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Windows 8.1- Desktop lovers rejoice (brief review)

windows 8.1

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#1 Atomic Wanderer Chicken

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Posted 17 October 2013 - 17:17

I have successfully installed  Windows 8.1 via the Windows store on my laptop. I had Windows 8 installed and it didn't appease me fully especially on my laptop. Windows 8.1 will ease any qualms people had with Windows8. Windows 8.1 feels like Windows 8 done right for both desktop users and tablet users.

 

Installation

 

Windows 8.1 first is downloaded via the Windows Store then it installs like a ordinary Windows installation. Windows 8.1 installed on my laptop successfully and all my programs work.

If you are using Windows 8, you can download Windows 8.1 for free at www.microsoft.com. The full Windows 8.1 upgrade can also be purchased.

 

Modern Interface

The modern interface is much more matured with some very nice new features. You can customize tile size, categorize tiles etc. Instead of having to right click to view all apps, there is a down button. When you right click using a mouse now, a customize option appears.  There are many nice apps like calculator, alarm, food and drink, alarms and much more. You can set your desktop background as the start screen which is a plus. The tiles are also more colorful than in Windows 8, and have various colors than one uniformed color. There are a lot more customization features for the start screen. A lot of PC settings are moved into the modern PC settings such as resolutions settings. Resolution settings are also on the desktop as well.

 

 

Desktop Side

Windows 8.1 will make those who are unhappy with Windows 8, very happy. Microsoft has added the beloved start button which is very nice to have on both tablets and desktops. The libraries in file explorer has been change to now being called "folders. The my videos, my pictures, etc are now in My Computer, now called This PC. SkyDrive is now integrated in File Explorer and your documents are now saved to it and more.  In taskbar settings and in the navigation settings, you can now choose to boot to desktop, use the desktop background in the start screen, show all apps when pressing the start button, and list desktop apps in the apps view "when its sorted by category". Also, in the navigation settings in taskbar properties, you can disable the charms bar and hot corners which is a plus for those who dislike it.  Everything else appears to be the same, except for things I described here.

 

Overall

I strongly recommend anyone who has Windows 8 to get Windows 8.1 (its free after all). Windows 7 users should also consider upgrading to Windows 8.1. Windows 8.1 is a considerable improvement over Windows 8 and will make those unhappy or who are avoiding Windows 8,  reconsider Windows 8 and upgrade to it.

 

windows_81v2-590x327.jpg




#2 HawkMan

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Posted 18 October 2013 - 03:48

FYI, you could always categorize the tiles, but you had to use the semantic zoom to do it before. 



#3 Andre S.

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Posted 18 October 2013 - 17:25

I've decided to uninstall StartIsBack and give vanilla 8.1 an honest shot, as I did with 8. Thoughts:

 

Negative:

The Start Screen was basically a large, random selection of programs and shortcuts (many of which I had never seen before!) flattened as tiles with no discernable organisation. Utterly useless. I spent an hour sorting out what I wanted to keep there and what to remove; and still it's kind of a mess. Seems redundant with the desktop icons and taskbar. Clearly this is still designed for Modern apps and web feeds and all that touch business; it's still unintelligible why Microsoft pushes this on PC users.

 

The All Apps view is simply every clickable element of the start menu flattened as small tiles. All hierarchy is gone, it's like spilling out the contents of a well-organised library on the floor and calling that an improvement. What the ****?

 

Windows 8.1 is still terribly schizophrenic about configuration options. Everything seems duplicated-but-not-quite between the traditional Control Panel (which still groups everything nicely in an understandable hierarchy), and the "Modern" settings which are basically like fullscreen God Mode except it's missing most of the options.

 
The "Modern" apps are still vastly inferior to their desktop counterparts and I still see absolutely no use for them on a traditional, non-touch PC; I'm amazed that even with the concessions made in 8.1, Microsoft is still heavily pushing mouse and keyboard users in "Modern" land when that is pure annoyance without benefits. I'm afraid that with this kind of attitude towards professional users, Windows 7 is bound to be the next XP.
 
Also, I like to have my taskbar on the left, but on the Start Screen the "back" functionality is hard-coded to be the lower-left corner of the screen. This means my top-left corner contains a button to go the Start Screen, but no way to go back from there. I could simply always use the bottom corner, but then what's the point of the Start button? Seems poorly thought out. It's only intuitive for those keeping the taskbar in its default location.

 

Also, "SecureBoot isn't configured correctly"?...I'm hoping this is a temporary issue.

 

Positive:

It's nice to see Microsoft taking lessons from Stardock. Now keyboard and mouse users can once again boot to desktop and enjoy it free of charms without resorting to third-party modifications. The right-click menu on the new start button is no replacement for a real start menu, but at least it does allow for basic administrative actions (shutting down/restart, cmd/powershell, desktop control panel, master "manage computer" window, etc) that had become a pain to access from the desktop in Windows 8.

