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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338 Comments on Windows 8.1, and Why You Should Let Go of Windows 7

#1
newtekie1
Semi-Retired Folder
Ravenas said:
What I am is saying is that you need to stop choosing to put items on your start menu. Use Windows+Q to search for things, you can then add icons to your start menu from the search menu as you please.
And what I'm saying is why should I have to search for things and pin them to the start menu myself when before all I had to do was install the program and tell the program to create the start menu icon for me? Why do I now have to do extra work? That is in no way an improvement.
Posted on Reply
#2
NdMk2o1o
newtekie1 said:
And what I'm saying is why should I have to search for things and pin them to the start menu myself when before all I had to do was install the program and tell the program to create the start menu icon for me? Why do I now have to do extra work? That is in no way an improvement.
It's not really a big issue either though is it?
Posted on Reply
#3
Naito
Just another example of Microsoft getting ahead of their time, it seems.
Posted on Reply
#4
Ravenas
newtekie1 said:
And what I'm saying is why should I have to search for things and pin them to the start menu myself when before all I had to do was install the program and tell the program to create the start menu icon for me? Why do I now have to do extra work? That is in no way an improvement.
There is barely any work involved in doing what I previously said. I mean you act like moving your hand to the to select an app after pressing Windows+Q is an 8 hour day of work.
Posted on Reply
#5
Naito
Ravenas said:
I mean you act like moving your hand to the to select an app after pressing Windows+Q is an 8 hour day of work.
Gotta admit, that was funny. :laugh:
Posted on Reply
#6
neliz
If one thing, today's PC's aren't ready for Win8. Not until everything is touch-enabled anyway.

If you don't have a touch-enabled screen, Win8 is a horror. using it on a notebook with a sunken touchpad, I noticed that I couldn't get the swipes to be understood by the system half of the time.. and the other half of the time I'm alt-tabing out of applications because my thumb touched the track-pad a bit too much to the left.

Win8 is over-simplified.. even if it is a "smartphone OS" it is too simplistic. It's actually iOS level of simplistic. I don't want to only see which Wi-Fi networks are available, I want to refresh that list, because I know that my AP is up and running.. why do you make me wait Windows. See, in Win7, there's a refresh Icon. On my phone with Jelly Bean, there's a refresh button.. I don't need to wait for whenever some poopie engineer in Redmond thinks I'm ready to connect to my AP.

And the list goes on, It shows applications in the tile menu, that aren't actually installed. I like to see what my system is doing, not "15% of fuck-all finished"

The first Windows Updates you're installing after you've first restarted your system. Even wit the latest Haswell CPU, a 700 series GeForce and 16GB of RAM.. I'm staring at "15% complete" for 45 g-damn minutes.. really.. don't do this to me.. or at least tell me WHAT you're doing so I can comprehend.

This Apple like thinking "Oh, you don't need to know we're re-arranging some bits" is infuriating, at least tell me why you're so slow!

The whole over-simplification just simply doesn't work on a PC. even my mom&dad who've only recently started with a PC don't like Win8. Why? they like to see a picture of their grandchildren when the PC starts up and they need two icons on their desktop, one that brings them to Facebook and one that lets them play games. You know how much they care about the weather in Tahiti or current stock listings? exactly!

Win8 shows exactly what is wrong with opportunistic thinking and how you just can't steamroll a bad idea into the PC business, because after all, the PC Business is suffering, not only the users that want their Start menu back.
Posted on Reply
#7
Derek12
newtekie1 said:
Here is what it comes down to, for you two and everyone else arguing about it. This is coming from someone that has used Windows 8 since before it was released.

For everyone that prefer the Start Menu and no Metro simply installing ClassicShell/Start8/Startisback will fix Windows 8 for you. There really are some nice features in Win8. However, at the same time I don't think any of those features are worth paying a large amount of money for. So the people that are on Windows 7, IMO, are completely in the right to say they are sticking with it. It is a solid OS. I wouldn't be using Win8 right now if I didn't get it for practically nothing, and I still don't use it on my main computer.

