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
erocker
by: btarunr
With your Windows 8 x64? Glad to hear that :)
Yeah. I am using Start8 on it though. I guess I don't plan on using 8.1, I'm satisfied with how things are working. :)

I don't think that it's wrong for anyone to use a particular O/S or not. Everyone is different and has their reasons, be they logical or otherwise. People like my father, who type with one finger and knows pretty much nothing about computers... He doesn't know the difference between XP and 7. The common "XP" layout is something he has finally grasped over many years. I couldn't imagine the rage if I would install Windows 8 on his machine lol.
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#2
cdawall
where the hell are my stars
I will just stick with windows 7 until I have a reason to swap. Right now there isn't one.
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#3
micropage7
by: cdawall
I will just stick with windows 7 until I have a reason to swap. Right now there isn't one.
yeah same. for me win 8.1 its like win 8 but lack of features so they release 8.1.:banghead::banghead: so maybe they gonna release 8.2, 8.3 then service pack 1 and so
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#4
gigantor21
by: newtekie1
I'm going to address this point, as this is really the only sticking point I have with Windows 8. The start screen is not better than a start menu. And the fact that Microsoft took all the complaining about the start screen and thought that slapping a start button in would solve everything show that either Microsoft is completely out of touch with what their customers actually want or that Microsoft was just giving a big F U to their customers.

Why shouldn't it take up the entire screen? Simple, I am capable of multi-tasking. I often have a video playing while I'm using my computer. When I open the start menu in Win7 my video is not completely obscured. When I open the start screen in Win8 my video is completely obscured. And no, the start menu does not have my entire attention, I'm looking back and forth between the start menu and the video that is playing.
This.

I like having it in a corner of the screen that I can easily click on and click away from while being able to see stuff on the desktop. Going back and forth between a fullscreen menu just felt needlessly complicated when I did use Metro.
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#5
DaC
Ahumm.... I see.......... no thanks! Windows 8 interface for a traditional PC is just plain stupid. For a tablet or smartphone it sure rocks. But I miss the point to force a new interface before hardware itself changes to take advantage of it. Maybe it's just a a wish to Brag something like "I told you so" in 10 or 15 years when PC should be dead or evolved to a completely different way of interaction, no mouse, no physical keyboard.... "We're the company of the future"... :shadedshu
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#6
naoan
Suck it up
Haha, they've been saying since preview 2 (or 1) to people who argue back to them. Look what happened.

Do MS seriously think that their childish attempt will get through people who have legitimate argument not to use Windows 8? Seriously how could a company's head go through their ass so far it popped right back up?
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#7
D007
Are any games using that mega textures thing? If not then no sale.
If so then I am likely sold. ONLY if it make my games run/look better.
Idc about anything else..lol..
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#8
Fluffmeister
Yeah come on guys, teach Microsoft a lesson by using one another Microsoft OS.

Fight the power!
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#9
hellrazor
by: btarunr
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?
Call me crazy, but I'm a firm believer that simply starting a program (not even to the point of running it) should not require an entire screen.

by: btarunr
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.
Do you really want to see a screenshot of my start menu? I hate to break it to you, but the submenus that come closest to "stretching out to the entire height of the screen" (Accessories and Administrative Tools) all came stock with Windows. There's nothing wrong with the start menu, the problem is with you.

by: btarunr
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.
So a disorganized, full-screen mess experience is just as fast (if not faster) than a structured menu?
Posted on Reply
#10
trickson
OH, I have such a headache
Why is Microsoft even bothering any more? I mean the way things are now the desktop has been replaced. All the games we get are crap. They have us buying up billions in expensive hardware to get shit crap games and that is a fact. Just look at the video card industry. They are making a killing for WHAT? I know AGP graphics would be just fine to watch a movie on. in fact you would be able to tell the difference! Yet here we are PCI-E cards 8 core CPU's RAM MB's and it's all for NOTHING some console game for the Xbox is more important to the gaming industry not making the game for my PC! wow long rant. at any rate no need to even think of windows 8 unless I could actually get performance and well that is just not the case not as I see it any way.
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#11
xtremesv
The reason I left Windows 8 was the horrid bugs I found, one of them, which annoyed me so much, was when I plugged my external hard drive, my copy of Windows got disactivated warning me I had to validate it again :mad: once I unplugged my HD Windows reactivated itself again. And I won't speak of the nightmare IE10 was for me.

