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Pogue: How to Use Windows 8? Search for It


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#1 COKid

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 03:14

I’m deep, deep into Windows 8. When you write a book about an operating system, you wind up rummaging around in dark corners of it that very few people ever see. You learn its quirks and virtues just as you would a person you live with.

A couple of weeks ago, I celebrated some really great Windows 8 features that nobody talks about. There are plenty of bright spots like that.

(A note: I have written a how-to manual for Windows 8 for an independent publisher; it was neither commissioned by nor written in cooperation with Microsoft.)

But I’ve always been troubled by the duality of Windows 8: the fact that it has two completely different environments. One is for finger operation on touchscreens; the other is the traditional mouse/keyboard desktop.

The traditional desktop runs regular Windows programs (Photoshop, Quicken, iTunes, and so on); the new touchscreen interface, which I’ll call TileWorld, requires a whole new set of full-screen, fairly simple apps.

(Several readers wrote to me to scold me for not calling it the Metro interface. Sorry, but that is not what Microsoft calls it, as we learned this summer. Nor is its name the Modern interface; that was an early, internal name Microsoft had for it. When you ask Microsoft what it’s called, the company says it should simply be called “Windows 8,” insisting that it’s not two different environments at all.)

As you may have heard, the Start menu is gone in Windows 8. Instead, you have a Start screen — the Home screen for TileWorld. If you use Windows 8, you will be spending a lot of time here.

For the longest time, this screen didn’t bother me. It’s just the Start menu, expanded so that you don’t have to burrow through all those menus. In fact, the Start screen even has groupings of tiles that correspond to the submenus of the old Start menu: Microsoft Office, Accessories and so on.

But the more I learned to do things in Windows 8, the more I wrote tutorials for doing them, the more I realized the enormous drawback of this setup: you have to search for everything.

Over and over and over again, in Microsoft’s help system, in online tutorials, and in real life, you discover that the first step when making some adjustment in Windows 8 is to search for it. Want to add or remove features? Go to the Start screen and search for features. Want to set up remote access? Go to the Start screen and search for remote. Turn on Compatibility Mode? Go to the Start screen and search for compatibility. Adjust error reporting? Go to the Start screen and search for problems. Convert text to speech? Go to the Start screen and search for speech. Use the System Restore feature? Go to the Start screen and search for restore. Set up the new File History feature? Go to the Start screen and search for file history.
And on, and on, and on.

And you know what makes it worse? There’s no way to search your entire computer at once, as the Mac or Windows 7 does. You must search for either programs, or settings, or files. You can’t search all three categories at once.

If you’re operating on a touchscreen, that means it takes an extra tap (on “Settings”) every time you search for a setting. If you have a keyboard, there’s a keystroke just for searching for Settings (Windows key+W). But that’s still one more keystroke than Windows 7 required.

Why have we gone back to typing filenames to open them? Wasn’t that the beauty of the graphical user interface — of the Mac, of Windows? That you could point and click instead of typing out commands?

Now, this is Windows, after all; there seem to be 63 ways to do anything. You don’t have to search. For the Settings example, you could, of course, go back to the desktop and open the Control Panel and burrow into it just as you did in Windows 7.

But guess what? There’s no Start menu anymore to list the Control Panel. So getting to the Control Panel takes four steps (go to desktop, open Charms menu, open Settings panel, select Control Panel). You can choose its name from the secret X menu that normal people don’t know exists (point to the lower-left corner of the screen, wait for the Start-screen thumbnail to appear, right-click). Or you can make a shortcut icon for the Control Panel and leave it on your desktop, if you can figure out how to do that.

None of those methods are as simple, obvious or quick as the old way: just listing Control Panel in the Start menu.

Yes, I know there are ways to restore the Start menu (one good one: the free Classic Shell). And you should absolutely do that; it makes Windows 8 infinitely more efficient.

It’s clear from the engineering team’s blogs that Microsoft put incredible amounts of thought into re-imagining Windows. I mean, blood, sweat, and tears over every design decision. (They have a post about designing the on-screen keyboard; they used eye-tracking systems to figure out where people look when they type on a tablet! Another post discusses multiple-monitor setups.)

So that’s why this gigantic conceptual breakdown absolutely baffles me. Surely, in all those millions of person-years of testing, somebody at Microsoft must have observed that opening things — arguably the single most immediate task of an operating system — requires more steps now than before.

When you consider the slow sales of Windows 8, the general public bafflement, and the departure of Windows 8 mastermind Steven Sinofsky,Microsoft probably realizes that the split-personality design of Windows 8 was a misfire. It’s inevitable that Microsoft is already hard at work fixing the problem; that’s how Microsoft works. Refine, refine, refine, no matter how many years it takes.

My question is: How do you fix something whose founding concept is flawed?

This should be an interesting plot to follow.

Source: http://pogue.blogs.n...arch-for-it/?hp


#2 Dot Matrix

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 03:17

How does app pinning make things harder to open? There's nothing flawed with the Start Screen - it works the same as the Start Menu in Windows' past. Pin your shortcut > Click to open. Done.

#3 xWhiplash

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 03:27

Dot, you keep saying that, but it does not work the same way as the start menu. If it did, it would be much more organized instead of having every shortcut any program has ever installed displayed at once. The Start Menu is much more organized by putting things in sub folders.

#4 Dot Matrix

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 03:30

Dot, you keep saying that, but it does not work the same way as the start menu. If it did, it would be much more organized instead of having every shortcut any program has ever installed displayed at once. The Start Menu is much more organized by putting things in sub folders.


