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

#2
bmaverick
With each release of M$ O$ products, the deeper entrenched the NSA and other back door agencies have to poke through your data.

The focus on search vs. folders is a crock. A person who is organized has a better grip on their data vs. playing the search game endlessly.

Using the computer in a workstation environment literally wipes away much of the Windows-8 gains. With a workstation, Windows-7 wins hands down.
Posted on Reply
#3
urza26
I'll try to be as unbiased as I can in this.
Microsoft made a crucial mistake in their design philosophy of "everything touch", they lost track of their end user. Touch simply does not work in a traditional desktop environment, where precision and little physical effort are the key to success. Touch lacks precision and generates the "gorilla arm" effect in combination with a touch monitor. The same reason motion gestures will neither work in a traditional desktop environment, but that is another discussion.
I can't find it right now, but there was a presentation of Johnny Lee online when he was still working for MS that touch can never replace KB + mouse, it only shrinks the piece of the pie of KB + mouse.
Their new Modern UI design screams touch. Apple was smart enough to keep iOS and Mac OS separate. Microsoft in their attempt to outdo Apple has taken it a step too far, yes synergy between devices is much appreciated, but that does not imply that the GUI has to be identical to achieve this. Simple user studies would have sufficed to proof that a great smartphone/tablet GUI will not have a great task performance on a desktop by default.
As various people mentioned the Start screen is a reduction of user effectiveness and multi-task performance.
The counterargument of work-arounds is actually not a counterargument at all, it only strengthens the base argument. The fact one needs a work-around for simple basic functionality (which was standard in the previous OS version) simply proofs that Microsoft went in the wrong direction with their GUI design.
Posted on Reply
#4
Kreij
Senior Monkey Moderator
I rarely go to the start screen in Windows 8, and rarely used the start menu in Windows 7, so it does not make whole lot of difference to me personally.

I pre-ordered a Leap Motion Controller and it should be shipping pretty soon. It basically mimics a touch screen without having to reach out to the screen.

I'll let you guys know how it works with Windows 8 after I play with it for while when I receive it.
Posted on Reply
#5
newtekie1
Semi-Retired Folder
by: puma99dk|
not to be mean newtekie1 but mine didn't i can still see it through the blue squares here lookie:

http://www.techpowerup.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=51706&stc=1&d=1372585614

i tried with an old version i had from ninite and ClassicShellSetup_3_6_7.exe i downloaded yesterday or 2days ago...
That's why, I stuck with the default round start button ClassicShell uses, you switched to the Metro style. Yeah, when I switch to the Metro style button I can still see the real button too. Hopefully this is fixed in the next version of ClassicShell.
Posted on Reply
#6
dwade
TechPowerUp calling out them cavemen and dinosaurs. :rockout:
Posted on Reply
#7
tigger
I'm the only one
by: Kreij
I rarely go to the start screen in Windows 8, and rarely used the start menu in Windows 7, so it does not make whole lot of difference to me personally.

I pre-ordered a Leap Motion Controller and it should be shipping pretty soon. It basically mimics a touch screen without having to reach out to the screen.

I'll let you guys know how it works with Windows 8 after I play with it for while when I receive it.
Just googled it, it looks interesting, and is £70 from Amazon uk.
Posted on Reply
#8
The_
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!
So when you go to the supermarket you will grab just any orange yeah? Don't worry about that massive bruise on the side or that one with a big tear in its peel. Fuck it, pick that one that looks like three kids have been playing football with it. Or do you carefully select the oranges that look and feel good....
Posted on Reply
#9
jmcslob
I'm done with my preview of Win 8.1 because I killed it...LOL
I installed Net.Framework 3.5 SP1 and a few other standalone Microsoft programs that I find to be essential for a Microsoft based HTPC....

It still works in Desktop mode and I can do mostly everything I could do on Win 7 but with a screen that's flashing which is unacceptable....Metro is completely disabled and programs based on Flash player including some Youtube videos are a no go..No Divx based videos will work either...

