22 Mar


When I first started using Windows 8, I was like the gunslinger who in a critical moment reached for my gun, and my heart sank as I realized it simply wasn’t there! But at least my death would be quick!

In contrast, I’ve worked with clients who have been limping along, with Windows 8 induced unease and discomfort since their introduction to it.

As a computer technician, folks expect me to embrace, revel, and thrive on what Microsoft delivers. Like my clients, and unlike other techs, I ask what was wrong with the Windows 7, or what improvements have been made? I noticed that most of my clients are dissatisfied with Windows 8/8.1, and Best Buy only carries 8.1 on all new computers. I realize the artificial popularity of Windows 8/8.1 is about fulfilling a Microsoft agenda and not satisfying consumer preference.

There is nothing wrong with change when there is a rational purpose guiding it. There is an apocryphal story about a senile car engineer. He insisted on putting the steering wheel on the right passenger side of the car. The accelerator and brake stayed where they were on the left side. The engineer’s superiors helped him make a smooth and quick transition to retirement. Under current Microsoft minded leadership, the engineer probably would have been promoted.


First, Windows 8 lacks a start button. 8.1. brings it back, but when you click (or tap) the new Start button in Windows 8.1 you’re sent back to the Start screen. Not only does it not work in a way that is traditional or expected, there simply is no rhyme or reason why it should it propel you to the start screen. One can always tweak the start menu with the use of 3rd party software such as “Classic Shell”.

When you take in your car in for a recall, do you praise the car manufacturer? They left something out, and now they are required to remedy their problem. But Microsoft resolved very few major issues in Windows 8.1.

Secondly, accessing Safe Mode in Windows 8 & 8.1 can be a frustrating experience. But first, why access Safe Mode? In a nutshell , Safe mode may be the only mode a technician or saavy user can work in if a computer is hit by malware, or there are driver or hardware problems. It is a very important tool in certain circumstances and accessing it might be necessary to resolve a problem.
The important aspect to reaching safe mode, is not just hitting f8 (which Microsoft took from us in Windows 8 & 8.1). The critical part is that you should not have to boot fully into regular mode or boot to the login screen since they will not always be available in certain situations. It’s like being required to pick up a key at the bottom of a swimming pool in order let yourself into the swimming area. It makes no sense.
It is possible in many computers to access safe mode through the “advanced” Recovery Mode. But some computers do not allow for it. Every method of reaching safe mode in Windows 8 & 8.1 is either cumbersome, time consuming, or unreliable. Previous version of Windows only require tapping F8.

Third, you have more than a little pressure to create a Microsoft account when first setting up your Windows 8 computer. How benevolent and altruistic of Microsoft! Fancy that I don’t have a Microsoft account. Why should I have to create a Microsoft account in order to use my computer? Ultimately I saw that a local account is available for set up, but it was not initially obvious.

Fourth, a desktop should never in a million years be difficult to access or find. It should be home base, not part of the maze of tiles on a start page. Windows 8 & 8.1 makes the desktop difficult to locate. To quote technology writer Andrea Peterson: countless accidental touchpad swipes have brought up unwanted apps or programs. Part of this is the learning curve…..” An operating system that is windows which millions of business people will be using doesn’t need a significant learning curve for its own sake.
Even if the theory that Windows 8 & 8.1 is faster out of the box than its predecessors does not mean it is faster on a day to day basis. The reason is because Windows 8 & 8.1 are just as susceptible to viruses, malware, spyware, bloatware, excess temp files, unnecessary processes, cookies, startup entries, registry errors, driver issues, and just about anything that could and would slow down Windows 7, Vista, and XP.

In conclusion, Windows 8 will be around for a while longer, even though Windows 10 is coming out soon. I have yet to hear anyone but a Microsoft aligned IT person praise Windows 8 or 8.1. Microsoft knows Windows 8 was a flop. Microsoft’s affinity for change for its own sake only means that Windows 10 will likely incorporate many changes.

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20 Mar

Mac vs. PC



We write our title with a bit of “tounge-in-cheek”. There is such fierce debate between Windows advocates  and Mac supporters, about which is “better” that we can’t help but to smile. It can’t be an entirely serious debate given that personal choice is about perception, preference, and market pressure. But if you want to know which computer the author is using to write this article, you can ask him.

There are a few things that the Windows folks need to know and understand about Mac. The first is that contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to spend $3000 to purchase a Mac. It certainly helps, but there are several kinds of different Macs, and one of the least expensive Mac desktops is the Mac Mini. The specs for each  Mac is outside the scope of this article, but we encourage you to take a look in order to compare: http://www.imore.com/mac-mini-which-entry-level-options-should-you-get. The entry level Mac Mini runs about $499.00.

Now that we debunked the myth that a Mac is unaffordable (well sort of), what are the differences? One of the key differences, according to Professor Tom Rodden, is that historically Microsoft has been a software company, whereas Apple controls both hardware and software. The end result is that Apple can protect and optimize its computers in ways Microsoft cannot. http://bgr.com/2014/06/26/differences-between-mac-and-pc/. So now imagine being able to test the operating system with every combination of hardware that you will release.  This is a good reason Mac advocates happen to love the Mac and report that “it just works”.

A Windows guru might scoff at these “benefits”. For one thing it is nice to have a choice of what kind of hardware you are going to use. Moreover, when there is only one machine to choose from, you have a virtual monopoly and we all know what happens to price when it isn’t beaten around with a little competition. The perception of Mac because of the way Apple handles business is that they cater to the elite and are okay with only 5-10% of the market share. When you buy your Mac, coming from a PC, keep in mind whether your computer will have the software compatibility that you have come to expect and rely on.

The Mac camp will let you know just how amazing the Mac operating system is which is fully integrated with and works seamlessly with the hardware. An operating system named Unix which is “open source” was not built for Macs. However Mac’s use of Unix as a platform has made it incredibly solid and highly resistant to viruses.  Also, in part because of the Unix Platform, the Mac is an incredible tool shielded by amazing security, and requires far less maintenance.

There are few who could denounce the Unix platform upon which Mac resides.  Windows users could very well say that they are catching up to Mac with touch screen technology (Windows 8) and that they are compatible with a lot more software. The PC offers far more ability to customize its software and hardware. In addition, Windows offers great backwards-compatibility.

In conclusion, if everyone bought a Mac, many computer repair guys would go out of business, and the price of a computer would be unbearable…. until then, lets keep stoking the fiery debate between the Mac and Windows. There are common threads that run through all computers, like “don’t drop your laptop”.



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