From The Forums: Windows 8.1 mini-review

Since the Windows 8.1 Preview was released several weeks ago, loads of people have been giving the refreshed and revamped OS a go on their devices. Generally the reaction to the Preview has been positive, with many people praising the polish Microsoft has applied in many areas.

Forum user 'theyarecomingforyou' has posted his opinions of the Windows 8.1 Preview in a mini-review, complete with some before and after comparisons shots between the Preview and Windows 8, highlighting the changes made to his experience on a 2560 x 1600 monitor. While he experienced some issues installing the operating systems (BSOD galore), and he's still not convinced it's a "magical fix to the problems with Windows 8", his opinions of the OS show that he's a fan of some of the improvements.

Here's a snippet from the review:

The new Start Screen is a definite improvement, especially the auto-colouring of desktop tiles - it's such a small detail but it makes such a big difference. The customisation options for the Start Screen have been expanded to include setting a different highlight colour to the background, though in order to see the results of this you can to keep going back and forth between the Start Screen and Charm Bar options. The biggest addition is the ability to use your desktop wallpaper as your background, which provides a greater degree of consistency but is not something I'd want to use on a permanent basis.

You can read the rest of theyarecomingforyou's review here

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You cherry pick Aero and Appearence Settings out of a very large list of functionality concerns to start your insults. Both of those are valid UI concerns for anyone thinking of moving from 7 to 8.

"crying" "crying" "crying" "crying" "crying" "crying" "crying" "crying"

You are extremely rude, insulting, and dismissive.

The people with the most legitimate, functionality related gripes are power users and professionals that use their computers for work. The start screen might be fine for grandma checking her emails and facebook in a fullscreen app, but it is inferior for anyone trying to multitask, organize their shortcuts, and get work done.

These are the kinds of intelligent professionals who code the programs that obstinate, dismissive posters like Dot Matrix use to insult them with and dismiss their productivity concerns. Kind of like a creationist using a computer to spread luddite beliefs and condemn others.

It's actually the power users and professionals that are smarter and more productivity oriented than the obstinate posters who insult them as "ignorant whiners" for rejecting the start screen.

Quite ironic that the posters insulting others for rejecting the start screen are actually the ones who are ignorant (willfully or otherwise) and don't understand the issues. We use our computers harder, smarter, and more efficiently yet they don't understand and continue to insult us as if we were grandmas who only use their PCs to check facebook once a day.

Not quite sure what tangent you are going off on here, sorry if I have missed your point. I can't say I have struggled at any point to get 'my work done' while running Windows 8. The OS has been designed to be multi layered, with 'Modern' apps providing a frontline to deal with many users daily needs. As you said, checking email, but also catching up with VOD, checking their diary, accessing their media, whether it be photos, music, video etc. This is fine, and I like that it can all be run in nice clean fullscreen apps, I like the email client can now open a link in an email side by side too... I also know that when I have work to do, whether it be in Visual Studio, Libre Office, GiMP, Terminal emulators etc. that they run on a desktop when I can snap and resize windows to my hearts content. If I want to use content from a 'Modern' app within a Desktop app, no problem and vice versa. If I want another application open I hit start, bash in the name, enter, job done, whether it is 'Modern' or Desktop. If I want to change settings, like in control panel, I can use the charm bars to get to them. The problem is that people are looking at the whole thing far too one dimensionally by forgetting that Windows is still Windows, but with support to an ecosystem of apps that, admittedly do need to grow, but are available on both your PC and your Tablet PC or Phone. The fact that these apps can be built using simple tools that are readily available is also very reassuring. Never mind the fact that with Windows 8 came better UEFI BIOS support, better hardware utilisation, the simple fact that my rather standard PC running on standard SATA drives boots in under 8 seconds is a godsend and this is possible with the fundamental changes to the Kernal and codebase. If anyone wants to hold one screen, that adds rather than takes away functionality, as a core reason behind their dislike for Windows 8 needs to take a long hard look at what they're really complaining about. Now I'm not sure what you are refering to as a power user, however I think I'm in there somewhere in some respects, and hell, I think I am probably wasting more of my time and 'productivity' replying to snippy posts than I am to trying to run the apps I need.

Now, I don't normally comment on much stuff like this, however I thought I should just drop my 2p worth. W8.1 is a few steps up from the standard W8. I do like the changes and I use it on my home PC (which is a daily use machine). I quite like the start menu, but I also find that I am using a lot more keyboard shortcuts. Which in turn is leading me to use them on other machine, including work. Do you know what, +1 productivity! Now it's not all plain sailing, an update broke DNS somehow and I've had to find a work around, but it is BETA so hey, whatever. On another note, can anyone else cast their mind back 18 or so months, when there were rumours of Apple looking towards a closer integration between OSX and iOS.... I think someone decided to be proactive and beat them to market. What's that W8? A convergent OS across devices, a singularity of sorts? How nice of you! Now before the flamewar starts, I like Mac OS, I like iDevices (just don't have the budget for 'em, if anyone has a retina MBP going spare...... heh). Thirdly, to round out the big hitters, has anyone used Unity in Ubuntu lately, lemme know how user friendly you find it *shudders* (PS Work with Linux Boxes far toooo often) I like Gnome, Gnome is more my friend..... I digress.

So in closing, it's new, it will take time to adapt, but if and when you do I am sure you will enjoy it.

