Windows 8.1

Chewy509

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We're 10% Windows 7, 20% OpenIndiana and the rest is Ubuntu 12.04LTS or Lubuntu 13.04... (We have a two Windows 2008 servers, one as the DC and the other for Exchange, the rest of the servers are either OpenIndiana or Ubuntu 12.04LTS).

We're not anti-MS or anything, we just use the best tools for what we need (and MS solutions simply cannot provide that currently).
 

LunarMist

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Wow, you must have a lot of computer people in that company. At most companies I work with people would go bonkers without their PowerPoint and Project, etc. :D
 

Bozo

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Our management group would have nothing to do if they didn't have Power Point and Excel.
 

Handruin

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New systems still deploy with windows 7 at my work. I should be getting a new thinkpad w530 next week. The biggest challenge is that even though we request 64-bit they still ship them with 32-bit even though it comes with 16GB RAM. It's sad because some people didn't even notice the machine came with more than 4GB RAM.

We still have people on windows XP for their desktops. I've seen small indications of windows 8 cropping up. I recently built a VM using our approved IT image for windows 8. Sadly our Cisco VPN software doesn't work with it. They need to upgrade to a later version release by Cisco and deploy it. Hopefully in the next few years.
 

LunarMist

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All of us mobile personnel at work are supposed to receive ultrablocks in July. From what I've seen the "docking station" is only connected by USB 3.0, which means the adapter would have to be unplugged and removed for home/travel every time. I liked the real docking stations better, since there was a different adapter to power that. The worst part is that they are implementing the dreaded 16:9 HD monitors. I'm not sure how well the video over USB 3.0 works.
 

ddrueding

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All of us mobile personnel at work are supposed to receive ultrablocks in July. From what I've seen the "docking station" is only connected by USB 3.0, which means the adapter would have to be unplugged and removed for home/travel every time. I liked the real docking stations better, since there was a different adapter to power that. The worst part is that they are implementing the dreaded 16:9 HD monitors. I'm not sure how well the video over USB 3.0 works.
I hate the USB-based port replicators because they aren't port replicators. They have a completely separate NIC, sound card, video card, etc. This means that IP addresses, resolutions, and audio output preferences are not carried across.
 

LunarMist

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Exactly. What is the point of those things? I either get the real McCoy or else don't bother getting anything.
I assume it must be cheaper to make the laptops without the socket for the docking port.
It's not like I have much of a choice. The only other option would be to make a special request for an even larger laptop than I have now. They also tried to foist an iPad on me, but I was on POT.
I'm more concerned about the new short LCD display though. I recently bought new lenses and I have sickening feelings about the change.
 

Mercutio

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We have a two Windows 2008 servers, one as the DC and the other for Exchange, the rest of the servers are either OpenIndiana or Ubuntu 12.04LTS).

We're not anti-MS or anything, we just use the best tools for what we need (and MS solutions simply cannot provide that currently)
Why the bloody hell would you have Exchange as an Email server in an environment with almost no ability to run or support Outlook? Why bother with Active Directory without Windows systems to manage with it? That doesn't make any sense to me.
 

Chewy509

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Why the bloody hell would you have Exchange as an Email server in an environment with almost no ability to run or support Outlook? Why bother with Active Directory without Windows systems to manage with it? That doesn't make any sense to me.
Up to until 9 mths ago (before I started) the company was 100% Windows (everything, servers, desktops, etc), and it's only been recently that we have been migrating away. Since the company is now focusing on Windows and Linux solutions most of the developers run some form of *nix and use VMs when needing to test in Windows (each developer has FreeBSD, OpenIndiana, Ubuntu 12.04LTS and Win7 available as local VMs).

I would've gone with a different setup (postfix/qmail/anything with IMAP and OpenLDAP), but the boss has an iPhone and uses the sync features, and haven't found much that can do Exchange 100%. (Outsourced services like GMail are not an option, everything we do must be in house). Exchange was already in and working, most of use connect using either OWA or IMAP, so why rush to change? (funny enough we use a postfix box in front of exchange for AV and spam filtering).
 
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Mercutio

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That was my Exchange experience as well: Put a Linux box in front of it so it only had to deal with filtered mail. The Linux machine would invariably be running on 1/10th the hardware and still handle mail better all by itself.
 

