I recently purchased several new computers for home and office use. Since October 2012, all new computers started shipping with Windows 8. I was perfectly content with Windows 7, but figured once I am upgrading computers, I should go with the newest operating system. I was well aware of the negative feelings towards Windows 8 from the blogosphere, but figured I could tame Windows 8 and customize it to work normally. I was wrong.
I am writing about my complete frustration using Windows 8. My various experiences with this operating system ultimately led me to the realization that it would just be too much off a hassle to work with it at this point in time. I made a sincere effort to try to work with it, but it was one thing after another that was frustrating me. After the final straw, I just had enough and uninstalled it, and put a fresh install of Windows 7 on my new computers. My nerves have calmed and my blood pressure has relaxed since.
Windows 8 definitely provides some enhancements in security and user interface. I am a strong believer of being up to date with technology, especially in my industry where one has to stay up to date to be competitive. I was all for working in this new operating system and familiarizing myself with it, despite my knowledge of its shortcomings. My first gaff was while setting it up for the first time. Towards the end of the initial setup, the system forced me to enter my Microsoft Hotmail account or create a new one. Well, I have a Microsoft account, but I rarely if ever use it, so I have no idea what it is and am not interested in looking it up or creating a new one at this point. I fumbled for a few minutes trying to find it, but ultimately did a search online (on a different computer) for a way around this. It turns out that you don’t need a Microsoft account and can use a regular login like previous versions of Windows, but it’s a roundabout procedure to achieve this. I finally succeeded and moved on.
When my setup finished and the computer loaded, not only was there no “Start” button, which I new about, but there wasn’t even a Desktop! The annoying “charms” menu really does not help someone like me who knows what I need do. I just wanted the regular desktop back. I don’t have a touch screen on my desktop so have no interest in the “flick-friendly” enhanced start menu “charm” ridiculousness. Then the real annoying part came – how do I get rid of this new annoying screen? How do I get out of here? Where is the “x” button to close this screen and save me from its clutches?
In the meantime, I found that if I pressed the Windows button on the keyboard, I was able to get back to my desktop. I subsequently found the desktop “app” button in the ridiculous new start menu. However, these strange programs – or “apps” without normal sizing and closing controls, kept opening up without giving me the ability to control their position on the screen, and without being able to kill them with the close button. For example, when I clicked on an MP3 file, instead of playing in Windows Media Player, it opened in an audio “App” that opened full screen without a close button, and some strange promotions popped up to buy some music I have no interest in. I worked diligently to replace all files from opening in these stupid “apps” and instead open in the programs they have always opened in.
In their zeal to compete with the IPad and Android tablets, Microsoft introduced “Apps” into the Windows 8 system. Perhaps this will change with time, but I am perfectly content with traditional Windows applications and don’t need these dumb, interfering apps within my Windows Desktop computer. Microsoft has to understand that a desktop computer is not a smartphone or tablet, and its usage is not meant for flicking through tiles for stupid apps. A desktop is a productivity tool where I should be able to open the same programs I always have easily.
Now for the Start button: I knew from the beginning that I had to update to Windows 8.1 to get my normal Start button back. Windows 8.1 was Microsoft’s answer to the myriad of complaints on Windows 8. So I went to Microsoft’s website to try to find an update for 8.1, and I learned that it can only be done through the “Windows Store”. The “Windows Store” is Microsoft’s way of trying to compete with the Google Play Store and Apple Store to push its own “store” system into your face and get in your way. So I went to the “store”, and behold Windows 8.1 is not an available option there! Doing some more research, it turns out that you have to update your system first, and only then can you go to the “store” and update to 8.1. It took me some time to figure this one out, as it doesn’t really say this anywhere. In an attempt to dummy-proof computers, Microsoft really did a good job messing with computer professionals like myself to make our lives more difficult finding simple procedures.
Now armed with Windows 8.1, I skeptically thought my problems with this dogged operating system would be resolved. And I thought I would find the beloved classic Start button back to where it should be. My dismay at the same stupid start button opening the tiled screen was very apparent. Entirely frustrated at this point, I did some research on this, and in the end installed a third-party shell Start button and menu that replicates the same Start menu as in Windows 7. I understand that Microsoft wants to push their new system – but why couldn’t they at least leave the traditional menu in as an option for us diehard computer people who don’t want to be forced with changes we don’t like!
I found some additional trouble with UAC. While earlier versions of Windows have UAC and it is annoying, I learned how to turn it off. Windows 8 has UAC setup by default as well, and is still just as annoying, but it is even harder to turn off than in Windows 7. Even after turning UAC off, I still was not able to edit the ID3 tags of MP3 files without permanently turning off the UAC in the Registry Editor. Once UAC was completely turned off, I found it quite annoying that I was no longer receiving a prompt when deleting files. In future versions, I would really like an option to choose if you are a novice and want things dummy-proofed, or if you are an expert and want full control.
Some other annoying parts of Windows 8 are the dumb bundled apps. I have clearly demonstrated that I am not a fan of the app system in Windows 8 to begin with, but combine that with all the additional pointless apps that are preinstalled and it just exacerbates the problem. Another problem with Windows 8 is that support for DVD playback is removed in Windows Media Player. You can only watch videos with a DVD if you have an external DVD player installed or manually install a coded for Windows Media Player.
I am now back to using Windows 7 and hope Microsoft heeds these lessons that I and so many others have been ranting about. It seems as if every other version of Windows is a failure, and Windows 8 is following this pattern. Windows 8 follows its predecessors of Windows Millenium and Windows Vista of being awful updates to a good and stable Windows version. Perhaps one day in the future I’ll come to terms with Windows 8, but for now I am sticking with Windows 7. If Microsoft follows their operating system pattern, Windows 9 will prove to be a version that both novices and experts will be comfortable with.
Stay tuned for my next blog post where I will be discussing the Windows 8 Metro Theme.
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