During my recent two-month sabbatical, I took the opportunity to do a few
things that I’d been putting off.
One of those things was to upgrade my main machine – a nearly five-year-old,
quad-core desktop with eight gigabytes of RAM – to Windows 8. Not a dual boot. Not
a “try it in a virtual machine.” No, this was a commitment. I did this with the
intent to completely commit to Windows 8 moving forward and suffer through whatever it is that I’d been hearing of from people for the previous few months.
I was deeply disappointed.
Not by Windows 8. With only a couple of exceptions, it’s been great.
Instead, I’m disappointed by all of the wailing and gnashing of teeth that I’ve
been hearing from readers and in the tech press.
If you’re good with Windows 7, then you can be just fine with Windows 8.
Mostly because, Windows 8 essentially is Windows 7.
I can hear heads exploding already. Let me explain.
Become a Patron of Ask Leo! and go ad-free!
Disregarding my own advice
I started my process by completely disregarding what I’ve long held as a
standard piece1 of advice
when moving from one version of Windows to another: do a clean install.
I did an actual in-place upgrade of the Windows 7 Pro. Yep, I totally
understand that reformatting and starting from scratch is a royal pain. I’m
probably worse than most in having lots and lots of different applications and
utilities and other what-nots installed and customized on my machine –
especially the one that I use every day. I didn’t relish the thought of having
to reinstall and reconfigure everything again.
I also wanted to tempt fate. In a sense, I wanted to experience the worse-case scenario so that I could see just how bad it might be and hopefully gain a better understanding of why people were complaining.
It was not to be.
It. Just. Worked.
In fact, it was one of the smoothest upgrades that I’d ever done. After the
upgrade, my machine rebooted and I was looking at a Windows 8 that looked
amazingly like the Windows 7 that preceded it.
The reason why my 8 looks like my 7
What tends to freak people out the most about Windows 8 is the tiled Start
screen. My machine bypasses that on boot and lands directly on the
Here’s what a common Windows 7 desktop looks like:
And here’s what a Windows 8 desktop looks like as I have it running:
(Full disclosure: That’s not my actual desktop, but a virtual machine
configured the same way.)
They look pretty similar, don’t they? All I did is install exactly one free program that I’ve
Now, you can argue all day about whether Microsoft should have made a
traditional Start menu an option in Windows 8 or not, but the fact is that they
did not. As a result, Classic Shell (and several other similar programs) solve
the problem quickly and for free.
In my case, I had already installed Classic Shell in Windows 7 as part of my
earlier evaluation and elected to leave it there. Like almost everything else
on the machine, it survived the upgrade and worked. The tiled Start screen
appeared for a moment and then was replaced by a very familiar desktop,
complete with my prior customizations.
Seriously, running Windows 8 with Classic Shell is pretty darned close to
running Windows 7.
What didn’t work
That’s not to say that there weren’t any issues. Here’s what I did
The Display Link software that supports my three-monitor setup “disappeared”
after a while. I never really bothered to find out why or how, because after a
while, I rebooted the machine and it began working. I suspect that it was
updated at some point by Windows Update to work with Windows 8.
My backup software, Macrium Reflect, required that I reenter the product key
before it would work.
My old HP Color Laser Jet 2600n network printer reports an error after every
print, even though the print actually succeeds. Fortunately, trying to be as
paperless as possible, I don’t print often these days.
My long favorite ftp software,
WebDrive, failed; the version I was running didn’t support Windows 8. A
$60$32 upgrade would, but my reliance on the software has declined over the
years. For now, I opted for FileZilla, another free ftp/sftp solution.
Not only is my long-time favorite virtual machine software, Parallels Workstation,
not supported on Windows 8, but it turns out to be completely discontinued
on Windows. (Parallels is focusing on their “run Windows on your Mac” product
and their higher-end server offerings.) This ended up being the single biggest
expenditure of time, as I converted several virtual machines over to Oracle’s
After close to two months of normal usage, that’s honestly it. Everything
else, including all of my other “major” applications like Microsoft Office,
Photoshop, even World of Warcraft, worked fine.
Heck, a few things surprised me by just working! For example, the keyboard
macro software that I use,
Auto Hotkey, Classic Shell (as I mentioned above), and my system’s
sound support2 which is
often a cause of problems for folks.
With a fair amount of Windows 8 experience under my belt, the recommendation
I’ve been making for some time doesn’t actually change much:
As good as it is, I’ve not found a truly compelling reason to upgrade from
Windows 7. If you have Windows 7 and you’re happy, I wouldn’t yet bother to
On the other hand, if you have a tablet/touch screen computer, then Windows
8 is absolutely the way to go.
If you get a new machine and it comes with Windows 8 pre-installed, DON’T
- Realize that the tiled Start screen is nothing more than the old Start
menu except that it fills the entire screen and has bigger buttons. Really.
That’s all it is. Sometimes, that conceptual understanding makes it easier for folks to get used to it.
- If that doesn’t do it for you, then do not hesitate to install Classic
Shell to get your Start button and traditional Start menu back. Once you do,
you’ll feel right at home.