Mercutio

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Apropos of nothing in particular, while Windows Server 2012 does not support synchronizing user settings via Microsoft accounts, if you sign in to the Store all of your downloaded or purchased Metro-style apps are installed just like they would be on Windows 8. I found that out while trying to figure out how Virtual Desktops work.
 

LunarMist

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This works on Windows XP as well. I turned my XP Home Netbook on yesterday, and discovered that Windows Update had automatically installed every single Metro app I have ever downloaded or purchased! Wow! How neat is that?
WTF? How does XP know who you are and what apps you have? That's very scary.
 

ddrueding

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This works on Windows XP as well. I turned my XP Home Netbook on yesterday, and discovered that Windows Update had automatically installed every single Metro app I have ever downloaded or purchased! Wow! How neat is that?
All 0 of them? That is pretty awesome. I wonder if logging in to my Win8 machine using that account would automatically uninstall all the apps. That would be a very neat trick.
 

Tea

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It gets even more amazing, Dave! I just tried it out on Tannin's old OS/2 machine he pretends to do the accounts on, and all of his zero Metro apps worked perfectly! Even Tannin was impressed!
 

Tannin

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Yep, Oz emergency number has always been 000. Well, always ever since they changed it over from the old rub two sticks together to light a signal fire. I assumed that the picture was American (it's a redistributable licence one from Wikimedia Commons) but maybe it's from the UK. I don't recognise the plug, which means that it's probably not DVI.
 

Tea

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Your choice?
Most people would regard being in Uganda as an emergency, but I'm going to go for Sudan, which is probably worse.

BTW, Tannin might be away for a while. Last time I looked, he was still trying to load those Metro apps on his phone but he was having a bit of a battle working out how to plug in the external floppy drive.
 

LunarMist

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Most people would regard being in Uganda as an emergency, but I'm going to go for Sudan, which is probably worse.

BTW, Tannin might be away for a while. Last time I looked, he was still trying to load those Metro apps on his phone but he was having a bit of a battle working out how to plug in the external floppy drive.

Perhaps South Sudan? Uganda is OK for tourism in Bwindi for example. You might meet some cousins. ;)
 

Tannin

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The mind-boggling stupidity which resulted in the Windows 8 disaster is obvious from the result.

What is less obvious to the casual eye is the cause of that stupidity. We sit here watching the world's biggest slow-motion corporate train wreck from a safe distance and mumbling things like "Microsoft were always a bit dim" and "MS only ever get every second release right" and "they have misjudged the market badly this time", and even "their corporate arrogance has come back to bite them", which is a little closer to the mark, but still avoid addressing the real question: how is it even possible for someone to get it so horribly, stupidly wrong?

Actually, the answer is in plain sight. But you do have to look in the right place, and that place is not so easy to identify.

The first clue is that they handed absolute control of Windows 8 UI development to Steve Sinofski, the tool who had already borked Microsoft Office so badly. The thing was, although the Office UI design was a clear step backwards, that did not become apparent immediately. There were several reasons for this: first, the old UI, while simpler, more efficient, and easier to learn than the new one, was itself no oil painting: the new-style Office UI wasn't all that much worse. Second, Office was by far Microsoft's best-selling product (using "best-selling" in the sense of products which actually sell, as opposed to products like Windows which, by and large, are simply something you get as an accessory when you buy a new computer). Demand for Office was sky-high, and wasn't going to go away anytime soon even if they did screw the next version over. Third, Office 2007 had a number of genuinely useful new features not related to the duff UI (notably the vastly improved quasi-open file formats). Finally and most importantly, that huge customer demand was immediately transferable to a new version: because Office was near-universal in the business world, you only needed a small number of businesses to adopt it to force all other business to follow suit. Office 2003 can't read and write Office 2007 files, so the moment businesses started seeing .docx attachments in their in-boxes, they rushed to get the new version. Sinofski's daft mangling of the UI simply didn't matter enough by comparison with the need to retain file compatibility, and users all over the world were forced to adapt to it.

Nevertheless, Office 2007 was never really popular, and little by little it lost market share. Microsoft's office is still the leading package today, but is is no longer seen as the only choice. In particular, the Open Office / Libre Office twins with their superior user interfaces and attractive price have cut deep into the MS Office monopoly, and Google Docs has hit it hard. The degraded UI didn't kill, couldn't kill, MS Office, but it has been a significant factor in its slow decline.

