeping one plugged in all the time. Just don't expect to be able to bring it on holiday with you...

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Unhappy

Re: It's called soap...

Hah. Good one. Problem is, I keep an alcohol gel dispenser on my desk for this purpose and use regularly before handling fondly-slabby things. It helps, yes, but only for about 30 seconds. Sadly, us meat-bags seem to have annoying things called sweat glands in our fingertips.

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MS seem to just keep proving that the "Modern Interface" (TIFKAM) is completely pointless on a dekstop/laptop PC. It sounds like the "Modern" applications are less functional than even Android or iOS versions for crying out loud.

They either need to bite the bullet and do a proper unified API allowing the same core code to work with all interfaces, or just give up.

I hope they think this through carefully when Windows 9 rolls round...

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Meanwhile in Redmondland...

The Microsofties are going around with their fingers in their ears shouting...

la-la-la-la I can't hear you.

They won't change anything with respect to TIFKAM/Metro/Modern this side of an A-Bomb going off in Seattle. We should just get used to this fact and stop bitching.

you could move to other Desktop Operating Systems. One poster has seemingly already called time on windows and gone to OSX. I am sure they won't be alone.

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Re: Meanwhile in Redmondland...

Too true, Steve Davies 3. I used MS-DOS from v2 onwards, Windows from v3.00 onwards. By the need of it all, had set up everybody who wanted help from me with "all-MS" solutions. Then trialled Windows 8 and pretty promptly switched to OS X for desktop use (also allowing easier connection to iThings) and FreeBSD server-side. I will suggest the same to the others as Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2 walk towards the Elephant's Graveyard. I am not likely to be coming back to Redmond for an OS any time soon (though I do still use MS Office on Mac so they got me there).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Meanwhile in Redmondland... @Steve Davies 3

"They won't change anything with respect to TIFKAM/Metro/Modern this side of an A-Bomb going off in Seattle. "

Probably true, but let's see. If you'd said, "It's extremely unlikely they'll ..." rather than "They won't" it would've been better. Assumptions can be a poor way of presenting your case.

"We should just get used to this fact and stop bitching."

Would you all do that, please? After all these years, The Linux zealot whining and superiority complex has gone far beyond tedious. Or at least do it somewhere else. People here should generally be aware of their choices and decide based on their requirements and preferences so all you're doing is preaching to the choir. Or more likely, choosing a sympathetic audience. If you want to evangelise, try it on Windows forums. You might actually achieve something then. Come to think of it, this applies to a lot of the threads around here, while I'm pointing it out.

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LDS
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OneNote is a nice app - but you need a digitizer-enabled table to exploit it.

Among the "Modern UI" apps, The Bing ones (News, Sport, Weather, Translator, Maps) are usable. I like how the sport ones display me tennis tournaments and results in real time.

But most "Modern UI" apps looks to have been designed with tablets in mind, not desktops.

The Mail app is fine on a tablet, but clumsy on a desktop. IE works enough well for a tablet, but I won't use the Modern UI version on a desktop. Funnily, it doesn't support Silverlight so I can't use SkyGo but from the desktop version.

I find OneNote a very powerful app - but only if you use it on a digitizer-enabled tablet like the Surface 2 Pro (and a better pen than the MS one, I'm using a Wacom). I no longer take notes on paper, I do on the tablet, then I'm able to read them on any other device.

Skype is still limited compared to its desktop counterpart (i.e. no proxy support!). Same for XBox VIdeo/Music, it can't play many formats Media Player can - it looks too much oriented to sell you online contents, I wasn't able to connect it to my dlna network (Media Player finds it effortlessy)

Drawboard PDF is a nice app to annotate PDFs, but again works well with a digitizer. The Kindle app is fine - but again on a tablet, reading full-screen on a 27" monitor looks a little silly, while Kobo retired AFAIK its modern UI app, and tells you to use the desktop one.

Windows 8 was designed for tabets - and there works well although it lack some apps, and they forgot to add a real desktop version. Hope 9 will be such a version...

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Windows

Modern apps

I got Win8 early on and started off using the 'modern' apps for email, FB, news etc. I've found that I've slowly and subconsciously moved back to doing everything on the desktop. I've also installed Start8. I did try TIFKAM but it's just too difficult and frustrating to do what you need to do. Win8 itself is brilliant though - rock solid and very fast.

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Re: Modern apps

About the only Modern App I use a lot is the eReader. Whilst there are more functional third-party products available (and I have one installed), I've left the Modern eReader as the default because it does seem to open documents faster than a normal desktop app - useful for quick lookups. Obviously having installed ModernMix this mixed use of Desktop and Modern apps doesn't cause me any real problems.

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FAIL

Doesn't matter what version you use...

They all suck the sweat off a dead mans balls by the look of it.

XP - Most popular, the one people want, has more security holes than Rab C Nesbits vest - so M$ are getting rid of it.

Vista - Basically windows ME for the new generation.

7 - Best of a bad bunch.

8.X - Appears to be Steve Ballmers madness made real, realising they have missed the iPhone / iPad revolution they best bang something out quickly.

There are better alternative out there, get moved away from M$ - I prefer a mac, but there you go.