--====================================--
This has not been a paid presentation by Microsoft Corp.
--====================================--

SONiKz said,

So in closing, it's new, it will take time to adapt, but if and when you do I am sure you will enjoy it.
Another post that blithely ignores noted reductions in functionality and heaps on the "we know better than you" insults.

startscreennope said,
Another post that blithely ignores noted reductions in functionality and heaps on the "we know better than you" insults.

Then use a Start Screen replacement and carry on. Doesn't change the fact that the Start Screen is here, and not going away. The Start Menu isn't coming back, not when that functionality has been superseded by the new features in the Start Screen.

'startscreennope' - I find your rhetoric baseless and of little merit. Can you please advise what reductions in functionality are you experiencing, what features aren't in Windows 8 or 8.1 that you miss from 3.1, '95, 2000, Vista or 7? I would appreciate a response because I am truly curious. I would however like to additionally note that I don't feel that at any point I stated 'I know better than you', if I gave that kind of expressive outburst I apologise, I simply wanted to express my thoughts, given that I have a bit of experience across the board. Additionally, for clarity I work for a software developer (only in a technical support role), and I would like people to understand that choices and decisions are made by all developers, not just Microsoft, which are based on information collected. This information is used to shape development and feature pathways. If you have a feature request which comes in that means changing something that has been for the most part unchanged for a considerable amount of time, with correlating data showing that potentially it looks to be a positive/beneficial change. For example 60% of the data combed says that this could be of benefit, do you go the 60% or give the 40% the say and scrap the feature? Admittedly it is a bold move however I would ask any user of Windows 7, when was the last time you went Start > All Programs > Folder for Program > Program? Now alternatively, how about pressing Start then type Word and then press Enter? Now I understand people are getting confused. What with the new layouts and having a mixture of 'Modern' and 'Desktop' apps open, sure. But with patience and continued adoption people would be a little more open minded and receptive of change.... Wouldn't they?

startscreennope said,
Scroll up and read my previous comment in this thread/article.

Win 7 also has Advanced Appearance Settings....
Such as?

Aero....
Desktop has Aero, or damn near Aero without it being Aero....

Better "open with" dialogue
Same open with, so long as you have programs that associate with the filetype.... Other than that, puts the same options in a scrollable window and allows you to search manually.... Simplified, but not restrictive.

Also, what management are you referring to? I mean adding your own shortcuts to the all programs is a bit of a mare, but to be honest, you can search for most things.... And if you install programs properly it generates icons in all programs.... If you a modifying shortcuts then yes, this is also a bit of a drag. But who does that? Or better yet, chuck it on the desktop if its an issue, or create a shortcut to the start menu on the desktop.... Or add a send to to the start menu.... There are many ways of doing the same or similar things. Explore, learn, enjoy!

Contrary to your typically condescending orders, you're the one that needs to do the "learning and exploring".

Look up Advanced Appearance Settings and Aero if you don't understand what is missing.

You dismiss all of the noted removals of functionality and offer inferior, inefficient replacements (that are also available in Win XP/7 should I choose to use them, no less), then serve up the typical insulting condescension. Once again, being a sanctimonious ass won't save Windows 8 from flopping.

startscreennope said,
Contrary to your typically condescending orders, you're the one that needs to do the "learning and exploring".

Look up Advanced Appearance Settings and Aero if you don't understand what is missing.

You dismiss all of the noted removals of functionality and offer inferior, inefficient replacements (that are also available in Win XP/7 should I choose to use them, no less), then serve up the typical insulting condescension. Once again, being a sanctimonious ass won't save Windows 8 from flopping.

Dude. CHILL. You're crying over things people just don't need for their day to day work. Having pastel colors over glass doesn't keep me from opening up Word, Excel, etc... Why you're crying over eye candy, I have no clue, but there are plenty of third party themes that will bring back the glass effects. Install one and carry on. Removing superfluous eye candy helps power consumption.

Also, Advanced System Settings are still where they've always been under "My PC". Unless you're talking about the deprecated Windows 95 customization box, at which point I say too bad so sad. It's not needed anymore. It's gone.

Edited by Dot Matrix, Jul 9 2013, 2:51pm :

startscreennope said,
Contrary to your typically condescending orders, you're the one that needs to do the "learning and exploring".

Look up Advanced Appearance Settings and Aero if you don't understand what is missing.

You dismiss all of the noted removals of functionality and offer inferior, inefficient replacements (that are also available in Win XP/7 should I choose to use them, no less), then serve up the typical insulting condescension. Once again, being a sanctimonious ass won't save Windows 8 from flopping.

If you're looking to resize items, a small list of scalable items can be found under the Display Properties. Otherwise, you're SOL. If you're really that animate about clinging to deprecated features, perhaps upgrading isn't for you since things are removed all the time. That's part of the game. It removes clutter, and keeps the OS slim and secure.

listed Aero and Advanced Appearence settings as two of many features removed or reducued in functionality. Those two are immediately seized on and cherry picked as "superficial weak spots" - clearly a sign we're dealing with willfully obstinate posters with agendas who refuse to recognize a single valid concern. But don't worry, us consumers will have the last laugh as Win 8 and win phones/tablets continue to crater in the marketplace.

Removing options is variety! Ignorance is strength! Completely illogical insanity.

More constant condescension and insults - try writing a post defending Win 8 without personally attacking the poster.

