Windows 8.1

Bozo

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I loaded Windows 8.1 and have been playing with it for a while. It still sucks.
Microsoft is clueless. With all the ranting about the lack of a start button, you would think they would listen and fix it, at least on the desktop.
But what they did was just slap the desktop users in the face. Clicking on the Start Button just sends you back to the ignorant Metro window.
Any other "improvements" seem to be aimed at Windows 8.1 on a phone. They did add a setting that sends the OS straight to the desktop after you log in, but clicking on the start button sends you back to the sucky Metro window.
Looks like Windows 7 will be the last Windows operating system I will install. Linux is looking better all the time.
 

CougTek

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I installed the 180-days trial of Server 2012 R2 on my latest system and I was equally baffled by the start button. I still haven't installed Classic Shell on it, but it shouldn't be long. Curently, that machine is only used for the FAH client, but I'll make an effort and try to force myself to use it as my main desktop in order to learn a bit more about the latest Server version (yes, I know that Server 2012 R2 isn't intended to be a desktop, but sitting in front of it all day long will help me to use it better in the future).
 

CougTek

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Linux is looking better all the time.
Yes, except that I'm moving to a new company and they plan to virtualize all their Windows-only server and it's much simpler to port physical Windows installations to Server 2012 Datacenter than it is to Xen Server/KVM/Openstack/Cloudstack. They are eyeing VMWare, but it's an expensive solution that I would rather avoid, even it is probably the most mature one.
 

LunarMist

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I thought the Start button was supposed to be a solution to a major user complaint. :(

The issue for many consumers is the concern that we will be forced to use Win 8 at work.
Our corporate finally moved 100% to Win 7 about 1.5 years ago, so I hope that will be a long while.
 

Tannin

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I thought the Start button was supposed to be a solution to a major user complaint.
It was, and still would be if Microsoft cared to actually address the problem instead of pulling an incredibly stupid trick on their customers. When customers say that they want a start button, they mean a real one, one that does the things they expect a start button to do in something roughly akin to the way that they expect a start button to function. This blandly contemptuous response to the very genuine concerns of their users is quite extraordinary, and if ever a company deserved to get hammered into huge financial losses and see its market share vanish into history, this is the one.
 

Mercutio

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(yes, I know that Server 2012 R2 isn't intended to be a desktop, but sitting in front of it all day long will help me to use it better in the future).
This is a big part of my decision to use Server versions of Windows on my "big" desktops as well. The fix is really to put shortcuts for the things you actually do someplace that's legitimately convenient for you; probably pinned to the taskbar, shortcuts on the desktop or even using extra toolbars on the taskbar. A lot of the most common Windows stuff is already found in Server Management console, and IIRC that's the left-most shortcut on the taskbar from the moment Windows is installed. Don't forget that you can also customize and save MMCs as well.
 

CougTek

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Probably related to the screwed Start button in the Windows 8.1 Preview, a new version of Classic Shell just got out today (with a pale blue color scheme).
 

Bozo

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I see Microsoft is really sinking to new lows to force people to switch to Windows 8. DirectX 11.2 only available on Windows 8.1. I would think that it would only upset some gamers.
Microsoft just doesn't get it.
 

LiamC

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I like some of the new stuff in Win8. But I don't like the new things enough to overcome my dislike of the Modern interface. Sh!te, if I wanted a screen full of individual icons to programs I could always re-install Windows 3.1. And at least Windows 3.1 it was easier to group them!

It's like the ribbon interface. At least I know I'm more productive in LibreOffice than I am in Office 2007/2010. I've been using Office 2007/2010 for years now and I'm still faster at doing things in older office versions. I don't want a St. Vitus click fest to perform an action because it supposedly simplifies the interface.

Ribbon and Win8 -> the Moron interface.
 

Tea

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It takes some work, Liam, but you can pretty much eliminate Metro entirely and re-skin Win 8 such that it is a very fast, reliable, effective operating system. Start with Classic Shell, of course, but there is a lot more around. Explorer replacements are great - there are at least two good ones - and there are some half-decent Quick Launch replacements around too.
 