 

That said, it's only been a few hours and I intend to try it out for a week before I either decide to reinstall StartIsBack or keep using Windows 8.1 as Microsoft thinks I should. So far my impression is that this is not quite as utterly disastrous as before, but I might still be more productive with a start menu. We'll see.



#4 chrisj1968

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Posted 18 October 2013 - 17:44

I installed Windows 8.1 and I was terribly against 8 alone. I used the other start menu apps, third party to try and get my desktop back.

 

The Good: Windows 8.1 is much snappier, faster to boot and reacts very fast overall in general. I HIGHLY recommend people use  the "classic start menu" or AKA classic start menu at: http://www.classicshell.net/ and you will get the start menu you prefer. there are 3 versions of the start menu, win7, vista and classic from the XP days. But it gives YOU, the user a choice by right-clicking on the start button, I'm using the shell.. no biggie there. But classic start menu does boot straight to desktop!

 

these two things together have made me completely forget about the windows 8.1 startmenu environment.

 

You will have to update drivers, all AMD folks, I found out about WHQL drivers 13,9 for all AMD user at Guru 3d http://www.guru3d.co...l_download.html this IS the official driver from AMD and works for just about all AMD CPU and CPU/GPU systems like my A8. Here is a list of what is guaranteed to work:

 

FEATURE HIGHLIGHTS OF AMD CATALYST™ 13.9

The AMD Catalyst 13.9 WHQL is AMD’s first logo certified driver for Windows 8.1.  It does not include support for Frame Pacing or the very latest AMD CrossFire™ optimizations.  AMD Catalyst 13.10 Beta includes additional performance improvements and fixes not found in AMD Catalyst 13.9 WHQL.

  • AMD’s first logo certified driver for Windows 8.1
    • Includes WDDM 1.3 support for:
      • AMD Accelerated Processors (“Kabini” & “Temash”) for Desktop, Notebook or Tablet PCs, including: A4-1200, A4-1250, A4-5000, A4-5100, A4-5150, A6-1450, A6-5200, A6-5250, A6-5350, E1-2100, E1-2200. E1-2500, E1-2600, E1-2650, E2-3000, E2-3100
      • AMD Accelerated Processors (“Richland”) for Desktop or Notebook PCs, including: A10-5700, A10-5745M, A10-5750M, A10-5757M, A10-5800B, A10-5800K, A8-5500, A8-5500B, A8-5545M, A8-5550M, A8-5557M, A8-5600K, A6-5345M, A6-5350M, A6-5357M, A6-5400B, A6-5400K, A4-5145M, A4-5150, A4-5300, A4-5300B
      • AMD Accelerated Processors (“Trinity”) for Desktop or Notebook PCs, including: A10-4600M, A10-4655M, A10-4677M, A10-5700, A10-5800B, A10-5800K, A8-4500M, A8-4555M, A8-4557M, A6-4400M, A6-4455M, A6-5400B, A6-5400K, A4-4300M, A4-4355M, A4-5300, A4-5300B
      • AMD Radeon HD 8000 Series
      • AMD Radeon HD 7000 Series
      • AMD Radeon HD 6000 Series
      • AMD Radeon HD 5000 Series
    • Support for AMD Features:
      • AMD Eyefinity
      • OpenCL™
      • OpenGL
      • UVD
      • AMD Dual Graphics/AMD CrossFire Technology
      • AMD Overdrive™
      • AMD Catalyst Control Center/Vision Engine Control Center
  • OpenGL support for User Profiles and Catalyst Application Profiles
    • Users can now create, per application, 3D setting profiles for OpenGL applications.
    • OpenGL applications are now supported through Catalyst Application Profile updates (for single GPU and AMD CrossFire configurations).
  • AMD Enduro™ Technology enhancements:
    • The AMD Catalyst Control Center  now shows which applications are active on the Performance GPU and the Power saving GPU.

 

I see NO negatives as I have had 8.1 right where I want it at and I have absolutely NO complaints at this time. again.. the AMD driver I listed above. ARE THE OFFICIAL drivers and work flawless for 8.1 and are certified by AMD to work with all the APU/CPU's listed above.

 

Enjoy!



#5 Arceles

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Posted 20 October 2013 - 11:37

True desktop users still get more liberty with 7 than with 8. I do agree that improvements have been made, but the start screen is really.... bad. I now use it for shortcuts I used to have hidden, it's convenient when you can use the middle click of the mouse to open it, while still keeping Start 8 for an unobtrusive experience.



