Friday, June 28th 2013

Windows 8.1, and Why You Should Let Go of Windows 7

When Steve Jobs went upstage in early-April 2010 to unveil the iPad, it was expected to be the next logical step to Apple's successful miniaturization of the MacBook to the category-defining MacBook Air. It was expected to be an OS X-based handheld that ran on hardware not much different. When Jobs revealed the iPad to be an upscale of the iPhone idea, rather than a downscale of the MacBook idea, the industry was never the same again. The successful reception of the iOS on both the iPhone and iPad is what could have been the genesis of the Windows of today, which looks great on smartphones, tablets, and touch-enabled notebooks, but is hated on desktops, particularly by the PC enthusiast community. Much of that hatred is misdirected, and is a waste of time. Here's why.

While Microsoft Windows CE and Windows Phone powered PDAs for years before the smartphone revolution, Microsoft's most popular creation in the mobile space has been Windows Phone 7, and its successors. The brand new 'tile' interface, coupled with clear, finger-friendly, and forgiving UI elements finally gave Microsoft the UI design it was looking for. Rather than making a repeat of Apple's winning formula of upscaling Windows Phone 7 to a software for tablets (i.e. being content with Windows RT), Microsoft extended the UI to the entire Windows product family, including operating systems for the PC, and shockingly, even Windows Server. With the new Windows 8.1 Release Preview, it's clear that Microsoft isn't going back on the direction Windows 8 took, and so as PC enthusiasts, we're forced to ask ourselves if putting up a fight against it, by clinging on to Windows 7, is really worth it.

The Start Menu that never really left.
The guiding principle behind a tile-like UI on mainline PC operating systems isn't that people would drop their mice and stretch their arms out to the monitor (a touchscreen), and begin using their PCs that way. It was so the PC in itself could evolve. The biggest point of contention for PC enthusiasts refusing to upgrade to Windows 8 and its inevitable successor is the lack of a Start menu. Well, not sure if you noticed, but the Start menu never left. It's only not a menu anymore, it's a screen. When you click on the start button on older Windows desktops, whatever shows up as a result, has your undivided attention. You're either looking for a program to launch, a document you were just working on, or finding your way to the key areas of the operating system. Your business with the Start menu gets wrapped up in a few seconds. So why not stretch that Start "thing" to cover the entire screen, and make it more functional?

Submenus of the Windows XP Start menu stretched out to the entire height of the screen, and with enough items, you could practically fill the screen with an extremely collapsed Start menu. Ask yourself if a fullscreen Start screen is really that different, after all, when Microsoft shrunk the Start menu to a fixed-size one in Windows Vista, by dropping in a scroll-bar, it sparked outrage.

Finding programs, documents, or OS-related functions using the Start screen takes nearly the same time once you get the hang of it, and can actually be quicker. When people screamed from the rooftops asking for their familiar Start button back on the taskbar, Microsoft obliged. The upcoming Windows 8.1, which will be a free upgrade to current Windows 8 users, features a Start button, right where you expect it to be. Before you get excited, all it does is spawn up the Start screen. Windows 8.1 also features an option with which your computer starts up straight to the desktop, instead of the Start screen.

The Modern UI bloat that doesn't really exist.
Another point of contention for Start screen opponents is the modern UI apps that come included with the operating system constituting bloatware. Well, they don't. These are apps that tell you the weather, list out the headlines, track your stocks, and so on. The default set of apps that come with Windows 8 barely have a couple of dozen megabytes in memory footprint, which is made up for by an overall better memory management by Windows 8. Besides, enthusiast PCs begin at 4 GB of memory, 8 GB is considered mainstream for gaming PCs, and enthusiast builds are getting the whiff of 16 GB already. Plenty of room in there for an app that tells the weather.

The grass on the other side stays greener even after you get there.
With the Windows 8.1 Release Preview we got to play with, Microsoft made it clear that it's not going to make steps backwards. There's "a" Start button, not "the" Start button. What shows up after you click it is bigger and better than its predecessor's Start screen. There are new tile-size options, including "large" (double the area of a medium tile), and "tiny" (a quarter of the area of a regular tile). The new "tiny" tile size is perfect for organizing shortcuts to scores of programs or games, the tiles have just enough room for a clear icon.