Mercutio

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From my perspective, it's important to learn to deal with vanilla whatever. There's nothing wrong with Ribbons as opposed to menus. I can legitimately see how they're useful to new users since more options are immediately visible to new users. It would be nice if both ribbon and menu were options, but they're not and I suspect that Microsoft isn't going to step back from them, so we might as well learn to deal with it.

The Start Screen is the same thing. We have to accept it and be functional with it if we're going to be "Computer Guys" to whatever capacity that we are. That also means putting up with Unity and GNOME3 if we're *nix types and dealing with the bullshit that is iTunes if Apple-anything is part of our reality.
 

Tannin

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There's nothing wrong with Ribbons as opposed to menus.
Absolutely disagree with this nonsense. Every single training and efficiency expert on the planet will tell you that the key to efficient, productive performance of any task is familiarity. The control for any given action should always be in the same place. Always. Every single time. There are no excuses for getting basics like this wrong.
 

Mercutio

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The controls are always in the same place. The most common tasks are on the Home tab and anything else is divided on to other tabs of the ribbon.
 

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I would contend that there needs to be a very good reason to make a major change in a user-interface. That change will alienate a lot of your most loyal customers. Ribbons vs menus produce little functional difference so all you get is alienation and anger just like forcing the new Win 8 user interface upon the the world. You lose a lot of good will and gain virtually nothing.
 

Tannin

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The controls are always in the same place. The most common tasks are on the Home tab and anything else is divided on to other tabs of the ribbon.
Huh? No idea what you are talking about. You can never find anything. Even the underlying never-ever-break conventions are borked - try pressing F1 in Office 2007. It does nothing. F1 is always the help key. Every single time. No exceptions. Ever.
 

Tannin

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I would contend that there needs to be a very good reason to make a major change in a user-interface. That change will alienate a lot of your most loyal customers. Ribbons vs menus produce little functional difference so all you get is alienation and anger just like forcing the new Win 8 user interface upon the the world. You lose a lot of good will and gain virtually nothing.
Correct! The number of people who have switched to Open Office since MS borked it with Office 2007 is mind-blowing. Their Office 97 or 2000 or 2003 runs out ('cause they lost the disc or 'cause they need something compatible with newer file formats, or it's an OEM one and non-transferrable to a new machine, whatever reason); they take one look at the ergonomic disaster that is called Office 2007/2010, and say "no, I want something easy to use". Even grannies hate it, and grannies usually stick to Bill's products like poop sticks to a blanket no matter how bad the product is. Grannies stuck to Windows Millennium Edition, but they hate the ribbon, and they have abandoned MS Office because of it. There are heaps more that use Google Docs instead. And young people never did use it - they went straight to GD without paying $200 and without passing go.

The lesson is clear: failing to improve your product and attract new customers might be a bad thing for your business, but actively narking your existing customers off by making a new one worse than the old one is business suicide. Microsoft is a huge company and is taking a very long time to die, but the borking of Office, on top of the Vista shocker, with the Windows 8 debacle just to twist the knife further into the guts of the profit centre ..... Microsoft should use what's left of its fortune to merge with Myspace, Gateway, and Yahoo, 'cause they are all going to the same place.
 

Mercutio

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Huh? No idea what you are talking about. You can never find anything. Even the underlying never-ever-break conventions are borked - try pressing F1 in Office 2007. It does nothing. F1 is always the help key. Every single time. No exceptions. Ever.
Everything is on a tabbed interface, just like a web browser. Stuff doesn't move. It's fixed to the tab associated with that tool. In practice, that means that 98% of the crap you'll do in MS Word will be on the Home, Insert or Page Layout tabs once you get a document started. It's not rocket surgery.
 

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I had to check F1 because I never use the key, it opens help in 2010. Different individuals regularly use different small subsets of the total number of tools available and rarely use the rest.

It was painful and slow to switch to O2010 from 2003 but once I had adjusted it was fine and made sense. The adjustment period was a couple weeks but I just don't use application but Outlook very often. But best part was that in the new version it was easier to find functions and get tasks done that I don't use regularly. Getting things done that you don't already know how to do must be included in any definition of efficiency.