"crying" "crying" "crying" "crying" "crying" "crying" "crying" "crying" perfectly describes your posts as Win 8 continues to be a marketplace flop.

Edited by startscreennope, Jul 10 2013, 7:02am :

Some people must be kidding to pick Modern UI over Desktop :
-Slower application.
-Full Screen (awful multitasking).
-Limited application catalog.
-Limited application features.
-Expensive applications.

ModernUI should have been inserted it progressively but now, MS is pushing it forcefully and 8.1 is not changing it this situation.

And some people say that ModernUI is cool for people that uses touch screen, it is not true. Any vertical touch screen is an ergonomic disaster. Touch screen for laptop does not work!.

8.1 for desktop users brings so little, 8.1 is more focused in the ModernUI part of Windows.

Brony said,
Some people must be kidding to pick Modern UI over Desktop :
-Slower application.
-Full Screen (awful multitasking).
-Limited application catalog.
-Limited application features.
-Expensive applications.

ModernUI should have been inserted it progressively but now, MS is pushing it forcefully and 8.1 is not changing it this situation.

And some people say that ModernUI is cool for people that uses touch screen, it is not true. Any vertical touch screen is an ergonomic disaster. Touch screen for laptop does not work!.

8.1 for desktop users brings so little, 8.1 is more focused in the ModernUI part of Windows.

You are overlooking all the 'good' aspects though...

1) Security - App isolation, dual sandbox layers, etc (Like WP, malware of Modern Apps is virtually impossible, and even if a malicious piece of software is installed, the scope of what it can touch essentially makes it benign.)

2) Easier development, using HTML5/XAML for MVVM and other new models, are important, and what WPF should have given the world if Vista wasn't so poorly received.

3) OS integration features, sharing and other new interoperability

4) Search integration - something developers did not properly use with Vista/7 even though it was available, Modern developers are more likely (as it is easier) to incorporate OS level search. **See Below for an example

5) Consistency - they offer a new level of usability consistency. Virtually every Modern App can be fully navigated with nothing more than your arrow keys, tab, enter, esc - let alone using new common interface options. Even if they are more simplistic right now, they are still better for most users than digging through a 'menu aka list of word commands' to find and use features. The toolbar UI in office was the first step forward in this direction, and if you look at the App Bar in modern Apps that appear when you right click (or swipe) they are a simplified ribbon concept.

6) Server/Cloud based design from the ground up. Using and hooking into external data and content is a core feature that is not as elegant or consistent in the older frameworks.


As for performance, they are getting a considerable bump in Windows 8.1. Additionally they are already offering performance features that you do not get with the older frameworks. Just like Windows Phone, you can have 'infinite' list type controls. This is why you can 30,000 emails on WP7/8 and it loads instantly, yet you can scroll through the entire list, and performance is never an issue with a huge or virtually never ending list of items.

It is these 'performance' type new usability/development constructs that do allow the new Modern Apps to run 'lighter' yet offer and handle more information without using a ton of RAM or CPU resources. (And this is just one example of why some things are faster in the long run.)


**Why the integrated search works well can be easily demonstrated: From type Start Screen just type: AMD Radeon 7850 - now click on Ebay, then on Amazon, then on Newegg, then on CDW, then on Bing, then on Wikipedia, etc. In just a few clicks, you can compare and price this product across several stores/sites/information sources. The Apps themselves are not much more than a glorified Web Site viewer, but using them to 'flip/click' search from the OS level is reason enough to keep them installed and handy. This also works when you are researching information and need quick answers from Bing, Wikipedia, Dictionary, etc.

I also have to disagree that Modern Apps are 'touch only'. As I mentioned above, if you are power keyboard user, you can do more faster with a Modern App and flip between Modern Apps without leaving the keyboard than you EVER could in the older Application frameworks. This is because of consistency and that they use an inherent universal navigation mechanism, where on non Modern Apps you would need to learn keyboard shortcuts or look to find the Alt key combinations.

I spend more time on non-touch devices, and can personally guarantee that once you try out working with Modern Apps as keyboardist, it is painful to return to Windows 7. I type over 200wpm, I am not likely to grab a mouse or touch the screen when I am working. Besides the mouse interaction gestures are just as simple and easy as the touch gestures if you are a prolific mouse user. (While writing this response, I looked up information on a breaking news story, messaged several people, checked twitter via the browser, replied to an email, and I never left the Modern UI Apps and my hands never left the keyboard, no mouse, no trackpad, no touchscreen.)

The other thing people don't realize is that there are unique Apps for Windows 8, that just DO NOT run on Windows 7. So even if you can't be persuaded to adapt to the Modern UI Apps, you should be using Windows 8 so you have access to this new generation of applications that are just not available on Windows 7.

PS 8.1 also has new video and DX features, that include performance enhancements and more features. This includes speeding up older applications as well as gaming, and offers additional tweaks to DX for even more direct hardware access for gaming engines beyond what Windows 8 already added for developers.

Any user that is experiencing a BSOD needs to take a hard look at their hardware. In the era of OS recovery introduced in Windows 7, which works in realtime, it takes a lot of work to create a legitimate BSOD.

A user experiencing several BSOD failures has hardware issues that they do not realize. If it is a custom built system, it could be silly things like mainboard configuration settings (clocking/voltage) or truly a failing component that is being exposed by the OS trying to utilize the full extent of the hardware.

