back to article Windows 8.1: Here at last, but is it good enough?

The de-cloaking of Windows 8.1 at Microsoft's BUILD conference was greeted with cheers from attendees as the company finally confirmed changes following a major U-turn. Yes, there's a Start Button but it's really no more than an onscreen version of your keyboard's Windows key. Metro loosens the ideological shackles: you can …

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  1. FartingHippo
    Headmaster

    Speak your brains

    Surely "spEak You're bRanes ", no?

    1. dogged
      Thumb Down

      Re: Speak your brains

      You know, I'm pretty certain it would be easy to write a Twat-O-Tron™ for Reg readers' comments on anything related to Windows 8 or indeed Microsoft in general.

      Throw the phrases "Fisher Price" and "Start menu" into the mix and you're golden.

      1. Should b Working
        Thumb Up

        Re: Speak your brains

        I haven't had a chance to play with 8.1 yet, but I've heard "meh" and "yeah!" in equal measures from those who have. It sound like they were listening to the public. The idea of snapping up to 4 apps on a screen is an improvement - especially since you can stick TIFKAM on one screen (with say email, twitter feed, <insert instant messaging client of choice> and, well I can't think of a 4th I'd want running at the same time (maybe calendar? a to do list?), while you're working on the other. Looking forward to giving that a go.

        I think the removal of a certain flamebot has improved the level of conversation and discussion on technology recently. It's like I can read the comments section again and not just scroll past the first page missing all the self inflating corporate hating.

        1. JDX Gold badge

          Re: Speak your brains

          Are you referring to Eadon - is he gone? How do we know, was there an announcement? It should be Reg headline news really if so...

          1. AndyS

            Re: Speak your brains

            I think this page clarifies it:

            http://forums.theregister.co.uk/user/34672/

  2. hitmouse

    First experiences

    While I can walk into a computer store and see rows of devices showing the tile interface and not having a touch-screen, Window 8.x is going to deter buyers.

    The changes in 8.1 make absolutely no difference to how this plays out for consumers.

    1. Arctic fox
      Windows

      Re: First experiences

      On that score I would entirely agree - although I would have to point out that the OEMs have a certain responsibility there, hmm?

      1. Lorin Thwaits

        Re: First experiences

        Let's not side-step the reality that Microsoft dealt a bad hand to both OEMs and users alike.

        The lack behind Windows 8 does NOT rest with the OEMs. The lack rests with the origin -- which is the executives in Redmond.

        Will the corporate brass accept reality or remain numb?

        That is the next bit of fate.

      2. hitmouse

        Re: First experiences

        >On that score I would entirely agree - although I would have to point out that the OEMs have a certain responsibility there, hmm?

        I don't disagree. They're as lazy as ever when it comes to retail presentation.

    2. RISC OS
      Thumb Down

      Re: First experiences

      I agree if ms want punters to buy windows 8 tablets and laptops they should subsidize the touchscreen... currently you either buy a good laptop without a touchscreen or a bad spec laptop/tablet with touch screen that can't do any serious work.

    3. CaptainHook

      Re: First experiences

      While I can walk into a computer store and see rows of devices showing the tile interface and not having a touch-screen, Window 8.x is going to deter buyers.

      *****

      While there is still a physical keyboard attached, the touch screen is pointless, either:

      You have the laptop positioned so that the keyboard is positioned so it's comfortable to type on in which case you will have to make be large arm moves to reach the screen

      - or -

      You position the laptop closer to you so the screen is easier to reach in which case you are no bunched up to type at the keyboard.

      Touch works if you are holding the device because then your hands are right there, but if you have the laptop/PC setup on a desk it just makes no sense because the ergonomics are just wrong.

      1. hitmouse

        Re: First experiences

        - or -

        you have a keyboard that folds/slides away, so you can flip between laptop and tablet mode in seconds.

        Which is what I've been doing very happily with various types of Windows tablets for a decade.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Windows

    In short..

    "Have you downloaded the Windows 8.1 preview and what do you think?"

    I didn't even bother anymore because I simply don't see the point.

    They fooled me once with the customer preview, they fooled me twice with the developer preview (basically all the mumbo jumbo marketing nonsense surrounding it), but guess what? I won't be fooled again; I got better things to do.

    The way I see it none of the complaints which people had regarding to desktop usage have been addressed. Well, their loss.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: In short..

      yep, as good ol' George Bush liked to say:

      'fool me once, shame on ..... shame on you. Fool me ... you can't get fooled again'

      1. beep54

        Re: In short..

        To the downvoter: That really is an actual quote from W.

    2. BobChip
      Linux

      Re: In short.. (again)

      Likewise. There was a time when I would carefully evaluate new MS releases with a view to deciding whether or not I should switch back to a Windows OS (from Linux). I can no longer see any point in doing this, as I have no intention of ever going back into the MS camp. Mint 14 and free open source software does everything we require, quietly, quickly, reliably and with a lot less hassle than trying to secure and update a Win system.

      I realise that there are lots of people out there who absolutely must have the latest MS offering, which they will pay through the nose for but which they will never own, and bound by a EULA they have almost certainly never read.

      It's just that I am not one of them.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: In short.. (again) @BobChip

        "It's just that I am not one of them."

        Great, You use Linux. At what point should we care?

      2. Wayland Sothcott 1 Bronze badge
        Linux

        Re: In short.. (again)

        I would love Linux on the desktop but there is always something that must be done in Windows.

    3. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: In short.. @Shell_user

      Agree, particularly if your job doesn't revolve around knowing how to install Windows. Also if you have a PC World, Staples etc. near you then it is very easy (and efficient use of time) to visit and play with the demo machines...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Windows

        @Roland6

        Nah, the real issue here is that my company is a (small!) Microsoft reseller. Of course with the recent TechNet announcement it remains to be seen if we'll keep that up, but that's a different subject.

        Quite frankly I'd rather spend my time working on my 2k8R2 experiences since there is a very reasonable chance I get to use it, rather than wasting my time on something I'd recommend my customers not to buy in the first place.

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: @Roland6 @Shell_user

          Yep! as a small Microsoft reseller, you really are between a rock and a hard place, particularly given the TechNet announcement...

          As an 'independent' I took MS's initial position that Win 7 and 9 were for the Enterprise and so largely ignored Win8, and continued focusing on the server side, until a client purchased a couple of laptops with Win8 pre-installed a few months back and turned to me for help....

    4. JDX Gold badge

      none of the complaints which people had regarding to desktop usage have been addressed

      Apart from the missing start button, inability to boot to desktop, and inability to sensibly use more than one app at once, which seemed to be 3 of the top 4 complaints.

      1. Kunari
        FAIL

        Re: none of the complaints which people had regarding to desktop usage have been addressed

        Desktop users were asking for the Start MENU to return, not the fracking Start "Button".

  4. Brian Gannon
    Meh

    The 8.1 preview makes some nice changes but unfortunately they are disabled by default and you have to enable them by right clicking on the taskbar selecting properties and then selecting navigation!

    So I have

    • Enabled boot to desktop

    • Enabled same wall paper on desktop and start screen (this makes a big difference, try it!)

    • Minimised start screen icons

    So when you click the start button you get the start screen which is just a load of shortcuts, click it again returns to the desktop. It now behaves similar to Launchpad on Mac OSX. Think I will just about be able to live with it now.

    1. herman Silver badge

      Launchpad?

      No Mac users I know ever use launchpad. Most machines have it deleted off the taskbar. Yet, that is the feature that MS decided to copy...

      1. Phlip
        Thumb Up

        Re: Launchpad?

        Quite.

        In fact I prefer a stack of my Application folder to Launchpad - it provides a much better interface. One that has more than a little in common with the Windows Start menu!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      > Think I will just about be able to live with it now.

      What a shocking indictment on a desktop OS.

  5. Michael Habel Silver badge
    FAIL

    shurly some mishtake redux...

    15:00 CEDT, 14:00 BSDT, 09:00 ESDT and 18:00 PSDT

    Could it be ya meant 06:00 PSTD?!

    1. Michael Habel Silver badge

      Re: shurly some mishtake redux...

      Or do you just hate the Pacific?

