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Windows 8.1: A love hate relationship


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#1 BatJoe

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Posted 08 July 2013 - 20:42

Okay, so I decided to try the Windows 8.1 Preview over the weekend. I approached it from never using Windows 8 and this was done on purpose. I wouldn't say I was anti-Windows 8 from the beginning, but the things that I heard and read were enough for me to play the waiting game.

 

So when Windows 8.1 became available for testing and I heard the changes I felt it started to interest me enough to try. I have been using Windows 7 exclusively since it launched and have been, for the most part, happy.

 

To sum up everything about Windows 8.1 first, I will say: I both love and hate Windows 8.1. Read further.

 

Microsoft is so close with Windows 8.1. The idea behind it totally makes sense. An operating system that can streamline to mutliple devices and be consistant. And make everything easy to find on one screen, more depending how much you do. I love the idea behind Metro. A dynamic new start menu that can orgnaize exactly how I want. At first glance, this looks really good. Then, I open up the Task Manager app. Wait. Metro disappears and the old desktop is back. Did Windows make a mistake? Nope. So to display a small window it has to totally disable Metro and go to desktop to show what I want? And that makes sense to people? Why couldn't I have been shown the task manager in this beautiful dynamic Metro interface? Or why couldn't that small pop up window have displayed over Metro?

 

Next I try Firefox. Same thing. I am booted out of Metro and into the desktop. I close Firefox, instead of bringing me back to Metro it keeps me in the desktop. But I came here from Metro. Does that make sense? I compare it to Internet Explorer. Not quite the same, going from Metro to IE is much better, more fluid and consistant.

 

I have lots of little issues with Windows 8.1, but my big issue and what I feel the real problem with Windows 8.1 is it has a real identity crisis. It feels like two operating systems. Some will say yes but you can now choose the same identical backgrounds between Metro and Desktop so the transition isn't so jarring, but it still doesn't work. I shouldn't have to go to desktop for ANYTHING. I should be able to do everything from within Metro. And it should be smart enough to know if I use Metro to open something, that if it brings me to the desktop and I close out of that application I should be brought back to Metro. Or at least have an option for it. Also, keeping track of what applications are still running needs to be communicated better from within Metro. I lost count of how many applications were still running which I thought were closed when I left them, but were in fact still running.

 

Perhaps third time will be a charm? Here's hoping to you Windows 8.2




#2 Zangai

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Posted 08 July 2013 - 20:44

This is the first time I've heard anyone complain about not getting enough metro experiences. But I get your point. Be glad they introduced a more extensive configuration "app" then.



#3 ObiWanToby

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Posted 08 July 2013 - 20:49

I think metro would be fine if more experiences could exist there. It is almost impossible to use your computer normally and stay within metro. If you use Outlook, Word, Powerpoint ... , if you game .... etc.

 

There is no Google Talk client that actuall works in metro ... so many things. If the metro experience were all of the sudden all inclusive, I think the compalints would lower.



#4 OP BatJoe

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Posted 08 July 2013 - 21:05

This is the first time I've heard anyone complain about not getting enough metro experiences. But I get your point. Be glad they introduced a more extensive configuration "app" then.

 

Well, I look at this way. Microsoft has chosen that the first thing people see is Metro. So that is what people expect, at least that is what I expected. It is what they want you to think about when you think Windows 8/8.1 or else it wouldn't be the first thing you see.

 

There is no reason they could not have made Metro the exclusive experience. And I agree with ObiWanToby, Metro, as it is designed now cannot be used to normally to use all your applications. And that is what makes zero sense to me. If they spent more time and thought more about this, it could easily have been. I feel it just wasn't ready for primetime and still isn't. Metro just feels like this mask over the real thing, which is still the desktop.



#5 +Chris123NT

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Posted 08 July 2013 - 21:08

Metro has it's purpose, and the desktop also has a purpose of its own.  You can't use Metro for EVERYTHING.  Unless you never game, never use photoshop, never edit videos etc...  The fact is that Metro (WinRT API's) are there for tablet apps mostly.  While the platform is a robust one, there are just some desktop apps that can never have metro counterparts, it's just the way of things.

 

If you want to get more out of Windows 8.1, look at the start screen as a launcher rather than a whole new operating system.  Then you start to understand it.  Metro apps are primarily targeted at tablets, even though they are usable on desktops.



#6 OP BatJoe

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Posted 08 July 2013 - 21:29

If you want to get more out of Windows 8.1, look at the start screen as a launcher rather than a whole new operating system.  Then you start to understand it.  Metro apps are primarily targeted at tablets, even though they are usable on desktops.

