Software // Operating Systems
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8/18/2014
08:06 AM
Jeff Bertolucci
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Windows 8.1: 8 Things I Hate About You

Latest version of Windows 8.1 beats its predecessors, but oh those grating quirks.
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Is Microsoft's Windows 8 experiment drawing to a close? Recent reports claim the next major release of Windows, code-named "Threshold" and expected to arrive as early as next spring, may bring good news to those who hate the colorful, tile-laden Modern interface, the operating system's most notable and controversial feature since arriving in 2012. In fact, the Modern UI may go away altogether, at least on conventional desktop and laptop PCs without touchscreens.

Win 8's touch-oriented Modern UI, which Microsoft bolted on top of a crippled edition of the venerable Windows desktop, has never caught on with Redmond's enterprise clients, many of whom are either sticking with Windows 7 or are still in the process of upgrading from Windows XP. In a recent blog post, Gartner analyst Stephen Kleynhans wrote that his research firm expects most organizations to bypass Windows 8 altogether, leapfrogging from Windows 7 to a "future version of Windows (perhaps Windows Threshold or even a release after that)."

To be fair, Microsoft has improved Windows 8 over the past 18 months. Windows 8.1, for instance, brought back a less-capable version of the Start button. It was missing from the original version of Win 8, much to the consternation of befuddled upgraders who couldn't seem to find their apps on the new Start screen. A second Windows 8.1 upgrade soon followed. Released just four months ago, it offered more interface tweaks designed to make the OS a bit more palatable to the mouse-and-keyboard crowd.

But even with these changes -- some of them quite good, in fact -- Windows 8's inherent clunkiness shows through. It seemed an ambitious, if misguided, attempt to build a single UI for touch tablets, conventional PCs, and hybrid devices.

If the rumors of Threshold are true, it appears that even Microsoft realizes it's time to pull the plug on Window 8's dual-interface design, or at least relegate it to a niche market and give PC users what they've wanted all along: a faster, better, more secure version of Windows 7.

For some time now, critics have derided Windows 8 as Microsoft's "New Coke," a snarky reference to Coca-Cola's ill-fated 1985 decision to change its cola recipe. Public backlash was so great that Coca-Cola executives soon backpedaled, reintroducing "old" Coke, and eventually dropped New Coke altogether.

But Windows 8 isn't New Coke. It's pretty good, actually, but only on a tablet where its touch-oriented design shines. With a keyboard and mouse, however, it blows. Microsoft shouldn't junk the Modern UI, but rather relegate it to mobile devices where it belongs.

That said, here are eight notable annoyances of Windows 8.1.

Jeff Bertolucci is a technology journalist in Los Angeles who writes mostly for Kiplinger's Personal Finance, The Saturday Evening Post, and InformationWeek. View Full Bio

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Li Tan
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Li Tan,
User Rank: Ninja
9/2/2014 | 9:53:06 AM
Re: All may not be lost for Windows 8

The major issue is about the intent to consolidate desktop with mobile. The tiled start menu makes sense for mobile but for desktop it looks rather weird. Well it's a matter of habit but it's rather difficult to coach the end-user in short time.

SachinEE
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SachinEE,
User Rank: Ninja
8/25/2014 | 3:18:45 PM
All may not be lost for Windows 8
Somethings Windows 8.1 fixed upon the trail of destruction Windows 8 left. This change was appreciable but the update was too late to develop a huge fan base. Sure, windows 8 is faster, but it also is a lot clumsier. Even I could not understand the use of a live tiled start screen. Had it been a mobile device, it would have made sense. 

However with all these flaws some people really liked Windows 8, some very few though.
SachinEE
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SachinEE,
User Rank: Ninja
8/25/2014 | 3:10:44 PM
Re: New may not be better...
It really is true. When I got windows 8 I was lost within its complicated UI. Even after 7 long months sometimes I feel many stylistical things around windows 8 were nonsensical as well. It surely was not needed. What they did right was the copy pause and remove flash drive thing. Also pressing windows button could stop anything and take us to the start screen.
impactnow
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impactnow,
User Rank: Ninja
8/22/2014 | 2:28:01 PM
New may not be better...

I recently purchase a laptop with windows 8 and its was a huge surprise the UI is anything but intuitive and took allot of getting used to, I created my own shortcuts to overcome the feeling of getting lost in the tiles. Now I am fine but it was a serious productivity hit in the first few weeks. I am not ready to go threshold until I see what it has to offer and what the ramp up time is for users. I do however like a few of the new features of Windows 8 but the redundant features are annoying.

ExplEngineer01
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ExplEngineer01,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/20/2014 | 5:43:05 PM
Re: the wisdom of a single interface
Bottom line is that Win8.x is just "Vista Revisited". Microsoft is getting soft. What we need them to do is to lose their belief that buyers of new computers are not customers or clients, but only joining a group of (involuntary Beta-Testing subject). They think that we have forgotten "GIGO (for the Millenials, that is Garbage In, Garbage Out). One would think that after the Vista fiasco, and with so many folks, corporations, etc. or opting for Win7 OS computers, that they had once again missed the boat, and start all over again, and agree to support XP until they could get it right!
cafzali
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cafzali,
User Rank: Moderator
8/20/2014 | 2:03:53 PM
Re: Windows 8
@OldITGuy Yes, Microsoft gets -- at best -- 50 percent of its OS releases right at first glance. This is why I'd say Microsoft is the perfect example of a company where first mover advantage was more critical than anything. If you're the first to market, often you can amass enough of a critical advantage over competitors that many of your failures can be overlooked. 

This is especially true in Microsoft's case because people make investments in hardware based in large part because of OS compatibility. And while we could all in theory run Linux on PCs, in reality, that's not going to happen, leaving Windows to rule that party. Few companies amass enough of a competitive advantage that they can fail 50 percent of the time. 
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
8/20/2014 | 1:51:34 PM
Re: the wisdom of a single interface
I think Microsoft clearly made the wrong bets with Windows 8. That said, at least some of the hubris being discussed in this thread appears to have involved the Sinofsky/Ballmer regime more than Microsoft in its current form. I still have hope that the new Myerson/Nadella pairing will make better calls. As some have pointed out, they need to address not only the aesthetic and UI (which it sounds like they might be-- with desktops booting to a desktop, tablets booting to tiles, the removal of Charms, the return of the Start menu, and other changes coming in "Threshold"), but also IT annoyances-- managing and installing apps, etc. If they get the next version of Windows right, and then give it away to both Win 7 and Win 8 users, I think they can erase a lot of ill will. If the next version isn't a big improvement (Some people seem concerned about the new, Tile-infused Start menu, for example), that'll be a different story.
moonwatcher
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moonwatcher,
User Rank: Strategist
8/19/2014 | 8:45:49 AM
re: Indexing of external drives
Thank you for this blog. Having to manually index external drives before they can be searched is dumb and aggravating!  This needs to be fixed. Even lowly Windows XP did this better.
Somedude8
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Somedude8,
User Rank: Ninja
8/18/2014 | 4:11:58 PM
Re: Works for me
Yes, Laurianne, just ont he Yoga. Its the only Win 8 machine I have right now though, which I guess says something. I haven't updated my workstation from 7 to 8 yet. No compelling reason.
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
8/18/2014 | 4:09:49 PM
Re: Works for me
Somedude, that is surprising re Netflix and the browser. Only on your Lenovo Yoga/Windows 8 machines?
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