  6. Michael Souris
    FAIL

    Not really a U turn, more a wiggle in the road.

    Microsoft are so arrogant that they couldn't even manage a U turn on the Start button; they fully realise that what everyone wants is a Start button that displays a start menu, i.e. the traditional list of programs and, if you must, apps. Classic Shell and half a dozen other add-ons do exactly this. But because that would look to the world like what it is, a full U turn in response to a botched UI project, they do what they think they can get away with in a futile attempt to preserve some dignity.

    1. Keith 72

      Re: Not really a U turn, more a wiggle in the road.

      Not everyone wants a Start button that displays a start menu.

      However for those that really, really can't live without one, you can get the functionality without any third party extensions - just click on your taskbar, add a new toolbar and enter %ProgramData%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu as your folder.

      You're welcome.

      1. h3

        Re: Not really a U turn, more a wiggle in the road.

        I had a go with that problem is it is not complete there is some other locations that are needed as well.

        Something to just group apps together into folders for the desktop might be fine for most people. (Like progman.exe)

        1. E 2

          Re: Not really a U turn, more a wiggle in the road.

          +1 progman.exe!

          1. JDX Gold badge

            What everyone wants

            personally I don't want either... classic start menu is almost 20 years old now and to my eye, very clunky and awkward to use especially with a trackpad or on a slow PC - menus pop up a second after you hover over them, or you click as they are auto-opening and they close again, or you move the mouse too far and all the menus close again...

      2. Kunari
        Thumb Up

        Re: Not really a U turn, more a wiggle in the road.

        Nice tip, not quite the Win7 Start menu many are asking for but nice tip anyway.

        Which just highlights the point, why doesn't MS just bring the classic "Start Menu" back as an option too?

      3. Ian Tresman

        Re: Not really a U turn, more a wiggle in the road.

        I've not heard one person complain if the Start button DOES include the Start Menu, because you can just ignore it. The rest of us may be set in our ways, but it is the way we work, and we use it daily. By all. means include better options, and I'll use them if they are better.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not really a U turn, more a wiggle in the road.

      "what everyone wants..." Everyone? I prefer the new Start page to the old Start menu, so I'd prefer them to re-introduce the MPEG codecs to play DVD's in WMP myself.

      1. h3

        Re: Not really a U turn, more a wiggle in the road.

        It make very little difference to me this. Might stop me using the physical button for the inferior option.

        If the corner thing can be also disabled that would be an improvement.

        (Just use Windows + c / Windows / Windows + x) - If you can use shift you should be able to use those shortcuts.

        I can see why people dealing with the old don't want them to use Windows 8. (My grandfatfher who is reasonably technically competent (Can use stuff like Photoshop / Visio / Soundforge pretty well) almost tried to install XP onto a brand new Windows 8 laptop of his friends. He thought it didn't have Windows on it.) If it booted to the desktop and had the button it would probably have been fine.

        What I want is the next version of RSAT to support en-GB without any messing around.

        Border Padding to be put back in the GUI (The reg hack occasionally gets reset).

        A way to lock Metro Apps (So I can use one on a screen and keep it open if I am using the desktop on the other).

        The Metro RDP Client is quite nice but totally useless without ^^.

        The Metro Media Player is quite nice but it doesn't support most of the formats I use. (Offer more codecs don't mind paying a minor amount).

        Improve gmail support in the Metro Mail client. (I lost access via exchange activesync by doing a system refresh (With a Microsoft Account) and it worked wonderfully).

        Let people enable sideloading if they want like volome and users of the server OS's can.

        (I want to have a go at making a metro ssh client (Probably based on putty) but I don't want to sell it I am more interested in it being as good as possible).

        Sucks that Microsoft has removed the keyboard equivalent of the right mouse button from their latest generation keyboards as well.

        (I only use Windows for light home use and to admin my hyperv server that does various stuff mainly with Loonix / BSD).

        1. E 2

          Re: Not really a U turn, more a wiggle in the road.

          I've long considered Windows the premier gaming OS. For getting real work done I mostly use Linux. What I've heard about Win8 imposing some sort of DRM-like control over what games may be installed makes me very leery of the product.

          Still, I have to admit that Microsoft makes a fine mouse. It's only real competition for mice is Logitech.

          1. Kunari

            Re: Not really a U turn, more a wiggle in the road.

            I prefer Logitch mice but MS Keyboards. :)

      2. Miek
        Linux

        Re: Not really a U turn, more a wiggle in the road.

        "... I'd prefer them to re-introduce the MPEG codecs to play DVD's in WMP myself." -- Try VLC, videolan.org

      3. Lorin Thwaits

        Re: Not really a U turn, more a wiggle in the road.

        I've got lots of videos in HuffYUV that I'd like to play!!!!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Snapshot of windows in my life

    /Rant on

    Most of the people I support are near or at retirement age. The rest are between middle 30s and the first group. Windows has always been the OS of choice here... Until Vista was released. That is when we started to go Apple. Not much at first, but enough to be noticed. That trend kind of stalled when 7 was released, which was good because it gave me and my team time to brush up on OS X. When Windows 8 was released, all hell broke loose. We had open revolts by the clients if we mentioned going to the OS. Our once 95% Windows departments have, over the last year, become 50% Windows, 30% Apple, and 20% Linux. Even then, the Windows OS of choice is still 7 (and I can't blame them).

    When I dug down into the reasons behind it I got lots of varied opinions from my clients, but in the end it all boiled down to 'I don't want to learn a new OS again.' Usually followed by 'If I have to learn, it is going to be something I know isn't going to change anytime soon' from the younger clients. Apple hasn't really changed their GUI in 14(?) years. Linux can keep the same GUI as long as you can get it to compile on the new releases.

    Microsoft may be able to get the 5 to 25 year old customers with Windows 8.x but the rest are running away in droves. If you consider that the older generation has many more people in it that the younger age bracket, MS has just shot itself in the foot financially by losing the interest of what, 2/3 of the market?

    I has always been a windows advocate until Vista came out. Windows 7 kind of redeemed MS for me. And when I read the tech specs on 8, I thought it was great that they had finally addressed some of the ongoing issues of Windows. The RC when you could choose the GUI was good. Metro for tablets (where it was meant to be), and standard desktop for PCs. Then 8 was released. I have never been so disappointed. Metro on everything was the worst decision I have ever seen by that company. It looks like the market agrees with that statement. The execs at MS, however, seem to be willing to risk the company instead of admitting they may have made a mistake.

    /Rant off

    1. Darren Barratt
      Windows

      Re: Snapshot of windows in my life

      I think that that's what it comes down to. It's a face saving exercise for execs who can't admit their mistakes.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Snapshot of windows in my life

      Exactly! When there's no new functionality, why undergo constant change and relearning?... The Ribbon and Modern Interface both had little new functionality, instead they brought limitations to how users must work. If MS listened to its users and wanted to change but keep older users, they could have added a Toggle button to their UI to switch between Menus & Ribbon and Win8 & Win7 UI.

      1. E 2

        Re: Snapshot of windows in my life

        "...why undergo constant change and relearning?... ..."

        MS does this for several reasons: (a) because it makes some money off training courses for new versions of Windows; (b) if the changes were visibly only evolutionary then people would be less likely to upgrade, so gotta make it look different; (c) renaming all the APIs or just obsoleting them every few years keeps the indie and 3rd party developers chained to the product because they never have time to do anything but relearn Windows programming.

        All in all the intent is to maintain everyone's attention, to the greatest degree possible, on Windows. Now yer *NIX operating systems... well, until two years ago the common desktop metaphors had not changed in a decade or more, and once you know BASH, POSIX, or LIBC programming, well you know them. PERL I won't comment on, I'm having a nice day so far, want to keep it that way.

        1. JDX Gold badge

          Re: Snapshot of windows in my life

          So why are Linux desktops doing similar big re-vamps then with Unity and the like? They aren't in it for training courses, they don't make money from people upgrading, and they don't want to keep 3rd party devs busy.

          I don't think your motives are sound for Windows anyway, but even if they were the fact other OS (Apple as well as most of the big names in Linux) are doing exactly the same type of thing makes it clear this isn't the main reason.