- Realize that the tiled Start screen is nothing more than the old Start
I’ll have more on it in a future article, but if you’re using Windows 8 on a traditional desktop or laptop, I also recommend that you avoid using the apps that are part of the tiled Start screen as much as possible. Instead, use the ones that you find on your traditional desktop. There are a few gotchas
– for example, the tiled Internet Explorer isn’t quite the same as the Internet
Explorer launched from the desktop (ditto for Skype, Kindle Reader, and
probably several others). Unless you’re actually on a tablet – and perhaps even
a smaller one at that – the desktop applications are probably preferable and
less confusing when making the transition.
Bottom line: I just don’t get it
So with all that being my experience so far, I have to say: I just don’t get
I just don’t understand the Windows 8 haters. The single biggest objection –
the tiled Start menu – is so easily dealt with that I have a hard time
understanding where all the vitriol comes from… although I fully expect folks
to try to educate me in the comments below .
1: One piece of advice that I did follow was to perform a full
image backup before the upgrade. You just never know. If the worst
happened, I could relatively quickly reset my machine to its un-upgraded
2: Doubly surprising because this isn’t a national name brand machine, but
rather one from a local vendor.
106 comments on “There’s Just No Need to Hate Windows 8”
Great article, Leo, as always. But a few things I’ve found via Win8 vs Win7 et al that you might not have bumped into yet.
Windows 8 Store apps (those that are represented by tiles in the Windows home page) only run as full screen or a fixed size “snapped” to another app. So this means two things: either you have one app visible or two. Period. And there’s no options to resize them. So, for example, if you want to run Skype and Outlook and see both at the same time, you have very few options. For this you probably want to jump into the desktop and use the traditional version of these apps–but you’ll have to find the “desktop” version of Skype, as the version that comes with Windows 8 is a Windows Store app only.
You’ll also have to deal with the fact that even running Classic Shell (which I rely on completely) the charms menu will pop up when your mouse hits the side of the screen. You can cancel that behavior in the configuration of Classic Shell.
If you don’t run Classic Shell and you’re not using a touch-based computer you are hosed.
For me the good news is similar to what you found: under the hood Win8 is a great OS, fast, light, and robust. The UI, however, will drive you crazy if you’ve used Windows for any time at all. (Frankly, having used Win8RT on my Acer tablet for several months now, I’m less than awed with the touch experience compared to an iPad, but that’s just my opinion).
Leo, my experience parallels yours and I couldn’t agree more with your comments as to what all the squawking about Win8 is about. I did a clean install of Win8 on a brand-spanking-new Win7 machine in late October 2012, I immediately also installed Classic Shell plus all my favorite applications like Microsoft Office, and it’s been “smooth sailing” ever since. Win8 is faster than Win7, it’s more secure, and it feels exactly like the latter. Presently I have Win8 on two machines and Win7 on one. I, too, am perplexed about the many complaints. Win8 is no Vista by any stretch of the imagination. I’ve been there. I appreciate your input.
I mostly agree with you. My only complaint has been the driver compatibility. I spent $1200 on a shiny new Win8 machine as a Christmas present for my dad. Long story short, he was very disappointed when I told him I couldn’t give him his new computer because it blue-screened on boot-up…despite my having spent several hours trying to fix the problem.
(After several angry phone calls, the manufacturer eventually sent a DVD with updated drivers. It’s worked fine since.)
Also, since upgrading my laptop to Win 8, the touchpad on my laptop no longer registers the scroll gesture. Annoying, but no reason to revert back.
I, too, was hesitant to take the plunge into Windows 8, for all the same reasons as everyone else. (The “everything’s a touch-enabled tablet” mindset of many “Metro” apps is probably near the top.)
However, last November I was “forced”(*) to upgrade my Windows 7 laptop to Windows 8, and I pretty much agree with your “what was all the fuss about” opinion. I haven’t bothered with Classic Shell, and instead have grown accustomed to the tiled menu. (And I like the global “search” capabilities in it.) I still do 99% of my work on the “old” desktop, and the few changes rarely get in my way.
Under the hood, Vista is Windows 6. And, ignoring the marketing hype, “Windows 7” is really Windows 6.1, and “Windows 8” is really Windows 6.2. (Just open a command prompt window and type “ver” if you don’t believe me.)
(*) The HD in my Windows 7 laptop died. After installing a new HD and restoring my backup, Windows started throwing up the “not genuine” warning. (The only change was the hard drive.) Apparently, the new HD was enough to trigger Windows’ WGA tests, which failed. After numerous attempts to remedy this (it turns out that one of the critical system files, which I apparently never use, but which WGA needs to verify things) had been corrupted some time in the past. Being a “protected” file, I wasn’t able to find a way to fix the situation. It became clear that my options were to factory-fresh restore the system, and reinstall all of my programs, or bite the bullet and upgrade to Windows 8. Given that the upgrade was only $39, it was the most cost-effective method of getting me up and running again.
I work for the publisher of WebDrive, and I wanted to let you know that an upgrade is actually only $32. The new version also does support Windows 8.
If you ever have any questions or concerns, please feel free to visit our online helpdesk at http://www.srthelpdesk.com. Thanks!
