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
ManofGod
by: MAXLD
Yeah yeah, M$, keep your toys'r'us SO to yourself, grow a pair and recognize you are not Apple. Nobody wants the full M$ toddler's device experience, and you have no pack of million brainwashed fans (maybe console ones, but that changed a bit lately, right? Who knows why...) Apple can even sell a buttscratcher with their logo on it...
M$ might be going to the gutter and I can't say it's not deserved...

Too bad Linux gaming is still lagging behind, otherwise Windows would be really on free fall (even more than now)... IE effect all over again. Fingers crossed for Valve/Steam... PCGA could also do something about it if they actually did something for a change, but anyway... probably there are other intere$ts involved.

Let's at least hope Ballmer takes some extended vacations soon.
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:
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#2
Pjokerxp_
so which Linux versions is best? I hear Linux mint good?
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#3
ManofGod
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.
Promise? I see that because he does not write something you can agree with, it is troll bait? LOL. Well, I actually appreciated what he had to say but then again, I do not get all bent out of shape over an OS like I used to 10 years ago. :laugh:
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#4
JDG1980
For me, the biggest showstopper with Windows 8 isn't the Start Menu (there are, after all, several third-party utilities that bring this back). It's the fact that for some inexplicable reason, they decided to center the title bar text! This sounds like a small thing, but during the few times I tried to use Windows 8, it was the one thing I found most persistently annoying. I've been using Windows since the Win95 era, and my eyes are used to looking for the title bar text on the left. Now, for some reason, they've decided to go back to the 3.1 era and center the text. Centered text may look nicer in screenshots, but it's slower to read since you don't have a fixed position to start!

Also, the new desktop theme is much uglier than Aero. I know they may have designed it to reduce the GPU load on portable devices, but I have a desktop system with a decent video card, so why can't I have an option to turn back on the much nicer-looking Aero effects?

For that matter, since Windows has been capable of theming since the XP era, why does Microsoft insist on locking it down? The engine is fully capable of allowing custom display themes, but only those digitally signed by MS will run, unless you hack a DLL. There's no good reason for this. If the entire UI was customizable (perhaps through XAML), then most of the objections to Windows 8 would melt away, since users could make it look however they wanted and felt most comfortable with.
Posted on Reply
#5
trickson
OH, I have such a headache
One thing I know I do not like is the pictograph crap. Just what the hell? I mean talk about dumbing down. Really? Plain cheep generic Pictographs? Why is it they just didn't leave every thing alone? Couldn't they just have some how integrated all the touch options needed for any OS as a "Patch" and also put out this POS at the same time? Making it possible for every user to just go out buy up a touch screen and plug it in to your CURRENT desktop (Or other devices) And have fun? NO! They have to make it so much better for every one. I just feel smarter than the rest of the world when I use every thing from Microsoft up to now. It's like the IQ of every one just dropped 150 points. And to top it off people are loving it! It looks like the world is really turning into the Movie Idiocracy.
Plain cheep looking Pictographs. Really? :wtf::wtf:
Posted on Reply
#6
lemonadesoda
Slow news day. Raining. Nothing worth playing... EDITORIAL ;)
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#7
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
by: lemonadesoda
Slow news day. Raining. Nothing worth playing... EDITORIAL ;)
Add "Saturday" and "weekend in most parts of the world" to that list.
Posted on Reply
#8
Ravenas
A decade from now all of the people complaining about the Windows 8 format will have adopted it and will then complain when they change the format again.
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#9
RCoon
Gaming Moderator
by: Ravenas
A decade from now all of the people complaining about the Windows 8 format will have adopted it and will then complain when they change the format again.
If it aint broke, fix it until it is?
Posted on Reply
#10
WaroDaBeast
by: ManofGod
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:
Next thing you know is you're gonna tell us Linux needs video and sound files to be converted in order for them to play?

Don't laugh just yet, guys — I've actually had someone tell me they were afraid of using Linux because of us supposedly needing to convert files...

You don't need to buy games a second time for them to run under Linux. They only need a Linux installer and your games will work under Linux (that is the case for UT2004 and Prey). Then, there are games on Steam or on gog.com that run natively under Linux.

Now, granted, the list isn't that long, but in no way we are required to buy a game a second time.