My 78 yo dad took notes while I walked him through the changes and after a while did not even have to refer to the notes. I think the mail merge process had the most changes for him.
 

ddrueding

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The last version of Office to not use the current interface was released a decade ago. We can't get over this yet?
 

Mercutio

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But best part was that in the new version it was easier to find functions and get tasks done that I don't use regularly. Getting things done that you don't already know how to do must be included in any definition of efficiency.
That's definitely the benefit of the ribbon. I'm more than a little peeved at how many precious vertical pixels it needs, but does make sense from a workflow standpoint. I understand entirely why it was done.

You can also "un-pin" or collapse the ribbon so that it's not taking up space unless you're interacting with it, much like the Windows taskbar. That makes a lot of sense when I'm doing basic writing and editing in Word or file operations in Windows 8. That stuff is etched in my brain to the point that it's all keyboard shortcuts for me anyway.
 

LiamC

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The last version of Office to not use the current interface was released a decade ago. We can't get over this yet?
You like it - fine. It isn't about "getting over it". For my working style it's just plain inefficient. I like the minimum if clicks/keystrokes to get a task done. Scrolling, tabbing, clicking and nesting which is the direction MS has headed in works for for some.

Control Panel is an example - are you a category or icon person? Icons for me because it allows faster access to the tasks that I want. I don't have drill down menu style. MS isn't the only offender. Android is headed that way as well. Allowing different skins and launchers is the difference. Sure you can use Classic Shell, but MS have been deleting API's to remove the functionality that these add-ons provide. I can't wait until you can buy only Windows 9 from MS's store and then you have to shell out another 50% of the purchase price to get the functionality you want. That's an exaggeration to illustrate a point BTW, not a paranoid rant.

And as for the ribbon, I bought increasingly large monitors to get more vertical space, to lose it to the ribbon. Anyhoo, I did solve my problem by moving to LibreOffice, but unfortunately it's not pervasive. At work I have to use MS Office and I find that I'm simply not as productive. YMMV.

Oh, and it's not a MS thing either. Unity is an abomination, and the reason I moved to LinuxMint as my distro of choice
 

ddrueding

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It isn't about liking it or not liking it. I prefer the previous setup myself. But that really doesn't matter, does it? The ribbon interface is what is sold, people buy, what they use. Getting people on to Google Docs is my priority, but if they want a copy of MS Office they get the ribbon interface because they don't have a choice. And since there isn't a choice, why is there a debate?
 

LiamC

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Because if there isn't a debate, Microsoft, Google or whoever will assume that what they are doing is fine. Vista was a raging success. Oh, wait. It wasn't. And people bagged it mercilessly. But that debate lead to Windows 7 which was a definite success. Windows 8 on the other hand is, or appears to be, firmly in the Vista camp success wise. And frankly the 8.1 update is just insulting because Microsoft are couching it in the "we listened to your complaints" terms. They didn't. Innovation is good. But sometimes people with the best intentions get it wrong. If Microsoft gave people the choice of which interface they wanted, 8 would have (and still could be) a raging success. Unfortunately they appear to have an agenda (inspired by Apple and Google) that is playing to their weakness (a closed eco system). The thing that made MS Windows (and Nokia, and a number of other companies) was the personalisation angle. MS seem to have forgotten that in their drive to the tablet/phone form factor.

Linux is slightly different in that you do have a choice. Android also gives you a choice.

I get it it, you're sick of the debate and you don't care enough one way or the other. A legitimate viewpoint. Others, rightly or wrongly, do care. Can we affect change? Unknown.
 

Mercutio

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As an aside, I think Google's insistence on threaded replies in Android Gmail is eleventy times worse than either the ribbon or the start screen. It's ridiculously easy to delete an entire chain of emails on accident instead of a single message and it puts long conversations out of the context of overall chronology, both of which are far greater crimes than needing an extra click or two to perform a task.

The problem for all of us as "computer people" is that we have to be able to deal with defaults. We can hate shitty UIs all day long, but if our stuff is customized to the point that we don't know what the normal view is, we're not going to be functional when we're helping out our parents/friends/customers/users. Everyone can hate on the crap UIs, but they're what's in the world it's a mistake on all our part to just close off and say that we won't accept those things.