          1. Chemist

            Re: Snapshot of windows in my life

            "So why are Linux desktops doing similar big re-vamps"

            a) Not all of them are.

            b) If you don't like a particular desktop you can either customize it or change it for one of several others.

            with MS now WYSIWYG but not in a good way.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Linux

            Re: Snapshot of windows in my life

            > So why are Linux desktops doing similar big re-vamps then with Unity and the like?

            Well that's what we would all like to know.

            It is just as big an issue in the Linux community.

            Mind you, at least you have the choice going forward.

          3. Beauchamp

            Re: Snapshot of windows in my life

            GNU/Linux doesn't have a marketing department.

            If a major change is bad then it dies in the the extremely harsh user ecosystem and is replaced by something better. Evolutionary forces are the most powerful driver of *everything*, software included.

    3. bill 36
      Linux

      Re: Snapshot of windows in my life

      Windows has always been the OS of choice here...

      That statement isn't true for 95% of the population. The machines they bought came preinstalled with Windows and therein lies the problem for Microsoft.

      The new consumer devices on the street are smart phones and tablets and they ain't running windows.

      I sincerely doubt that most consumers give a shit about the OS whether its Win8, Macos, Mint, Opensuse Android or whatever as long as it looks good and works reliably.

      Professionals on the other hand have always chosen dependent on the task at hand, performance, scalability, sustainability, upgradability etc etc, which explains why most organisations have a mix of HPux, Solaris, Aix, Windows, Zos, linux and so on. Hence we had divergent skill sets looking after them.

      And a fine job they all do as well it has to be said.

      I think Microsoft has missed the boat. Not because Windows 8 is rubbish, i have no idea if thats true, but just because the next generation are more savvy and actually don't care anyway.

  8. Mevi
    Meh

    that 'start' button on the task bar

    It now appears on both the desktop and on the start screen. That just removes the need for a physical start button on Windows tablets, doesn't it? I don't see that it serves any other purpose.

    The cynic in me says this is only to the benefit of the manufacturers & hardware designers.

  9. DOUGLAS G DANFORTH

    Programing

    I judge an operating system on whether it supports a good quality programming environment. C/C++, Objective-C (and even Java) DO NOT meet my criterion for good quality. As long as Microsoft maintains backward compatibility with their previous OSs I'm happy because I can still run the development environment of my choice. The rest of the 'junk' is just noise to me.

    1. Miek
      Linux

      Re: Programing

      Delphi ?

    2. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Programing

      ? C/C++, Objective-C and even Java aren't programming environments... However, Delphi, Visual Studio and Eclipse are..

      1. JDX Gold badge

        Re: Programing

        And since both C++ and Visual Studio are very good, he's talking rubbish anyway.

  10. Lorin Thwaits

    When an OS has this much disdain in the community -- for over a year now -- it is nearly certain to be destined for failure.

    A smaller-scale case study could be taken from the failed Unity interface. Perhaps some in Redmond don't consider this a valid comparison... But the similarities are striking, and this time the fail is on a much grander scale.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "When an OS has this much disdain in the community -- for over a year now -- it is nearly certain to be destined for failure."

      Except when it + previous versions have over 91% market share....

  11. gunslingor
    FAIL

    Way too little, way to late... their base of loyal customers has already jumped ship.

    I'm a computer engineer and have been a loyal MS supporter since DOS. MS windows 8 is a blatant attempt to turn the desktop market into the cell phone market, to track user data in a more profound way and to integrate marketing into an OS on a level I never could have dreamed.

    Smart phone interfaces are impressive in comparison to everything else before, but they are quite clumsy designed for operation in the palm of your hand. I mean, if Microsoft shipped off this product with a free 42"

    LCD Touch screen.... even then, I don't need an OS designed for a 4" screen... Don't they realize Windows is used for an infinitely number of applications, from NASA modeling simulators and satellite flight controls, to power grid operations, to freaking magazine development. This OS is designed with few things in mind:

    1. To sell you more stuff from Microsoft..the model of every smart phone manufacturer.

    2. To track more personal data and likely sell it.

    3. To reduce the cost of OS development, regardless of the cost to the consumer.

    4. To open a market for PC touch screens, which cost pennies more to make than an LCD, yet cost literal 5 times the cost (Like $500... ha! rip off). I bet they invested heavily in the market thinking they had insider information.

    I truly feel betrayed by this company, 20 years of service, betrayed. The idea of making a one size fits all OS is extremely bad, especially considering the range of devices out there now... each deserves special attention and the only reason not to give each device class a tailored OS is to save development costs. I'll never buy another windows device....

    Screw you guys, I'm a goin Ubuntu! I've tried to return the windows 8 disk, but neither MS nor the store I bought it at will accept it.

    A lot doesn't play nice with windows 8... trust me on that... I run high end application in parallel... I've reinitialized my top end system 3 times today... I've probably restarted or forced restarted 50 times today. The start menu is silly, its all set up the way MS wants you too use it (the one item MS always had over apple was flexibility). The sad part is its all designed around selling products at their store...

    Again, the biggest problem is that they took a highly flexible OS used in every notch our society has, and turned it into a god dam smart phone. I don't feel this change was honest, everything technical will be tougher in windows 8. An OS like windows needs to be intuitive and flexible, this is neither... its a departure from a "satisfy the customer" design philosophy, to a "make products cheaper to make and more profitable, regardless of what we do to or how we are perceived by the customer".

    When it does work, I can see its got a good backbone to it... but primarily because it's a small efficient OS (no HDD requiremnt increase from win7, which is historically unique I think...usually the OS gets bigger). I think they accomplished this by taking some lessons learnt on smart phone OSs, which isn't bad... but then someone got the bright idea, lets make the experience as trackable and market controlled as a smart phone! Bad idea taking away the one thing allowing MS to be so versatile and putting them more inline with apple (even worse in my opinion... I'd rather have the apple OS than win8.1)... and they won't let me return it, after 20 years of loyalty to MS. Screw em, they are official crap producers... yes, worse "conceived" OS in history, worse than windows ME, definitely worse "conceived" than Vista.... Vista and Me had serious implementation flaws, but the idea behind what they were trying to produce was far better than the idea of win 8... I honestly feel this departure is going to be a death sentence for windows on the desktop (perhaps servers as well, lord knows what they are planning to do there)... which likely will make active directly far harder to deal with and that'll be the end of windows server. I really think, windows is done for technical computing environments. Which is bad for them considering their smart phones really kind of suck compared to android... and apple for that matter.

    I mean, why am I going to buy "apps" from the MS store when I have an Iphone... Except in rare circumstances, why the hell would I want an "app" on my desktop computer anyway? They are designed for smart phones... tiny little htmls, scripts and... Its fine if MS wants to make a phone app desktop interface like apple did with itunes, but to make the center of the OS and to design the OS interface around an app selection interface is tarded, very tarded. Now, perhaps if they make this app selection interface as versitile as the desktop and touch screens come down in price at least 80%... and they fix the installation process which was the worst I ever went thru, 8 hours...and if they fix the bugs, and wait 5 years for everyone to buy a touch screen, maybe then this new OS will work out ok for them... but because they like intel appear to be getting out of technical computing business (opting for cheaper "all-in-one" chips); Sadly, I don't think MS will survive this one... the phones suck in comparison to android and apple, and they based the desktop OS around the phone. Saves development costs now and in the future... but what a risk to take so prematurely and to implement so poorly, and in such a dangerous time for the market, so stupid. Ha... Mozilla just frooze up for like 45 seconds, I'm back!