Well, my experience has been vastly different. I recommended to my boss that he stay with W7, but he went and took the plunge. The two primary things he wanted to do with his new laptop were participate in an online course and get his Comcast email using Windows Mail, and without having to use the web interface. The proprietary (an industry solution I can’t remember, but not specific to this learning center) format for the online videos isn’t supported by W8, and the web is full of people with problems accessing Comcast. He returned the machine and went back to his Windows XP PC, both of which work fine using those sites/tools. After an hour plus of trying to help him and engaging with various Help Desk/Support areas, I was getting comfortable with figuring out where things were, but if you can’t make ordinary programs work, that’s not good. Interestingly, I found the settings for Comcast online, typed them in explicitly, and it wouldn’t work. I put in the bare minimum account information on my iPhone, and boom, we were connected and configured in under 20 seconds. I went to the settings the phone had automatically generated, and they mirrored the ports and settings I had typed into W8. I’m still staying away and will continue to recommend others do the same.
I completely agree that Windows 8 is fine except for one thing: I don’t know that it is different enough to be worth it, if you don’t have a touch screen.
My wife wanted a tablet with MS office, so she got a Surface RT. She now loves the touch screen aspect.
I went back to Windows 7 after testing Windows 8 but am looking for a good touchscreen and will go back to it when I find one.
Microsoft has the potential to have phones, tablets and PCs all on basically the same interface. Could be interesting.
You can easily make the Windows Store Apps run like desktop applications with the $4.99 utility ModernMix from StarDock.com, the folks who gave us Start8 (for $4.99 I think it’s a much more nimble and stable tool than Classic Menu for most folks). ModernMix enables Modern UI apps to open in the desktop in a conventional window like your desktop applications do — completely with minimize, maximize, and close buttons. It works seamlessly, just like Start8 does. And it’s available as a 30-day free trial. Well worth checking out. It overcomes Mr. Brown’s concern.
Welcome back to the great work :) :)
Because you just mentioned Oracle’s VM,
I would be very grateful if you could supply a few details regarding the compatibility of an Oracle 11gR2 database installaton with Win 8.
As by Oracle’s web site and documentation,
database 11gR2 requires Win 7 Pro 64bit,
which means that officially it is not supported
with Win8 .
As by your explanation in this newsletter,
“Win8 is just Win7”, so I guess that it should work however ?
I plan to acquire a new laptop for this specific purpose of installing a personal Oracle database
for study, and, though I am an experienced Oracle developer, I miss a complete understanding of the installation issues, whether
a direct installation or a VM installation would be better (aka easier to control and manage).
Any information or links in this direction would be great :) :)
Thanks a lot in advance & Best Regards,
I have tested Windows 8 and I am not ready to make the move at this point. I have 2 major complaints. First, Windows 8 does a lot of “big brothering”. In other words, the start page shows sites I’ve visited and other information that I would prefer it NOT remember – or at least not display at start up. #No, I’m not talking about porn – but I could see this as a real problem for users.# I don’t like Microsoft watching my every move. I don’t like loging in with an email address. This is still a PC – and I like to keep it Personal! and 2, Solitare is gone!
I put Classic Shell on every Windows 8 machine I set up and to be honest, it should be on every Windows 8 computer in the stores…unless it’s an Apple store and they’re using it to sell Macs. Also, the default applications should be set to the full desktop applications, not to the awful tablet apps.
I haven’t met anyone over the age of 15 who likes the new start menu or the new apps. I know what MS was thinking when they foisted it on everyone, I just think they’re badly mistaken that making traditional computer users adopt their tablet start menu will sell Surface tablets. It won’t, it will sell Macs and iPads.
Printscreen97, textbridgepro, Epson Smart Panel, Office 2000 …. don’t run on 7 or 8.
But do if 7 is upgraded to pro which runs XP. :)
Too much money required for 7 and 8 with little benefit and lots of negatives.
New energy-efficent laptop hardware prompted us to replace windows 8 on Lenovo G580 with XP.
Google ‘lenovo g580 windows xp tutorial’ for project details.
If it’s really windows 7 why pay for an upgrade. This sound like all microsoft ‘upgrades’ wherein they change the menus and everything else is the same, but they let people pay for a ‘new’ version.
Indeed, there’s no reason to hate Windows 8. There is a reason to be amazed by the concepts it introduces though.
Microsoft now has to wait for the developers to catch up and adapt their apps to the new infrastructure, so don’t blame Microsoft because they had to balance the two things, the new concept and the old ways. This is still one heck of a product.
The new metro design is revolutionary as it introduces some concepts which are here to stay. We’re just looking at the first version. The general idea seemed to have been to encapsulate information and to therefore break free from the information overload we’re all experiencing. And to use the full screen (doh!) for information you really need, without frames and menus and the like. It apparently took us 28 years of cluttering the screen with more and more information until someone realized we could use a full screen on a PC.
Instead of having to load the web browser, navigating to Bing.com (or using a bookmark), and then seeing a frame around the whole page, with all the bookmarks, minimize/resize/close buttons, various menus with tons of options, status bar at the bottom telling you things you don’t really care about if you’re not a developer – Windows 8 removed all that. It just gives you Bing. Nice background image, one box for your input. Can it get more minimalistic than that?
It just has a clean feel to it.
Weather is yet another amazing app. Your jaw just drops when using it for the first time, if you’re used to AccuWeather and similar sites. This is a whole new concept. Instead of accessing a website, you’re accessing something which much more resembles a computer game in design.
Not to mention the FilmOnTV app, where one channel is giving you blockbuster movies for free, all day, every day, HD, with no copyright infringment. This one is not by Microsoft but it’s what I show to people when giving them a quick tour about Windows 8. The response is 100% the same in all cases – “I want thaaat!”
