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Home of my tech rants, free programs, and a story or two…

Windows OS Support

As of right now, all of the programs that I make available on this web site and any future programs will continue to support older versions of Windows including versions of Windows going back to Vista. Windows XP support will be phased out starting with System Restore Point Creator. The amount of people using Windows XP is dwindling fast so at this point I feel that keeping support for Windows XP is an undue burden on me to continue.

As I stated before, older versions of Windows including Windows Vista will continue to be supported. If that means I can’t move past utilizing Microsoft .NET Framework 4.0, then so be it. .NET 4.0 is the oldest version of .NET that’s still supported on Windows 10 and Windows Vista. Yes, there’s a lot of things in future versions of .NET that could make my life easier but that would eliminate support for Windows Vista and that’s something I simply don’t want to do.

I need to maintain support for as many versions of Windows as I can. Despite Microsoft’s heavy handed approach to upgrading users to Windows 10, there will always be people who will choose to stay with an older version of Windows and I intend to support these people now and in the future for as long as I can.

Windows 8.1 Update 1… it’s not that bad (REALLY!), Part 2

Here I am, July 1st. Still running Windows 8.1 Update 1. Yep, still running it and I haven’t at all thought about going back to Windows 7. I even bought a ModernUI app from the Windows Store! Very cool.

Now, there have been a few bugs that I have seen come up while using Windows 8.1 Update 1. It seems that when you close a ModernUI app the icon from it remains on the taskbar. It’s like the taskbar hasn’t been informed that the ModernUI app has closed. Could it be because of a weird interaction of Windows 8.1 Update 1 and ModernMIX? I don’t know. I have however did some testing.

Say I open a ModernUI app and force it to be full screen (bypassing ModernMIX) and then pull up the Windows Task Manager and then manually kill off the ModernUI app’s task, the icon for that task stays in the taskbar as if the app is still running. I have no idea why. I’m thinking that it may be an actual bug in Windows that Microsoft needs to know about and fix.

I have gotten over not being able to use WindowBlinds and the look of the UI doesn’t even matter to me anymore. I have gotten used to it.

As I stated in Part 1 of this blog post, now that I have actually taken the time to actually use Windows 8.1 and customize it what I need it be (more of a desktop OS than it was out of the box) I can’t see why I hated it so much. I look forward to the future Windows 9 and will probably be in line to buy a license of it when it becomes available to consumers.

I did test on a Windows 8.1 Update 1 virtual machine installation. I have two installations of Windows 8.1 Update 1; one in a virtual machine and one running on bare metal running on the same hardware. The virtual machine version doesn’t have ModernMIX installed in it. I opened up the Weatherbug ModernUI app, minimized it, loaded the Windows Task Manager window and selected the app instance and pressed End Task. The icon stays on the taskbar. Yep, it’s a bug in Windows and Microsoft needs to know about this. If anyone has a way to contact someone at Microsoft to report this bug, please send that info to me so I can report this bug.

Windows 8.1 Update 1… it’s not that bad (REALLY!)

Another Windows 8.1 blog post… crap, you’re going to be hating on it again. Aren’t you? No, not this time.

So I had to reload my computer’s operating system because things were getting “glitchy.” At the time I was running Windows 7. And by “glitchy” I mean things wouldn’t work correctly for no good reason. Programs would steal focus ripping me out of a full-screen game (Diablo 3). Needless to say, being ripped out of Diablo 3 while your character’s in a fight might just end up with your character dead. Windows Explorer would crash for no good reason when right-clicking on a file. What was causing it? I really don’t know but my working theory is that the Windows Registry was probably… uh… broken? Corrupt? Oh well, whatever the reason, things weren’t working correctly. So I reloaded my operating system.

I unplugged all of my SATA hard drives from their power connectors except for my SSD on which my OS will be installed on. I then popped in a freshly burned copy of Windows 8.1 64-bit into the DVD-RW drive and did a clean install. Now, I have an upgrade key so installing Windows 8.1 with an upgrade key is a bit more complicated than with a full license. I’m not going to go into the process of doing that here because that’ll just bore you and that’s not the point of this blog post.

Anyways, I installed Windows 8.1 and updated it to Update 1 and so far things have not been that bad at all. I have been using it for about a week now and have started to even use some of the ModernUI apps that are on the Windows Store (with ModernMIX of course). Oh yeah, I installed Start8 and ModernMIX to bring back a more desktop-like experience. With these programs installed the Windows 8.1 user interface isn’t really that bad.

I have WindowBlinds installed but I’m still using the default Windows 8.1 theme because there’s some kind of bug in WindowBlinds in which if you use any other theme other than the default Windows 8.1 theme the secondary taskbars on secondary monitors keep jumping up and down like a kangaroo.

What does that leave me? The default Windows 8.1 theme, the bland colored theme that comes with Windows 8.1. Do I care? Honestly, at first I cared but I guess as time progressed and I used the operating system more the user interface design started to not matter to me more and more. So what if I don’t have a stylish theme? Big deal!