I'll be honest...I was enabling features that Microsoft makes you pay for with Win 8 Pro Pack but I wasn't using Microsofts programs...which imo shouldn't be an issue...but it is a preview so~

Shutting down to go back to 7....preview was fun but I guess I'll have to wait for Win 9 before I switch.
Posted on Reply
#10
trickson
OH, I have such a headache
by: The_
So when you go to the supermarket you will grab just any orange yeah? Don't worry about that massive bruise on the side or that one with a big tear in its peel. Fuck it, pick that one that looks like three kids have been playing football with it. Or do you carefully select the oranges that look and feel good....
Way to take my analogy to nth degree. It is the same coin just a different side is all. Try this one. Just use what you like and really what you are ready for or can afford and in some cases can even run. I would say 8 is great 7 is heaven! :rockout::respect:
Posted on Reply
#11
Jstn7477
by: jmcslob
I'm done with my preview of Win 8.1 because I killed it...LOL
I installed Net.Framework 3.5 SP1 and a few other standalone Microsoft programs that I find to be essential for a Microsoft based HTPC....

It still works in Desktop mode and I can do mostly everything I could do on Win 7 but with a screen that's flashing which is unacceptable....Metro is completely disabled and programs based on Flash player including some Youtube videos are a no go..No Divx based videos will work either...

I'll be honest...I was enabling features that Microsoft makes you pay for with Win 8 Pro Pack but I wasn't using Microsofts programs...which imo shouldn't be an issue...but it is a preview so~

Shutting down to go back to 7....preview was fun but I guess I'll have to wait for Win 9 before I switch.
.NET 2.0-3.5 are included with Windows 8 but are disabled by default. It should prompt you when you install a .NET program that you need to go to Windows Features and enable it.
Posted on Reply
#12
D007
by: dwade
TechPowerUp calling out them cavemen and dinosaurs. :rockout:
Yes windows 7 is for cavemen and dinosaurs.. Think you have a bridge to be under..
:rockout:

by: The_
So when you go to the supermarket you will grab just any orange yeah? Don't worry about that massive bruise on the side or that one with a big tear in its peel. Fuck it, pick that one that looks like three kids have been playing football with it. Or do you carefully select the oranges that look and feel good....
This is dumb and makes absolutely no sense.
EXACTLY like windows 8..
I am beginning to see a pattern here.
Posted on Reply
#13
rtwjunkie
by: D007
Yes windows 7 is for cavemen and dinosaurs.. Think you have a bridge to be under..
Don't feed the trolls, :laugh:! They will keep coming back. I too had to seriously fight the urge to comment on his trolling.
Posted on Reply
#14
Prima.Vera
by: Kreij
I rarely go to the start screen in Windows 8, and rarely used the start menu in Windows 7, so it does not make whole lot of difference to me personally.

I pre-ordered a Leap Motion Controller and it should be shipping pretty soon. It basically mimics a touch screen without having to reach out to the screen.

I'll let you guys know how it works with Windows 8 after I play with it for while when I receive it.
Was this released already? Is it better than Kinect?
Posted on Reply
#15
Kreij
Senior Monkey Moderator
I have not received it yet, and I have no idea if it's better than the Kinect as I don't have an Xbox.
Posted on Reply
#16
Mindweaver
Moderato®™
by: Kreij
I rarely go to the start screen in Windows 8, and rarely used the start menu in Windows 7, so it does not make whole lot of difference to me personally.

I pre-ordered a Leap Motion Controller and it should be shipping pretty soon. It basically mimics a touch screen without having to reach out to the screen.

I'll let you guys know how it works with Windows 8 after I play with it for while when I receive it.
Yea, I remember you telling me about this awhile back and I'm looking forward to getting mine. :toast: I think it will make my Windows 8 experience a lot better! :toast: I've not ordered it yet main due to I'm waiting for you to tell us if it's good or not. :toast: I really want it to be good. :rockout:
Posted on Reply
#17
tigger
I'm the only one
by: Mindweaver
Yea, I remember you telling me about this awhile back and I'm looking forward to getting mine. :toast: I think it will make my Windows 8 experience a lot better! :toast: I've not ordered it yet main due to I'm waiting for you to tell us if it's good or not. :toast: I really want it to be good. :rockout:
I looked at the web page, it seems it can apparently detect a single finger motion.