I’m also loving the Maps app. Makes Google Maps seem outdated like it’s from 1995.
Skydrive is awesome too. Probably my favorite. The mere fact that it’s integrated within the system beats the hell out of Drobox and all other similar services. And the interface is clean – as it’s not a website but an app.
Prior to Windows 8 we were in a world of PCs which were really useful but badly needed a redisign of the entire infrastructure, and Android/iPhone which are kind of nice but not usable for anything, except for kids’ games. Try doing office work on a smartphone or a tablet. Now we have a blend of the two worlds which will, I hope, become a standard and the route of future development.
And all that at the expense of one lousy Start button. Come on. People who complain about the loss of a Start button are the people who are just barely capable of using a computer to create an Excel spreadsheet. People who know how to open Word but have nothing to write. The people who don’t really know how to use computers, but instead have their automated ways of doing things without ever learning anything new. So they resent Microsoft for forcing them out of their comfort zone.
Yes, we lost the Start button, but to get something much better. Revolutionary apps. In a tiled display. Installing one of those “give me back my Start button” programs is pathetic. Learn to love the Start menu or go down with it.
Windows 8 is an ingenious product. I can’t imagine how would I feel if I developed it myself, gave it to the world, only to find out that all the benefits are not important because the people didn’t really want a change.
My only conclusion would be that people are pretty dumb. In the earlier days, computers were used by technical people, which could be said to be more intelligent than the average, and now they’re used by any random idiot. That might be the explanation why sales of tiny touchscreen gadgets which run 20-year-old games is so popular these days.
These days, you got to develop dumb products. Windows 8 is not one, and there’s no hype, so that’s why the reviews are negative.
By the way, in the 90s I hated Microsoft.
I ungraded 2 of 3 computers to windows 8 and left one with windows 7. I have found the windows 8 OS to be pleasant and user friendly after a few months of acclimation. That being said I have experienced some stability issues with w8. On one machine I get intermittent clipboard errors when downloading in xnews. This is more pronounced if outlook (Office 2012) is running On the other machine google chrome will frequently fail to complete loading web pages. IE will load and complete so much faster that I am beginning to speculate as to whether there is a deliberate bug.
On a slight digression. I am still trying to get my trusty HP LJ1012 printer to run as fast as it did under XP. This is also an issue with W7. I have seen fixes in the variious forum groups but none of them works for me for more than a few days.
I realise that the lack of a driver from HP is a little off topic here but it offends me that I am expected to dispose of a very good printer because HP decline to provide an adequate driver. The driver they supply slows down what was a racehorse and turns it into a hobbled donkey.
I had an older computer running XP, and throughly loved it, then after ten years the hard drive chewed itself up. Okay was my reaction, and switched to the even older eMac (PeoplePC) that can’t be upgraded to beyond Safari 10.4.11. What a pain in the tookus. So I said what the heck and bought spanking new HP running Win8. Learning curve? Yes, but it is enjoyable being back in the windows fold again. And it really helps to have Leo, along to help.
I built a new desktop computer, and since Windows 8 was on sale (around $80 for the upgrade), I decided to install it. Bad mistake on my part. I immediately became lost in the touch tablet atmosphere. Also, I found out that the home networking interface had changed so dramatically, it would not allow for communication with my Windows Vista Network. Even though the Networking part of it really bugged me, I tried it for a few days, but was so aggravated by the whole change, I called Microsoft for a replacement Vista DVD and installed that one. I know the world is now dealing with touch/tablets computers, but I can’t deal with it considering the graphics software I use daily. Microsoft should have come out with at least an alternative surface for desktop users.
I got a new laptop loaded with Windows 8 and I actually like the tiled start screen. I’m still getting used to it, but I like it just the same. I still have my old laptop running Windows 7, but I don’t really use it anymore. I think it takes a while to get used to any new OS, at least it does for me. :)
My complaint about Windows 8 is really about the entire direction Microsoft is going.
I am running a business. I need a “Business Class” operating system. When I purchase an operating system labeled “Pro”, I expect to get Business Class.
That is not what Microsoft is delivering. Every now release adds more time to the process of preparing a PC for my users. Stripping out the games, turning on “real” networking, etc., and now I have to provide 3rd party tools so my desktop users can have a desktop readily available to reach their desktop applications.
Sure, Windows 8 can be coaxed into being business desktop friendly, but why should professional users have to waste time doing that? Why can’t Microsoft actually deliver a “Professional” grade opsystem right out of the box?
By the way, have you noticed the Windows 8 ads? They are all about your 10 year old child painting pictures of flowers, and other very unbusinesslike activities.
Where are the examples of running MRP, Accounting, Engineering, or serious 3D CAD applications?
It seems like business users, who are really the backbone of Microsoft’s income, have been relegated to unwanted stepchild status.
Good article and makes sense except, I just read where Microsoft is in a squabble with Google over Gmail, and I’m really surprised of their tactics!
I have a Gmail account and don’t want the Operating System of all things to be messing with how I use my Gmail account!
You almost had me convinced, however I will stay with W7.
Let me make sure I understand where Leo’s coming from on Windows 8: It’s a fine operating system just as long as you install some third party software to make it work like everyone expects it to.