    Most everything defaults to these crappy apps in the metro interface when I try to open files. Everyone of these apps is a toy designed for smart phones, with only the least knowledgeable user in mind (my 70 year old dad, who knows only ebay) and the simplest touch capabilities (i.e., designed for tiny touch screens you can barely put your figures in). Can you imagine... once I could open 10 word documents and be constantly dynamically switching between them all in an effort to write a term paper. Now I'm forced into full screen view no matter what file type I open... this is ideal behavior for a smart phone, not for a desktop. Switching between them is a joke unless there is something I am missing (am I?). There are strange new ways to do things like scroll down, or double click (I think they are intending to bury the double click and opt for single click behavior, all part of some naive CEO's idea to turn the PC market into the smart phone market. Which is interesting, because now after viewing this OS, I'm wondering if all this hype about PCs going out of style is merely a marketing ploy by MS... I mean, most people want a powerful machine compared to the day's standard. Smart phones will always be lowest in memory, processing power, etc... smart, redesign and compromise a 20 year successful platform to make it fit within the market where your succeeding the least... smart phones.... the devices aren't even comparable! The only advantage is reducing development costs of the PC product. You remember Captain Kirks communicator? You think its a good idea to conform the Enterprise's Communications array to that standard? That's what we are talking about here... traditional windows was build for real machines, windows 8 was build for cheaper, more profitable and FAR less capable devices.... size will always be a limiting factor in computer design, therefore a smart phone will NEVER equal a desktop sized PC. In most cases, the interfaces and software will be total different due to these size based design compromises and the completely different uses by the consumer....

    Organization is around marketing, not the user. For example, I go to the metro sexual interface and click on the icon called games, expecting to see what games are installed on my machine or at least the old accessories-->games-->solitary type games... no, it takes you straight to the windows app store.... Is this where I buy Call of duty? No, its where I buy freaking Angry Birds! Do they really think we are that stupid? Angry birds was specifically developed for smart phones, why the hell would someone want to play an 'app' on a real computer? Integration of sales software into an OS on such a level I never could have imagined. Sure OSs have always come with bloatware, but this is blatant and highly integrated with the system, you couldn't remove it all if you tried. It would be interesting for a lawyer to wade thru the privacy policies between the old and new windows... I bet they effectively turned the PC into the internet, in terms of privacy. They should really call this OS "Windows Angry Birds", but "Windows Metro Sexual" suffices I guess.

    I'm Constantly being asked to register windows and there is no way to turn it off.... I don't want to register, I don't trust them with my information and neither should you. This is messing up my time sensitive programs, forcing me out of games for example.

    Most general programs don't operates well all the time in windows, I mean.. everything from Firefox, to VLC player, to cpu-z hangs up and stops responding... I'm going to test, but it really feels like clockwork... every 4 hours, "not responding" for like 2 minutes, most programs (I'm not using the "apps" of windows.... I could have saved $1200 and bought a smartphone if I wanted an app). It wouldn't surprise me in the least if MS intentionally hard coded errors into the desktop "old" OS trying to force people to buy there $3 script files instead of the free and far more powerful equivalents. Seriously, everything that isn't a windows cheep app runs quite well for like 2-4 hours and then hangs.

    I am done with em. Don't buy this OS... go with a free Linux platform or at least an Apple... When/If the Linux guys ever do start to decide to focus more on touch interfaces, I'll trust them to come up with something innovative for the PC and not conformed to the marketing, user tracking and software/device capability wishes of the Vendor.

    1. Lorin Thwaits

      Re: Way too little, way to late... their base of loyal customers has already jumped ship.

      Everything about this article is spot-on. (Obviously gunslingor's tome is much more than just a comment!!!)

      Here's the core axiom: "(Microsoft) took a highly flexible OS -- used in every notch of our society -- and turned it into a god damned smart phone."

      Well said. When can we have a real OS back, please?

      Microsoft, must you DIE instead of being relevant?

    2. Wayland Sothcott 1 Bronze badge

      Re: Way too little, way to late... their base of loyal customers has already jumped ship.

      Excellent post. I often think that the effect of something is it's intended purpose. It may be hard for us to grasp that they are trying to make computers less capable but that seems to be it.

      Putting the Start button back when what was really wanted was the Win 7 interface shows that they want computers to be less powerful. Obviously the smart people will find ways around this but the ordinary folk who we support will be in dumbed down land by default.

  12. Eeeek
    Thumb Down

    Back to 1990 anyone?

    Way *WAY* back in 2002, when Windows XP was grinding desktops to a halt (mostly due to inadequate GPUs that were advertised as "XP Ready" somewhat like the more recent Vista mess), I abandoned my Window system and switched to an Apple iMac. Now Apple has started putting crappy "features" in OS X and I've been considering going back to Windows.

    I had a serious look at it, even driving the guy at Bestbuy nuts with spending considerable time on the in-store demo machine. Maybe I'm not "normal" but I really don't understand why anyone would want to limit their desktop (27 inches in my case) to one application on-screen at a time. Even the "sidebar" option that seams to allow only a peek at one other application (and a limitted selection at that).

    Much lower down on my list of "why did they do that" type questions, why is everyone (Apple is doing this too) making the UI so flat? It's reminding me of Windows 2.0 only with a few more colors to choose from. Will we be going back to a command line interface for Windows 9?

    1. Keith 72

      Re: Back to 1990 anyone?

      Regarding one application on-screen at a time - it's only the Modern (or TIFKAM) apps that are full screen, or 1/3 or 2/3's of the screen - you can run 2 of these at the same time.

      But you also have access to the traditional Win7 Desktop where you can run as many apps as you like. You can also have Desktop plus one Modern app if you just have one screen, or you can have Desktop plus 2 Modern apps if you have multiple monitors.

      Research indicates most Win8 laptop users are infrequently using the Modern apps at all and are just using the Desktop environment. Makes sense really as most of the Modern apps are just toys for tablets.

      1. gunslingor

        Re: Back to 1990 anyone?

        Lets get one thing straight, because your confusing terminology. An "app" is not an "application" nor a "program", it's a tiny little version of an application which is why they call them "apps", because app is short for application...we like to play these word games.

        I agree with your comments. The worst part is how they default to the crappy apps. I mean, I have MS notepad, MS wordpad, MS word, Notepad++ and others installed, every single one is preferable to the "app" of MS, yet MS intentionally defaults to the less powerful app in an effort to brainwash users into thinking apps are better and, as a result, the windows store supposedly has the best programs for your tasks.

        This is not an OS designed by engineers, its designed by CEOs who know little about computers and care only about reducing costs to increase profits in an extremely shortsited way.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Back to 1990 anyone? @gunslingor

          "Lets get one thing straight, because your confusing terminology. An "app" is not an "application" nor a "program", it's a tiny little version of an application which is why they call them "apps", because app is short for application...we like to play these word games."

          I (and others,) have been using the term app in conversation to refer to full-blown applications as far back as I can remember. Not a program? What?

          With regard to defaults, what are you saying Windows runs as default? I wouldn't expect Windows to automatically change a file association - isn't that generally done when a new app is installed, e.g. archivers and media players which ask what you want them to open? I would expect it to set the default association for some stuff with the appropriate program that comes with it. So that'd be Notepad++ and Word out, then.

          1. gunslingor

            Re: Back to 1990 anyone? @gunslingor

            "I (and others,) have been using the term app in conversation to refer to full-blown applications as far back as I can remember. Not a program? What?"

            -me too, but the terminology has taken on a distinct meaning since the invention of smart phones. Android has an AutoCAD app, but it does not have an AutoCAD Application for example. There has to be a way to distinguish these versions in general discuss and "app" has become the keyword to indicate the tiny tiny version. The term app now refers to very small bits of code, often less than 1MB, that aren't usually written in a formal programming language. Usual scripting languages or just HTML.

            "With regard to defaults, what are you saying Windows runs as default? I wouldn't expect Windows to automatically change a file association - isn't that generally done when a new app is installed, e.g. archivers and media players which ask what you want them to open? I would expect it to set the default association for some stuff with the appropriate program that comes with it. So that'd be Notepad++ and Word out, then."

            -I concur for the most part, so let me clarify. Windows desktop comes with the usual default wordpad and note pad, which are infinitely more powerfull than the windows cell phone app, yet by default, notepad and wordpad are not the choice, the app is the choice. This is very very wrong in my opinion. And it isn't just this, there are lots of files that default to these apps even though windows comes with better default desktop programs. Every file I open, from adobe to txt to img files to audio files defaults to these dam apps, even though windows comes by default with better real programs... this really pisses me off.

        2. Wayland Sothcott 1 Bronze badge

          Re: Back to 1990 anyone?

