Posted in: Technology

My Great Windows 8 Misadventure

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Windows 8 is receiving a massive amount of publicity lately. Microsoft loves to roll out every new operating system with enough hype to sink a battleship, and Windows 8 is no exception. As a dedicated journalist and incurable geek, I realized it was my duty to install the latest OS from Mr. Gates and have a look at all the high tech wonders introduced by the latest and greatest from the world’s largest software company. Little did I know, I was about to experience one of my ultimate computer misadventures.

Before I started, my son called me to say hi and I told him I couldn’t talk for long because I was about to install the new Windows OS. He laughed and said “Pop, Don’t do It. Windows 8 is for touch pads and tablets. You are going to be sorry.” I told him I was going to see for myself and keep an open mind. Well folks, I should have listened to my son.

Actually acquiring Windows 8 is the easy part. Simply access the Microsoft website and fork over $39.99 for the downloadable upgrade. Fast and painless, the entire process including the install took about 20 minutes. The Microsoft servers, which can take forever to download a tiny Windows 7 update, were simply flying. In less time than it takes to warm up yesterday’s leftovers, I was looking at the brand, spanking new Windows 8 desktop.

As many other reviewers have already mentioned, it was at that moment, my misadventures began. The new desktop is so overloaded with goodies and tweaks, it resembles the Hogwarts maze that Harry Potter had to negotiate to win the Triwizard Tournament. Thankfully the main hazard is not Blast-Ended Skrewts. Instead of facing flame shooting armored crabs, users must negotiate a desktop with more bright colors than a jumbo sized box of Crayola crayons and resist the temptation to run out of the room screaming .

Perhaps in time, a user will get used to a desktop with a fleet of multi-colored icons and moving their mouse to a corner or side of the screen to open other functions. For someone who simply wants to open a folder to access a file or log on Chrome to use Wordpad and type an article, Windows 8 is total overkill. I will never use 90 percent of the features; they simply get in the way and slow me down. All the movements, which would be easy and intuitive when using your hand on a touch screen, are awkward and tiresome with a mouse.

When it comes to the technical side of Windows 8, I have one major complaint. Windows 8 is actually Window 8. It prevents me from being able to open multiple windows on my 28 inch monitor, and as a journalist, I depend an assortment of high speed news tickers and a multitude of news websites. I also have several files folders and applications open at all times.

Jakob Nielson described the problem in detail on his blog:

Lack of Multiple Windows = Memory Overload for Complex Tasks

“One of the worst aspects of Windows 8 for power users is that the product’s very name has become a misnomer. “Windows” no longer supports multiple windows on the screen. Win8 does have an option to temporarily show a second area in a small part of the screen, but none of our test users were able to make this work. Also, the main UI restricts users to a single window, so the product ought to be renamed “Microsoft Window.””

“The single-window strategy works well on tablets and is required on a small phone screen. But with a big monitor and dozens of applications and websites running simultaneously, a high-end PC user definitely benefits from the ability to see multiple windows at the same time. Indeed, the most important web use cases involve collecting, comparing, and choosing among several web pages, and such tasks are much easier with several windows when you have the screen space to see many things at once.”

“When users can’t view several windows simultaneously, they must keep information from one window in short-term memory while they activate another window. This is problematic for two reasons. First, human short-term memory is notoriously weak, and second, the very task of having to manipulate a window—instead of simply glancing at one that’s already open—further taxes the user’s cognitive resources.”

I was also simply stunned by the suggestion I download a third party add-on that would restore my desktop to the straight forward Windows 7 desktop I have used and loved for so long. Why should I bother to upgrade to Windows 8 only to make it look like Windows 7 again. The primary features of Windows 8 are built around the new desktop; to make it look like Windows 7 is a waste of forty bucks.

It took me 20 minutes to install Windows 8 and about 14 hours to undo the damage. Since I purchased an upgrade, I didn’t have the luxury of installing the new OS on a separate partition, so I had to re-install Windows 7 from scratch and then re-install all my other software and files. The worst part was re-installing all the various online games I play in order to review them as The Inquisitr’s resident gaming writer.

While I do agree with my son that Windows 8 is perfect for tablets and touch screens, it is a confusing, overloaded disaster for anyone who uses a desktop or laptop with a mouse and keyboard. Microsoft should market Windows 8 to people who own devices that will benefit from the new features, admit their mistake, and develop a new OS for people who use standard computers, one without a million security holes that require constant urgent updates and patches. I’m back to Windows 7, and I learned my lesson from my great Windows 8 misadventure.