Oh, back to Start8 and ModernMIX. I use several ModernUI apps including Facebook, Twitter, Slacker Radio, and WeatherBug. These apps are great. Now that I look back on the hate that I spewed regarding Windows 8/8.1 in the past, I have to wonder why I did that. Some of these ModernUI apps are great and with ModernMIX it makes them coexist with the traditional desktop just like any other desktop program that I have installed on my machine. And Start8 makes it so that I can completely avoid the ModernUI Start Screen. Yes, I have not seen the ModernUI Start Screen at all since I installed Start8. Again I ask… why did I hate Windows 8/8.1 in the past? I really don’t know.

OK, so how is Windows 8.1 Update 1 running on the same hardware when compared to Windows 7? Actually… Windows 8.1 Update 1 runs better than Windows 7 ever did on the same hardware. it runs smoother and faster than Windows 7. I did have problems in the past with Windows 8/8.1 but I think that was because I upgraded to Windows 8 from Windows 7. Now that I look back on it, I think that was a major source of all the pain that I had with Windows 8/8.1 in the past. Upgrade bad! Clean install good!

So there you have it… a positive Windows 8/8.1 blog post from me. Did you ever think that you’d see one on this site? Probably not.

Get Windows 8 to look like Windows 7, Aero and all…

One of the biggest gripes that I have with Windows 8 is that they took away Aero, the translucent window dressings that Windows 7 had. Many of us like that visual effect and to those of us that like Aero, Windows 8 looks hideous.

Until now.

I just found a theme on deviantart.com called Aero Ultimate. It says that it’s for Windows XP but it will install on Windows 8 with WindowBlinds 8. It makes Windows 8 look as close to Windows 7 as you can possibly get which is very awesome! Plus, the theme is free!

Many thanks to fediaFedia over on deviantart.com, his Aero Ultimate makes Windows 8 look awesome! Download it today!

Windows 8.1 Update 1… A Gigantic Step in the Right Direction

Yes, I have another Windows 8.1 blog entry but as you can see from the title of this blog entry it’s going to be a good one for the version of Windows that I have spread so much hate about on this site.

Two of the biggest improvements that I’ve seen so far in Update 1 is that on the Metro start screen the taskbar will continue to live on the bottom of the screen just like it does on the desktop. Metro apps will also be able to be pinned to the taskbar as well.

But there is one more improvement that I find that takes it not just one step but a GIGANTIC STEP in the right direction is the inclusion of minimize and close buttons on the top of Metro apps in full screen mode. About freakin’ time! This answers the whole question… how do I close this app? There’s no X button in the upper right corner of the app like on traditional Windows programs.

There’s also some talk about how the Start Menu of old will be returning in perhaps a Windows 8.1 Update 2. It will blend the best of Metro and the best of the old Start Menu; Metro widgets.
Yes, the image is small but it still will show what I want to point out. Notice on the left side of new Start Menu, the part of the Start Menu of old that we all love. And what’s that on the right side? Metro widgets, I mean tiles. A perfect blend of the old and the new. Now this is something that I can definitely get behind.

There’s also some talk that Metro full screen apps will run in a window on traditional desktops with a keyboard and mouse. Perhaps that will be included in a future Windows 8.1 Update 2.

All in all, Windows 8.1 Update 1 is a gigantic step in the right direction for Microsoft. They have finally listened to what we’ve been screaming on the top of our lungs for the past two years. If I were to run Windows 8.1 Update 1 today I’d still need to install a replacement Start Menu and install ModernMIX to make Metro apps be windowed but this update makes Windows 8.1 far more usable than it has ever been in the past for a traditional desktop user with a keyboard and mouse.

Now, if only they would bring Aero translucent Windows I’d be happy as a clam.

Windows 8.1… under the hood improvements.

I know what you’re saying, not another Windows 8.1 blog post. But, this is not like the posts I’ve made in the past. No, this actually speaks (somewhat) good about Windows 8.1.

Let’s talk about how Windows 8.1 is much smaller in stature. I have to hand it to Microsoft, they really trimmed the fat off of Windows. It’s smaller, lighter, and requires less hardware to run it. That’s good, I like that! Boot times are overall much faster which is good, I like that!

As proof I did a test. I created two identical virtual machines in VirtualBox and installed Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 (in separate VMs) and clocked the boot times. I don’t think I need to tell you which one won the boot up race. Oh well… I’ll tell you. Windows 8.1 beat Windows 7… by a wide country mile! Twenty to thirty seconds less than Windows 7! I’m not kidding you! So really, if not for the God awful user interface I’d run Windows 8.1. I really would. But no, the awful UI is what stops me.

Replace the UI with what we had on Windows 7 without the Metro garbage and I’d run it!

Am I biased?

Now, I could be biased here. Seriously, I could be. Because I do indeed like Windows 7.