Windows 8.1, like its predecessor, starts up quicker than Windows 7 does. The kernel of the operating system never really shuts down, but hibernates, and wakes up in a snap each time you power up the PC. The new Storage Spaces, which is similar to Linux LDM, lets you better organize data across multiple physical hard drives.

Windows 8.1 introduces a new display driver model, WDDM 1.3. This brings with it a few new display features, including the standardization of wireless display, 48 Hz dynamic refresh rates for video playback, V-sync interrupt optimization, video conferencing acceleration, a Direct3D API feature so major, that it warrants a version number change. Introduced with DirectX 11.2, a new API feature called "tiled surfaces."

Tiled Surfaces is analogous to the OpenGL mega-textures technology demonstrated by id Software on "Rage," which helped it create vast, detailed, and smoothly animating 3D scenes. Instead of streaming textures as the scene is being rendered, mega-textures allows developers to deploy larger textures that are fewer in number, and dynamically show portions of it. These textures needn't be loaded to the video memory entirely, can stay on the disk, and the API would access portions of it as they become relevant to the scene, as it's being viewed. In essence, mega-texturing is a sort of "virtual-memory" for GPUs, and could shift focus from larger video memory to faster memory, in the upcoming generations of GPUs.

In conclusion
Suck it up. Windows for PC isn't going to change, and was always prone to significant change. Windows 95 was Microsoft's response to PCs that were firmly capable of GUI, at a time when people at large were getting the hang of using a mouse. Windows 8 and 8.1 are just as landmark, whether we like it or not. Microsoft is catering to a large mass of people that are getting the hang of a touchscreen, and prefer a uniform experience between devices both on the desk, and on the move. Improvements such as new "tiny" tiles make the Start screen just as functional and quick to use as a menu, and Microsoft isn't stopping with its innovations that will get increasingly out of reach for Windows 7 users.
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339 Comments on Windows 8.1, and Why You Should Let Go of Windows 7

#1
AsRock
TPU addict
by: ManofGod
Look, you can have your opinion all you want but, I think this is one of the stupidest arguments I hear on the internet all the time. Right, I am going to run out and rebuy all my games just so I can run them on Linux if I could. :shadedshu:wtf::rolleyes: Windows is successful because it works well and has excellent backwards compatibility.

I like Linux and all other Operating systems as well but, Windows is still the most popular and often the best solution, hands down. But, if you want to rebuy all your games, go for it. (I am sure the profit managers will thank you.) :slap:
excellent backward compatibility except with a hell load of users, and as for buying all your games again you don't need too if you been buying them on steam..
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#2
johnspack
In the end I'll do like I did with XP, I'll upgrade and adapt, like we all will. I skipped Vista because it was garbage, and Win7 turned out to be great. Win8 is annoying with it's home page full of adverts and junk screaming in your face, and let's pray for 8.1.... My main gripe is no dam free disk space in explorer in Win8, it's a deal breaker for me, but eventually I'll just have to live with less info ect for my OS. Win8 + wants users to be removed from their OS, and relieve any control over it. Dam, I almost want to go to linux now...... I remember writing programs in debug in dos 3.1 to do things......
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#3
Jstn7477
Windows 8.1 won't install on my late 2010 Toshiba Satellite A665D-S6091 because it has an HD 4250 + HD 5650, and literally right at the end of the install it tries to update the drivers and bam, BSOD, and rolls back to Windows 8 again. I hate this stupid laptop and the fact that it has both 4K and a 5K series graphics in it which now require two completely different driver sets because AMD couldn't man up and release unified legacy drivers.
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#4
ManofGod
by: WaroDaBeast
Nice strawman, but I'm too old to fall for those now. If you so much as possess half a brain, you will have understood what I wrote, which was: "No, you don't need to buy games a second time under Linux." The rest is completely irrelevant fluff you've added to make it seem you gave an actual answer.

Let's see if you can stay on topic with this one — which games would I have to buy under Linux, supposing I already own the Windows version?
Crysis, Crysis Warhead, Crysis 2, Crysis 3, Max Payne, Max Payne 2, Max Payne 3, Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, Back to the Future Series, GOG Games, Batman: Arkham Asylum and City and on and on and on......