Now why does the same sort of logic not apply to the Windows 8 debacle?

First, Windows doesn't have nearly the user-loyalty that Office does. Sounds weird - Windows is far more famous - but it's true. Put real Excel and Word on, for example, a Chromebook, an Android box, or even a dumb terminal, give them email and a web browser, and 80% of users won't care. They simply won't care. This is why Microsoft have never, ever released Office for Linux ('cause then you wouldn't have to buy Windows) and take good care to cripple Office for the Mac ('cause then you wouldn't have to buy Windows).

Second, Windows 8 didn't bring any compelling must-have improvements to the table to overwhelm the bad things. When Sinofski borked the Office UI, a lot of people didn't worry about it as they needed (or thought they needed) the many other improvements. But the improvements Windows 8 offers over Windows 7 (speed, file handling, perhaps one or two other things) are subtle and not obvious to the general user.

Third, there is no upgrade compulsion. If your co-worker or your customer or your supplier upgrades, there is no reason at all why you have to upgrade. You can happily continue working with that person using your existing XP or 7.

Fourth, there is history. There are no famous dud MS Office versions. But Blind Freddy knows that Vista was a famous dud, and he just might remember the awful Windows ME too. He certainly views any new Windows version with suspicion. What if it's another Vista?

Fifth, there is the purchase process. You got Office 2007 by picking up a box off the shelf at a shop, or by having it installed for you by the IT department whether you wanted it or not. Either way, you didn't see it running and interact with it first. You were familiar with Office 2000 or 2003 and you bought the new one on trust. But, in the main, users buy (or more to the point, don't buy) Windows after seeing it running in a shop somewhere on the new machine they want. They don't have to take it on trust, they can see how bad it is for themselves - and very often they put the credit card away and go elsewhere. PC manufacturers the world over are seeing record low sales figures because of Windows 8, and the smarter ones are working hard to sidestep the disaster by shipping Win 7 and/or UI replacements like Start8.

Finally, and again most importantly, the Office UI stuff-up was only moderately painful and users were highly motivated to adapt to it. The Windows 8 UI design debacle, in stark contrast, was massive. Users hate it! Are they stupid? No, they are, on the whole, intelligent enough to recognise a dog's breakfast when they see it and walk away.

But why? Why did Microsoft get it so horribly, stupidly, unforgivably wrong? Didn't they do massive amounts of snooping on actual users doing stuff in the lab first? What were they thinking? Well, this:

Steve Sinofski said:
For the past several releases, searching from the Start menu has been established as the quickest way to find and launch apps, particularly for keyboard users.
Stop right there and think about that. What a confession of incompetence. It gets worse.

Steve Sinofski said:
Our telemetry data shows that 67% of all searches in Windows 7 are used to find and launch programs. Searching for files accounts for 22% of all Windows 7 Start menu searches, and searching for Control Panel items about 9%. Searching for email messages via Start Menu is very rare (less than 0.05%). The remaining 2% are searches executing the “Run” functionality.
The obvious conclusion is that the existing (Windows 7) UI was so poor that people were being driven to use the search system instead. Blind-Freddy obvious. So Sinofski's team had some serious work to do fixing the program launch UI. Yes?

If the freeway design is so bad that 67% of traffic on the cycle path is cars and trucks, wouldn't you fix the freeway instead of trying to tweak the cycle path?

Wouldn't you ask yourself why you removed the simple, popular and efficient Quicklaunch (single-click for all your most-used apps), and why you removed the versatile and efficient classic Start Menu (two clicks for important stuff, three clicks to launch any app on the system) and replaced them with the slow and bulky and inefficient Windows 7 Start Menu (click - wait - click for your three or four most-used apps, and click - wait - click - wait - click for all others). Wouldn't you ask yourself how you could rationalise and simplify the mess of folders some installation programs left in your start menus?* Fix up the idiotic MyUser/All Users start menus distinction handling? Provide something better than dragging folders around in Explorer to edit it?* Provide a simple, practical way for users to prioritise their Start Menu entries?