          You are assuming that the failings in Windows 8 are because the very smart people in the worlds largest and most successful software company have got simple things wrong. That seems like an irrational conclusion.

          Is it not more logical that they are actually trying to do something very difficult and unpopular and we are suffering the consequences?

          I suggest that they are actually attempting to make computers both simpler to use and more limited. The problems we have with Windows 8 are the same problems we would have trying to input spreadsheet data into an etch-a-sketch. It's not for that.

          Microsoft altered MS Office in 2007 making it much closer to the Office 360 on the web. Anyone wanting to do cleaver stuff now has to hunt for the hidden options. They did the same with Outlook Express, at it's peak that was a very competent and standards complaint email client handling multiple accounts and IMAP etc. By the time we reach Windows 7 it's faded into something almost useless for people migrating from Outlook Express.

          There are a growing number of examples of Microsoft doing this and I read here that Apple are doing similar things.

          Linux should have taken over when Vista came out but instead they decided to mess up the GUI almost as badly as Win 8 does.

          1. TheOtherHobbes

            Re: Back to 1990 anyone?

            You mean Computing for Morons[tm]?

            Yes, bits of iOS, Unity and OS X have been going the same way for a while.

            Problem is, the morons - or ordinary folk as we like to call them here - were doing just fine with Windows X/7 and OS X.

            They weren't power users, but they were getting useful stuff done. And once they knew Windows, they didn't have to keep relearning it.

            Until now.

            So the real explanation is that 8 is an exercise in blistering contempt for the punters. Not only is it a wannabe clever person's idea of what a stupid person's OS should be like, it's packed full of marketing and monitoring user rape.

            There is no upside here. MS is too institutionalised to hit Undo, so the only possible result is a mass stampede to OS X and Linux, and The End Of The Windows PC As We Know It.

    2. Lorin Thwaits

      Re: Back to 1990 anyone?

      Heck, I've gone to a command-line interface for Windows 8. The pile of tiles is so convoluted that the easiest way to navigate everything is open PowerShell and then CD "\Program Files" and go from there. I teach professionals on a daily basis how to get things done, and the only cross-version way I've found to operate is with Win+R and then cut to the chase. Nobody wants to deal with a random interface designed by the marketing department.

      1. Keith 72
        Facepalm

        Re: Back to 1990 anyone?

        For new-to-Win8 experienced Windows users the Win+R combination really does help get them through - until they've pinned everything they need! We use remote desktop a lot and many use a resolution smaller than their display which means they're not full-screen - then the hot corners are a real pain and you can't do Win+R. My solution to that problem was to to share a shortcut to "%windir%\explorer.exe shell:::{2559a1f3-21d7-11d4-bdaf-00c04f60b9f0}" called Run. Run that and then you can pin "Run" to the taskbar!

    3. Kunari

      Re: Back to 1990 anyone?

      Why Flat? It's the new black. Once the UI's were flat because of technical reasons, now it's fashionable and hip. The fad will fade eventually.

  13. Arctic fox
    Trollface

    I see that some at least of the....

    ....."Cognoscenti" are indicating that they cannot even be bothered to take a look at 8.1 - are we actually talking IT professionals here? "I don't like it so I can't be fucking arsed". Oh yeah, really professional - totally impressive.

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: I see that some at least of the....

      Why would 'Professionals' want to deal with such an amateurish OS?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I see that some at least of the....

        There's nothing amateur about Windows 8 and as professionals they would have no problem just removing the Modern apps and app store from their companies machines if they wanted to. I guess the main problem would be trying to justify to the company directors why their company should spend money upgrading, because companies really don't like spending money if they can get away with it.

        1. gunslingor

          Re: I see that some at least of the....

          Boy that would be nice, but there isn't a way to fully remove the bloatware, "apps", windows store, the charm-luck-friendship-love-happyhappy control, or any of that other crap. I've messed with it and it would be very difficult, likely taking away other functionality from the desktop... it really is that ingrained in the system.

          Besides, ethical companies and truly flexible OSs always give the user the choice. MS intentionally didn't give the user the choice to disable all this crap in an attempt to guide the market to cheaper developed and more profitable products for the company. They are dead to me.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I see that some at least of the....

            They can be removed using PowerShell/DISM.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I see that some at least of the....

            @Gunslinger: 8 posts • joined Friday 28th June 2013 12:35 GMT

            All posts about how bad Win 8.1 is.

            Is it me, or are there are lot of people who don't usually post, posting exclusively on these subjects.

        2. Lorin Thwaits

          Re: I see that some at least of the....

          Nothing amateurish about Windows 8?

          The kernel, Powershell, and other core elements are professional.

          But everything else about this OS screams, "I am a freaking moron!!!"

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I see that some at least of the.... @Lorin Thwaits

            "The kernel, Powershell, and other core elements are professional.

            But everything else about this OS screams, "I am a freaking moron!!!" "

            Meh. This is just a mirror of the arguments between people who like Unity/Gnome 3 and those who don't,

        3. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: I see that some at least of the....

          >as professionals they would have no problem just removing the Modern apps and app store from their companies machines if they wanted to.

          Sorry, I've not looked in detail at the Win8 install and group policy settings, but I take from this that all the above can be done using standard MS install switches and Group Policy. Because whilst it is relatively easy to do this on a single machine, for an Enterprise it really needs to be done in a way that is supportable and will be supported by MS ie. so an update from 8.0 to 8.1 doesn't cause things to get re-installed.

          >I guess the main problem would be trying to justify to the company directors why their company should spend money upgrading, because companies really don't like spending money if they can get away with it.

          Give a Director a business case as to what Win8 will do for the bottom line ie. increase sales, reduce cost, enable the business to address new markets etc. and you stand a good chance of getting the go ahead. But as many have pointed out there is little from an Enterprise perspective to warrant upgrading to Win8 over Win7.

      2. Arctic fox
        Thumb Down

        Re: "Why would 'Professionals' want to deal with such an amateurish OS"

        Precisely because they are professionals and it is part of their job to be familiar even with operating systems they personally do not like - end of.

        1. hplasm Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: "Why would 'Professionals' want to deal with such an amateurish OS"

          " it is part of their job..."

          No, it isn't.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I see that some at least of the....

        Well, at a guess professionals would want to deal with any significant OS release, beit Windows, Linux, UNIX, etc. You don't get to be a professional by thinking "everyone on the Register says it's shite, so I won't bother." and if you think you do, you're not a professional.

        The amount of comments I've seen here from people who claim to be IT pros and are making embarrassingly naive statements which suggest they've never seen, let alone actually used, Win 8 is getting ridiculous.

        1. Paul Shirley

          Re: at a guess professionals would want to deal with any significant OS release

          ...at a guess professionals would want to wait till the finalised release before evaluating it for their clients.

          Especially those that remember Win8.0 had a functioning desktop Start Menu till 7 days before RTM, albeit hidden behind a registry flag. Until 8.1 is frozen, sometime this autumn, no-one knows what it will contain. Only shills need to evaluate it right now.

    2. Lorin Thwaits

      Re: I see that some at least of the....

      IT professionals have looked at the freak-tard of an excuse that 8.1 is.

      And they are not impressed.

      It is just 8.0 all over.

      Give it up.

      1. Miek
        Linux

        Re: I see that some at least of the....

        The professionals have seen the changelist, why would we need to look at an installed copy of Windows 8.1 to see that nothing has actually changed.

        Roll on Windows 9 Enterprise (SP1 of course)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I see that some at least of the....

        So Lorin Thwaits, joined 30th May, 8 comments, all in the subject about how bad Windows 8.1 is... Maybe it's the case that you don't like it, but you consider yourself an IT pro, therefore IT pro's don't like it?

        Confirmation bias?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I see that some at least of the....

      @Arctic Fox. - I don't like it (because I've over 35 years as a programmer,) so I can't be fucking arsed.

      Bite me. I'm not buying it and I'm not apologising and I don't care what you think..

      The Ribbon was the last straw. Actually the removal of the up button was the beginning of the end.

      You can see the marketing staff meeting "Someone's asking for the UP button to be put back. I mean seriously! Duh! I know underneath it's a hierarchy, but surely everyone puts their power point presentations in their default folder."