Speaking specifically about Windows 8, HP and Lenovo both ship a Start Button-like interface with their default software load. I don't know what Acer or Dell are doing, but if the largest OEMs are shipping systems with nonstandard UI configurations in response to Windows 8, that by itself is a far bigger issue than anything end users could do or say about the matter.
 

Tannin

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It isn't about liking it or not liking it. I prefer the previous setup myself. But that really doesn't matter, does it? The ribbon interface is what is sold, people buy, what they use. Getting people on to Google Docs is my priority, but if they want a copy of MS Office they get the ribbon interface because they don't have a choice. And since there isn't a choice, why is there a debate?
But they DO have a choice, and they exercise it. Often. People have walked away from the borked ribbonised MS Office in their millions. Once upon a time, MS Office was on practically every computer you ever saw. It was so universally successful that lots and lots of users thought Word and Excel were stadard parts of the computer, like Solitaire and the Control Panel. True! Seen that many times.

Not any more. Some people use MS Office, some use Open Office, some use Google Docs, some do other things. They have a choice and most of the time the choice they make is to reject the crippled ribbon interface and use something that works better for them.
 

Tannin

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Speaking specifically about Windows 8, HP and Lenovo both ship a Start Button-like interface with their default software load. I don't know what Acer or Dell are doing, but if the largest OEMs are shipping systems with nonstandard UI configurations in response to Windows 8, that by itself is a far bigger issue than anything end users could do or say about the matter.
This is powerful evidence in favour of Liam's point. When public rejection of a "feature" is really strong, people find ways around it; major OEMs (if they are smart) find ways to dodge the toxic bullet. When MS inflicted Vista on the world, Lenovo sold literally millions of systems with pre-load "down"grades to XP and Vista on a DVD in case you ever wanted it. (Under pressure from Microsoft, early on they shipped Vista and made you "down"grade yourself. But customers are more important than suppliers and Lenovo ain't stupid. After a while they started shipping a one-click "down"grade recovery DVD with every Thinkpad, and after a bit longer they went completely over to Win XP preloads, with Vista on an accessory DVD.) Presumably other majors did the same.

With the Windows 8 debacle, Lenovo have gone two ways: (1) most of their machines, and in particular their higher-quality machines are shipping with what the customer wants: Windows 7 Pro. Many (not all) have a Win 8 recovery CD if you want that. (2) they fix up the interface by providing the necessary software: they ship with Lenovo QuickLaunch - a fix for the Win 8 UI disaster. I didn't know about the HP one, but I can add that another major, Samsung, has a similar product called the S Launcher.

People do not want Metro. It is as simple as that. Metro sucks, practically nobody wants it. It has failed. Next question.
 

Mercutio

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It's not that it's failed. I don't care that it's failed or that it hasn't. It's the baseline configuration for every computer with Windows 8. The PROBLEM is that there are dozens of non-uniform replacements and overlays that are being deployed on top of it. Ultimately that's going to make new versions of Windows harder to learn and harder to support. Unfortunately, the only ways we can address that is to deal with the default UI or force the people we support to all use the same nonstandard UI configuration, thus making it harder for the next person someone asks to help them.

Or, OK, become familiar with seven or eight different shell/menu replacements and figure out some way to quickly distinguish them with little or no help from end users. I guess that's an option.
 

Bozo

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As support 'professionals' for other users computers, you need to know how to get around in Windows 8. You might not like Windows 8, but if you like to eat you have to put up with it and support it. I would guess that 95% of consumers that bought a computer with Windows 8 on it are still using Windows 8. Most of those people probably don't know that there are alternatives to the Metro desktop.
The real slap in the face is Windows 8.1. MS put the start button back, but when you click it, you go right back to Metro. Can you imagine the support calls "my computer isn't working right. when I click the start button, it goes to the new style desktop."
 

Tannin

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As support 'professionals' for other users computers, you need to know how to get around in Windows 8. You might not like Windows 8, but if you like to eat you have to put up with it and support it.
Pfft! I do know how to get around in Windows 8. It is dead easy to work on Win 8. It takes ~30 seconds to install Classic Shell. Once that is on, you can work on it pretty much as usual. Windows 8 + Classic Shell is easier to use and work on than Vista or Windows 7.