Tell you what, I don't think you actually like Linux as much as you say you do.


by: Pjokerxp_
so which Linux versions is best? I hear Linux mint good?
I once tried Mint, but didn't like the desktop environment. I think it was cinnamon or something. Well, I ended up trying Manjaro, and it's been nothing but great. It's basically Archlinux (a very powerful distro), only for human beings. People who've tried Archlinux before will know what I'm talking about...

Feel free to ask me more on Manjaro. I think it's great that some of us are interested in other operating systems. :)
Posted on Reply
#11
xorbe
The first paragraph sets up a false basis that all of us ran out and bought ipads and tablets, and/or approved that it was a positive change away from computers with keyboards. I know multiple people that have postponed buying a new laptop because they don't want Win8.
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#12
ManofGod
by: WaroDaBeast
Next thing you know is you're gonna tell us Linux needs video and sound files to be converted in order for them to play?

Don't laugh just yet, guys — I've actually had someone tell me they were afraid of using Linux because of us supposedly needing to convert files...

You don't need to buy games a second time for them to run under Linux. They only need a Linux installer and your games will work under Linux (that is the case for UT2004 and Prey). Then, there are games on Steam or on gog.com that run natively under Linux.

Now, granted, the list isn't that long, but in no way we are required to buy a game a second time.

Tell you what, I don't think you actually like Linux as much as you say you do.




I once tried Mint, but didn't like the desktop environment. I think it was cinnamon or something. Well, I ended up trying Manjaro, and it's been nothing but great. It's basically Archlinux (a very powerful distro), only for human beings. People who've tried Archlinux before will know what I'm talking about...

Feel free to ask me more on Manjaro. I think it's great that some of us are interested in other operating systems. :)
Oh cool, so ALL my steam games, origin games, boxed games, gamefly games, greenmangaming games, Good old Gaming Games, Gamestop digital games and other digital download games will all play on Linux natively out of the box for free, great! :laugh: Yes, if you want a Linux version of a game, lets say the original Crysis, you will have to buy it again. (Of course, there will never be a native Crysis for Linux anyways so that point is only hypothetical anyways.)

I like all OSes but I am going to use what is best for the job. For gaming, that is windows. (Windows is best for the job in many other areas as well but, we were speaking of gaming at this point.)
Posted on Reply
#13
hellrazor
We need to be able to sage threads.
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#14
2wicked
I'm so pleased with win 8.x That I would like to give every microsoft employee that worked on it a new car. That car would be equipped with a four-way joystick instead of a steering wheel and extralarge dumbed down win3.11 looking icons on the dash.
Posted on Reply
#15
newtekie1
Semi-Retired Folder
by: 2wicked
I'm so pleased with win 8.x That I would like to give every microsoft employee that worked on it a new car. That car would be equipped with a four-way joystick instead of a steering wheel and extralarge dumbed down win3.11 looking icons on the dash.
And every time you turn on the turn signal a screen pops up and completely blocks the windshield.
Posted on Reply
#16
2wicked
by: newtekie1
And every time you turn on the turn signal a screen pops up and completely blocks the windshield.
Shouldn't be giving them all the extra options next thing you know they will want a push to start button.
Posted on Reply
#17
TheMailMan78
Big Member
First off I want to thank bta for an excellent editorial not filled with random Robin Hood references of greedy corporations taking advantage of people by distributing the corporations product how they see fit.

Also I would like to inform people on here playing the same old song that they hate change that they are a niche market. A niche market that is RAPIDLY shrinking. PC enthusiasts are one step away from HAM radio operators. Your opinion of an OS has ZERO weight on the market trend we are currently in. Tablets, smart phones and smart TV's are the future. The sad little grasping on an era of bygone days is not only sad but embarrassing to me as a member of a tech community that used to pride itself on keeping up with the latest hardware/software.

Windows 8 is different. Its not bad because its different. Its what the future holds and the longer you fight it the more you sound like that grumpy old man who refuses to use his grandsons computer because snail mail is just fine. I've used Windows 8 now in a fast production environment (making money) and once I learned how and where everything was I can tell you its far more intuitive than windows 7 ever was. Never mind vastly more secure. I'm not afraid of change in the tech world. I not only expect it.....I WELCOME IT. That's what REAL enthusiasts do.