You say that like you can't organize the damn thing. Or did Windows 8 make you forget how to right click?

#5 SadJoker

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 03:40

Great article! I'm always on the NY Times but I had not come across that.

I've said it in another thread, but live tiles (i.e. WIDGETS) were a great concept but poorly executed.

Mac - regular desktop (with enhanced functionality/interactivity), seperate dashboard with widgets
iOS - just icons, no widgets
Windows - regular desktop, seperate environment with live tiles (but severely lacking in design and customization)
Windows Phone - live tiles with more customization
Android - icons and widgets

IMO, Android executes the best. Icons and widgets in the same environment, plus live wallpapers which make me happy. :)

#6 xWhiplash

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 03:42

You say that like you can't organize the damn thing. Or did Windows 8 make you forget how to right click?


Right....providing proof that the start screen is not the same as the start menu means I do not know how to organize it?

#7 Dot Matrix

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 03:51

Right....providing proof that the start screen is not the same as the start menu means I do not know how to organize it?


How is it not the same? The Start Screen organizes apps the same way the Start Menu did. Apps you install gets a tile on the front page, and the rest get a section in the "All Apps" menu.

Now, if you go around installing all the junk, then yes, you have a messy screen, but you do that on Windows 7, you'll still have a messy Start Menu... Unless all of the sudden sub folders upon sub folders and sub sub sub folders is OK with you.

#8 xWhiplash

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 03:55

Ummm....No, it is way more organized in Windows 7. There are sub folders, with some folders in there. And maybe some items are a third level deep. That is way more organized than having them all in your face all the time.

It is called being organized. Why the hell do doctors need to have each patient file in their own folder if all of the sudden, being organized is soooooooooo horrible?

So you are saying, it is better for me to have hundreds of papers for my financial, insurance, and personal accounts, bills and notifications just floating around? It is not better to put them in their own separate folders then take out just that folder if I need something from my health insurance?

#9 Dot Matrix

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 04:02

Ummm....No, it is way more organized in Windows 7. There are sub folders, with some folders in there. And maybe some items are a third level deep. That is way more organized than having them all in your face all the time.

It is called being organized. Why the hell do doctors need to have each patient file in their own folder if all of the sudden, being organized is soooooooooo horrible?

So you are saying, it is better for me to have hundreds of papers for my financial, insurance, and personal accounts, bills and notifications just floating around? It is not better to put them in their own separate folders then take out just that folder if I need something from my health insurance?


Hello, McFly, I'm talking the Start Screen. Apps. Not Explorer and files.

#10 xWhiplash

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 04:05

Hello, McFly, I'm talking the Start Screen. Apps. Not Explorer and files.


.....

Me too. If I need to run a program maybe a few times a year at most (like the visual studio command prompt or some other tool provided by programs), why should it be shown every single time I go to all apps? With the start menu, it was much more organized where I can simply expand the Tools sub-folder when I need to.

#11 Dot Matrix

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 04:25

.....

Me too. If I need to run a program maybe a few times a year at most (like the visual studio command prompt or some other tool provided by programs), why should it be shown every single time I go to all apps? With the start menu, it was much more organized where I can simply expand the Tools sub-folder when I need to.


That's what "All Apps" does. Hence "All" and "Apps".

#12 contextfree

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 04:52

.....

Me too. If I need to run a program maybe a few times a year at most (like the visual studio command prompt or some other tool provided by programs), why should it be shown every single time I go to all apps? With the start menu, it was much more organized where I can simply expand the Tools sub-folder when I need to.


which is an extra click, when what we were complaining about was too many clicks, so ... =\

#13 Jose_49

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 13:23

*Sigh

Please....

Windows Key + X will solve all of his problems. OR right click the LEFT CORNER.

Most of the flame comes from not knowing that shortcut.

#14 Dashel

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 16:27

Right....providing proof that the start screen is not the same as the start menu means I do not know how to organize it?


You have to remember that Dot wrote a ****ty article on that, which got linked to the front page, so he is still under the delusion that it had merit and that its 'proven' that SS is better, IN ALL WAYS, to the SM.

The concept is flawed. Its never been about 'the Start Menu', but about the dual UI's ****ty integration with each other and the uselessness of 'browsing' the Start Screen/All Apps leading to more searches etc as noted.

Its simply black or white now. You either pin everything you possibly need, or you search for it (while dorking search for desktop users, ie no Spotlight). The other two access roads of the SM have been closed so you'd have to be delusional to think that its 'the same' as the old from an organizational perspective.

I think he was also referring to touch so a bit more difficult to Win+X. Hard to right click (click/hold) a hidden icon, no?

#15 vcfan

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 07:33

so all of a sudden these tech gurus don't know anything. going to control panel takes the same amount of steps as if there were a start menu. right click bottom left and click control panel. really,if someone was really lost,theyd go to a search engine and type how to open control panel windows 8. one minute later,they know how it works and they'll remember it. or are most computer users so ****in dumb that they don't know how to use a search engine? do they know what a browser is and how to use it? maybe Microsoft should scrap office completely and just keep wordpad because office is too complicated. I mean wordpad lets you write stuff and its so simple.

ill tell you why they write this junk. they have no legitimate problems so they pick some feature or whatever and spin it and spin it to make negativity.

how the hell does he come to the conclusion that windows 8 sales are low? I know this guy to be one of apples biggest fanboys,maybe someone should tell him that windows 8 has surpassed any version of mac os in users in only 2 months.