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Windows 8.1 Review

A quick take on Windows 8.1. We still hate it.

Should you Upgrade to Windows 8.1?  Only if you have Windows 8 already installed.  No if you have Windows 7, Windows 8.1 is needed by Microsoft but not by you.

YOU CANNOT UPGRADE from Windows 7 to Windows 8.1.  Windows 8.1 will wipe out your apps and settings, you will will have to reinstall everything.

Overall we find very little value in upgrading.  We find no reason to give up Windows 7.  You might also be interested in our Cloud Computing and Software as a Service Review. (Adobe is now cloud computing only.  You rent and pay forever, you never own a license)

Things we like about Windows 8.1 - The Positive

  •  Boot up and shut down times are faster (after you take time to find where to shut it down)
  • The interface probably is fine for smartphone, mobile and tablet devices
  •  Security is the best on any version of Windows, ever.

Things we don't like about Windows 8.1 - The Negative - we still hate it

  • You cannot "upgrade" from Windows 7 to 8.1
  • Without a touch screen, mouse and keyboard users will be doing a lot more pointing and lot more clicking to get the same things done compared to earlier versions.
  • Arm and shoulder fatigue is guaranteed if you try to be productive on TOUCH screen desktops and laptops.
  • Windows 8 is not windowed as we know it, see below but multiple apps can be opened in Windows 8.1
  • Need a new PC? Windows 8.1 computers, standard version, are almost the exclusive choice at retail stores. Windows 8 Pro is difficult to find but you must have Pro if you want media center playback
  • You'll still need a mouse and keyboard - Windows 8 is a transition to touch computing but many many applications work only as desktop applications and are not touch centric or even usable with touch
  • Installing a program frequently creates multiple new tiles for items that were once installed in a folder, quickly junking up the start screen

Windows 8.1 sometimes (most times) does not have 'windows'.

The start screen is NOT a window; it consumes the entire monitor. In Windows 8.1, the start button is just a faster way to get back to the start screen.  Right click on the start button and you can get to PC management functions but not to programs (aka apps)  If you have 2 monitors you'll see 'start screen' tiles across all your real estate. You cannot size and resize the start screen - you see it all or you don't

Question: What is Microsoft thinking?

Answer: Make a version of Windows for the new world of tablets and smartphones. Build a Windows version as a marketing device and construct a food chain that you get locked into; like Apple's iOS and Google's Android. (both of these OS's are mobile / tablet centric). 

The day is likely to come when you can only buy software from the Microsoft store. MS will take its 30% cut and apps will be more expensive, there will be no competitive pricing

It's been said that Steve Jobs once considered a "start screen" for OS X, similar to iOS (iPhones, iPad, tablets).  Mr. Jobs nixed the 'start screen' realizing the different uses between productivity applications (desktop and laptops) versus media consumption and more limited purpose apps (tablets and smartphones)

Many Microsoft 'apps' on the Windows 8 initial start screen are permanent commercials to buy videos, music and applets from Microsoft.  

Most PC vendors with earlier versions of Windows installed their own "apps", then known as crap ware (stuff you had to buy to get fully functioning versions, most of the these apps were useless).  Microsoft is doing into the same act.

We all know that the start BUTTON is gone in Windows 8. (we think of the start button as a window in earlier versions). Windows 8 replaces it the start SCREEN.

The start screen is NOT a window; it consumes the entire monitor. If you have 2 monitors you'll see tiles across all your display real estate.  You cannot see (any or parts of) the desktop or open applications etc when you are on the screen.  In a word, annoying

Getting between the start screen and the applications you are working with requires a lot more pointing and clicking

At minimum, Win 8 might be better if the start screen could be windowed; but it cannot be. The same is true with other applet changes in Windows 8 such as Windows update, Windows personalization options and others.  (They will not be detailed here)

It is a pain to get between these non-windowed 'apps' and the applications you are working with (more pointing and clicking)

The start screen might be fine on a touch screen; especially for consuming media, reading email and viewing internet sites. It is not fine for getting work done.

Even more functions in Windows 8.1 are not Windowed they take up the full screen.

We choose not to tax our shoulders and arms using touch on desktop and laptop machines. Carpal tunnel syndrome caused by keyboards and mouse use were once a lawyers cherry pick for lawsuits. Touchscreens might be the next cherry. Unfortunately, Windows 8 demands touch if you are going to use the OS as designed.

Widows 8 Standard does not include the Microsoft media center, DVD playback etc. These features in earlier versions of Windows were the reason we have 3 desktop and 2 laptops in this household.  You must get Windows 8 Pro for Media Center to work at all and the buy Windows 8 Media Center Pack costing $9.99

Only one of our PC's now has Windows 8 (Our Home Theater Media Center - we upgraded to Windows 8 Pro.) We will only upgrade one of the other 4 machines (when one of the other 4 fails) to Windows 8.

Our Needs

We would prefer to have full function PCs when old PCs are retired but it won't happen with Windows 8.  The replaced machine will probably not be Microsoft Windows

Our opinion is that MS is doing many things to NOT keep us MS 'fan boys'.  We are amazed that Microsoft has given up on its Media Center playback options in Windows 8.  Currently, we have many DVDs and many recorded movies and TV programs, all stored on one computer and network streamed to the other machines.  You can not stream them to Win 8 without buying more expensive Windows 8 Pro, and buying the $10 Windows 8 Media Center Pro Pack

Wow Factor

One new feature in Windows 8 might be a WOW (aka, added value making Windows 8 of interest to you): Social Media is easier; you can unify your accounts for easy access.

Final Word

Windows 8 for desktops and laptops is of less value than every other version of Windows.  Media center is gone without buying Windows Pro and then add-ons, the desktop is a pain to get to, the start button is gone and Windows 8 demands more pointing and clicking.  It is an operating system that REDUCES productivity. 

We actually purchased a (as yet unused) boxed version of Windows 7 so we have it when one our older machines die

Windows 8 and Windows 8.1? We hate them. We are amazed that MS is forcing us to consider other computing choices

We ask the question again:  What was Microsoft Thinking?  New Answer:  Probably not enough.

keys:

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Windows 8 Review

Highlights:

Security is the best of any operating system

There is a learning curve that might be difficult for casual users

Windows 8 is less productive on non-touch computers

The Start Button is gone, Widows will not boot directly to the desktop

Windows 8 is not "windowed" in many places

 

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