Or option 2: get used to it
I’m going with option 2 because I don’t believe in training wheels and mostly because my job is helping other people work with their computers. If I don’t get used to it, I can’t help others with the this.
I believe all of the outcry against Win8 is mostly because we have come to expect that suceeding generations of operating systems should be easier to work with not harder. They should carry forward with them the basics of the preceeding systems not abandon them.
example: it took me way too long to figure out how to shutdown Win8 but I guess that’s a result of the decision to abandon the Start button. I mean really! if MS was trying to make us feel more comfortable with Win8 by tacking on a Win7 looking OS, then they could have at least make work like Win7 instead of some lobotomized ghost of the old OS.
stop me before i really start to rant.
I’m not the expert that Leo is, nor do I have Windows 8 yet, but it would be wrong to think that on previous versions nothing is being monitored.
I will give you two reasons to upgrade (which are probably the same one): speed and CPU usage. It is just plain faster.
I upgraded my HP laptop (which will only take 3GB of RAM) and which came installed with Vista to 7 and then to 8. The fan ran 100% of the time at 100% speed with Vista, 75% of the time at 75% of the speed with 7 and hardly ran at all with 8. And it booted faster. And it was snappier. Why do I say “ran?” My son needed a Windows 7 machine for his college work, so we had to downgrade.
I like the full applications better than apps, I don’t like how the escape button doesn’t close out the tiles (F4 instead), I love the Bing app and I love how it. Just. Works.
I’ve had my new Windows 8 machine for about four months now. I’ve installed Classic Shell and bypassed the tile screen and done a few other little tweaks here and there, and it is now workable. However, I still resent the fact that my POP3 mail won’t work, Printshop won’t work, and I can’t turn off the nagging “get a microsoft account” message. I don’t WANT a microsoft account. I also miss the ability to run the games in a smaller window and I don’t understand why they removed the ability to reset scores. These are trivial gripes, I know, but nevertheless, annoying. I don’t expect less features from a new version and that’s what I feel we all received with Windows 8. I remain a lover of XP.
I recently got a new laptop with Windows 8 and I love it…no need to install Classic Shell for me. The only snag I have run into is that TruCrypt still hasn’t developed a program for Windows 8, so I had to install Linux on my old laptop so I can access my encrypted files.
@ James Morris
You’re right, but MS started showing that attitude at least as far back as Vista.
A Win7 (Home or Pro) computer has a folder called “My Pictures” and one called “My Music” and one called “My Videos” which are specialized repositories for their specific kinds of file. Everything else (like the kinds of files most business users actually mostly use in their businesses are in “My Documents”, which is fine as it is for anything for which the OS doesn’t have a special means of dealing. But, MS encourages applications to junk up “My Documents” with pretty much anything they want, very little of which will be anything that the user actually needs to see and which would probably be better off over in “AppData”. So users have to wade past a lot of extraneous folders to get at their documents.
People just don’t like change. I just bought a new Dell with 7 so I’ll stay there for now.
I’m waiting to see what you say about Outlook!
Didn’t really want to switch to Win 8, but my vintage Compaq finally gave up the ghost — spilled one too many drinks over the keyboard — so decided to get new laptop — Toshiba Satellite — lots of RAM, higher speed processor, really fast graphics, and 500G HD — for less than the cost of replacing a HD. But it came with Win 8 installed. So bit the bullet. Data was backed up on Carbonite — so no problem there but nobody had told me it take two and a half days to download the whole thing, but it did put everything back where it belongs. I had difficulty handling the tiled start screen so installed one of the shells to get back my Win 7 Desktop and all is well. Problems: do not understand the file structure and where programs and associated data is located. For instance, I use Kindle for PC, Nook for PC, and ADE. Each has their own library folder that can be addressed by File Explorer. But the Win 8 versions didn’t recognize them and I couldn’t side-load anything. Reinstalled the basic programs for Win 7 and all is well — they immediately recognized their own libraries and made all the books, etc. available. On the other hand. Same with Quicken. My question is, is there anyway you know of to create a desktop shortcut for an app tile? And where are the Win 8 apps executable programs?
I just need it explained why I have had to go through 5 installs. 3 on my laptop and 2 on my HP Touchsmart. Always went to new OS other than Vista with excitement. Been messing with PC’s since the late 70’s. Laptop install went fine and then failures on restart (hang) made me force a power off after waiting for an hour. Re-installed again and same. Now to my HP Touchsmart: Same procedure. Failed to shutdown or restart upon updates. Had to do the same force shutdown. Eventually with both machines I was is a real mess with checkdisk, etc. being run. Other than that I really liked Windows 8 but agree that the Start screen is really just a bunch of icons that we were advised to keep icons to a minimum so the desktop is not cluttered.
Soooo – no reason to HATE Windows 8, but apparently no reason to go to it either (unless performance really IS improved over Windows 7).
I agree with all you said.
I needed a new laptop – the old one was 9 years old with a 60 GB hard drive and 500k of ram, running XP, and never really used.. Its time had come. All my other personal machines are Windows 7, with high end hardware et al.
So I bought an HP laptop, with 6 GB RAM and a 750 GB drive, with Windows 8. The first thing I did was figure out how to get rid of the tiled desktop. And then I learned about the Charms bar. Once I had both of those 2 things under my belt, it’s like Windows 7, without the start button, which I can live very nicely without.