Windows 7 was the first version of Windows that I can truly say has never caused me to want to pull my hair out. It’s fast, it doesn’t get in the way of what I want to do, and it’s rock solid stable. Unless you have particularly sucky hardware, Windows 7 runs smoothly and elegantly.

What Microsoft should have done was built upon the success of Windows 7 which is by far the most popular version of Windows Microsoft has ever produced by working under the hood. I have talked to a lot of people on the Internet and in real life, the general consensus is that they like Windows 7. When you have that majority of people liking your OS, why in God’s name would you mess with a good thing? You take what you have that’s already shown to be a gigantic success and build upon it. It’s smart business sense.

But no, Microsoft had to go and take a major gamble and they lost big time. And Ballmer is seen as the person who ushered in Windows 8 and he paid the price.

I certainly hope that Windows 9 fixes the issues that are so glaringly obvious in Windows 8/8.1 that you’d have to be blind, deaf, and a complete moron not to see.

There’s a vast majority of people who are like us that have grown up with computers or have been using computers for the last twenty years. That is the group that Microsoft basically told to go jump off a cliff with Windows 8. I see Windows 8 as the ultimate insult for those of us that have been with them for decades.

So why not just install Classic Shell?

That’s the argument that I see a lot of folks say when it comes to all of the obvious weaknesses that Windows 8 has on the traditional desktop. The answer that a lot of people put for forth is… you guessed it. So why not just install Classic Shell? It’s free, you can get the Start Menu back on Windows 8. What’s to complain about now?

Hmm… Classic Shell, you say? I’d need way more than that to have Windows 8.1 look even close to past versions of Windows.

First I’d have to get WindowBlinds ($9.99) because Microsoft arbitrarily decided that they would remove Areo. Seriously? Why?! Aero was nice, I liked the translucent window borders!

Second I’d have to get ModernMIX ($4.99) because I can’t stand the even few times I have to go to Metro land to change some damn setting that oh crap, you can’t change that in desktop land… you have to do that in Metro land and meanwhile we’re going to assault your eyes while transitioning to it.

That leaves the traditional Start Menu. You could go with Classic Shell but while you’re already using several Stardock programs you might as well use Start8, that’s $4.99. At this point you’re going to have to spend $20 for various Stardock programs. Or, better yet… get Windows 7 that you don’t need to buy all of that just to have Windows look and behave like Windows should look and behave.

Sorry Microsoft, again, as I have said in past blog entries here… you really screwed the pooch with Windows 8/8.1 on the desktop.

Windows 8 (8.1) vs. The Power User, Part 2

I seriously hope that Microsoft turns around and gets their fingers unstuck from their ears and stops yelling “LALALALA I can’t hear you! LALALALA” because unlike years ago when Microsoft was king of the castle, there is now competition. They aren’t the only game in town now, people have choices now; be it MacOSX, Android, or one of the various distros of Linux.

Microsoft, you’re no longer king of the castle, you have been dethroned. You no longer have the ability to tell people want they should be doing with their computers and how they should be doing it. That right was taken away from you when viable competition came to the game.

Microsoft, if you keep going the way you’re going you’re going to lose the very market that keeps you alive, the Power User. The Power User is the user that suggests new products to their friends and family, they are the people who their friends and family come to to get suggestions on new devices and products. If you alienate the power user you’re going to lose much more than just the power user, you’re going to lose the power of their suggestions and their suggestions are as good as gold. Never underestimate the power of the Power User, they can make or break you.

Windows 8 (8.1) vs. The Power User, Part 1

As many of you know, I develop the highly popular program known as Restore Point Creator. It’s a program that gives users (Power Users) far more control over how System Restore works in Windows. It gives you all of the ability to use and maintain System Restore all in one easy to use program without having to go to various different places in Windows to maintain your system’s System Restore. This program was written by a Power User for Power Users.

On Windows 8/8.1 it seems that Microsoft wants to take the power away from the power user. When developing the program for Windows 8 there’s a lot of hacks that I have to add to the system to keep Microsoft’s hands away from System Restore. For instance, I have to add several registry entries just so that I can keep Windows 8 from deleting restore points. Why Microsoft? Why are you deleting restore points that the user created?

Now, I understand that Windows 8 was created for tablets and other various touchscreen devices that might have limited amounts of storage space but on the desktop people have huge storage devices. For those types of machines allow the user to keep as many restore points as they want. If they want 16, let them. 24? Let them. 36? Let them! Who’s in charge here? Last time I checked it was the user, the person sitting in front of the keyboard and mouse that owns the computer in question; not Microsoft.

But here I am having to fight Windows 8 in that it seems to want to delete restore points for no good reason other than the fact that it seems to think it may be on a tablet that has limited flash memory storage. The problem is that we’re not, we’re on a desktop with hard drives in excess of 750 GBs of storage space; quit assuming that we’re using limited flash memory storage space.

Once again the idea that this operating system was designed for tablets and other touchscreen mobile devices comes up. It was then shoehorned into being a desktop operating system. A “one size fits nobody” paradigm.