Back when Vista was released a few users had issues with ACPI mainboards because the BIOS reported to the OS it supported features XYZ and as we all later found out many of the ACPI features were not implemented or properly implemented, so that when Vista would utilize a newer ACPI feature, it would create havoc.

The start menu is more efficient (takes less or the same # of steps to do things), contains more features for accessing, organizing and managing shortcuts, has more shortcuts for accessing other parts of your computer such as network, devices, control panel, shutdown/restart, etc., better search, nested folder support, true context menu functionality, and doesn't break workflow by covering up the entire screen when you want to launch something.

Win 7 also has Advanced Appearance Settings, Aero, better "open with" dialogue and other dialogue boxes that have reduced functionality in Win 8, no forced edge shortcuts like the charms bar, boot to desktop, the more intuitive start button, etc. Some of these are being addressed in 8.1 but not all.

All management of shortcuts can be done within the start menu itself. With the start screen you need to open the actual folder in explorer (which is still ironically called the Start Menu folder in Win 8) even just to rename a shortcut or access shortcut properties.

Metro is not an attempt to copy Apple. Apple was not dumb enough to turn OS X into a tablet UI. It is a cynical move to force people to adopt to the touch UI to make people more likely to choose an MS tablet/phone. All MS has managed to do is **** off their existing customers while failing to attract the iOS/Android crowd.

The claim that the start screen is functionally the same as the start menu is false. Also, name calling and blaming your customers is a poor argument and a terrible business strategy.

startscreennope said,
The start menu is more efficient (takes less or the same # of steps to do things), contains more features for accessing, organizing and managing shortcuts, has more shortcuts for accessing other parts of your computer such as network, devices, control panel, shutdown/restart, etc., better search, nested folder support, true context menu functionality, and doesn't break workflow by covering up the entire screen when you want to launch something.

Win 7 also has Advanced Appearance Settings, Aero, better "open with" dialogue and other dialogue boxes that have reduced functionality in Win 8, no forced edge shortcuts like the charms bar, boot to desktop, the more intuitive start button, etc. Some of these are being addressed in 8.1 but not all.

All management of shortcuts can be done within the start menu itself. With the start screen you need to open the actual folder in explorer (which is still ironically called the Start Menu folder in Win 8) even just to rename a shortcut or access shortcut properties.

Metro is not an attempt to copy Apple. Apple was not dumb enough to turn OS X into a tablet UI. It is a cynical move to force people to adopt to the touch UI to make people more likely to choose an MS tablet/phone. All MS has managed to do is **** off their existing customers while failing to attract the iOS/Android crowd.

The claim that the start screen is functionally the same as the start menu is false. Also, name calling and blaming your customers is a poor argument and a terrible business strategy.

Couple of notes...

Apple wanted the full version of OS X to run on the iPad initially. They could not get OS X to run efficiently enough to run on a tablet class device, so they moved to upscaling their phone OS for the iPad. This demonstrates that Apple didn't think it was a bad idea to have a desktop OS on a tablet until they failed at being able to provide this for the iPad. (So they were just as 'stupid' as Microsoft, except they are overly angry at the OS X development team after seeing Microsoft easily get Windows NT running on the same iPad class hardware.)

Functionally the Start Screen and Menu have differences, but conceptually they are the same. 99% of the same keystrokes and features are in the Start Screen, with a lot of new features as well. I have demonstrated this to a lot of die hard Windows 7 hold outs, and have yet to bring one person around to seeing the Start Screen as just a large Start Menu. (This includes is not just anecdotal experiences with friends, as I teach and train groups of people professionally.)

To continue to 'believe' the new UI is only for touch users is doing yourself a disservice. A keyboard only user gains more from the new UI Apps than a touch screen user. (Again this is something power users are starting to realize, as I watch them have a moment of realization and even on touch screen enabled notebooks, hardly use the touch screen when doing serious keyboarding.)

You are right that Windows 8 and 8.1 are an evolution, and once the 'shock' passes, most users will continue to follow and accept the new direction Microsoft is taking the technology industry. If you look back at 'Metro' and how it was lampooned at first and compare that to today where both Google and Apple are adopting the clean and easier to navigate concepts that were once a joke, you can see how quickly this evolution can happen.

As for denigrating customers, I agree that is always a bad idea. People often welcome genuine help and instruction, and there are ways to get people to rethink what they have been led to believe. In the end, if the customer still wants Windows 7, that is what they should get.

Fullscreen apps are the antithesis to desktop window multitasking. Docking isn't a suitable replacement.

You claim "99%", a meaningless number, while failing to address a single point of functionality that I raised in the differences between start menu and screen. I say you have no argument.

Rest of your post is the typical "MS knows what's good for you" insults. The only customers buying large amounts of Win 8 licenses are OEMs, and they're not happy about it either as laptops and PC sales w/ Win 8 attached continue to plummet.

All MS is doing is making a desperate failed attempt to raise their 0.00001% phone/tablet marketshare and ****ing off their desktop customers in the process.

All this debate (about Windows 8) has resulted in:
1) me no longer having an interest to keep up to date with Windows developments
2) me only visiting Neowin about once every one or two days

I'm sticking with Windows 7 until it's end of support date. That's my choice, not yours. Windows 7 does everything I need it to.

Without falling into the immature "wow" of vista, I find that windows 8.1 lacks the "exciting factor" that would get attention from average users.
I still see a kind of schizophrenic OS divided between "metro" & regular desktop apps.
Either microsoft manage to blend both in a kind of seamless experience, or they should give up.