The “new” Windows Defender sure looks ike Microsoft Security Essentials – don’t know why MS had to change its name.
I don’t plan to convert my 3 desktop systems to Windows 8, as there really no reason to do so. At my age, MS will probably support Windows 7 until I’m gone.
I too had problems setting up email with the Win 8 tiled email. I had the Office 2007 install disks, so installed the whole suite — including Outlook 2007 which latched on to my original pst file and continued on as if there had been no interruption. Surprised that the whole Office 2007 suite works perfectly — no need to invest in a new Office. The games are still a problem. I like to play solitaire whenever I am put on hold waiting for someone in India — but could not find Win 7 versions of sol and spider. Only thing I can use so far is the Win 8 games tiles and they are so cumbersome and takes forever to load them. Anyone know where I can find sol.exe?
Went to a Dell Win8 laptop out of the box. After 2 weeks of a great deal of hair-pulling I took the *&$%! thing back!
Tried to d/l some helpful apps, perhaps they did download but where they went I never could figure out. I couldn’t find most of the stuff that I might be familiar with from Win7. Mail was a joke no matter what program I used.
Hope Win7 lives forever…!
I installed Windows 8 on my 4 year old Asus eee netbook (the first one available with a hard drive). The application tiles simply don’t run. A message comes up saying something to the effect of the screen resolution is incompatible with the app. I can work around it by changing the screen resolution, but since that resolution isn’t supported, the display is a bit fuzzy. But at least it works in case I need a particular app for some reason.
But none of that is a problem for me, as I’m not that interested in the apps. I already had Classic Shell running on my machine. Now I’ve been using Windows 8 since the first day it came out and I seriously forget that it’s not Windows 7, except when I run the Task Manger, which is vast improvement over the previous version.
My final verdict. As Post cereals used to say, “just a little bit better…than any other OS happens to be”
I am glad to see someone of your caliber Leo do a fairly lengthly review of Windows 8. I was actually “kind of scared” to proceed with the upgrade to Win 8 with all the horror stories that I had read on the net. Now after the review by Leo I am much more likely to try it out sometime soon. I have been with Microsoft all the way back to 5-1/4″ Floppies and no hard drives (Actually farther back to Reeves Analog 550 Machines) so these “Horror stories” that I have read over the last few months could not present as many problems as the old OS from Reeves and the first copies of MSDos and PCDos!. I see as the computer users that came around after a few versions of Windows are spoiled by not having to go through the learning system for the old Operating Systems. I can’t even remember when Microsoft came out with the first GUI that had Icons to click on to have the computer perform an action like printing a document or saving a document.
The one thing that I must say at this point is that I think that I will wait for “Blue” or whatever MS decides to call the next version of Windows 8 that is almost certainly going to find some very BIG upgrades to the Win 8 environment. Just as soon not have to start with 138 updates just to get the OS to where it is a whole lot more stable.
I read an article today about Apple vs. Microsoft by the lear 2017. The author predicted the PC will be dead and everything will be MUCH, MUCH, MUCH smaller and therefore more portable. I love MS and the huge things that they have done since they contracted with IBM to write the first OS for the PC. They have done so, so much to bring us from where we started to where we are now.
For right now I believe that Microsoft needs to keep up the hard work to lead us ahead into the future of information and computing no matter what shape it is in in order for Microsoft to survive. I believe that small has just about reached its limit. The companies just do not need to pour their resources into making things smaller; items will eventually get so small that we will not have something to run it with (buttons, mice, keyboards, etc.) or even a place to hold onto the item (of course all the hardware could go to voice activated).
It would be a shame to see a Great Company like Microsoft go by the wayside. They need to stay the innovators and not let themselves be demolished! I started working computers in 1969 and the things that have come into being are just amazing. I want to see more before!
Good Luck to both you Leo and Microsoft and any other company that can stay on the cutting edge of today’s and tomorrow’s technology!
Great to read your article Leo! I am still loving my HP Envy touch screen! Still loving tiles! For me it’s a no brainer. I just accepted that this is where technology is headed and embraced the concept of the literally in my face, at my finger tips start up!
It is SO much faster to open my programs from the start up tiles. No searching down a long list of file names on the program file list – it is all there for me. My computer now takes next to no time to power on and off. It is all there before me, I have my tiles in a logical order – social in one section, most used in the next then the rest. I love that I can move them around to suit demand.
I am still learning new things. There is a great little book I purchased which has screen shots that I have found a useful resource, when I get it back from my cousin I’m sure I will learn even more.
My advice remains, go to Windows 8 with an open mind, embrace the change and be surprised at how easy it really is. My grandmother complained about electricity until her husband showed her how to use the washing machine, an old wringer. Fear can be our biggest enemy.
That’s the point, the vast majority of people using Windows 7 won’t pay to upgrade to Windows 8, and they don’t need to. The thing is, most people buying a computer from now on will be getting Windows 8 whether they like it or not. Articles like these are useful to allay their fears and help them adapt to the computers they are buying. I believe MS made a mistake in imposing the Modern Interface on people with out a choice, but the reality is that with a little freeware program (any of the ones mentioned in the article), they can have a very smooth adaptation.
As for the problem of programs and peripherals not working. That is the collateral damage of progress. In that case, I guess the workaround would be to just hang on to some old machines and continue to use them till they stop working.
