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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.

Flat UI design? WHY!?!?

Recently there has been some kind of movement towards a flat UI design. Personally I don’t understand the reasoning behind it. If you ask me, it’s hideous.

We worked for years on UI design to make people feel like the computer was more than just a tool, we made it feel like the computer was part of their life. Much of that was because we designed computers to be easier to use, easier to use programs, and user interfaces that felt like they weren’t just a part of a computer program but also felt like they were designed.

Now, it seems that we have all taken a giant step backwards and we’re all getting on the same bandwagon. It’s like we have fired all the artists and put the engineers in charge of UI design. Microsoft, Apple, hell even Android is getting in on the flat UI design. It’s hideous, I can’t stand this whole flat UI design. Has the whole computer industry gone mad?

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.

The confirmed new CEO of Microsoft is…

The confirmed new CEO of Microsoft is… Satya Nadella. Just like what I reported two days ago.

From the looks of things Ballmer will still be around. *boo hiss* If you ask me, he is completely responsible for the mess and the complete corporate dysfunction that we see in Microsoft these days. I’m sorry, Ballmer should be shown the door and kicked out on his rear end.

Bill Gates has been said to have stepped down as Chairman of the Microsoft Board of Directors, he is now a technical advisor to Microsoft. He will assume a new role on the Board as Founder and Technology Advisor, and will devote more time to the company along with supporting Nadella in shaping technology and product direction. Hopefully this means the company will be getting back on track after the complete train derailment that happened under Ballmer.

As for Ballmer, no offense but were a bad CEO. I’m glad you’re finally gone. You had very big shoes to fill after Bill Gates stepped down from the CEO position many years ago and you never came close to filling those shoes. You had no vision and I am not a fan of the direction you tried to give to Microsoft. As for Windows 8, I put the blame for that failed abortion squarely on your shoulders Ballmer. It needs to be shown the door much like you. Windows 8 and Metro should be taken out back and shot. As for you Ballmer, we’ll just show you the door.

I certainly hope that with this new CEO the direction of Microsoft will significantly change. And by that, have Windows 8 and Metro taken out back and shot, Old Yeller style. Windows 8 and Metro is a disease that needs to be eradicated with impunity.

Microsoft’s got a new CEO (rumored)

Rumor has it that Microsoft already has a new CEO lined up for the top spot in the company and that person is Satya Nadella.

OK, who is this guy? This guy is virtually unknown from outside of the company, but inside is a completely different story.

Satya Nadella has worked at Microsoft for more than 20 years. So if you think that Microsoft needs someone who knows the internal culture of Microsoft and knows the company inside and out, you really can’t go wrong with picking Satya Nadella.

Now, for some background on this guy. Satya Nadella first joined the company in 1992 where before that, he was at Sun Microsystems. He has also served in a number of other executive-type roles since before being picked (rumored) for the Microsoft CEO position. He started out at Microsoft in the Windows developer-relations group and moved on to the online services division. In recent years, he built up Microsoft’s cloud computing efforts as the executive VP of its Cloud and Enterprise group.

Unfortunately, with all of that being said above he has never run a company from the top spot. He has however worked as a member of some kind of technology staff at Sun Microsystems along with holding key roles at Microsoft, but never served as an actual CEO. Then again, the Microsoft division he has ran for a number of years is a $20 billion business, larger than many tech companies by themselves.

One of his key visions is the creation of better user interfaces and better backends. Let’s see, better user interfaces. Let’s hope that means that Metro is going to taken out back and shot, Old Yeller-style. Because, believe me… it needs to be. Metro is a horrible concept and is completely alien to what people expect from Windows. Windows consists of windows, program windows. NOT LITTLE COLORFUL SQUARES!

There also seems to be a strong liking of him inside Microsoft. He is highly respected by his peers inside the ranks of Microsoft. This guy has actual technical backgrounds. We can’t say that about Ballmer. Ballmer and his crew have been one of the most hated groups of people inside Microsoft and the complete corporate dysfunction inside Microsoft’s walls is proof of that.

Does this all mean that we’re about to see a complete 180 on behalf of Microsoft? Does this mean that Microsoft is finally going to start fixing itself? Listening to their customers? We don’t know, but we can certainly hope that will be the case. Does that mean that Metro is going to be taken out back and shot at dawn? Again, we don’t know but we can certainly hope that’s the case.

Give people what they want…

Want to help stimulate low PC sales, give the people what they want. And what exactly do people want? Windows 7, of course!

It seems that Hewlett Packard has done just that, they brought back Windows 7 for new PCs because of popular demand. Gee, we’ve only been screaming for Windows 7 to be allowed to be sold on new PCs for… I don’t know, since that train wreck known as Windows 8 came out. About time you guys listened to us. Maybe now new PCs will finally start selling again.

Maximum PC Magazine: HP Cites “Popular Demand” for Bringing Windows 7 Back

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.