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Devil

> But who, given the choice, would use the Modern Twitter app when the old, Desktop-style Tweetdeck is available?

But who, given the choice, would use Twitter?

FTFY.

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"And the Start screen retains a button that does a quite baffling miniaturisation. I’m not sure why."

It's for the people who have very long Start screens - you can go from one end to another without having to swipe so many times.

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I've used just about every version of windows that has existed, recall the excitement when the GUI replaced my txt DOS interface. Some versions were pretty cool and worked well... my favourite was Win7. That versions seemed to get just about everything working well.

Then, what does MS do?

Releases win8.

I was stupid enough to install it over my trustee win7 (irrecoverable) installation and tried... yes I really did try... to get to grips with Win8.

It is, undoubtedly, the worst version of windows that has ever existed, eclipsing Vista entirely. Its clear we'd never get an OS like Win7 out of MS again.

My solution was for the first time ever, to swith to a Mac and I now use Mavericks... not the best OS by a stretch, but compared to Win8? no contest.

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Flame

As if this will make people happy!

The massive wave of complaints wasn't motivated by real issues, just hysteria, vitriol and a hatred of change. The segments of the IT community that got whipped up like that should be ashamed of themselves. Neophobia is the best term for what I witnessed.

Example, the endless mantra that Windows 8 penalized mouse and keyboard users. Windows 8 was better for mouse and keyboard users. Any serious user should have already been in the habit of launching programs by tapping the Windows key (which is permanently a centimetre away from your left hand when using the keyboard) and typing the first few letters of what you want. Want Control Panel? Win-key + 'con'. I can literally launch it in under a second. And this search-launch function works faster in Windows 8 than in 7. Additionally, it includes documents and settings in the search. And people claim that it's all designed around Touch? What I've just described is faster than reaching for a display.

And if for some reason you're too conditioned by older versions of Windows to adapt to using the keyboard and insist on launching something with the mouse. Well for those people who really struggle to adapt, mouse approach is also faster than in 7. In both cases (we'll ignore that you can just hit the Windows key as we're talking about people who are phobic of keyboards for some reason), you have to move the mouse to the lower left. This too is easier in Windows 8 because in Windows 7 you have to move it only so far and stop on the Start menu, so you must control your mouse movement. In 8 you just whip it to the lower left corner where it will stop by itself. Controlled movement is slower than uncontrolled movement and don't try to say that the extra few pixels travel offsets that because any honest person can try it right now (go ahead - see how fast you can move the mouse to the lower left corner compared to how fast you can move it to a small rectangle near but not at the lower left corner. And don't respond to this point until you've tried it).

So you have to move your mouse to the lower left and that's approximately the same action (marginally faster on 8). Then you click. Same action. Here we diverge again and the speed advantage of 8 becomes more apparent. I'm a power user. I regularly use a lot of different programs - far more than most. I counted them and the come to 27. My Start Screen has space for around fifty on the desktop machine, and around thirty-five on my old laptop. You know what that means? No navigating up and down menus carefully like the Start Menu. Which could pin a finite amount of things - I can't remember how many but it was less than the Start Screen on even my laptop. Again, it's faster and easier to whip the mouse to a large icon in the screen (and they're grouped by function too!) than it is to go to a menu option in the Start Menu, wait for the sub-menu to appear, move to the option you want, etc.

All of which is irrelevant as any keyboard user will have launched their program in half that time with the method I described earlier.

But no, people clapped their hands over their ears and shouted "a UI designed for touch on a non-touch interface is stupid!" Never mind the facts, they'd found something to be angry about.

The list of stupid objections was endless. The Start Screen would obscure what was on the page. Right - so you navigate the Start Menu without looking at it do you and without stopping from reading what you're reading in the main window? Of course you do... Or how about that opening a PDF would, by default, launch the Metro PDF reader causing the poor confused user into the Hell of Metro land where they would flounder helplessly. I heard that one loads of times. So switch the default app for PDFs, I'd say. It's just right-click on the file. But users wont know how to do that - they just want to read their PDF. Uh, you do know that Adobe Reader isn't part of Windows 7, right? That if the user just does it on Windows 7 it wont even open at all - just ask them if they want to install something that will read it? Uh, well, they respond. Some OEMs pre-installed Adobe Reader. Yeah, and they can do the same on Windows 8. Stop trying so hard to find things to struggle with.

If you kept shooting down all these arguments eventually you'd get to the nicely indefinable ones as people got more defensive. Such as "context switching is disorientating". Oh, grow a brain! You can handle the Start Menu but the Start Screen appearing causes you context disorientation? I'm not a genius and I seem to manage it fine. Or "it looks like a child's toy". Well you can't argue against taste so that's fine, but you can set all the panels to grey if you want. It's not a functional argument as to why 8 is objectively worse.

Oh and lets not forget the video of some chap struggling to launch IE because his son didn't tell him the very basic fact that you can get the Start Screen from clicking in the lower left - something that Windows tells you the first time you start up. Never mind that the moment he was shown this he was fine. Never mind that I could find someone who would struggle with a Fischer-Price toy and video them if I wanted to. This apparently became evidence of how flawed Windows 8 was.