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Comments

42 Responses to “My Great Windows 8 Misadventure”

  1. David Harkness

    Why go looking for a folder to open a file when all you need to do is start typing the filename when on the start screen and selecting "files" on the right hand side? The search facility on Win8 is the best I've ever used. And did you not think of trying the Consumer Preview prior to release, which you could have put on a partition?

  2. Wolff Bachner

    enjoy it and use it in good health. i dont like it, i think its too busy and its meant for touch screens as do most of the users according to extensive surveys. ido understand you like it and it may work great for you. for me it is simply more trouble than its worth and i would much rather simply click one button than have to hit start and do a search every time i want to access a file.

  3. Wolff Bachner

    as i mentioned to giovanni, id rather click one button and open my folder from my taskbar like i always do instead of going to the start screen, clicking on the right and typing in a name to do a search. why take 4 steps instead of one. windows 8 in my opinion is meant for touch screens. if you are happy using it that is just great. i found win8 to be overkill and I like win7 better. you have no argument from me. its a wide world and we all have our likes and dislikes.

  4. Wolff Bachner

    hey readers. this is great. we are actually able to enjoy different things without resorting to insults and name calling. keep up the good work and enjoy the OS you prefer. I prefer win7 and that's my opinion. lets hear yours.

  5. Robert Hutton

    It wouldn't take too much for Microsoft to fix it:

    – Bring back the Start Menu (optionally, if they like).
    – Allow users to choose their preferred interface, then do everything (within reason) to keep them in that interface. (Like change all the default file associations so they run apps in their preferred interface).
    – Allow desktop users to run "Metro" apps in a window. (It may have to be a non-resizable one, but that would be OK).
    – If a user doesn't have a touchscreen, replace the hot corners with appropriate icons/tiles/shortcuts.

    Hopefully the outcry (and sluggish sales) will prompt them to do something like this in an update. ("Windows Blue" perhaps).

  6. Bill Reilly

    Wolff Bachner Why not just click one button and open your folder from your taskbar like you always do?… That functionality is still there, exactly the same as Windows 7… In fact, you can do EVERYTHING in Windows 8 that you can do in Windows 7… You seem to be over-complicating things with your bashing of Windows 8…

  7. Bill Reilly

    Wolff Bachner Then do it that way… You don't have to leave the Desktop to access files… File Explorer works the same way as Windows Explorer did in Windows 7…

    How long did you even try to use Windows 8 before you decided that you didn't like it?… an hour?… 2 hours?…

  8. Wolff Bachner

    please stop telling me how to use win8. im done with it. i found 95% of the features to be useless to me so why change from an OS that is working for me. That is why i decided to stay with win 8. i never said it wasn't possible to access files with win8, i said it was overkill. why switch from a functional os that i know and like to use an os with a ton of features i will never use. I am happy to use win8 on my tablet. i dont need it on my desktop computer and neither does 70% of the entire world according to surveys of corporations that said they are not planning ot go to win8.

    i really wonder if Microsoft is paying people to debate with anyone who doesnt want to upgrade to win8. every article i see is loaded with comments telling the author they didnt use it long enough or instructing them how to use it. The bottom line is in my opinion, win8 is a ton of bells and whistles most people dont want or need and the vast majority of users HATE THE NEW DESKTOP.

  9. Anonymous

    Less than a page of BS in which you barely describe any of your key issues. I hope you don't consider anything you wrote any semblance of journalism because its not. This is just another biased bash everything Win8 article. Win8 is essentially a speedier Win7 built with a bulletin board of sorts (start screen). The apps we would pin as shortcuts on the Win7 superbar are now dynamically changing and constantly updating Live tiles. Search is superior on Windows 8. Any thing you wanted to do in Win7 is still there, and for power users Windows Key + X is extremely powerful. You many be resistant to change but Win8 is the future. Microsoft is trying to have one ecosystem where you can work and play, whether that be on a tablet, phone, or desktop/laptop.

  10. Florian Beaubois

    It's mostly because we (i, at least) can't understand what's wrong with it.
    If you don't want to use the metro apps, then don't. That way Win8 works the exact same way Win7 does (only difference is that the start menu became fullscreen, but it still works mostly the same). Morever, you get a few nice extras (new task manager, copy manager, hyper V, and settings synchronisation).
    I've upgraded my desktop, laptop and work computer to it and i don't think i could go back to Win7.

  11. Michael Rudas

    The MS fanboys here (I hesitate to call them trolls) don't even address the main issues with Windows 8. Sure a (crippled) version of the Win7 desktop is only an [Alt]+[Tab] away, but it's an afterthought. The main don't-call-it-Metro Start screen has SERIOUS usability issues that MS can't rebut…
    http://www.useit.com/alertbox/windows-8.html
    Your forced reinstall issue is why I keep OS and data separate and use the free "Clonezilla" image backup once a month. It would have taken ten minutes to restore your original Windows 7 installation.