Now, we also have to understand that a lot of people will not buy or use Win8 based on principle. They don't feel that Microsoft forcing Metro on us is right. And, honestly, I'm in agreement there. So to them buying a copy of Win8 would be telling Microsoft it is OK to force us to use things we don't want to use, it is OK to do things that we believe hinder the usability of the OS and not give us the option to change it. The simple fact is that all Microsoft had to do was leave the option to disable Metro and use the standard Start Menu in the OS and 99% of the arguments against Win8 would be solve. They didn't have to make it the default, they can still have Metro enabled at first, but just give us the option to no use it if we want. IMO, and in the opinions of a lot of other people, the best version of Win8 was the Developer Preview because it had that exact option. So we know that it is possible, but Microsoft decided to remove it.

A lot of people believe they can vote with their wallets, and to an extent it works. Microsoft isn't totally insane. The terrible XboxOne pre-sales make them do a completely 180 on their hardline stance on DRM. So it is possible to send a message to Microsoft with our wallets. However, in that case Microsoft has some pretty heavy competition. In the OS field they have basically no competition, so the change takes a lot longer, but it is still possible. The horrible sales of Win8 has caused Microsoft to at least start to address the issue we have, even if they did so in a laughable insulting way. The fact is that Win8 is a marketing failure, and sales have been terrible. The only reason sales are even anything close to what they are is because Microsoft no longer allows the major computer OEMs to sell new computers with Win7, they have to have Win8 licences. Even if the computer is sold with Win7, it is a downgrade using a Win8 license. That means that computers sold today with Win7 on them actually count as a sale of Win8. But if you look at the market share of Win8 it is lower than OSX at this point, and that is a big black eye to Microsoft. And people have been avoiding buying new computers because of Windows 8. Computer sales have been down dramatically since Windows 8 was released, and market analysts all say it is because people don't want Windows 8. Microsoft is responding to this.



No, sorry for the confusion, there are more steps than that I was just saying where you get the source files.

This should help: http://forums.mydigitallife.info/threads/33214-How-to-use-Microsoft-Games-from-Windows-7-in-Windows-8
Yes, MS should have done a option to enable Start menu and disable Metro. Because that would make people adapt better. Like Windows XP option to enable classic (Windows 98) Start Menu and interface. I think that is shouldn't be so hard to MS to do that. Believing people will adapt to or like Metro easily was delusional, because Metro is very different than what people is used. Besides, Metro has obvious faults, as it's clearly for touchscreens. Not for mouse and keyboard computers. I don't see the point of Metro apps on bigger screens with a mouse o keyboard. That's more proper in a tablet or phone. I would want to imagine a Windows 8 without Metro, or being it optional.

But still, specially for new computers with Windows 8 preinstalled, is easy to remove Metro as above and make Windows 8 more Windows 7-like with Windows 8 non-metro features. And then you get a wonderful OS with no or less usability issues... I understand that some people want to "boycott" MS to change their mentality but, sooner or later, you will be "forced", as happened from windows 98 to XP.

At least for me, the new features aside from Metro are worth it, specially the Fast Boot, and the overall performance improvements. But I understand not everyone needs them/likes them. And those things make people choose or not to choose upgrade.

Many thanks for the link. I will try to get a Windows 7 64 computer and get the files :)

neliz said:
If one thing, today's PC's aren't ready for Win8. Not until everything is touch-enabled anyway.

If you don't have a touch-enabled screen, Win8 is a horror. using it on a notebook with a sunken touchpad, I noticed that I couldn't get the swipes to be understood by the system half of the time.. and the other half of the time I'm alt-tabing out of applications because my thumb touched the track-pad a bit too much to the left.

Win8 is over-simplified.. even if it is a "smartphone OS" it is too simplistic. It's actually iOS level of simplistic. I don't want to only see which Wi-Fi networks are available, I want to refresh that list, because I know that my AP is up and running.. why do you make me wait Windows. See, in Win7, there's a refresh Icon. On my phone with Jelly Bean, there's a refresh button.. I don't need to wait for whenever some poopie engineer in Redmond thinks I'm ready to connect to my AP.

And the list goes on, It shows applications in the tile menu, that aren't actually installed. I like to see what my system is doing, not "15% of fuck-all finished"

The first Windows Updates you're installing after you've first restarted your system. Even wit the latest Haswell CPU, a 700 series GeForce and 16GB of RAM.. I'm staring at "15% complete" for 45 g-damn minutes.. really.. don't do this to me.. or at least tell me WHAT you're doing so I can comprehend.