You say people get a more "functional" Start Menu, what is functional about a screen where you get the most from apps optimized for smartphones and tablets, what is functional if you are restricted to a downgraded multitasking experience where you can only use 2/3 + 1/3 split screens. What is functional about a dull unicolor full-screened menu where you have to switch constantly between that and your desktop to get simple things done like tuning your music in a full-blown desktop player. What is functional about a Start Menu thats feels intrusive and practically makes Windows a non-windowed OS.The new Start Menu is a good idea for touch-enabled displays but for traditional PCs is odd.
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#12
D007
I just want an answer to "Are any games using that mega textures thing?"':laugh:
Posted on Reply
#13
micropage7
by: xtremesv
The reason I left Windows 8 was the horrid bugs I found, one of them, which annoyed me so much, was when I plugged my external hard drive, my copy of Windows got disactivated warning me I had to validate it again :mad: once I unplugged my HD Windows reactivated itself again. And I won't speak of the nightmare IE10 was for me.

You say people get a more "functional" Start Menu, what is functional about a screen where you get the most from apps optimized for smartphones and tablets, what is functional if you are restricted to a downgraded multitasking experience where you can only use 2/3 + 1/3 split screens. What is functional about a dull unicolor full-screened menu where you have to switch constantly between that and your desktop to get simple things done like tuning your music in a full-blown desktop player. What is functional about a Start Menu thats feels intrusive and practically makes Windows a non-windowed OS.The new Start Menu is a good idea for touch-enabled displays but for traditional PCs is odd.
thats why they release 8.1
they must add something or tweak something more but not tell us coz many people complain about win 8
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#14
AsRock
TPU addict
by: trickson
WOW you people are fighting over what OS is better? I mean really this is happening right now. Issuing a challenge at the faster OS win7 or win8? Just makes no sense at all. Like comparing an orange to an orange!
I would buy win 8 or win 8.1 tomorrow if they added the the normal start button. Like WTF it's not as if it would harm them in fact it do them better and all this so called news says to me is that win 8 is not doing a good as they claim.

And it's not just PC enthusiasts they pissing off too in fact everyone i personally know dislike win8 and some have asked me to put win 7 on the system..

In the end if they wanted to cater to more people and get more sales ( if they cared ) they would just add the real start button.


So add the start button and i will buy it and not until as i don't want to buy it and mod the OS as all that be saying to MS is that they can bend ya over and shaft ya till no end as later it would not surprise me if they blocked those apps later.
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#15
lilhasselhoffer
That was a waste of reading time.

If you think MS should be Apple, you can agree that 8 and 8.1 are a reasonable step forward. They can introduce a marketplace that they control, force developers to pay for the ability to be featured on their store, then make a GUI homogenization that customers demonstrably don't want. All of this offers "better stability and a more unified experience" from device to device.

In a perfect world, this sounds great. In reality, Windows phone became Windows everything. Homogenization for the sake of homogenization is stupid. Minor performance increases (which the article concedes are chipped away by less than useful widgets), an as yet unused directx variant, and quicker booting are not worth the extra expense. People are telling MS this by not buying it, but they want to find a different answer.

Despite this evidence, you praise MS for an as yet unreleased OS. To judge without any concrete evidence is hubris. The community may be beta testing, but this means nothing about the final OS. Blindly accepting whatever we get, and praising the "gift" we have been given, is stupid.