  12. Aaron Kulkis

    That's why I don't use MS Windows at all .. in 12 years of use, I've never lost my data under Linux. Windows constantly lost files..AND Windows is usually harder to use to get done what I want to do most of the time.

  13. Wolff Bachner

    Michael you got it right. i was describing my personal experience with win8 without launching into a long tech article. the article you linked, which i have read before, is a perfect technical analysis on win8. i was trying to keep it light and funny while discussing why I personally dont like win8 and all the win8 evangelists cant fathom the idea that someone may prefer another os. why pay more for something you dont even need. would you buy a semi truck to drive to the corner store?

  14. Wolff Bachner

    Florian Beaubois i didn't want to do a tech piece. i wanted to write a personal experience piece. since you insist i will let Jakob Nielson do the talking as he did a great job. this is my main technical issue with win8. as a journalist, i have to open many multiple windows to monitor trending news on several high speed news feeds and about other 25 websites. win8 is a nightmare for me.

    FROM Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox, November 19, 2012
    Lack of Multiple Windows = Memory Overload for Complex Tasks

    One of the worst aspects of Windows 8 for power users is that the product's very name has become a misnomer. "Windows" no longer supports multiple windows on the screen. Win8 does have an option to temporarily show a second area in a small part of the screen, but none of our test users were able to make this work. Also, the main UI restricts users to a single window, so the product ought to be renamed "Microsoft Window."
    The single-window strategy works well on tablets and is required on a small phone screen. But with a big monitor and dozens of applications and websites running simultaneously, a high-end PC user definitely benefits from the ability to see multiple windows at the same time. Indeed, the most important web use cases involve collecting, comparing, and choosing among several web pages, and such tasks are much easier with several windows when you have the screen space to see many things at once.

    When users can't view several windows simultaneously, they must keep information from one window in short-term memory while they activate another window. This is problematic for two reasons. First, human short-term memory is notoriously weak, and second, the very task of having to manipulate a window—instead of simply glancing at one that's already open—further taxes the user's cognitive resources.

  15. Michael Rudas

    As I'm currently writing in a Linux article, you don't take your date to prom on a tractor, nor do you plow a ditch with a limousine. Windows 8/don't-call-it-Metro may (or may not) be a great tool—but it's the wrong tool for the desktop.

  16. Wolff Bachner

    do not presume to lecture me about journalism. you are acting like a bullying windows 8 fanatic.. i dont like it and yelling at me wont convince me to use it. when an operating system prevents me from opening of than one window at a time i dont need it. it has tons of flash for people who like bright colors and it is great for people like like to bully other people and insult their work. go earn a living and get off my page. others managed to discuss agree with me and even offered suggestions how i could learn to like win8. you came here, acted like a punk and abused the privilege of commenting.

  17. Wolff Bachner

    Michael Rudas, i do appreciate your comments and your suggestion to use an app like clonezilla. unfortunately, many of the online games I have installed to play and review do not do well with cloning apps. It seems to screw up the various game updates to the point of disaster, at least with the ones i have tried so far. Even rolling back Windows 7 to the previous save will cause World Of Warcraft to go screaming mad and beg for a complete re-install. Maybe i will try clonezilla and see if that is any better than the other apps ive tried to clone my system.

  18. Wolff Bachner

    you need to learn to play with grownups without acting like a bully. the other folks who use and like win8 were all helpful and gave me suggestions. having a bad day perhaps or are you appointing your self to the Pulitzer prize committee for journalism?

  19. Wolff Bachner

    Bill Reilly when i can open more than one window at a time and work with a screen full of open windows, we will talk about it. till then ill stay with win 7.

  20. Kellen Masuda

    If you've already got it installed: Start8.
    If you can't afford the extra 5 dollars… then IDK.
    I've been using this since July. For everything that's wrong with this OS, I'm pretty sure MS isn't stupid enough to completely ignore every feedback they've received.
    To try something new is always a good thing, no matter how stupid it may be.
    If they updated Windows 8 and removed everything related to metro, I'd miss the start screen and the ability to snap things like messenger, mail, and music to the side.

  21. Kellen Masuda

    But trying to justify people into spending $40 dollars for the upgrade is another story. Like you, I don't think I can go back to 7, but honestly, I never constantly use a metro app in full screen.

  22. Michael Rudas

    Microsoft's problem isn't "stupidity"—it's arrogance. Besides, why pay money when "Classic Shell" is free? It still begs the question, "Why do you have to go out of your way to get back functionality that you used to have?"