I would guess that 95% of consumers that bought a computer with Windows 8 on it are still using Windows 8. Most of those people probably don't know that there are alternatives to the Metro desktop.
And you would be wrong! More than half of all people who bought systems with Windows 8 installed are running one or another of the many fixes for it. Classic Shell is the most popular but Start8 is quite common also, and there are others. I have never met anyone who does not prefer Win 8 + Classic Shell to the abortion they call Metro. Not one single person. I'm not saying that I won't ever meet one, just that there has been a 100% negative verdict on Metro so far. The day I meet someone who actually prefers it, that will drop to 99.something% against. People love it when I fix their broken interface.

Windows 8 Metro has been a massive fail. See here for example: More than half of Windows 8 users just treat it like Windows 7: almost nobody using Windows Store apps, survey finds - http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/05/22/windows_8_soluto_survey/
 

Tannin

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It's the baseline configuration for every computer with Windows 8. The PROBLEM is that there are dozens of non-uniform replacements and overlays that are being deployed on top of it. Ultimately that's going to make new versions of Windows harder to learn and harder to support. Unfortunately, the only ways we can address that is to deal with the default UI or force the people we support to all use the same nonstandard UI configuration, thus making it harder for the next person someone asks to help them.

Or, OK, become familiar with seven or eight different shell/menu replacements and figure out some way to quickly distinguish them with little or no help from end users. I guess that's an option.
I only ever see Classic Shell and, now and again, Start8. Classic Shell is the standard. But it wouldn't matter if I saw dozens of them, 'cause they are all designed to be simple, intuitive, and familiar to anyone who has ever used Windows. Where is the problem? I'm just not seeing it and, frankly, don't expect to see it.
 

P5-133XL

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If you are dealing with other people's computers, you shouldn't be installing Classic Shell (or another shell) on it so you can move around easily while working on it. You really need to be able to deal with native Win8. A client as a reasonable expectation that he will get back the same basic software configuration as what he gave you with nothing deleted or added on except for what was necessary to do the job.
 

Tannin

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If you are dealing with other people's computers, you shouldn't be installing Classic Shell (or another shell) on it so you can move around easily while working on it. You really need to be able to deal with native Win8. A client as a reasonable expectation that he will get back the same basic software configuration as what he gave you with nothing deleted or added on except for what was necessary to do the job.
Not at all Mark. A client is entitled to a reasonable expectation that I will provide him with a positive overall experience. Improving his UI is absolutely part of my job, and a particularly important part where the default UI is poor. I have yet to meet one single customer running Win 8 who has not been delighted with the usability improvements I provide them with as a routine practice. (I also remove unwanted junkware, clean out the start-up, check for infections, update all their browsers and PDF reader .... it's all part of what they pay me for.) If I ever did meet one who didn't like it - and that is certainly possible, though rather unlikely - it would take me all of 20 seconds to uninstall Classic Shell. 20 seconds is nothing in this game. But the reality is, nearly every client I meet already has it (or else has Start8 which is close enough for practical purposes) - and the few that don't welcome it with a delight and relief so palpable you could pour it into bottles and sell them by the dozen. Truly, Microsoft have never screwed the pooch so right royally as they have with Metro. Not with Vista, not with ME, not even with the execrable 3.0.
 

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While I too would appreciate an improved computer experience but unless that was what the customer came for I wouldn't do it. It would be like hiring a person to refinish the floors of my house and finding that he had also replaced all the carpeting because it had offended him. I would be very suspicious of his bill looking very carefully to make sure I am not paying for that carpeting (or the labor to install it) that I didn't order.

If he is bringing in that machine for you to do a general overall with the agreement that you get to use your own judgement in what gets fixed and what doesn't. It then seams reasonable to add Classic Start and remove the junk. On the other hand, if that machine needs a new CD-Rom then it seems wrong to add Classic start and remove the junk especially since occasionally people deliberately install a piece of junk that they think is worthwhile but both you and I know is just a piece of spyware or worse. I may warn them and ask but I never add or remove without explicit permission. At least that is my way and I recognize there is enough slack that you may have a valid point for your customers.
 
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