      "And someone wants to get rid of libraries because they put their porn in a folder and it went into the shared one by default and their kids saw it. Well there's a lesson there isn't there. Don't look at porn."

      "And someone wants rid of the Ribbon! Shocking. Anyone would think they conversed in language. Anyone would think English was their native tongue! I got promoted because of the Ribbon, all the techies thought it was a great idea. Not a single one said it was crap after the first tranche of punishment sackings."

  14. RobertD
    Pint

    Well...

    My 14 year old loves Windows 8 - live updates on the front screen, a UI that he considers intuitive - the future belongs to their generation, not ours, and we'll just have to get used to it!

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Well...

      "My 14 year old loves Windows 8..."

      I rest my case.

      The target demographic.

    2. gunslingor

      Re: Well...

      Ha! no we wont =). Plenty of other options out there now.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well...

      That's the new MS today... Desperately chasing after the shallow FB Twitter crowd... Trying so hard to be more like Apple or Google. By all means enjoy...

    4. Charles Manning

      The last time MS tried to sell to teens...

      Was the Kin phone.

      Such an obscure device you've probably not actually seen one, but Wikipedia will tell you all about it.

      Kin was a tragedy. The only think that MS kept from the whole Kin phone experience was the tiles interface. First for phones and then for PCs.

      Selling to teens is one thing, but MS has always made most of their money for corporates. How do they keep the existing MS customers happy? 14 year-olds don't have enough money to keep a company like MS going for too long.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well...

      RobertD! How are things at SaveMyFuckingOnlineReputation.microsoft.com?

      You have to be kidding right?

  15. R Cox

    Upsell

    Does it seem lately that MS is simply designing OS to upsell computers, rather than create a useful product. Aero did really serve any purpose other than to sell expensive graphics. Customers though did not want to pay for expensive graphics so many computers were sold that could not fully run Aero.

    Likewise Metro sole purpose seems to sell expensive touchscreens. If consumers were willing to pay $800 for an i3 device, this would be fine. But as this money will buy an i7 laptop, it hardly seems something that many would do. So, in the end, most people are going to buy a laptop that is not going to run Metro either.

    1. gunslingor

      Re: Upsell

      I can't express how 110% right you are sir. MS always has tried to do this, but never as blatantly as this, and never so many subjects of market manipulation at once... the new OS has bing inherent integration, windows stores, apps, skydrive, user tracking, a joke of a privacy policy, advertising, OS production cost reductions, so much it is really scary what this company has become since they tried to get into cell phones.

      Its like they said "hey, lets stop being Microsoft and start being Apple, but lets implement our products poorly and lets take Apple's monopolizing philosophy a few steps further.... TO THE MOON!"

      1. Wayland Sothcott 1 Bronze badge

        Re: Upsell

        Windows 8 seems like all the bad things of Apple with none of the good things from Windows or Apple.

  16. WylieCoyoteUK
    FAIL

    Lipstick on the pig

    Businesses I visit regularly are running XP, 7, Mac, and Linux, roughly in that order, XP is declining, the others are rising. (not to mention tablets, they seem to be rising as well, but they certainly aren't running Windows)

    Server 2012 is actually more common than windows8.

    The other side is that Windows as an OS is now overpriced, hence the rise of Chromebooks.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Win8 is fundamentally flawed design and marketing

    The Win8 modern interface should be fine for tablets, smart phones, smart watches, etc, although Microsoft hasn't been able to compete successfully with Apple and Android in these areas. So the decision to abandon the desktop market, which Microsoft owned by a huge margin, in favor of pursuing markets where they are not successful is questionable.

    Win8 is a fundamentally flawed design for desktop use. Microsoft can come out with a real OS for the desktop if they want to, or not; it's apparently not something I have any say about. But until they do they'll be losing customers like me who will turn to better alternatives than Win8. And it's not that I like the currently available alternatives; it's that, by comparison, the alternatives are looking a lot better than they did before Win8.

    1. gunslingor

      Re: Win8 is fundamentally flawed design and marketing

      I concur. I'm not against touch screens... I've designed HMI touch interfaces (once a multitouch) for power plants and I can tell 100%, MS is not innovative with their live tiles... its a very minimal approach to something that required innovation to compete with the market leader. MS failed with the phones, at least compared to android and apple, and they decided to turn there desktop OS into their smart phone. Death sentence. God knows what they are planning for the server software, but my company has already made the switch to AIX out of fear and uncertainty about the MS product line.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In summary

    http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2013/06/28

    ..says it all, really.

  19. h3

    iplayer playsforsure drm

    If the metro video client implemented (Doesn;t ?) plays for sure then that would be good the motion compensation on it is great. The files already exist but you cannot use them on Windows Phone or Zune or the Metro video client. (Don't see what they lose with that).

  20. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Not a Windows User

    But I have the opportunity to sit in front of Windows on rare occasions.

    Just the other day, I was trying to use Word on a Windows 8 system. The systems owner, unable to cope without a traditional desktop had installed Start8 or something similar. So far, so good. But then I found myself within the app. No menus. No toolbars, ribbons or whatever? How do I get something done with this? The owner, a long time power user pointed out that shortcut keys still work. So 'Alt P' to print. But short of having a wizard looking over my shoulder, calling out helpful hints, how would I get anything done with this app? At least I can stumble through Word on Windows 7.

    Is this what they call Metro? And how is it an improvement on a Linux command line, which I can deal with but I will admit, given an uninitiated user, is a total mystery with a huge learning curve.

  21. gunslingor
    Mushroom

    Microsoft Spying Program

    You don't believe me that windows 8 has a privacy policy equivalent to the internet, well fine, but at least this makes the intent of Microsoft quite clear.... Read this:

    http://www.gamepolitics.com/2013/06/03/whos-watching-who-microsofts-questionable-rewards-patent-xbox-one

  22. Trollslayer Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    XBox 8.1

    More arrogance - go through the installation and it tries to force you to sign up to Microsoft's services.

    You have to put in a false login/password to even see the option to create a local account.

    U-turn? An I-turn in reality.

    Start menu? They want to keep lots of customers on Win7

    1. Paul Shirley

      Re: XBox 8.1

      Apparently if you kill the network it will skip straight to a local account...

  23. Asok Asus
    Holmes

    Windows 8.xxx: Like a snowball in Hades.

    Windows 8.1 with Start Button, but no Start Menu? Sounds to me like: "The all new Edsel, now with a pinstripe!"

    This nonsense of a "refined blend" sounds like it was lifted from a 1970's TV ad for instant coffee crystals or a "premium" motor oil. The "refined blend" of Windows 8.1 is akin to Coke "refining" New Coke by "blending" half original Coke and half New Coke and putting it in new cans and telling their customers that they were "listening" to them!

    Microsoft's users can tell the difference between a kick in the teeth and actually being listened to. This "refined blend" is NOT being listened to and it is NOT going to go well at all for Microsoft.

    Touch on a PC is about as useful as teats on a boar hog. Actually, less useful. Does Microsoft really expect 100 million CAD/CAM designers, accountants, and other industrial content makers to hold their arms up horizontally all day inaccurately poking smudges on their 42" monitors with their fat fingers, working at 1/100th the speed as before Windows 8 with 1000 times the physical effort, in the mean time destroying their neck and shoulder girdle for life?

    Touch is an extremely low bandwidth input method with horrendous inaccuracy and extremely harmful ergonomics when compared to a keyboard and mouse. Touch might be ok for looking up the latest cat video, or tweeting, texting, or talking, but that's about it.

    Bottom line? Windows 8.xxx doesn't have a snowball's chance in Hades of being adopted by the enterprise and SMB on the PC.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Windows 8.xxx: Like a snowball in Hades.

      Asok Asus

      39 posts • joined Wednesday 6th February 2013 16:40 GMT

      All posts about Microsoft/Windows 8 failing.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Windows 8.xxx: Like a snowball in Hades.

        OK Anonymous Sherlock, we're all "impressed" with your meaningless revelations.

        Oswald Cox

        8 posts (using this pseudonym)

        Joined (using this pseudonym) Friday 17th May 2013

        Not all posts about Microsoft/Windows 8 failing.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Windows 8.xxx: Like a snowball in Hades.