To the author; wow. You have often dabbled into the area of a corporate sales person. It has been tolerable, but this tears it. You write from a bias that is not informative. The reason I read an editorial is that the author instills value into their opinions. As you don't explicitly offer why I should give a damn about your words in the article, I have to rely on your track record. For every informative point you've made in the past week you've written a corresponding article blatantly praising a company without any thought. Fluff pieces for the sake of pushing an agenda do not warrant my attention to your opinions. Perhaps you can provide something substantive, but your track record indicates otherwise.

To whit, your article is fluff. It deserves the responses it is getting, as the title is troll baiting 101. I'm done reading your work until editorial credibility can be established.
Posted on Reply
#16
trickson
OH, I have such a headache
by: lilhasselhoffer
That was a waste of reading time.

If you think MS should be Apple, you can agree that 8 and 8.1 are a reasonable step forward. They can introduce a marketplace that they control, force developers to pay for the ability to be featured on their store, then make a GUI homogenization that customers demonstrably don't want. All of this offers "better stability and a more unified experience" from device to device.

In a perfect world, this sounds great. In reality, Windows phone became Windows everything. Homogenization for the sake of homogenization is stupid. Minor performance increases (which the article concedes are chipped away by less than useful widgets), an as yet unused directx variant, and quicker booting are not worth the extra expense. People are telling MS this by not buying it, but they want to find a different answer.

Despite this evidence, you praise MS for an as yet unreleased OS. To judge without any concrete evidence is hubris. The community may be beta testing, but this means nothing about the final OS. Blindly accepting whatever we get, and praising the "gift" we have been given, is stupid.



To the author; wow. You have often dabbled into the area of a corporate sales person. It has been tolerable, but this tears it. You write from a bias that is not informative. The reason I read an editorial is that the author instills value into their opinions. As you don't explicitly offer why I should give a damn about your words in the article, I have to rely on your track record. For every informative point you've made in the past week you've written a corresponding article blatantly praising a company without any thought. Fluff pieces for the sake of pushing an agenda do not warrant my attention to your opinions. Perhaps you can provide something substantive, but your track record indicates otherwise.

To whit, your article is fluff. It deserves the responses it is getting, as the title is troll baiting 101. I'm done reading your work until editorial credibility can be established.
WOW way to kick a guy in the nuts dude. it is just a write up some one did. Mostly there own opinion on said product.
What is getting to me is just how every one seems to fight over some thing that well we have little to no control over. Fact is windows 7 works windows xp works ME works 98 works even 95 will work! Use what you like. I like 7 the looks the feel the every thing about it just works for me. I have seen 8 like it sure looks great on them tablets and touch screens. For my desktop I want what Windows is all about 7! I'm a PC and windows 7 was my idea! :D
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#17
ThE_MaD_ShOt
I still have my copy of windows still in it's wrapper. One day I may get around to installing it.
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#18
jmcslob
I think I'll grumble about Win8 for a few more months then I'll upgrade to it....In all honesty I don't really care what they put in front of me as long as I can play games and go on the Internet
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#19
rtwjunkie
by: newtekie1
ClassicShell still works fine in 8.1.
YAY!!! Anyone try Start8 and ModernMix yet in 8.1? These two programs are what make my W8 testbed liveable.

I honestly gave it a try before adding the Stardock enhancements. I understand that the Start Screen is just a blown up Start Menu, but it is unwieldy and SLOW. Way more stuff gets pinned there with every install that you ever see in the Start Menu. It is the most disorganized pile of doodoo I have ever seen. And why am I allowed to only use one program at a time? So, Start8 to return a functional, real start button and Start Menu, and ModernMix to control those Start Screen apps and use them in smaller versions from the desktop.

I am now, thanks to Stardock, liking some of the other benefits of W8, like quick boots, better memory management, etc, and also get my desktop, where I can enjoy those apps without them hogging the whole screen. Only major gripe is the nagging freezing that seems to go on. When they tackle that instead of fluff, I might make it more than a testbed OS.
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#20
james888
I don't like the whole screen thing. I do love the right corner screen pull thing. If they made that into a start menu of sorts I think that would be great.