#6 +Anarkii

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Posted 20 October 2013 - 13:02

I've decided to uninstall StartIsBack and give vanilla 8.1 an honest shot, as I did with 8. Thoughts:

 

Negative:

The Start Screen was basically a large, random selection of programs and shortcuts (many of which I had never seen before!) flattened as tiles with no discernable organisation. Utterly useless. I spent an hour sorting out what I wanted to keep there and what to remove; and still it's kind of a mess. Seems redundant with the desktop icons and taskbar. Clearly this is still designed for Modern apps and web feeds and all that touch business; it's still unintelligible why Microsoft pushes this on PC users.

 

The All Apps view is simply every clickable element of the start menu flattened as small tiles. All hierarchy is gone, it's like spilling out the contents of a well-organised library on the floor and calling that an improvement. What the ****?

 

Windows 8.1 is still terribly schizophrenic about configuration options. Everything seems duplicated-but-not-quite between the traditional Control Panel (which still groups everything nicely in an understandable hierarchy), and the "Modern" settings which are basically like fullscreen God Mode except it's missing most of the options.

 
The "Modern" apps are still vastly inferior to their desktop counterparts and I still see absolutely no use for them on a traditional, non-touch PC; I'm amazed that even with the concessions made in 8.1, Microsoft is still heavily pushing mouse and keyboard users in "Modern" land when that is pure annoyance without benefits. I'm afraid that with this kind of attitude towards professional users, Windows 7 is bound to be the next XP.
 
Also, I like to have my taskbar on the left, but on the Start Screen the "back" functionality is hard-coded to be the lower-left corner of the screen. This means my top-left corner contains a button to go the Start Screen, but no way to go back from there. I could simply always use the bottom corner, but then what's the point of the Start button? Seems poorly thought out. It's only intuitive for those keeping the taskbar in its default location.

 

Also, "SecureBoot isn't configured correctly"?...I'm hoping this is a temporary issue.

 

Positive:

It's nice to see Microsoft taking lessons from Stardock. Now keyboard and mouse users can once again boot to desktop and enjoy it free of charms without resorting to third-party modifications. The right-click menu on the new start button is no replacement for a real start menu, but at least it does allow for basic administrative actions (shutting down/restart, cmd/powershell, desktop control panel, master "manage computer" window, etc) that had become a pain to access from the desktop in Windows 8.

 

That said, it's only been a few hours and I intend to try it out for a week before I either decide to reinstall StartIsBack or keep using Windows 8.1 as Microsoft thinks I should. So far my impression is that this is not quite as utterly disastrous as before, but I might still be more productive with a start menu. We'll see.

Excellent review so far. Looking forward to see what you think after a week. I cant see myself personally using it but if it can turn a Neowinian to using it, I may give it a shot although I too would be using a start menu third party app.



#7 Dot Matrix

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Posted 20 October 2013 - 13:12

I've decided to uninstall StartIsBack and give vanilla 8.1 an honest shot, as I did with 8. Thoughts:

 

Negative:

The Start Screen was basically a large, random selection of programs and shortcuts (many of which I had never seen before!) flattened as tiles with no discernable organisation. Utterly useless. I spent an hour sorting out what I wanted to keep there and what to remove; and still it's kind of a mess. Seems redundant with the desktop icons and taskbar. Clearly this is still designed for Modern apps and web feeds and all that touch business; it's still unintelligible why Microsoft pushes this on PC users.

 

The All Apps view is simply every clickable element of the start menu flattened as small tiles. All hierarchy is gone, it's like spilling out the contents of a well-organised library on the floor and calling that an improvement. What the ****?

 

You've just described the Start Menu for many PC users. By default, it is completely randomized, showing only the most commonly used programs (or the ones Microsoft puts there on a clean install), and only several of them. If the app a user wants falls off the MRU list after not having used it in a while (Which can scare a user when they realized it disappeared on them), or if users wanted to find something else, they had to dig through needless folders and subfolders, try and figure out which file is the executable they're after, then pin it to either the taskbar, desktop, the start menu, or all three (sound familiar? "Redundant"?)! If they're pinning to the Start Menu, they then needed to know how to increase the number of icons shown, that way your list isn't cut short. Also, the Start Menu is limited by vertical screen space, you can only pin apps to the Start Menu as long as your resolution allows. This is why the Start Menu has been highly problematic the last couple of years. It's become very limiting in regards to today's user needs.

 

All Apps still retains hierarchy, however, they are open for people to see without guessing where the apps are that they want. Metro apps are alphabetized, while legacy Windows options are still included under the "folders" they've always have been.

 

Also, if you're still thinking Metro is touch only, please stop. You're not doing anyone or yourself any favors. My mouse and keyboard still work with Metro, and just the same as they do on the desktop.



#8 10thmandown

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Posted 20 October 2013 - 14:50

Also upgraded to 8.1. Happy so far with just one problem : the search in the start screen is very slow. Do you have such a problem?