This Apple like thinking "Oh, you don't need to know we're re-arranging some bits" is infuriating, at least tell me why you're so slow!

The whole over-simplification just simply doesn't work on a PC. even my mom&dad who've only recently started with a PC don't like Win8. Why? they like to see a picture of their grandchildren when the PC starts up and they need two icons on their desktop, one that brings them to Facebook and one that lets them play games. You know how much they care about the weather in Tahiti or current stock listings? exactly!

Win8 shows exactly what is wrong with opportunistic thinking and how you just can't steamroll a bad idea into the PC business, because after all, the PC Business is suffering, not only the users that want their Start menu back.
Yeah, Microsoft is acting like Apple, that's true. I prefer the openness of Android, Linux which are not too simple as iOS or Mac OS or Metro (even when Metro is sometimes more difficult. Though some people don't.
Posted on Reply
#8
ueutyi
I started to use Windows 8 Developer Preview about two years ago, and now I'm using Windows Server 2012 + Windows 8.1 Bulid 9364
Posted on Reply
#9
newtekie1
Semi-Retired Folder
NdMk2o1o said:
It's not really a big issue either though is it?
Of course not, but it is an annoyance and a step backwards.

Ravenas said:
There is barely any work involved in doing what I previously said. I mean you act like moving your hand to the to select an app after pressing Windows+Q is an 8 hour day of work.
No it isn't a lot of work, but it is more work than I had to do before, which is NOT an improvement. That is the point. As I've already probably made clear in this thread I use ClassicShell anyway, so for me it is a moot point. However, I should never have to do extra work, they should be making things more efficient, not making people do more work to get functionality that was already there in the previous version.

And while it might not be an 8 hour day of work, with all the programs I install right off the bat when I re-format my computer it does add up to about an hour of just sitting there searching for each program and pinning it to the start screen. That is an hour that I didn't have to waste before.
Posted on Reply
#10
bencrutz
no bta, ain't letting win 7 go, not now, not for win 8/8.1, definitely not for your long and tiring-to-read editorial. nice try tho :roll:

i don't like MS not giving me options. why can't i get to choose between a win 7-like start menu or modern ui? how hard can it be to provide that, MS? :shadedshu

but above all, coz autocad don't run well on win 8, so am sticking with win 7 :cool:
Posted on Reply
#11
puma99dk|
well i think it's oki Microsoft wanna try new things but they should let ppl choose if they want the old Windows 7 start menu or the new modern layout like Windows 8.1...

if and when i update to 8.1 when RTM is out, i think i will use the ClassicStart i got from ninite awhile back i like the button icon and easy to mod as i want...
Posted on Reply
#12
Batou1986
Well if im killing PC by using windows 7 then let it die
Windows 8 has some good things but the UI is a huge step in the wrong direction
As many others have said it is optimized for touch, good thing the majority of enthusiast don't own a touch enabled monitor.
If i wanted a metro styled UI to fumble through i would just by an xbox.
Posted on Reply
#13
willdearborn
Windows 8 is Microsoft's way of getting us use to this "Metro UI" trash on PCs. I have a very bad feeling that Windows 9 or 10 will be Metro only. This is of course all about money. If they go down this road, all the software you run on your PC will have to be bought directly through their "app store" they will make 30% or whatever on every program you run on your PC.

They don't are care about customers, or usability of their OS. They just want to take more of our money, and that's what Windows 8 is all about. They see how apple and google sell all of their mobile apps through their own stores, and they want to bring this concept to the desktop. They will stop and nothing to make it happen. They don't care about the impact it has on us enthusiasts, because the public at large doesn't even care. They just want their phones and tablets and don't care about the desktop, and this is what these companies want. The desktop is not profitable for them anymore, so this is how MS plans to change that.

This article is funny, because it just doesn't see the bigger picture. Sure the start screen is just a full screen menu. But it doesn't look at why MS would do this. Why would they want us to use full screen "apps" on our desktop? So they can sell them to us.