Or look at Sinofski's asinine complaint that 9% of searches were trying to find Control Panel items. Of course they were! For starters, Microsoft can't ever leave the Control Panel layout the same from one version to the next. Of course people get confused when Microsoft keep moving things. Second, if that's not enough, they rename things - you are looking for "add remove programs" and it's not there. Of course you search for it! Only geeks like us can remember what all the Control Panel items are called in any particular Windows version, and even we struggle. Third, they perennially stick things in unexpected locations - the location, language, time, time-zone, keyboard, and currency settings are often spectacularly obscure, and never stay the same for long. Worst of all is the incredible, mind-numbingl, unbelievable stupidity of always sorting the Control Panel alphabetically across the screen instead of in the columns used by every other sorted list any normal user has ever, ever seen. Seriously, what drugs were these guys on when they didn't fix that?

But no. They looked at users struggling with all this and decided that the search function needed fixing! And now, out of all the unusable damn Windows 8 "features", out of the whole disgraceful mess of half-thought, half-functional, visually awful, user-unfriendly gross stupidities, the search function is the worst and most hopelessly broken of them all. The mind boggles.


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* The Metro start page actually achieves some of these things. But not in a good way. On any system of even moderate complexity, it soon scrolls off the screen - and a daft bloody horizontal scroll at that, directly contrary to everything you learned in Usability 101 - and becomes difficult to manage. Why not a list with three columns, accessed through the Control Panel? Tick the green column for the ones you want to see all the time, tick the red column for the ones you don't ever want to be bothered with unless you ask for it, everything else goes in the amber column and is not on the Quicklaunch but is on the top level of the start-programs menu. Look, these details don't matter. Do them all a different way if you like. The point is that Sinofski's fools didn't even try to improve the system, they threw it all away, good and bad alike, and replaced it with a grossly inferior unfamiliar and impractical thing designed for telephones and horribly unsuited to real computers.
 

Clocker

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Tannin- Any other time I would see a post about 1/2 as long as yours I would just say screw it...I'm not reading all this. But I read yours and I'm glad I did. Excellent analysis. Sad, but true.
 

ddrueding

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I agree with nearly everything Tannin said, but would argue that with some customization 8 with Classic Shell/Start8 is the best MS-based UI available. Making it look like XP/7 while running much faster is an obvious win. And this makes it even more embarrassing for them. There were places where improvements were obvious and easy, and the places they messed up required no changes at all!
 

Tannin

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Dave, I agree: Classic Shell improves the UI massively. It doesn't (and can't) fix a host of other UI issues that I haven't talked about - I'm particularly thinking of the ugly and incredibly confusing mish-mash assortment of views and commands in Explorer here - but yes, Win 8 (or for that matter Win 7) with Classic Shell is not bad. (I can't really speak for Start8, don't use it much, but it wouldn't be popular if it wasn't any good.)
 

ddrueding

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For the record, Classic Shell is now good enough that I don't bother with Start8. It used to be, but I don't think Start8 is worth the premium anymore.
 

Chewy509

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Tannin, very well put.

A lot of people I know simple dislike Windows 8, and a lot of change Microsoft has made in Windows recently seems to be solely for change, not as an improvement to an underlying issue. A lot of people I've spoken to recently certainly believe Microsoft is on a downside spiral in regards to mind share as well as market share. (They have hit their peak and now it's all down hill from here).

Also just read that Microsoft is increasing the price of Data Centre editions by 28% (which will hurt corporations who will start to consider Linux or other OS for the enterprise if they haven't already), and is no longer offering family pack memberships to XBox Live (or what ever it's called this week), which will piss off a lot of XBox users...

Is this a case of accountants have taken over the running of Microsoft and every decision is now purely dollar driven, and not customer/technology driven?

Getting a little off topic - my parents and Windows 8. Whilst my dad likes Windows 8 (being a n00b), my mum absolutely hates it with a passion. I've been getting at least an email a day from her asking for help on how to do things, that she was capable of doing in Windows XP and Windows 7 (she's was a heavy computer user at work until recently when she retired). Some of things, like getting into settings on the Metro Pictures application is so counter-intuitive it's not funny. (For some reason, the Pictures App decided to change it's own settings and no longer display/monitor any of the libraries that are part of it's own default setup).
 
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