Well, one set of users who are particularly concerned about the latest OS from Microsoft is the screen reader users. Not only is the new tiled interface an accessibility challenge, one might be able to bypass it with some other 3rd party program, but I am told that since the mirror drivers are replaced in Windows8, screen readers like Jaws for Windows would struggle to provide the visually impaired user with all the necessary output.
Computers and screen readers had opened up the possibilities of a far more equal world for the visually challenged, the new OS, as thinks stands now, takes away a lot of it, it essentially is an OS designed forgetting basic norms of accessibility altogether.
Leo, I know a number of my visually challenged friends who rely on askleo.com, I hope we are also kept in some part of your mind in assessing situations, and when responding to problems and challenges.
I agree. I picked up a bug 2 months ago and my son who is a computer geek suggested reformat and install windows 8. He said the install was faster and easier than 7 and a lot of drivers needed for devices would be automatically installed, no need to search for and install as usual with 7. I only needed to install one driver for the sound card and the computer works faster than it ever did. It is a 7 year old HP with dual 2.8 processors and 250G hard drive. My wife, who could not turn on a computer 5 years ago but learned when our daughters went to university so she could stay close contact, likes windows 8 better than 7 as well. I don’t understand the whining and moaning either. I have seen some posts where they compare 8’s popularity to vistas and claim that 8 will be dead soon. I remember vista, what a joke, it never worked properly, froze all the time. I like the tiled screen. A little bit of time and patience and the system is much better than 7
Leo, as a follow up to my last comment, I have read MS has done more work on the Narrator in the new OS. So far, from an accessibility point of view it has been rather useless for a reasonable windows user. Hopefully you would be able to take some time out at some point to have a look at the accessibility improvements with the new OS.
You want Solitaire back? Let me Google that for you ;-)
Many thanks for this very useful assessment of Windows 8. I’ll wait for our next computer before moving from Windows 7.
I totally agree with Leo what’s the fuss all about.
maybe some folks just like to whine.
I bought the 40 dollar upgrade and followed the prompts everything works great and faster.
whats not to like thanks to free classic shell did I mention free
I agree we leo. I went from windows 7 to 8 with no problem. it was worth the 40 bucks. I think win 8 is great.
The problem with Windows 8 users on a non-touch desktop system who like it are also in the vast majority of users not using Windows 8; they are adapting it and using it AS Windows 7. Leo himself seems to prove that point. For anyone using a home desktop for more than what a touch phone can offer, what was the point of presenting the Start screen interface instead of a choice between traditional desktop and Start screen? Its because its one big fat advertising campaign built right into the OS. Its ok to like Windows 8 as long as you are liking Windows 8 and not the Windows 7 part of Windows 8. Otherwise you know what’s going to happen someday if you just keep accepting a Beta interface that might have years of development needed before its as good as a well organized start menu desktop’s efficiency? In some future version the desktop will be missing and MS will not be allowing third party software access to bring back any desktop usefulness.
Windows 8 is probably a sound competitor where it belongs, in touch devices. On large home screens and without adaptation to convert it to Windows 7, it’s a laughingstock for serious users.
If you can’t honestly see why there is such a controversy then you’re not thinking deeply enough. Start asking what if questions instead of sliding sideways on the issue because you are still allowed to change Win 8 to Win 7.
Seems to me you’re comparing apples and oranges. I just bought a laptop with Windows 8–because I couldn’t get it with Windows 7 or no operating system at all. And in my experience Windows 8 really, really, REALLY sucks.
I just installed Classic Shell–for which thank YOU!!!!–and, I’m happy at last. That’s because Windows 8 has virtually disappeared.
May I suggest you UNinstall Classic Shell (temporarily, of course!) so you can get the true Windows 8 experience. Then you might see all sorts of reasons to hate it!
Great article, I have been using windows 8 for 3 months
now and loving it. Much better than windows 7 for
viewing photos, I must add that I have a touchscreen
computer. I am considering upgrading my second
computer to windows 8 as well. I simply can’t say any thing bad about windows 8, the more I use it the better
I like it.
OK, Leo…that’s encouraging! BUT…other than having the newest OS, what compelling reasons are there for bothering to move to W8?
Nothing in the first half of your article made me think I should switch. In fact if running Classic Shell makes it work and act the same as Windows 7, I just couldn’t see the point of anyone upgrading unless they had touch/tablet hardware.
After reading the first half of the article, I was glad to see your number one recommendation was to not do anything, unless you have a reason to switch.
I’ve never been one to run out and get the latest and greatest. In fact my Windows 98 PC is still sitting on the floor here collecting dust (much to my wife’s dismay). I think I used that until just prior to the Vista launch, when I got a Boxing Day special on a XP PC. XP is still doing fine and I have no plans of leaving XP. I would probably need a hardware upgrade if I did.
FINALLY! A sensible and reasonable article on Windows 8. I upgraded both of my machines before low priced upgrade vanished. I’ve had very little problem and I like it. I also installed an SSD on my laptop and it really sizzles now. I didn’t even bother turning it into Windows 7 with a start button replacement. I just use the start screen for a few things and switch to the desktop for the rest.
Honestly, the anti- Win 8 vendetta is disturbing to me. Something is bad is happening to our nations when people can’t accept the challenge of something new and learn to thrive with it. We need people who can take up challenges like this and enjoy them. Otherwise the Chinese will walk all over us. THEY know how to accept a challenge. We’re too lazy for it.