#9 Evolution

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Posted 20 October 2013 - 15:02

It's too bad they got rid of the ability to search app content :/ Now Windows 8.1 can't even search my emails... unless I'm in mail looking at the specific account. It would have also been nicer if they could arrange search results by usage like in Windows 7.



#10 Andre S.

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Posted 20 October 2013 - 19:15

You've just described the Start Menu for many PC users. By default, it is completely randomized, showing only the most commonly used programs (or the ones Microsoft puts there on a clean install), and only several of them.

A small selection of most recently used programs is far from "completely randomized"; it's a very useful concept that Google has re-used in its Chrome browser, and all other web browsers have followed suit. Microsoft has introduced and retained this concept for a very long time in Windows because it works. In contrast, the Start Screen as I found it was a very large selection of completly irrelevant items many of which I had never used or seen before, in seemingly no particular order.
 
All Apps still retains hierarchy, however, they are open for people to see without guessing where the apps are that they want. Metro apps are alphabetized, while legacy Windows options are still included under the "folders" they've always have been.

There are top-level dividers but they are all expanded and cannot be folded down; this means what you actually see is pages and pages of icons, most of which were never intended to be shown all the time. In contrast, the "All programs" view of the start menu had a real hierarchy (which could go more than one level deep) where everything was folded down, and thus a much more succint and easier to navigate view of your programs. See linear vs binary search for an idea of why dividing large lists in sorted subsections matters.

 
Also, if you're still thinking Metro is touch only, please stop. You're not doing anyone or yourself any favors. My mouse and keyboard still work with Metro, and just the same as they do on the desktop.

The live tiles are useless to desktop applications and are just big uninformative blocks of color. Very inferior to the semi-transparent icons of the desktop. The Start Screen is fullscreen and does not fit in the multi-window, multitask-friendly environment of the desktop. It takes a user away from his context for no other reason than to be visible on small touchscreens; this makes no sense on a large monitor with a precise input device.

 

Of course, as usual it's probably useless to argue with you as if you run out of things to say, you'll just ignore me and start spewing your nonsense again a few pages later like nothing happened, as you did everytime we discussed this topic.



#11 Andre S.

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Posted 20 October 2013 - 19:48

Excellent review so far. Looking forward to see what you think after a week. I cant see myself personally using it but if it can turn a Neowinian to using it, I may give it a shot although I too would be using a start menu third party app.

If you strip all the Modern silliness out, it's a much better OS than Windows 7. I would not go back.

 

Still reserving judgement on whether to reinstall StartIsBack. Now that I've spent the time sorting out my Start Screen, it's actually somewhat usable, if clunky. I'm ready to compromise a bit if that means not installing third-party mods, to which I'm relatively allergic. With Windows 8 it was an absolute necessity though.



#12 chrisj1968

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Posted 20 October 2013 - 19:57

If you use the app, The "classic start menu" you will boot to desktop and can decide what version of start menu you want, XP/Vista or 7. But Desktop lovers can be truly happy. 8.1 boots absolutely fast.

 

I'm happy.  :)



#13 HawkMan

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Posted 20 October 2013 - 20:12

A folder tree is only easier to search if you already know under which branches what you're looking for already is. Meaning it is by no means easier to search a tree hierarchy then a flat organized view. And the stuff you do t have out on your organized view are found much faster than expanding branches by simply typing and hitting enter.

#14 HawkMan

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Posted 20 October 2013 - 20:15

Never mind the fact that, the fact you had to spend hours organizing your start screens is your own doing by not using it from the get go, thus you have over a years wintry of stuff on it, from installers that don't take the start screen I to account(newer installers will take it into account and only pin the app, not support apps/documents/files).

#15 Andre S.

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Posted 20 October 2013 - 20:48

A folder tree is only easier to search if you already know under which branches what you're looking for already is. Meaning it is by no means easier to search a tree hierarchy then a flat organized view. And the stuff you do t have out on your organized view are found much faster than expanding branches by simply typing and hitting enter.

But with a folder view you can usually quickly eliminate large portions of the search space, i.e. if you're looking for a game it's not under Microsoft Office. When you have stuff like Visual Studio installed with several sub-folders and dozens of entries in the start menu, it's a nightmare to have all that constantly expanded.

 

Typing and hitting enter part was equally possible with the Start Menu, but it supposes knowing the name of what you're looking for.

 

 

Never mind the fact that, the fact you had to spend hours organizing your start screens is your own doing by not using it from the get go, thus you have over a years wintry of stuff on it, from installers that don't take the start screen I to account(newer installers will take it into account and only pin the app, not support apps/documents/files).

But I never had to organize my start menu, and it's not these programs fault if Microsoft changes the design of an element of Windows. Microsoft's own programs create tons of entries in the start menu. You're certainly right that the situation will improve over time, but I'm describing what is now, not what the potential is.