          Not all posts about Microsoft/Windows 8 failing:

          And that would be why no-one is commenting about the content of your comments.

  24. peebee

    missing the point

    Dear professional engineers - You're right that Windows 8 is mostly a pig's ear of a UI, and 8.1 doesn't fix the problem. It's a botch, but in slagging off the UI for being "marketing led" you miss the point of what Microsoft is up against. It's got nothing to do with selling touchscreens.

    Microsoft's UI designers are quite right to note that the way we use touch on smartphones and tablets will influence our future expectations of ANY UI ... Quite how it will influence those expectations is not clear. Windows 8 is useful in that it shows what the wrong answer looks like. As far as I can see if you're trying to do serious work with a keyboard you'll always want to be able to move the pointer/selection device without lifting your hands from the desk but this doesn't mean that touch will have no role in the future of serious work ... because if whatever feels intuitive depends on what we do elsewhere then things like swiping gestures may be important. Credit to Microsoft for seeing this coming, though as I say, they haven't got it right.

    But the real issue is around all that signing in, cloud account mullarky. Microsoft and other big software vendors are desperate to move us to a subscription model because they then have a guaranteed annual income. They will claim added value through universal access not only to files but programs and settings etc, as well as an accelerated schedule of incremental improvements. But it's smoke and mirrors. If they offered these "benefits" as standalone options I suspect few of us need them or even want them. They need to do this bundling of dubious benefits primarily because they are running out of compelling improvements. The cash cow has matured, to the point where commercially it's dying. Win7 was in most respects the best UI ever achieved on a computer. There's room for incremental improvement, and actually Win8 on the desktop side delivers quite a lot of that. But how much is it worth? That's the question Microsoft and others don't want us to ask. Ten or twenty quid perhaps (ironically the price of an OSX upgrade) but MSFT needs us to carry on paying a lot more than that to sustain its profitability.

    Trouble is that the alternatives are not for the moment viable. Apple's UI on a large screen (ie more than 17 inches) is nearly as bad as Metro. I've been trying Ubuntu and Linux Mint, hoping they could meet my needs but they just don't (no decent email client/PIM, or web design client, no proper Evernote, Wunderlist, and the font handling is shite). But if Microsoft doesn't get it right next time those LInux limitations are going to start seeming increasingly unimportant.

    1. Wayland Sothcott 1 Bronze badge

      Re: missing the point

      I would imagine it's possible for one of the Windows builders who make ISO disks for Pirate Bay to put together a disk which contains the best of everything with the crap ripped out. I am using Windows 2003 eXperience as my OS. It's a special desktop version of Windows 2003 Server, it's lighter and faster than XP and modern enough to run all the Windows stuff that I could not run on Linux.

      The main problem is that they insist on selling new computers with Windows 8 installed. This means your average new computer will be crippled with Windows 8.

  25. regdl
    Meh

    Touch screen devices are the future like it or not. I wonder what everyone would be saying if Microsoft had not embraced touch. Would they now be even more irrelevant in today's world? They had to do something, Windows 7 and touch is awful as it was with XP.

    To break into the tablet-touch market they needed apps, to get people to develop apps they almost had to put touch in your face which they did with 8 and Metro. Windows 8.1 is the natural progression. It gives "boot to desktop" for corporate's (was surprised it wasn't a group policy option in 8) and desktop users and also brings back the start button for familiarity in the desktop.

    Win 8 has many great features for desktop users in its own right. Performance and battery life alone would make me go not go back to 7. Maybe they should have have just had a use case option on install of "a touch based device" or a "desktop/laptop device" and tailored the experience based on that selection with an option to switch (or maybe switch automatically when a hybrid is being used without its keyboard.)

    For me, my laptop now boots from cold in 6 seconds. For when I just want to check mail, calendar, weather or pass the time with some phone like games, I do all this in Metro. When I want to do photo editing, development in Visual Studio/Eclipse, Office based work or online gaming I use the desktop and have had no issues doing so.

    I have to say I don't get the hate for Win8. If MS were still plugging away with a desktop like touch experience they would get slated far more than now, if they went touch only (Windows RT) they would get slated for the inability to run desktop apps. They really had no choice but to come up with something like Win8 or follow the Apple route and use a different OS for mobile and tablet.

    Its certainly not a bad OS, what it maybe needs is smaller cheaper tablets, but to make those sell it needs apps and to get the apps Metro will need to stay in our face's a little while longer yet.

    1. robynsveil
      Facepalm

      "Touch screen devices are the future like it or not."

      I certainly hope not, at least, not for desktops. If so, RSIs are the future... I'm speaking from experience. We use WinXP on touch-screen devices in post-op recovery... a third of our nursing staff have come down with RSIs (sick leave, cost of replacement staff, etc). And the reduced productivity of trying to _make_ _do_ with these screens is horrendous. Typing on a tablet's virtual keyboard is awkward and slow, which is why people buy those bluetooth keyboards for them... typing on these miserable screens is a *massive* pain. Not to mention that the screen sensitivity reduces over time -- the machines in our high-volume recovery bays are noticeably less responsive than the ones that don't see as many patients.

    2. Wayland Sothcott 1 Bronze badge

      The future is what we make it, and what is dictated to willing victims if you don't participate.

      6 second boot up and long battery life is what the ARM cpu is for and Windows RT fits that. The PC was never built that way, a laptop is a miniature PC where as an ARM tablet is not in any way a PC.

      MS Office is a cumbersome bit of old bloatware which is very useful. What is really required is a new design for business documents on a computer system. A sort of SQL or XML or HTML definition allowing a single document to contain all aspects of business documents. It needs to be an open standard and the program needs to be lightweight enough to run on Tablet computers.

      Windows can then be the desktop OS for running all the old stuff as well as the new stuff. MS Office and Open Office etc can fade away and we can do business using the new open standard office document.

      This almost happened with OpenDoc but MS bought the vote so that they could get another 10 years out of MS Office.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Touch screen devices are the future like it or not.

      Moron. Voice recognition is the future, but multiple windows will still be there.

      Looking at one thing, then having to make decisions on it, when you can no longer see it, is the stupidest fucking thing I've ever seen. It simply must have been designed by someone who is female, and does nothing but one type of work, like typing word documents, or walking through powerpoint.

      It's shit.

    4. Paul Shirley

      Remind me why adding a touch interface REQUIRES the non touch UI to be degraded?

  26. miket82
    FAIL

    Take it to the tip

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/Design/graphics/icons/comment/fail_32.png

    I remember the excitement of DOS 3.3 arriving and the ability to network it. Windows 3, interesting but not much use. Using Win95, brilliant, from there to Millennium (despite all your groans, it worked for me) and getting to grips with NT 3.1. How unforgiving that was. 30 odd steps to achieve something and no warning for a wrong move.

    On to Server 2000 and Active directories and the nightmare of NT quickly forgotten. Then, XP and unexpected crashes became a thing of the past. Quickly moving over Vista we arrive at Win 7. XP with go faster stripes but I still knew where the gears were.

    Oh dear, we come to Win 8. If this is an automatic please can I go back to manual, better yet what about the blinking C: prompt. At least we knew we were expected to know how to double de-clutch. Win8 removes the windows and replaces them with blinds.

    MS says it has listened to the customer. Seems to me only those that toe the line have been listened too. The rest, as certain political parties (read MS) will say, are themselves to blame for not liking it.

    The start button is back for Win 8.1 ('oh no it isn't' the audience shouts) which I quickly replace with a well known freeby which does (sorry about that MS) exactly what I want my start button to do. Plus I do not have to plough through endless giant Icons hunting for what I want. It is my screen, not a bill board for the clever(?) people at MS and I will fill it with what I want, not what some meja graduate says I want.

    Before car makers gave us rev counters and the like there was a strong and competitive after sales industry for car accessory addons. In other words the customer wanted choice. Most have now gone out of business since the makers now provide those add ons. Those that did not address quality issues and / or ignored the customer have either moved to a niche market or have simply gone out of business. MS needs to understand the customer is very much KING and if they insist on doing their own thing the customer will, quickly, do their own thing. If the sales numbers are true, they already are.