"Schizophrenic OS" is an excellent description of Windows-8. Trying to successfully handle two entirely different form factors (tablets vs laptops/desktops) and users (consumers vs businesses) just is not going to work. One OS for each marketplace...its that simple.

This is utterly useless crap with metro interface everywhere. I think this is what MS expected that people will revolt first and then will eventually accept their illfate. Its like between choosing bad and worse. This tablet interface has no place in desktop and I don't see any upgrade on desktop front. I don't see any changes in MS market share as it will keep declining. However, fanboys at neowin will tend to disagree but it doesn't matter anyway.

This is horsecrap. People here are so biased, I don't see why Microsoft wouldn't give little perks to fanboys on this website.

Windows 8.1 only caters to those who like Windows 8. It does nothing to help slumping PC sales due to their stupid POS OS. They will only fool idiots with that stupid fake start menu. Good job Microshaft, your downfall has been predicted by many of us while your arrogant attitude is its main driver.

yo popcaan said,
This is horsecrap. People here are so biased, I don't see why Microsoft wouldn't give little perks to fanboys on this website.

Windows 8.1 only caters to those who like Windows 8. It does nothing to help slumping PC sales due to their stupid POS OS. They will only fool idiots with that stupid fake start menu. Good job Microshaft, your downfall has been predicted by many of us while your arrogant attitude is its main driver.


I think haters like you are the biased ones. Even the fanboys here are making balanced comments. You, on the other hand, aren't even trying.

You downfall has also probably been predicted by many while your arrogant attitude is its main driver.

yo popcaan said,
This is horsecrap. People here are so biased, I don't see why Microsoft wouldn't give little perks to fanboys on this website.

Windows 8.1 only caters to those who like Windows 8. It does nothing to help slumping PC sales due to their stupid POS OS. They will only fool idiots with that stupid fake start menu. Good job Microshaft, your downfall has been predicted by many of us while your arrogant attitude is its main driver.

Dafuq did I just read!?

8.1 is unquestionably a big improvement over 8.0. I hope by the time it will reach RTM MS fix the issue with SkyDrive ( located by default on C: and no option to have it somewhere else) and the inability to add POP3 mail accounts.

The "C+" rating may be accurate overall. A much more valid rating would have been two ratings--one for the OS on tablets and one for the OS on laptops and desktops. Regrettably, there is still too much emphasis for touch-centric portable devices, while ignoring laptop/desktop devices. The "great divide" remains, with one OS struggling to serve both sides equally well. It is going to be several years before the touch-centric UI becomes the dominant method. In the meantime, Microsoft shouldn't be abandoning those non touch-centric users.

I like 8.1.

The biggest issue I have with it is massive site incompatibility with Internet Explorer 11. Really tired of web developers blocking access to a site for versions GREATER than what's current out.

Example, I can't login to my new Linksys router with the classic "not compatible with this version of your browser" message. No compatibility view button on that page either.

Other sites just don't render right and one of my most frequent sites I can't even login too. Put in the username/password, hit login, it redirects me, but I'm not logged in.

Anyways, that's my only issues with 8.1 at the moment.

scumdogmillionaire said,
I like 8.1.

The biggest issue I have with it is massive site incompatibility with Internet Explorer 11. Really tired of web developers blocking access to a site for versions GREATER than what's current out.

Example, I can't login to my new Linksys router with the classic "not compatible with this version of your browser" message. No compatibility view button on that page either.

Other sites just don't render right and one of my most frequent sites I can't even login too. Put in the username/password, hit login, it redirects me, but I'm not logged in.

Anyways, that's my only issues with 8.1 at the moment.

I have been encountering the same thing with IE11, but I had the same problem with 10. Developers aren't keeping up with IE like they do with some other browsers that rev their versions monthly or even faster.

However, you can change add sites to compatibility mode, but they have made it more difficult to access. Hit ALT-T while on a webpage and select "Compatibility View settings". You can then add the domain to the compatibility list. Hopefully this helps.

8.1 is an improvement, especially the modern UI is a smoother experience. Improved gestures make it a competive alternative for the desktop. However I can't help but feel it will never do so unless the UI gets an 'Mouse+keyboard' mode.

The gestures to call up the hidden UI elements stil feel like an unnecessary step if you have a large screen. And when you're working with a mouse it isnt intuitive at all. And now that 'they've added the start-charm to the taskbar I cant help but feel they should have added all charms that way.

Basically add the option a taskbar to the bottom of the screen that is visible at all times. You should then be able to choose between the hidden UI and this taskbar. This taskbar should include all hidden UI elements: charms, appswitcher and app-specific commands.

Ronnet said,
8.1 is an improvement, especially the modern UI is a smoother experience. Improved gestures make it a competive alternative for the desktop. However I can't help but feel it will never do so unless the UI gets an 'Mouse+keyboard' mode.

The gestures to call up the hidden UI elements stil feel like an unnecessary step if you have a large screen. And when you're working with a mouse it isnt intuitive at all. And now that 'they've added the start-charm to the taskbar I cant help but feel they should have added all charms that way.

Basically add the option a taskbar to the bottom of the screen that is visible at all times. You should then be able to choose between the hidden UI and this taskbar. This taskbar should include all hidden UI elements: charms, appswitcher and app-specific commands.


I agree with you on this - I really wish the 'app bars' could be triggered by another mechanism. It's kinda weird to have the right click bring up a context menu at times and the app bar in others.