 

I guess that is my problem, I can't.



#7 +Brandon Live

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Posted 08 July 2013 - 21:35

To some extent you have a point, but it's not really a problem with Windows or "Metro." It's just the nature of a transitional period that some things (in this case, apps) make the transition later than others. Firefox has their Metro experience in testing, but obviously it's not there yet in the build you have. I think they're planning theirs to arrive later this year, but some apps will take much longer to move over. The point of having the desktop in Win8/RT is that you can still do everything you could do in Windows 7. That's what Steven used to talk about as a "no compromise" solution. You get all the new stuff (a modern, secure, high-confidence, touch-friendly experience like you'd find on an iPad, but already more powerful) without compromising on everything you could do with Windows 7. Over time, the desktop environment can fade away (or become "debug mode" or something for admins, as command prompts have).  You can see progress toward that in 8.1 with the more flexible/powerful windowing in the Metro environment, more mature apps (IE and Mail are great examples), and the vastly more complete PC Settings experience in the new shell. I'm not suggesting it's ready to replace the desktop for all uses, but they're making solid progress in that direction. All while adding lots of cool stuff to the modern shell like the improved SkyDrive and Bing integration.


I really wish quoting wasn't broken on this forum (maybe just in IE 11?), but...

 

I guess that is my problem, I can't.

 

Why would you think of it different from how you thought of the old Start menu? The old start menu wasn't full-screen, but sometimes launches full-screen apps/games. And back in the Win95 days it launched DOS and Win16 apps which didn't run in the Win95 environment. I think the idea is that this is a similar transitional period, with a similar unified launcher mechanism.



#8 AJerman

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Posted 08 July 2013 - 22:03

Well, you're just really not that far off really. Windows 8.x IS like two OSes crammed into one package. Of course we all understand what they are trying to do, the execution just isn't anywhere near as nice as it should be. Metro will never be a successful desktop UI. Ever. It's not a desktop UI, so it can't be a successful desktop UI. That's like me trying to be a car, it's not going to happen. That's why you have to have the desktop UI there as well. The problem is balancing the two which is what MS has not managed to do yet. The Metro UI is so intrusive that it takes over everything and feels very awkward to swap around with, and anyone who thinks the Metro UI can take over and replace the desktop UI entirely is living in Microsoft's little dream land. The biggest reason you'll never replace the desktop with Metro is the lack of windowing ability. On your tablet or phone, that's fine. They are single task devices meaning you're typically just doing one thing at a time on them. The point of a desktop or laptop is to give you the power to do more at once, and so the whole concept of a lack of windows, or the silly side by side windows which are a far cry from a true windowed UI, is completely out of place on a desktop system, and in fact even begs for a renaming of the OS since it would no longer be "Windows".

 

Unfortunately, I don't know the solution either short of just removing Metro from the desktop and carrying on like we didn't make a big mistake. Tablets, and powerful tablets at that, will become much more common for people such as yourself that want a more immersive, single-track Metro experience, and desktops/laptops will go back to a properly windowed UI. I've considered if they could make it slightly more feasible by allowing people to window their Metro apps, but I think that adds too much confusion and complexity to something that's meant to be easy to use. It really is better as a start screen type setup rather than a full UI. I'm slowly warming to the start screen experience over the start menu as they tweak it, but the issue will always come in how the apps launch and try to stay contained in what should only be a launcher.

 

Bottom line, at least the way I see it, is: Most businesses are moving from XP to Windows 7 right now, or have recently completed the upgrade. Microsoft has another 5-10 years or so to figure out how to make the 8.x UI work better, or they're going to see a massive decline in market share. While the hodgepodge UI setup may be somewhat acceptable in the hands of consumers, it won't be in the hands of business users that rely heavily on a windowed UI. Linux WILL be a viable alternative to businesses at this point, as it really already is now. Perhaps not for home use as much, but for more regulated and potentially locked down situations in a corporate environment, Linux will be waiting. We may be seeing Microsoft shift focus to an entirely consumer OS, but I don't know why they'd give up their corporate presence. If they would at least remove all Metro from Windows Server and perhaps build a slightly more affordable enterprise desktop version of Windows, they could satisfy both consumers and businesses. Perhaps that's the solution as a whole, a "Professional" version for power users that can't handle the limitations of Metro, and a consumer version for people who mainly sit at their computer to browse Facebook, watch some videos or maybe chat with some friends, but for the most part stay very single tracked which I do believe is the majority of home users, hell I barely even use my home PC for much more than that now.