On a final note to the people attacking Bta.......You mental giants in all your wisdom should go and start your own website. I'm sure it will steal all the traffic from Techpowerup with your vast tech knowledge and vendor contacts. W1zz will be cleaning your toilets in a week and you will have all the Bettys pulling on your shorts........I'm sure you will be a huge success indeed. Don't let TPU hold you back any longer. Leave! The world is starving for your mental wisdom you juggernauts of knowledge!
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#18
eidairaman1
ive used 8 before and ive seen several customers with it (Uverse Tech Here) and Id rather customers have Windows 7 or XP.
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#19
erocker
by: TheMailMan78
I'm not afraid of change in the tech world. I not only expect it.....I WELCOME IT. That's what REAL enthusiasts do.
I lol'd. Enthusiast.
Posted on Reply
#20
eidairaman1
why change something that has worked for desktop users for decades?
Posted on Reply
#21
naoan
by: TheMailMan78
First off I want to thank bta for an excellent editorial not filled with random Robin Hood references of greedy corporations taking advantage of people by distributing the corporations product how they see fit.

Also I would like to inform people on here playing the same old song that they hate change that they are a niche market. A niche market that is RAPIDLY shrinking. PC enthusiasts are one step away from HAM radio operators. Your opinion of an OS has ZERO weight on the market trend we are currently in. Tablets, smart phones and smart TV's are the future. The sad little grasping on an era of bygone days is not only sad but embarrassing to me as a member of a tech community that used to pride itself on keeping up with the latest hardware/software.

Windows 8 is different. Its not bad because its different. Its what the future holds and the longer you fight it the more you sound like that grumpy old man who refuses to use his grandsons computer because snail mail is just fine. I've used Windows 8 now in a fast production environment (making money) and once I learned how and where everything was I can tell you its far more intuitive than windows 7 ever was. Never mind vastly more secure. I'm not afraid of change in the tech world. I not only expect it.....I WELCOME IT. That's what REAL enthusiasts do.

On a final note to the people attacking Bta.......You mental giants in all your wisdom should go and start your own website. I'm sure it will steal all the traffic from Techpowerup with your vast tech knowledge and vendor contacts. W1zz will be cleaning your toilets in a week and you will have all the Bettys pulling on your shorts........I'm sure you will be a huge success indeed. Don't let TPU hold you back any longer. Leave! The world is starving for your mental wisdom you juggernauts of knowledge!
I will patiently await until MS require you to kick yourself in the nut (or something akin to that effect) to log into their newest greatest OS with "change". :rolleyes:
Posted on Reply
#22
MxPhenom 216
Corsair Fanboy
by: eidairaman1
1rule- put back the real start menu that's been used since xp, put back the Aero interfce.
You know, there's an OS for that. Its called Windows 7.
Posted on Reply
#23
rtwjunkie
ref Mailman's fiery sermon: Let's see....everyone I personally know, young and up to middle age has a PC, and only uses tablets and smartphones AWAY from the home, but not for their primary or enthusiast tasks when home, and then there's the ever-increasing numbers of pc parts sold. Nope...as an enthusiast I'm definitely not in a rapidly shrinking niche market. What I am in is a market that has room for people to have lots of computer related toys...as do I, so I believe I have indeed embraced change.

And I don't believe very many on here have personally attacked bta (those few that have are the exception), but I believe we are all voicing our opinion in response to what is obviously an EDITORIAL, which is in itself opinion. For centuries, editorials have invited return opinion both in agreement and against the premise of the editorial. I don't believe any of us should be called out for voicing our own opinion, whether for or against, unless the rules have changed and this is now an autocracy that allows only one viewpoint?

Just my 2 cents and opinion.
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#24
FordGT90Concept
"I go fast!1!11!1!"
by: eidairaman1
why change something that has worked for desktop users for decades?
Because what happened in computing decades ago is hardly relevant today. The majority of people only use their computer for three or four things. Those tasks are better served by Metro. Micosoft is trying to find a balance between computing a decade ago and computing a decade from now.
Posted on Reply
#25
xorbe
by: eidairaman1
why change something that has worked for desktop users for decades?
Change for the sake of change, sigh ...

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