I'm liking Windows 8.1, ignoring the Start button fiasco, it's got some much needed tweaks and changes that make it look and feel a lot better. The new smaller tiles on the start screen and being able to have your desktop wallpaper as the background and very welcomed tweaks. Not sure about the changes to the search just yet though.

About that Start button coming back, the only thing I don't like so far is that I now always have two of them visible, one on each taskbar of my dual monitor setup. Previously, I had only the 1 with Windows 7 (or it slid into view with Windows 8) and now keep clicking it when I mean to click the program pinned on the secondary taskbar. Not a big deal, just need to get used to it being there.

But overall a good improvement to Windows 8.

The "fake start button" is a step in the right direction (discoverable, target to aim at).

In particular, its right-click menu (try it!!) is a bit cluttered, but has lots of very useful options.

I think the right-click menu, useful though it is, could be improved still more.
- Make it a little PANEL, nicely laid out.
- And then it could have some submenus, and even be a bit customisable.
- Why not let it open with left-click? Why only right-click?
- And it would be really nice if it could also show a list of available programs to run. Why not, it shows almost every other thing you might want to do !!!
- Better yet, tidy it up by allowing the list to be arranged into subfolders, to avoid mess and clutter.

I believe these would be simple and desirable additional improvements to the start button right-click menu, to aid usability ;-)

gb8080 said,
The "fake start button" is a step in the right direction (discoverable, target to aim at).

In particular, its right-click menu (try it!!) is a bit cluttered, but has lots of very useful options.

I think the right-click menu, useful though it is, could be improved still more.
- Make it a little PANEL, nicely laid out.
- And then it could have some submenus, and even be a bit customisable.
- Why not let it open with left-click? Why only right-click?
- And it would be really nice if it could also show a list of available programs to run. Why not, it shows almost every other thing you might want to do !!!
- Better yet, tidy it up by allowing the list to be arranged into subfolders, to avoid mess and clutter.

I believe these would be simple and desirable additional improvements to the start button right-click menu, to aid usability ;-)


and ladies and gentlemen, this is how lousy the start menu was.

FalseAgent said,

and ladies and gentlemen, this is how lousy the start menu was.

Seems pretty useful to me. And in any event, boys and girls, the Start Screen is plainly worse:
- Hogs entire screen whenever invoked
- Epilepsy-inducing flashy tiles
- All eye candy and no substance
- No subfolders for organisation (even iOS on little phones has this)
- Dumps tiles all over the place, all higgledy-piggledly mess
- Horizontal scrolling rather than vertical
- Based on a phone UI, no concession for large desktop displays.
I say that THAT's lousy, especially for desktop mouse and keyboard users.

Edited by gb8080, Jul 7 2013, 2:58pm :

"Why not let it open with left-click? Why only right-click?"

If I understand you correctly then you mean when clicking on the start button on Windows 8.1? If so, then surely you must know that left-clicking the start button opens up something else (more precisely the Start screen)

gb8080 said,

Seems pretty useful to me. And in any event, boys and girls, the Start Screen is plainly worse:
- Hogs entire screen whenever invoked
- Epilepsy-inducing flashy tiles
- All eye candy and no substance
- No subfolders for organisation (even iOS on little phones has this)
- Dumps tiles all over the place, all higgledy-piggledly mess
- Horizontal scrolling rather than vertical
- Based on a phone UI, no concession for large desktop displays.
I say that THAT's lousy, especially for desktop mouse and keyboard users.

Not debating your list, but this is my first reaction to the items.

The tiles can be set to be static. The screen is organized through semantic zoom and groups. The screen does not dump tiles all over the place. Not sure what's particularly bad about the screen scrolling horizontally. The tiles work just as well on small and large screens. It certainly does use the entire screen.

Tigurinn said,
"Why not let it open with left-click? Why only right-click?"

If I understand you correctly then you mean when clicking on the start button on Windows 8.1? If so, then surely you must know that left-clicking the start button opens up something else (more precisely the Start screen)

He was attempting to be amusing. If you read carefully, you will see that all of his suggestions are essentially old start menu functions. But, I applaud his subtlety.

Wyn6 said,

He was attempting to be amusing. If you read carefully, you will see that all of his suggestions are essentially old start menu functions. But, I applaud his subtlety.

Aahh, touche. I thought it was a valid suggestion - one I didn't agree with, but valid none the less. I thought he wanted a small box to appear, such as the ones that appear in the bottom and upper left corners.

But, as for me, I'm still waiting for the implementation of a notification center when you swipe right (one that would be totally in sync with Windows Phone, which would also be accessed by a right swipe - from any app)

gb8080 said,

Seems pretty useful to me. And in any event, boys and girls, the Start Screen is plainly worse:
- Hogs entire screen whenever invoked
- Epilepsy-inducing flashy tiles
- All eye candy and no substance
- No subfolders for organisation (even iOS on little phones has this)
- Dumps tiles all over the place, all higgledy-piggledly mess
- Horizontal scrolling rather than vertical
- Based on a phone UI, no concession for large desktop displays.
I say that THAT's lousy, especially for desktop mouse and keyboard users.