    Wake up MS, we have a choice. Numerous linux systems and its derivatives, Android, and not wishing to upset some, the fruit machine that is not a pear.

  27. Macca Pukka
    Thumb Down

    Why is a classic desktop option STILL not an option?

    We've had a roll back option of sorts since windows 2000 came out yet still Microsoft persist in not giving the customer the choice with another fudge to 8.1 and allowing a few years to pass for them to get used to Metro till windows 9 at the very least, or even when a leap motion is built into every OEM keyboard and laptop for heavens sake!

    Instead we're left with good but not exceptional progress under the hood, in my mind not perhaps worthy of an instant upgrade but Microsoft's intransigence and stupidity with the desktop itself is stir crazy, something Apple no doubt are loving right now.. I really thought that they learned with the Vista disaster releasing a superb OS with 7 and hoped after missing the mark again they would see sense with 8.1.

    How wrong I was, I will no doubt be busy with 7 downgrades for new PC's for customers and upgrading existing machines until they do see sense. You need to give your head a shake Microsoft and if that doesn't work - shake it some more.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's out an out Microsoft spyware.

    And it's shit. And they were told. But they don't care, because you are no longer their customer. Advertisers are now their customer, and you're their product.

    Never going to buy it. Simple as that.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have had to stop typing on this thread,

    as my blood pressure has reached 168/124 according to my boots bp meter.

    Windows 8 is shit, and I'll never use it.

    I'm off for a glass of wine and I'm going to watch Silver Linings Playbook, something that came from the US which isn't shit as shit..

  30. tempemeaty

    Did Microsoft do ANY Ergonomics before applying W8 to PCs?

    Microsoft ergonomics failed the basics in recognizing the observation of where a users hands are with different type so devices. Hand held devices are held up close to the body. When using PCs the hands are at the desk level and holding them up in the air extended to a touch screen for 8hrs a day would result in rapid damage to the shoulder joints and muscles. Is that what Microsoft really wants? Another thing is that companies are demanding faster data entry. I would also like to see the study Microsoft has done that shows data entry of 80+wpm is done better/faster without tactile keyboard feedback on a touch screen keyboard.

  31. Ian Tresman

    No Start Menu?

    Still no Start Menu? Then no Windows 8.1. I can't believe that a company can be so arrogant as to exclude something that is used by clients. If they have something better, then I'll use it, in my own time.

  32. Herby Silver badge

    I would comment...

    ...but too much has been said already. Most I agree with. I suspect others will as well. The bigger question is who will listen? Most likely lots of people, but not the right ones (*SIGH*).

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Here Brain, speak boy speak

    Microsoft continues to benefit from the biggest goof in the history of computing. IBMs Intel x86 architecture not. Their is no spoon. All one has to do is realize the truth. Microsoft will continue to siphon our bank accounts until the cows defect. Linux is never having to say you're sorry. Apple is never having to say " "More Redmond Kool Aid please." Android is ALF without fur and facial features.

  34. Boo Radley

    Locked into Win 8 on New PC

    I don't know if this is on topic or not. Everyone here says that Enterprise users won't go to Windows 8, for various reasons, but I recently purchased and installed an inexpensive Win8 PC for a doctor friend of mine. Several of his expensive programs would not work with 8, so I said "Ok, I'll reformat and install 7." Huge mistake, which took me a day to resolve. The onboard Ethernet controller was designed for 8, nowhere could I find drivers for 7. "Ok, I thought, I'll simply stick in an Ethernet card." WRONG! This HP branded PC had a tiny motherboard with NO slots of any kind for any type of expansion.

    In the end, I returned this piece of crap to Best Buy, dug out a broken machine he hadn't thrown away, and built him a better PC with a few new parts from NewEgg. And it'll run any OS he wants, at less cost than the HP Win 8 machine.

    So, Micro$oft and at least some PC makers have effectively removed the option of "downgrading" an inexpensive machine's OS by using parts for which there are ONLY Win 8 drivers. If you are using custom applications that won't work with 8, you cannot use these new PCs, so why buy them?

  35. Mark Steel

    Complete rubbish

    the start button just takes you to the damn tile interface - well whats the point of that ? since you could get there by going to screen corner anyway. just don't get it.

    i also dont get the disconnects between control panel and the bland blocky 'change PC settings' menu, to do things like add a user. also HATE the way it want a microsoft account by default, you have to go hunting to add a local account. control panel has always been confusing but now its split brain.

    also 8.1 installed on bootcamp / macbook pro failed to boot on day 2 with a config error. no amount of repairing / rollback to checkpoint would make it work. had to reinstall, went back to 8.0.

    i now use windows less and less - use macos for most things and just sweep across to a windows vm screen when i need visio or microsoft project. when you have the two side by side like this on mac mission control you realise how nasty the windows 8 interface is compared to mac.

  36. Anomalous Cowshed

    Is it necessary

    Does anyone need it who already have Windows 7? Or is it being forced on the market because Microsoft wants to force a product cycle to make money? That is the question.

  37. Shrimpling

    I've just helped my 62yr old Father buy a new laptop

    You can either spend twice as much and get an Apple or get a Windows based laptop. We decided against a Chromebook because he needs the laptop to do things his tablet can't do. In the long term Windows 8 will do just fine because its all normal people are able to buy when they go into a shop.

    Having tried Windows 8 on various computers it only makes any sense when you have a touch screen. The 11" Asus we purchased was on clearance for £320 and there were no other touch screen laptops anywhere near that price range. Until they start selling touch screen laptops for a reasonable cost people are going to moan about Windows 8 being rubbish. Get them a touch screen and it is suddenly usable.

  38. CAPS LOCK Silver badge

    Mint Cinnamon...

    ... try it. You never know, you might like it.

  39. LeeAlexander

    My 14 year old (who's a techie) hated it and went back to Windows 7.

    I like Windows 8 when I don't have to use their Metro, Modern crap UI.. Unfortunately they persist with trying to shove it down our throats with each update so as the new UI moves in I for one will be moving out over to OSX which I already use at home.

  40. Hayden Clark Silver badge
    Boffin

    How to fix Windows 8

    I've had it forced on me, as the i7 box I'm using has it.

    1) Classic Shell. That lets you boot to desktop, and gives you a proper start menu. Plus you can add "up" buttons to Explorer. And disable the stupid hot corners.

    2) TinyWindowsBorders. The default desktop windows have these great fat borders, eating up the screen space. This lets you make them a bit thinner (but not as thin as they used to be :( ).

    3) A registry hack wot I put together from much googling. This a) turns off font smoothing, and b) removed Segoe UI from the font list. This is to work round the broken-broken-BROKEN font rendering that Win8 does. Windows 8 does not really support displaying without font smoothing on - the default UI font (Segoe UI) DOES NOT have any bitmap hinting for small sizes. With smoothing off, it just looks hideous and unreadable. If you replace it with Verdana the desktop looks almost sensible. Oh, and the rendering is so broken that you can't use Tahoma ( the WinXP desktop font) as the renderer doesn't obey the hints that stop adjacent characters touching.

    If anyone wants it, leave a comment:-)

    4) OpaqueTaskBar. Says it all really. I can't read the taskbar button text with a window behind it.

    Hope this is of use to someone.....

  41. alexonthereg

    Even apple, who are pretty much the experts at both UI design and forcing through massive, often unpopular changes in their systems didn't try this. They changes from Mac OS X from classic, and from PPC to x86 with alot of hardships on the way yet even today apple keep two separate interfaces for their desktop operating systems and their phones.

    Touch on the desktop works. It does, and it can work better. Kinect also can work. Metro does not.

    Microsoft should have been less awkward about people plugging kinect into their PC, and more aggresive at getting actual touch screens into the market, subsidising manufacturers if necessary. With more hardware becomes more development, more little tools and applications to enhance, supplement or replace the still existing desktop environment. With more development and software choices comes more real world use amongst the nerd population.

    This might have helped microsoft decide how best to integrate guesture and touch into the OS, rather than foist an array of underdeveloped and poorly designed touch features into the desktop and into the hands of hostile developers and users who've had their favorite tools and applications replaced will little or no notice or alternative.

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