  23. Mark Bagley

    For the first time in a very long time both of my 70-something year old parents feel as though they can actually sit down and use the computer thanks to Windows 8. The layout has been greatly simplified, the tiles are colorful and inviting, and having never been especially fluent in any prior Windows version the transition was rather easy for them. My mother actually Skyped me the other night for the first time ever! I myself have a few gripes with Windows 8 but on the whole I like it. A lot of the frustration I experienced early on stemmed from not knowing how to use it (e.g. search and printing). If you don't like the metro interface then install Stardock's start menu program and use the old desktop as you always did before. You could spend most of your time on the desktop if you really wanted to. Don't understand why everyone is crapping on it so much. It's really pretty decent.

  24. Kellen Masuda

    To answer your question, it's to have everything that I want and need in an OS. Yes, I paid extra money for eye candy. That and I prefer Windows 7's style of the start menu. Aside from that, my comment is merely suggesting that they improve what they have right now.
    Thanks to my school, Windows 8 was free.

  25. Anonymous

    Wolff Bachner

    Firstly you can open two "Metro apps" on the same screen.

    Secondly … Surely you discovered that you can use the Windows desktop just like in Windows 7 ? The way your blog reads you just looked at the start screen and never even found the desktop (and the task bar) and then complained because it wasn't there. Words completely fail me!

  26. Kellen Masuda

    Many respected reviewers said the same thing about low information density and the inability to view multiple apps at once (more than two). Do you think MS can make an official fix for this? RetroUI did. In my opinion, being able to snap apps was the right move, but to be able to resize apps in a windowed mode on the desktop would also make much more sense.
    If people are worried about the OS being less tablet like because of that then BAM! fullscreen! You've got what you had before.

  27. Michael Rudas

    I'm glad "Mom likes it"—really, I am—but that doesn't address the point of the article, which means that either you didn't understand the article or you're dancing with a straw man. There are SO MANY easy things that could have been done with Win8 on the desktop to make it better. Win8 runs on the most powerful mainstream hardware ever, yet ts uses a desktop paradigm that was abandoned by AOL over 10 years ago. Tiles are fine, but beveled edges, less garish colors, textures, and dropshadows for the central icons would have made discoverability so much easier. Why one window at a time? …and so on.

  28. Patrick Frye

    Any time I use a Win8 based machine I find myself always on the desktop, pretty much ignoring the Start Screen. Not good if Microsoft wants to start making money off their new Store.

  29. Kellen Masuda

    It's a matter of personal opinion, is it not? Do you go around trying to change people's minds thinking they are incapable and too uneducated to think for themselves? It's kind of insulting, especially when you really don't have to comment on everybody's personal opinions. If you like what you use, then great for you. Good job on finding the OS of your life.

  30. Gary Roberts

    Wolff Bachner — Wolff, did you actually use Windows 8. The task bar is still there, you can still open multiple windows. Windows 8 boots faster than windows 7 and runs all the hardware and software windows 7 runs. Microsoft included the new tile UI because it allows one to have a two in one OS without dual booting. As far as opening the tile UI and the legacy windows on the screen at the same time, this process works very simply. The tile UI will soon be complimented by Xbox, as well as, Windows RT. The tile UI works equally well with both touch and the traditional mouse and keyboard. We have Windows 8 installed on 5 computers connected to our home network and no one has experienced confusion or system problems. All the drivers are available for all of our hardware and even 10 year old games run on Windows 8. Again what the hell are you talking about not being able to use the task bar or open multiple windows. Windows 8 has all the features of Windows 7, except the start button, which can be replaced for $4.99 from Stardocks. Also, Aero is not included with Windows 8, which I do not miss. Stardocks provides several features allowing further customizing of Windows 8. My wife finds Windows 8 as easy to use as Windows 7.

  31. Gary Roberts

    The start screen is included to allow access to apps written for windows RT and soon Xbox UI, as well as, Xbox games will be available for the tile UI. Garish colors, you mean like, green, yellow, blue, red and orange? I would have preferred Microsoft included jpeg background options for the tile UI, but for $4.99 Stardocks offers a large array of tile UI desktop options, as well as, the familiar start button that works exactly like the Windows 7 button.

  32. Gary Roberts

    Michael Rudas , The only functionality that's missing is the start button and that has been replaced by the start screen. Your right, including an option install the former start button would have been nice, but it's the only thing aside from Aero that is not included that was available in Windows 7.

  33. Gary Roberts

    Michael you are both the fan boy and the troll. I'm glad your happy with Linux, but this is a Windows review. Wolff's description of his review as a light and funny review makes no sense. His review is a pointless denigration of a very sound and easy to use OS.