No way I was going to list all the games I own because it would have been a great wall of text. You asked, I showed you. Of course, none of those games a Linux native either. (None of these companies are going to say, hey, we just made a Linux native version, go ahead, download it for free if you have our other version for windows.)
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#5
ManofGod
by: Jstn7477
Windows 8.1 won't install on my late 2010 Toshiba Satellite A665D-S6091 because it has an HD 4250 + HD 5650, and literally right at the end of the install it tries to update the drivers and bam, BSOD, and rolls back to Windows 8 again. I hate this stupid laptop and the fact that it has both 4K and a 5K series graphics in it which now require two completely different driver sets because AMD couldn't man up and release unified legacy drivers.
So, the install never finishes then? The only reason I ask is because, although I was able to get it installed on my machine, it still is concerning. (HP DV7-4273us with a HD4200/ HD6300 combo.)
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#6
Jstn7477
by: ManofGod
So, the install never finishes then? The only reason I ask is because, although I was able to get it installed on my machine, it still is concerning. (HP DV7-4273us with a HD4200/ HD6300 combo.)
Yeah, it goes through the whole downloading/black screen with a fish installation/getting ready and at "the end" it BSODs referencing the ati****.sys driver, regardless of whatever driver set I have installed before initiating the upgrade. Right after it BSODs, it of course restarts and rolls back the entire install. I'm surprised I even got Win8 fully working on this hunk of junk.

I think I'll have to pull the drive and run the upgrade on another AMD Phenom system, and then put it back in the laptop and immediately install the drivers that properly work so it doesn't autorepair back to Win8.
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#8
Frick
Fishfaced Nincompoop
by: Easy Rhino
To all of those who said AAA gaming on Linux won't happen any time soon and proceeding to act like dicks about it; I present to you this...asshats...

http://www.crytek.com/career/offers/overview/frankfurt/programming-engineering/linux-programmer
A programmer. So by 2020 we'll get native Crysis? :roll:

But seriously, that alone doesn't change anything. Progress is being made, but it's slow and it will not happen any time soon. In time maybe.
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#9
Easy Rhino
Linux Advocate
by: Frick
A programmer. So by 2020 we'll get native Crysis? :roll:

But seriously, that alone doesn't change anything. Progress is being made, but it's slow and it will not happen any time soon. In time maybe.
you will see demo versions of cryengine on linux by 2016. please stay subscribed to this thread so that you can all bow down to me at that time. :pimp:
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#10
hellrazor
by: Frick
A programmer. So by 2020 we'll get native Crysis? :roll:

But seriously, that alone doesn't change anything. Progress is being made, but it's slow and it will not happen any time soon. In time maybe.
I don't think that you realize that, aside from the DirectX/OpenGL problem (which is much better solved by the graphics programmers that they already have), you really only need one programmer to do some preprocessor work to wrap certain calls around.
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#11
Frick
Fishfaced Nincompoop
by: Easy Rhino
you will see demo versions of cryengine on linux by 2016. please stay subscribed to this thread so that you can all bow down to me at that time. :pimp:
Demo versions. In 2016. Which is three years away, which on the Internet is an eternity.
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#12
Easy Rhino
Linux Advocate
by: Frick
Demo versions. In 2016. Which is three years away, which on the Internet is an eternity.
Huh? I don't judge time by "internet" time. 3 years is a very reasonable amount of time to develop/port aspects of cryengine to linux/opengl. people are acting like it is going to take a decade to make any kind of progress where as now it looks like will be playing AAA titles in no time :toast:
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#13
eidairaman1
by: Easy Rhino
Huh? I don't judge time by "internet" time. 3 years is a very reasonable amount of time to develop/port aspects of cryengine to linux/opengl. people are acting like it is going to take a decade to make any kind of progress where as now it looks like will be playing AAA titles in no time :toast:
it be nice if they were implemented at same time as Windows releases are, like back in the day of 98-2000 when 3DFX and S3 were tough competitors with Glide and Open GL, Unreal Tournament, Deus Ex, Counter Strike come to mind.
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#14
cdawall
where the hell are my stars
The one thing that would get me to happily swap to 8.1 is if it offered an XBONE mode. If you could reboot and play any XBONE game you tossed into the blu-ray slot then people would probably be pretty happy buying some copies...
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#15
eidairaman1
by: cdawall
The one thing that would get me to happily swap to 8.1 is if it offered an XBONE mode. If you could reboot and play any XBONE game you tossed into the blu-ray slot then people would probably be pretty happy buying some copies...
thats what emulators are for, but ms would never do that because people would just buy a computer and say screw the console when the computer does everything
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#16
cdawall
where the hell are my stars
by: eidairaman1
thats what emulators are for, but ms would never do that because people would just buy a computer and say screw the console when the computer does everything
No one wants their console anyway. :slap:

Heck they could sell a special gaming edition that "unlocked" XBONE mode and no one would complain.
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#17
Meizuman
XP still has better start menu than Vista or 7.