What about traditional multi-tasking? I mean shouldn't Windows have you know, windows? I know I like to have many programs running at once, in separate windows that I can resize and place where I want. You cannot do that in Metro. It's a step backwards in desktop usability, all in the name of forcing people into tablets, which in turn will eventually turn Windows into a metro only mobile OS, all so they can make more money.

And what about multi-monitors? They will become useless. Windows 8 is starting us down a road of going backwards in usability.
Posted on Reply
#14
FordGT90Concept
"I go fast!1!11!1!"
Good editorial, except this:
btarunr said:
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.
That was Windows 3.1. Windows 95 was all about 32-bit (IA-32) and the advantages that brought over 16-bit (seriously, 65,536 bytes of memory, WTF were they thinking!?!).
Posted on Reply
#16
15th Warlock
To me Win 8 Pro was a good upgrade at $15 when it came out, I would've never paid the full retail price coming from win7, but at the price of a movie ticket and a soda, I thought I would give it a shot, I installed it in all my PCs, and immediately installed start is back ($3 for 2 PCs) and to me is like having the best of both worlds.

8.1 seems to fix a few things, but the start button isn't still as functional as the original one, I'm happy with start is back, I hope I can still use it when I upgrade to 8.1
Posted on Reply
#17
neliz
I see your Jackson:
natr0n said:

And raise with Costanza:


FordGT90Concept
That was Windows 3.1. Windows 95 was all about 32-bit (IA-32).
Now, Windows 3's (or ANY proper GUI for that matter) biggest boon for that matter was real multitasking.

In no way, I can find Window's 8 task switching faster or more efficient. I've already discussed the idiocy of charms on the desktop (I constantly get that task charm, instead of the first icon in the bottom left TYVM), it only shows the application screen and not a big icon like on the traditional Windows desktop, so I have no idea if I'm clicking IE, FireFox or Chrome... and in the Metro interface it's a ridiculous number of swipes away.
Posted on Reply
#18
FYFI13
I formatted my SSD after playing with Windows 8.1 Preview for a day and restored Windows 7 from a backup. All this Metro UI / Start Screen is just wrong. I mean i would use it on a tablet but not on desktop PC. And "new" Start button made my quite angry, it's like on that picture few pages back, screaming "F**k you!". Ok Microsoft, my wallet is screaming same your way :ohwell:
Posted on Reply
#19
TheOne
willdearborn said:
Windows 8 is Microsoft's way of getting us use to this "Metro UI" trash on PCs. I have a very bad feeling that Windows 9 or 10 will be Metro only.
Provided there is a Windows 9 in the near future, Windows 8.1 foreshadows a business plan similar to OSX.
Posted on Reply
#20
PopcornMachine
cdawall said:
1. Install Windows 7
I got you all beat.

Step 1, there is no step 1.

Step 2, there is no step 1.

You already have win7.
Posted on Reply
#21
omnimodis78
I can't wait for Windows 9 to come out so that we can laugh at all these "suck it up" editorials that are going about it the same way as they (probably) went on with Vista: trying to convince us that everything was (is) right with it, and that the problem is the user...

Screw that! I tried 8, I could not get used to it. I went from XP, to Vista, to 7 - I used all versions of Android, I used a BlackBerry, various simple UI's in lesser devices, and I never have any issues getting used to things, but when something isn't intuitive, then it stands out as a load of cr*p - and Windows 8 takes the crown for that ATM. 8.1 might be a step towards the right direction, but it's travelling on the wrong road, so it matters not.
Posted on Reply
#22
razaron
I don't use the start screen. I didn't use to use the start menu. Since Vista, I've used the taskbar for 95% of the things I'd use a start menu/screen for, explorer and desktop for the other 5%.
So, to me, this is just a performance and DX update.
Posted on Reply
#24
cdawall
where the hell are my stars
PopcornMachine said:
I got you all beat.

Step 1, there is no step 1.

Step 2, there is no step 1.

You already have win7.
Weird same batch of steps I have. Mine however was fixing the issue for windows 8 users :laugh:
Posted on Reply
#25
riffraffy
Fluffmeister said:
Yeah come on guys, teach Microsoft a lesson by using one another Microsoft OS.

Fight the power!
Hey ...I think you're on to something , maybe they wanted to sell more windows 7's .
Posted on Reply
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