#9 ZeroSeven

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Posted 15 July 2013 - 12:50

I too can see where MS is attempting to go with this and I even support it to some degree. I mean the idea and the low-level platform itself (the deep WinRT stuff) is actually really nicely implemented and is incredibly powerful especially for tablet and consumer touch enabled laptops, and in fact the way its designed with app sandboxes, strict api's, resource management etc is where Windows has needed to go for some time. Lets face it the biggest problem with Windows has always been its legacy support, the fact it simply must support pretty much every single way anyone has ever written an app or driver for Windows in the past. That has always been Windows' achillies heel if you ask me. WinRT is a step into a new direction for Windows app development and the idea at least is a good one. The problem now however is how to bring that new direction in line with what people already use and expect from a desktop OS, Windows 8 made an attempt but Windows 8.1 is the first version I think to really solidify that attempt and make it useful to the millions upon millions of current Windows users.

 

The next step has to be to really put some major effort into the quality of apps on the metro side of things, in order to really make this new platform genuinely attractive to people. At the moment its ok, its certainly on its way, but the quality just isnt there. In order to propel metro into the mainstream they need apps that will make people want to use them over their desktop counterparts. For example, take a reddit app. There are a few reddit apps in the Windows Store (at least one of which I use on a daily basis), but none are exceptional to the point you'd rather use that any day over the standard web interface. However things like Live Tiles and Lock Screen Notifications are definitely an advantage and are in fact the reason I use the app Reddit To Go here. The ability to customise your Start screen with the information you care about and have notifications for that information is incredibly powerful, if we can get more high quality apps that really use those features, then the WinRT/Metro platform will really take off. It will become the perfect companion to the standard Windows desktop, thats where MS ultimately needs it to be. Not a replacement, a companion.

 

One thing I dont think people give MS enough credit for though is the extra work thats gone into the desktop side of things and the underlying system itself. Win8/8.1 is much lighter on resources than in the past, its much more streamlined and efficient (look at file copying as an example of the performance improvements made). The improvements to things like integrated SkyDrive support on the desktop also are welcome additions. More credit needs to go to Windows 8 for that stuff alone, regardless of peoples feelings on Metro. Windows 8 and especially 8.1 are by far the best versions of Windows yet in my opinion, for both old and new users alike.



#10 Albert

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Posted 15 July 2013 - 13:11

i have only hate-hate relationship with win egg. which for me is a win-win situation. no contest.



#11 +warwagon

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Posted 15 July 2013 - 13:14

in this beautiful dynamic Metro interface

 

Said no-one ever. .... Ok ok ... I know at least 1 person who said that.



#12 REM2000

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Posted 15 July 2013 - 13:31

Metro has it's purpose, and the desktop also has a purpose of its own.  You can't use Metro for EVERYTHING.  Unless you never game, never use photoshop, never edit videos etc...  The fact is that Metro (WinRT API's) are there for tablet apps mostly.  While the platform is a robust one, there are just some desktop apps that can never have metro counterparts, it's just the way of things.

 

If you want to get more out of Windows 8.1, look at the start screen as a launcher rather than a whole new operating system.  Then you start to understand it.  Metro apps are primarily targeted at tablets, even though they are usable on desktops.

 

Agreed, i tend to use metro apps as widgets only and not for anything to heavy/serious on my desktop. Stuff like weather and train times seem suited to metro on the desktop.



#13 Dot Matrix

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Posted 15 July 2013 - 15:31

Metro is truly a beautiful UI. I love that it's customization features have been expanded upon in 8.1. Really love that it's not hindered by superfluous eye candy or other distractions. It's clean, simple, and sharp.

#14 Wioned

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 16:12

No Metro, it's Modern UI.



#15 Klownicle

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 16:30

The op in this post sounds like they reviewed Windows 8 instead of 8.1.  Theres nothing that differentiates this post from a Windows 8 review vs Windows 8.1.  I think microsoft has done it right, people who want everything in the Modern UI, I just don't think it will happen anytime soon.  This is supposed to be a unified enviroment, not one sided or seperate unique worlds.  Microsoft won't create a program for two different enviroments.  IE; Task Manager in Modern, and Task Manager in Desktop.  Its redundant.  They are going to send you to the desktop to do the power user stuff.  As the Task Manager really shouldn't be used in the Modern UI if Microsoft continues to keep the Desktop.

 

Which heaven forbid they ever get rid of.  The storm that would come.. but untill the Desktop becomes Legacy, it will be split vs power/consumption.

 

I love Windows 8, I think its a wonderful enviroment if you choose to use the Modern UI.  I myself, do not.  I have my Surface Pro, and I never use Modern UI, not once...





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