I feel deeply sorry for the MS engineers. They produced something that was well-thought out, objectively improved in many areas, still had the same capabilities of its predecessors, and when it was unveiled, a large section of the IT community (who should be open to change as much as anyone), did nothing but pour hate and abuse at what they'd worked on. Whipped up further by people who love to hate MS who treated the new interface as Christmas and their Birthday wrapped up in one and went into full on Witch-Burning Mob mode.

Shame on the fucking lot of you.

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Re: As if this will make people happy!

TL;DR

In short, you are saying we have to jump to whatever new way MS demands we use things?

And then re-train all of our friends/family/non-tech users to match

If so, why not learn to use Linux instead an save the license fee?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: As if this will make people happy!

Steve ... is that you?

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Re: As if this will make people happy!

TL;DR indeed

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Re: As if this will make people happy!

> If so, why not learn to use Linux instead an save the license fee?

That's your choice but by any non-brain-damaged standard, learning to use win8 from XP or 7 is several orders of magnitude less taxing than learning to use any linux from XP or win7, once the user discovers the "Desktop" tile.

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To be fair...

I do have one complaint. The touchpad on my Samsung 5 series laptop interprets any number of accidental finger motions or deliberate mouse moves in any direction as "swipe in from the right".

That's infuriating.

The rest, I can live with.

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Re: As if this will make people happy!

Nice rant.

The issue I've found is that when I've come to try and use it I wasn't the installer or first user, so I was not aware of these methods.

First time use: cousins kid comes around and wants to connect his new laptop to the wifi, ok, where are the wifi settings? Where is the desktop? WTF, how do I even exit the start screen? ESC? No. Windows key? No. Really, how do I get to the desktop? Took all of about 30 minutes to figure out what I was doing, not a good first start.

Second time use: Sister-in-law bought a very nice new laptop with a hi-res screen, only trouble is the text is too small. Eventually I found the settings, but the scalling is crap. Also struggled with the settings being all over the place, not all of them are in the control panel, not all of them are in the 'mordern' interface. PITA. So not a good second impression either.

Guess what? First/second impressions count. Maybe if I used it all the time I would figure out how to use it easily, but why precisely should I bother?

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Re: As if this will make people happy!

@Paul Crawford:

No, he's pointing out that Windows 8 was *more* keyboard-friendly than Windows 7 even in its 8.0 incarnation. It's right there in the second paragraph; is English not your native language?

There is nothing "new" for you to jump through in Windows 8 if you've actually bothered to learn the keyboard shortcuts. Which is, incidentally, what you're supposed to do. (Mice are the biggest cause of RSI, not keyboards. You really aren't supposed to use them all the time.)

If you haven't been mentioning that rather crucial bit of information to your "friends/family/non-tech users", then the fault in their training is entirely yours and yours alone. You don't get to blame Microsoft for your own ignorance.

WIMP GUIs have always been designed to provide neophytes a way to discover functionality for themselves and learn the keyboard shortcuts as they do so.

There are textbooks explaining this core principle that date as far back as the 1970s. (The WIMP GUI concept was first mooted in the 1960s, but the first implementations had to wait until some core technologies became available in the 1970s.)

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Re: As if this will make people happy!

Wow- now you've explained it I'll rush off an but win8 right away...... alright I won't I've already got win8 installed and even now after 3 months of use it still finds ways to annoy me (did you know that dragging an app to the bottom of the screen doesn't always close the app - I didn't (talking to you useless mail app)).

Even with classic shell installed and file associations set to desktop programs (took me about an hour to get it to work like my previous Vista install - sucker for punishment me) every now and then it will fire-up in app mode (and on a 28 inch screen this is not an efficient use of screen estate) . If it would let me run the start screen in a window (so acting like a shortcuts folder that I create and used on all previous versions of windows - if I'm drinking coffee I only have the one hand free) then I probably wouldn't get annoyed so much.....

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Re: As if this will make people happy!@ h4rm0ny

"Whipped up further by people who love to hate MS who treated the new interface as Christmas and their Birthday wrapped up in one and went into full on Witch-Burning Mob mode"

Whilst I don't agree, I have to admire the long, full-on rant, which oozes heartfelt, spittle-flecked fury. All the downvoters are people who have no admiration for true craftsmanship, and I say a pox on them.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: As if this will make people happy!

No it's not Neophobia. But the notion that we should learn a new UI from scratch, especially one with such poor discoverability for the sake of absolutely NO improvement in productivity or functionality is ridiculous.

I recently picked up a Macbook Air, intending to dual boot windows on it. But it took me an hour to figure out how to do everything on OSX and by the end of the day, I had it customized to my preferences. I never bothered to install windows.

I also installed Linux Mint as dual boot on my desktop recently - I was up and running within 10 minutes and the productivity on both these OS's is fantastic - just having no slowdowns makes a huge difference.

I spent 2 hours with windows 8 - even when I did figure out how to work it, it made no sense, it was awkward and inconvenient. So unless there's a significant benefit to be had, I'm not going to bother reading your instructions, or learning the new UI.

Why should I? Life is too short.

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