8 looks and feels like an oddity altogether for one that has used 3.1, 95, 98, XP and 7.
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#18
Am*
Can't see anything from this marketing/PR bullshit that gives me a reason to switch. In fact, with my recent digitizer touchscreen laptop purchase, I had the choice between putting Windows 7 or Windows 8 on it and after using W8 on my older laptop for just over half a year, I still decided to stick with Windows 7. The icons are just the right size, even for a touchscreen, all the same power saving features are there, as is TRIM and all the SSD functions which I needed. The closest actual feature to an improvement I saw on this so called "news article" was the texture streaming thing used to render Windows 8's graphical user interface -- this is a non-issue for me anyway since I disable Aero and any other fancy visual effects to save resources on all my Windows 7 machines, regardless of how good my PC/laptop is (I do the same thing with my gaming rig to stop it wasting VRAM).

One thing is for sure -- Microshaft better come up with a REAL successor to Windows Vista, and fast. Yes, I said Vista. Windows 7 was Vista v2.0 (with minor tweaks like TRIM support, upgraded driver stack etc), Windows 8 is Vista v3.0 (with a different interface and slightly better multithreading support). I will NOT buy another excuse of an OS that's merely another service pack for Vista again, regardless of how cheap it will be (the only reason I bought 8 was because it was so cheap). I want an entirely new kernel running in a driverless, fully hardware accelerated environment. Until they do that, they have no chance of ever beating Android, iOS or any other operating systems found on tablets, phones etc and I will have no interest of ever paying them again for another re-hashed operating system.
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#19
NdMk2o1o
by: Meizuman
XP still has better start menu than Vista or 7.
Oh for gods sake get a grip, go run XP and read the forum archives, you'll be happy there :slap:
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#20
Aquinus
Resident Wat-man
by: Meizuman
XP still has better start menu than Vista or 7.
At least in Windows 7 I can hit super (Windows key) and then type "c - h - r" and hit enter and mysteriously Google Chrome opens up. Try doing that on XP. :p
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#21
neliz
MSI Rep
by: Aquinus
At least in Windows 7 I can hit super (Windows key) and then type "c - h - r" and hit enter and mysteriously Google Chrome opens up. Try doing that on XP. :p
This, the fact that this functionality is nearly identical to the W8, multiple desktop filling start/search menu.. sans the multiple desktop filling part.

I can search while I'm watching some YouTube stuff, try doing that in W8.. unless of course, you have a $1500 PC and you hate multi-tasking, the W8 is great for you.
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#22
TheMailMan78
Big Member
by: neliz
This, the fact that this functionality is nearly identical to the W8, multiple desktop filling start/search menu.. sans the multiple desktop filling part.

I can search while I'm watching some YouTube stuff, try doing that in W8.. unless of course, you have a $1500 PC and you hate multi-tasking, the W8 is great for you.
I multi-task fine. Photoshop, Illustrator, Suitcase, iTunes, Steam, Internet, email and teamspeak. I mean honestly its not that hard.
Posted on Reply
#24
neliz
MSI Rep
by: BiggieShady
Gotta post this here ...
You mean, repost this?
Posted on Reply
#25
NinkobEi
by: BiggieShady
Gotta post this here ...
http://art.penny-arcade.com/photos/i-RrTj8nL/0/950x10000/i-RrTj8nL-950x10000.jpg
Kind of misleading. Using any other browser besides IE won't take you to metro. And the folder just opens up my computer for me. In theory if you take time to customize the Metro it would be a lot more efficient. But desktop icons work just fine for me. Maybe I am just an old stubborn bastard who dislikes change. Though not as stubborn as the windows XP (or 2000) community! Those guys should just switch to linux and become hipsters.
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