Tempted to pre order one myself, it looks pretty awesome.
Posted on Reply
#18
lilhasselhoffer
by: D007
Yes windows 7 is for cavemen and dinosaurs.. Think you have a bridge to be under..
:rockout:
by: rtwjunkie
Don't feed the trolls, :laugh:! They will keep coming back. I too had to seriously fight the urge to comment on his trolling.
This is what I was talking about with my first comment. This is an editorial article, filed under the news category. That's one huge strike under trolling (presumably for views).

Strike two is that the author titled this article in the most troll baiting fashion possible. The implication being that somehow a minor tweak of windows 8 suddenly makes it superior to 7 in every way, and that we are fools for not rushing out to buy windows 8 immediately.

Strike three is that this reads like an MS PR statement. There is no attempt to address viable complaints. No substantive information is demonstrated to support conclusions. No authorial credibility is established. All of this points to an article with an agenda that doesn't lie in an area unaffected by financial incentive. This may well not be the case, but it is hard for me to conclude otherwise.


Assuming you disregard everything else I said. Assuming that you think I'm attacking this author for some personal vendetta. Assuming that I am a raving lunatic. You need only ask yourself one question. How can I connect the feature path in all MS products? Think about the xbox-xbox 360-xbone (focusing on the initial policies, not the ones edited from the violent consumer backlash), then think about Windows XP-Vista-7-8-8.1, and finally consider what Office is moving towards. None of this trajectory is considered, or even batted under the table.

The conclusion I can draw is that MS wants more control, less respect for consumers, and they know they are shrinking their market. They're trying to stretch into new markets, but haven't learned the difference between crushing the market and merging into it. Despite the blatant failure (yes, 8 is currently a fiscal failure at this point), they aren't asking consumers to tell them what they want. They are still dictating what consumers will get.

If MS wanted us to buy 8.1 they could sit down with a 50 people. The groups they need to see are non-users (no smart phone, minimal computer), mobile users (smart phone, minimal computer), budget consumers (smart phone, moderate computer), technologically invested consumers (smart phone, heavy computer use), and IT professionals. The three variants of Windows they currently have are a step in the right direction (mobile/touch, home, and power/professional), though people are smart enough to use different UIs on different devices. If they could wrap up about a dozen changes, and market these changes in a way that uninformed users could understand, I'd be behind 8.1. As it stands, this article wasted time by repeating information I already have in a completely non-compelling manner.
Posted on Reply
#19
beck24
Suck it up?? Yeah that's the right attitude for unhappy customers, lol.
When a product is REALLY better, people quickly embrace it.
When it's not, the reverse, period, as long as there are alternatives.
Posted on Reply
#20
Arjai
by: ThE_MaD_ShOt
I still have my copy of windows still in it's wrapper. One day I may get around to installing it.
Promise me, Please, make a video of your first boot to WIN8. Or, Promise me to make a video of the bonfire you chuck it into! :D
Posted on Reply
#21
Arjai
by: erocker
Why would some "common end-user" sitting on their HP that they bought from some retailer, who is satisfied with their current O/S want to even bother to change?
Hype, like this story? :o
Posted on Reply
#22
Prima.Vera
by: Kreij
...I have no idea if it's better than the Kinect as I don't have an Xbox.
But you can use it on Windows also if I am not mistaking...:confused:
Posted on Reply
#23
naoan
by: dwade
TechPowerUp calling out them cavemen and dinosaurs. :rockout:
also the shillers, turfers and the self proclaimed misguided futurist. ;)
Posted on Reply
#24
Ghost
He likes Win 8! Boo this man!
Posted on Reply
#25
eidairaman1
1rule- put back the real start menu that's been used since xp, put back the Aero interfce.
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