- The start screen isn't the one that's being invoked, you invoke the apps. If you want to see your wallpaper all the time, look at your wall. And no, overlapping elements don't contribute to productivity.
- If you want static items, look at the stuff on your table. This is a computer, things can be dynamic, which is pretty much the point
- There are two kinds of people: people that complain about eye candy, and people that complain about the lack of eye candy. Subjective
- The start screen has tile groups and has infinite space, just group your apps together and pan over, it isn't that different from folders and is better in some ways, you aren't restricted by the number of homescreens like on iOS and Android.
- Dumps tiles all over the place? That is no different that the icons on Windows 7, OSX, iOS and Android. Invalid criticism
- Are our screens these days tall or wide? That's why it scrolls horizontally.
- Based on a phone UI. That's right. Based. Not actually a phone UI.

gb8080 said,

Seems pretty useful to me. And in any event, boys and girls, the Start Screen is plainly worse:
- Hogs entire screen whenever invoked
- Epilepsy-inducing flashy tiles
- All eye candy and no substance
- No subfolders for organisation (even iOS on little phones has this)
- Dumps tiles all over the place, all higgledy-piggledly mess
- Horizontal scrolling rather than vertical
- Based on a phone UI, no concession for large desktop displays.
I say that THAT's lousy, especially for desktop mouse and keyboard users.

Metro is very much a desktop driven UI, having its roots in the Media Center UI that debuted with Windows XP.

Dot Matrix said,

Metro is very much a desktop driven UI, having its roots in the Media Center UI that debuted with Windows XP.

Desktop UI done badly, unfortunately, if that was the case. It ends up looking indistinguishable from what a scaled-up phone UI would be like, i.e. desktop-hostile.

gb8080 said,

Desktop UI done badly, unfortunately, if that was the case. It ends up looking indistinguishable from what a scaled-up phone UI would be like, i.e. desktop-hostile.

The Start Screen is far from desktop hostile, and takes full advantage of today's wide and large scale monitors. Something the Start Menu never did.

Dot Matrix said,

The Start Screen is far from desktop hostile, and takes full advantage of today's wide and large scale monitors. Something the Start Menu never did.

But that's like saying that "Metro calculator takes 'full advantage' of today's wide and large scale monitors".
It hogs the whole screen at once. Only in that sense is it "full advantage".
That's not sensible on a large high-resolution monitor.

The essence of "windows" is that they SHARE screen space.
So I maintain that hogging the whole screen is desktop hostile.

gb8080 said,

But that's like saying that "Metro calculator takes 'full advantage' of today's wide and large scale monitors".
It hogs the whole screen at once. Only in that sense is it "full advantage".
That's not sensible on a large high-resolution monitor.

The essence of "windows" is that they SHARE screen space.
So I maintain that hogging the whole screen is desktop hostile.

http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/2841511/sidebyside.jpg

You CAN resize Metro apps, you know.

The Start Screen taking up the whole monitor makes sense when you think about today's large monitors. Why would I suffer through a TINY ass little menu, filled with 32x32 and 16x16 icons that do not scale, nor animate with any sort of information when I have the Start Screen that not only brings information to me, but also scales to my monitor?

How is the Start Menu easier when it gets harder, and harder to see with every increase in resolution? How does that not count as desktop hostile? How does burying apps in folders and subfolders not count as hostile? Apps should be front and center, not hidden and buried.

Edited by Dot Matrix, Jul 7 2013, 9:20pm :

Master of Earth said,
They shouldn't need to remove the aero glass and won't use windows 8 permanently until they bring it back.

Why? What does it inhibit? Glass was nothing more than superfluous eye candy.

Master of Earth said,
They shouldn't need to remove the aero glass and won't use windows 8 permanently until they bring it back.

Options, remove by default but give people options to turn it back on...

Master of Earth said,
They shouldn't need to remove the aero glass and won't use windows 8 permanently until they bring it back.

aero glass was removed to improve touch performance on the desktop and battery life.

And WHAT IF :
- I have a Powerful Desktop,
- I Do not have Touch nor will have
- Do not have a battery (Desktop, remember ? )

Why decide on behalf of users ? Why cut an arm without asking if we really want it, or maybe we want to cut just a finger and not the whole arm ?
I need to use custom hacks and custom software to actually make it usable for me.
Why don't they leave a choice to just enable it ?

They brought back the Start button, but it is still unusable and inconsistent to switch forth and back between metro/modern and desktop.

PrEzi said,
And WHAT IF :
- I have a Powerful Desktop,
- I Do not have Touch nor will have
- Do not have a battery (Desktop, remember ? )

I have a powerful desktop too.

-Doesn't mean I need eye candy for productivity. I work the same whether my window boarders are glass or solid colors.
-My desktop doesn't have touch either. It doesn't take any extra effort to click a tile over an icon.
-No battery here either, but I can still control how much power I take in.

Dot Matrix said,

I have a powerful desktop too.

-Doesn't mean I need eye candy for productivity. I work the same whether my window boarders are glass or solid colors.
-My desktop doesn't have touch either. It doesn't take any extra effort to click a tile over an icon.
-No battery here either, but I can still control how much power I take in.

Aaah... and here's Dot Matrix - the saviour of MS.
Well - Aero Glass doesn't DECREASE productivity, so why to remove it. Just disable it by default with ability to enable - doesn't hurt to let ME decide what I really want.
An extra click here and there actually DECREASES the productivity.
So does the Menu that takes the whole damn screen.
So does a fullscreen app which could be windowed (but isn't - also without a reason).

