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TOPIC: Windows 8 and Irrational Microsoft Design

Windows 8 and Irrational Microsoft Design 4 years 4 months ago #1

  • Leighgion
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I've been on something of a tech catchup kick of late. While I have been an Mac user since high school, I've dabbled in PC-building and for the time being, my wife's computer is a Toshiba Satellite that banefully came with Windows Vista, in Spanish. My lovely and talented wife is many things, but a do-it-yourself techie she is not, so she has not been an exception when it comes to my role as family tech support.

Credit where credit is due, that Toshiba is solid from a hardware standpoint. Nothing is physically failing on it (other than the battery, but that's universal) but the aging installation of Vista was, shall we say, growing "eccentric" as Windows installations are wont to. I'd gotten a completely inaccurate impression of how old the computer was based on how crappy it was running. It took almost four years of being together before I was finally prepared to tackle that computer.

After consultation with one of my coworkers, I decided I'd jump my wife's computer to Windows 8.

I'd heard the stories in the press of course.

'Windows 8 is the unholy offspring of the Surface tablet and a jackal.'

'WTF is this start screen thing and why are you forcing me to look at it instead of the desktop?'

'We will never forgive you for removing the start button.'

'Metro is the spawn of Lucifer.'

Being a Mac user I was already inclined to believe all of it, but I figured what the hey? My wife hardly uses her computer anyway. The priority is getting it running well again, and in a language that I can read. That way, I can properly care of it.

After completing the struggle to backup the data (much harder than it should've been), I wiped the Toshiba and installed Windows 8.

I am more bemused than angry, since I'm not stuck with it as my normal working environment, but really now, Microsoft, really? Is this the best that billions of dollars, armies of programmers and multiple public humiliations can do?

My first impression of Windows 8 was that it was a tablet OS and a desktop OS held together with about six rolls of duct tape. It's entirely too much tape to cut them apart, but everything you do reminds you that it's two things held together in a very ungainly and imbalanced way.

The Metro/Modern UI is obviously designed for tablets and touch screens. On a laptop without a touch screen, it's terribly disorienting. It took me more than a day to find the control panels because they're tucked on another screen that you'd normally use the touch screen to swipe to. Without a touch screen, you need to move your mouse to the right edge of the screen and keep on moving to scroll to the right. There's almost no visual cue to indicate there's two more screens worth of stuff hiding over there.

The start button was never my best friend, but removing it seriously crippled the ability to do anything from the desktop. Fortunately, there's a number of third party hacks to restore the start menu, but they just highlight the question, if it's so easy to include a start menu option in Windows 8, why didn't Microsoft do it?

Oh, and did I mention that DVD playback is no longer supported out of the box? That took another afternoon and evening of sifting third party players before I found one (Media Player Classic) that worked reasonably smoothly.

On the bright side, a fresh install of Windows 8 definitely runs much better than an aging, moldy install of Vista, but this experience has done nothing to change my feelings about the incompetence of the world's largest software company.

P.S. Microsoft "Easy" Transfer will only move files up one version of the OS. The software was happy to tell me, after the fact, that it'd have moved all my wife's stuff into Windows 7, but not to Windows 8, since it started in Vista.
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Windows 8 and Irrational Microsoft Design 4 years 4 months ago #2

  • DamnRedneck
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Leigh , Windows 8 is less than good in my old guy opinion . Windows 7 however is cake, very intuitive and would probably run everything you would ever want. My suggestion Load up 7 and run the machine till it croaks. BTW I had one of those old satellites and it lasted 7 years which was pretty much unheard of at the time.
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Windows 8 and Irrational Microsoft Design 4 years 4 months ago #3

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DRN, thanks for sharing.

I will disagree only slightly. I'm running Windows 7 in a virtual machine (fancy talk for running Windows on my Mac in a window) and its virtues are that the interface is basically the same as previous versions, but things are improved under the hood. It's not so much intuitive as the same as before, so there's no learning curve if you're already used to Windows.

I chose to equip the little woman's computer with Window 8, despite all the very believable bad press that's proven true, because it was also reported to run faster on older hardware than Windows 7, which I've also found true. I've installed a hack to restore the start menu, so it's tolerable for me (yes, I will be the one mainly using my wife's Toshiba even though I'm a Mac user with my own computer) and will pretty much run this way until it croaks. I think it's hit at least six years now, maybe more.
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Windows 8 and Irrational Microsoft Design 4 years 4 months ago #4

  • Friendly Photon
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I despise Windows. I have all the tech credentials anyone could ask for, and then some. I did IT for a living for many years, both as part of a corporation and self-employed. And Windows of any flavor gets me angry. I know Windows inside and out, been dealing with it for decades. And despite all of that, I still think Windows 8 is a travesty even beyond what I've come to expect from Microsoft.

I tend to agree, Windows 7 is the last "good" Windows for people who know Windows and are used to it. But they all suck in my opinion. Windows 8 just takes that suckage to a whole new depth.

Having said all that, I also severely dislike OS X. Not quite as much as I despised Mac OS, and nowhere near as much as I detest Windows 8, but I think Apple imposes way too much simplicity on their users.

I'm a Linux fanboy, through and through :D and if I didn't need Windows for Lightroom and Photoshop, it would get the boot right off my computer.
Photons are your friends! :-)
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Windows 8 and Irrational Microsoft Design 4 years 4 months ago #5

  • Leighgion
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Friendly Photon wrote:
I despise Windows.
No argument from me!
...Having said all that, I also severely dislike OS X. Not quite as much as I despised Mac OS, and nowhere near as much as I detest Windows 8, but I think Apple imposes way too much simplicity on their users.

I'm a Linux fanboy, through and through :D and if I didn't need Windows for Lightroom and Photoshop, it would get the boot right off my computer.

I think this is the soul of the gap between Linux people and non-Linux people.

I've dabbled with Linux over the years, and am looking at dabbling again, but the keyword here is "dabble." The Linux experience to me has always been defined by a lot of tinkering to see if I can get things to work and ultimately me giving up because it's taking entirely too much time and effort to try to get the free OS to do what the OS I pay for does.

My own conclusion over the years is that Linux attracts tinkerers and control-oriented users who not only don't mind rolling up their sleeves to tune their OS, they consider it preferable to a pre-packaged experience.

Most folk simply aren't like that. Computers are now basic, necessary appliances in modern industrialized life. Ordinary folk just want them to work with a minimum of fuss. What you call an "imposition" of simplicity is, for the masses, what allows them to get on with it. This does saddle much of the population with the Windows problem, but as we've all already observed, users also don't take well to change. The promise of a technically better OS is most often trumped by the intimidation of needing to deal with something unfamiliar.

This is where my wife has been over most of the course of our relationship. She doesn't love Windows, but it's the environment she's accustomed to so when she's got some kind of deadline, it makes the most sense for her to work with what she knows. The times she's needed to use my computer, she cusses up a storm because she's got no patience to adapt to the slight differences of OSX.

The missus has said that when the day comes for her to get a new computer (not for a while, we got to save), she will go with a Mac and learn to adapt to the differences as she acknowledges my computers have been a lot more trouble-free on the software side, and that there's a sense in us working with a single platform that I know well and can properly maintain.

It took years for my wife to get there, and objectively speaking, the user interface gap between Windows Vista and OSX isn't that huge, doesn't ask for lots of tinkering, and it's understood I will take care of what tinkering is necessary.
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