What I would most prefer is basically the same windows 8 start menu now but without the tiles and translucent for the most part. It would have the time and maybe weather where the right corner pulls screen thing does. The search bar would be in the same spot the current one is up top.

One can dream.
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#21
Zubasa
by: Naito
If PC is going to go anywhere, it will be because of the people flaming Windows 8; refusing to use it, and spreading their bias to others, will have a negative effect. People will begin to look elsewhere...
We as customers is not responsible for pleasing the "Micro$oft gods".
If there are any "negative effects its M$ that brought it upon themselves.
It is up to Microsoft to please its customers.
Want more sales? Go fix your POS.
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#22
etayorius
No thanks, i have no need to upgrade to win8, since win7 does everything i want to and with the UI i know very well, why would people change to win8 if everything works under win7?
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#23
Bull Dog
I posted this elsewhere once before, but it bears repeating.

I am a desktop user, and none of these changes Microsoft is talking about look to be fixing any of the core problems that haunt Windows 8. Wooooo changes! So what?

I was attracted to Windows 8 because I wanted the better Task Manager and better Copy dialog. However when I tried Windows 8, I found it to be a nearly unusable, non-stop train of frustration and misery. I would go so far as to posit that stock Windows 8 is an unmitigated disaster for desktop users. Thankfully other brave souls have created solutions that I was able to utilize to restore Windows 8 to a usable state. I use StartIsBack and I found a desktop theme that doesn’t drive me crazy.

My main monitor is a Dell U2711 (27in, 2560x1440) and for me, the Modern UI Start Screen is a complete farce. There is nothing it does, that the Windows 7 style Start Menu doesn't do better. While the Start Screen's search function has been kinda fixed in 8.1, it still doesn't address the insane amount of extra mousing required versus the Start Menu.

This brings me to another point about the absurdity of using the Modern UI Start Screen and Apps on a Desktop PC. Because it is full screen, everything requires ridiculous amounts of mouse movement to reach various UI elements. As an example, shutting down the computer with a mouse in stock Windows 8, requires around 100% more mouse movement and an extra click compared to using the Start Menu.

I also fought an issue with the Desktop Modern UI theme. I always set my Taskbar Buttons to “Combine when taskbar is full.” Because of the following:
1. The title bar text on windows, like file explorer, is black.
2. The text in the taskbar is white.
3. There is no separate adjustment for window border color and taskbar color.

It is impossible to have good readability in both the task bar and title bars. One is left with four choices:
1. Bright colors with good title bar readability
2. Dark colors with good task bar contrast and unusable title bars
3. Medium colors with poor contrast and readability in both areas.
4. Hassling with finding a custom theme that doesn’t do something else equally stupid.

As a last positive aside, I don’t miss Windows Aero Glass, and I especially like not getting kicked back to Windows Aero Basic when I load a program that won’t run with Aero Glass.
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#24
trickson
OH, I have such a headache
Windows 8 sounds like vista to me. Not very many people liked it. Then windows 7 came along we had them kickass commercials and every thing. NOW NOTHING! it all went away. Windows 8 is for tablets and touchscreen crap. Not like it doesn't have it's place just not on my desktop is all.w
One thing is for sure we can all bitch about it till hell freezes over not a whole lot any one here can do about windows we get what we get from THEM! Don't like it? Don't buy or use it is all I can say. At least windows is not like dumping us altogether we do have support and every thing with windows7!
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#25
Protagonist
Windows 8 was dumb & Windows 8.1 is dumber, like Ive always told my clients don't wast money and time on Windows 8, if you have to use it for more than a month maybe 2 months then Just pirate it and don't wast money as you will go back to Windows 7 or any other OS that you like.

Most of my clients are looking more in to Linux for their future investments if windows continues like this. What a shame.
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