I have compared my laptop's runtime with and without DWMHook which re-enables AERO Glass, and to be honest - I didn't notice any significant drop of time when I'm on battery (or it is within error levels).

PrEzi said,

Aaah... and here's Dot Matrix - the saviour of MS.
Well - Aero Glass doesn't DECREASE productivity, so why to remove it. Just disable it by default with ability to enable - doesn't hurt to let ME decide what I really want.
An extra click here and there actually DECREASES the productivity.
So does the Menu that takes the whole damn screen.
So does a fullscreen app which could be windowed (but isn't - also without a reason).

I have compared my laptop's runtime with and without DWMHook which re-enables AERO Glass, and to be honest - I didn't notice any significant drop of time when I'm on battery (or it is within error levels).

Pressing Start, then pressing a tile is no different than clicking Start, then clicking an icon.
And again, Metro apps can run windowed (http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/2841511/sidebyside.jpg). Win8.1 improves that functionality. Not sure why you think only one app at a time can run.

Dot Matrix said,

Pressing Start, then pressing a tile is no different than clicking Start, then clicking an icon.
And again, Metro apps can run windowed (http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/2841511/sidebyside.jpg). Win8.1 improves that functionality. Not sure why you think only one app at a time can run.

Yes, you are right, now I can use even two apps ! wow...
Good that I have a Two-monitor setup so I can use 4 apps at a time...
That is really an improvement for you compared to windowed apps in 7 ?
Good that we have custom hacks like ModernMix where you can force all and unlimited number of apps to run windowed side by side.

PrEzi said,

Yes, you are right, now I can use even two apps ! wow...
Good that I have a Two-monitor setup so I can use 4 apps at a time...
That is really an improvement for you compared to windowed apps in 7 ?
Good that we have custom hacks like ModernMix where you can force all and unlimited number of apps to run windowed side by side.

Well actually, in Windows 8.1, you can snap more then 2 apps (depending on your resolution size).

PrEzi said,

Yes, you are right, now I can use even two apps ! wow...
Good that I have a Two-monitor setup so I can use 4 apps at a time...
That is really an improvement for you compared to windowed apps in 7 ?
Good that we have custom hacks like ModernMix where you can force all and unlimited number of apps to run windowed side by side.

My God, are you that naive? You can snap more than 2 windows on screen.

PrEzi said,
That is nice to hear... do they scale well ? How many apps can you snap on a 1920x1080 Res ?
Well, my theory is that the numbers of app you can snap is your screen resolution's width divided by 500. So you can snap 3 apps at 1920x1080 (in theory).

Dot Matrix said,

My God, are you that naive? You can snap more than 2 windows on screen.

And heeeereee we go with user-rants.
Get over it that some BILLIONS of users don't like what MS did.
The 'discussion' with You leads nowhere so I'd say I stop now.

The coloring of the desktop icon tiles looks awful. They should have just left it the way it was. Now the start screen looks like a little kid took his box of crayons to a coloring book. Some color is good, but they overdid it and it looks like a joke now.

Some nice things were added in Windows 8.1 for desktop users, but not much. They still haven't updated the desktop icons and parts of the aero theme are still left over in picture viewer and other applications. They are trying to push this new flat look, but the theme is so inconsistent across the entire OS. The font rendering is still hideous (just google windows 8/8.1 font rendering and you can see the piles of complaints). Hell, they didn't even allow custom tile images, which should have been a no-brainer.

I was pleased with my clean installation. With NO local file backups, and everything in Skydrive, I was able to wipe my laptop and install 8.1 from an ISO, and access my documents, music, and pictures once I created a Microsoft-linked account. While downloading those files for local storage could have been faster, I was happy to have the machine back on its feet so shortly after the fresh install without spending effort on manually copying and restoring data.

So the last time I tried Windows 8 was when it was still in it's Consumer Preview form, and while I have always liked Windows 8, that incarnation just wasn't ready for me to migrate fully.

I tried Windows 8.1 yesterday (still have it on my laptop) and I really really like it. In fact, I might just be ready to migrate. There are now apps that I like using daily, and synaptics has added gesture support for all of its touchpads. Surprisingly, scrolling and gestures on Windows 8 drivers work really well, better than it is on Windows 7, and even better than some new laptops, I never knew my trackpad was actually this good! (using a dell inspiron 14r from 2010). I also bought a Microsoft Touch Mouse, which also supports gestures on Windows 8. I think part of the reason why i'm ready to migrate is because of these gestures. Windows 8 without these gestures is still quite a pain to use.

Alas, my laptop is from 2010, and my wireless and bluetooth drivers didn't work. My laptop was designed for Windows 7 and I won't be migrating. However, I will no longer put off get new hardware, and with new hardware (Windows 7 hardware doesn't cut it), I would definitely recommend it to all my friends. I've been using Windows 8.1 and I haven't been missing anything that i've been doing on Windows 7.

It's a good review but I disagree with some of the things said and I believe he was very unlucky to have so many problems.
8.1 installed superbly with only a couple of clicks, left everything in perfect working order and brought some nice new features not to mention (a lot) better performance in some scenarios.
I'm really happy with 8.1, though I do agree that this is not a game changer in the market.

The install issues were related to a known issue with the default language on UK systems. Most users wouldn't have experienced the same issue but it was a major inconvenience for me.

I know what you're saying but I too installed 8.1 on two PCs with UK language packs. The first time I used an ISO the second time I used the standard installer.