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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16 Sep

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