My experience is similar to Leo’s. I DID do a clean install, but also went with a (different) aftermarket Start button program. This was after about 2 weeks of dealing with the W8 start screen (which I didn’t enjoy). I support a number of users, and have not encouraged people to upgrade (especially since the cheap upgrade period has expired). But, I have encouraged people that a new computer with W8 will be fine, and that they will quickly adjust to it. Thanks for an informative and reasonable article.
Please? You did not touch on Removing Wireless profiles! Why? Also~ How does a “Dual Desktop”
NOT confuse the everage user? In my Opinion~ Win 7 IS win 8.
Seems like an excercise in futility! for the Average user. Theres NO reason to have the Wireless Profile issue that comes with Win8! This OS was marketed Totally wrong In my opinion.
I don’t run an OS. I run Office, specifically Office 2003 and Access 2007. I also run browsers, an editor, an emailer, and stuff like that.
But if my computer runs Windows 8, my computer won’t let me run Office 2003 and Access 2007, according to Microsoft’s compatibilty tester. Therefore installing W8 would render my computer useless. (No, I am not going to “upgrade” to newer Office versions.) (And no, I am not going to run Open Office or Libre. Every time I’ve tried one of those free things, it choked on something.)
And I’m not especially happy with W7, since it won’t run Nero 6. And it won’t run Sony’s Digital Voice Editor for my P520 memo recorder. I suppose I could ferret out that XP mode, or whatever it is, but I don’t want to bother.
What is so difficult about backward compatibility in this age of multi-gigahertz, multi-gigabyte, multi terabyte computers?
I agree with you Leo, I am very puzzled by all the Windows 8 bashing (as I was with Vista, which I loved everything about except the name). I bought a new Windows 7 64 bit PC during the MS upgrade promo for $14.99, so of course I bought that (as well as the physical DVD) and took the plunge because I figured it could not be as bad as everyone was making out on the web. And of course, it is not – it is a pleasure to use and boots up much faster than any version of Windows I’ve ever used (which from what I’ve read – if I read it right – is because the OS never really shuts down completely, but that is fine with me).
Since I love my Android smartphone and apps, getting used to the tiled Start screen is no problem. I do agree I don’t like things being kept in history on the Start screen, but then again I can remove those tiles very easily. And there are so many different ways to access the Desktop, familiar ground is always a click away. And did I mention global search? I have everything indexed on my 1 TB external hard drive, as well as my 450 GB internal drive, and a complete indexing (without file contents checked) only took about an hour or two, and my external WD drive is using 732 GBs. Pretty darn good in my opinion. Probably would take longer with file contents indexed (as well as encrypted), but would be well worth it (now I’ll have delete my index and redo it with those checked and time it – what a geek I am!). MS truly upped the ante on search with this build.
The only issue I’ve had so far is not having Windows 8 configure my Epson printer software so I can duplex print, check ink levels, use quiet mode, etc., but Epson had a workaround for me. All in all, Windows 8 Pro 64 bit is nimble, fast and just plain gratifying for me. I would also think it has to be more secure than Windows 7 64 bit since it is the latest MS build, if not, I’m sure someone will let me know.
BTW, welcome back Leo!! You were mightily missed because such truthful wisdom and expertise is sorely lacking on the internet anymore. A herd mentality seems to have taken over the world and Internet with these loathsome ‘social networking’ sites, which filters into supposedly unbiased, trustworthy tech sites. Even free speech is in danger, a comedian or comedienne can’t tell a joke anymore without having to apologize. What in the wild world of sports is going on here?!! God bless Lenny Bruce.
If had installed Classic Shell immediately upon turning on my new Win8 desktop, then no doubt I too would have found no problems with Win8. But I decided to fully embrace Win8 out of the packet. And I found it very frustrating to have to read a book to learn what keystroking/mouse swipes/screen corners is required to do the most simple of things, eg shutdown.
It would have been so easy for MS to make the installation of Win8 start with the simple question “Desktop or Tablet”. And once installed have an option to configure either way later. But then Win8 would not have been much different to Win7 and not justify a “new version price”.
I suspect MS is very nervous of the growing marektshare of Apple and tablets, so the marketeers decided to race a release of a “totally new OS” which has this flimsy but confusing wrapping of touch screen UI. And probably they charge the computer OEMs a pittance to install all their machines with Win8.
I wonder what percentage of Win8 users employ to the full, the touchscreen UI (via keyboard/mouse). Or do they use as little as possible?. All the above posters happy with Win8 seem to be avoiding the t-s UI.
Leo … I agree with you totally. Classic Shell makes UI almost identical to W7. The only time I use “metro” screen is for search. Just go to Start (metro) screen and start typing. Search results for entire computer show instantly in Apps-Settings-Files categories. The two Search entries on Classic Shell miss a lot of items. Al
Some businesses want to use all Microsoft (call themselves ‘Microsoft houses’) – or as much as they can, and will not want to use a ‘shell’ unless it is put out by Microsoft. Until Microsoft comes out with a version ready for businesses – with the window 7 shell, I doubt some businesses would ever upgrade to Windows 8. Heck – at our place of work, we are just finishing up upgrading the last of our XP machines to Windows 7. On the other hand, I did just get a new laptop at home that came with Windows 8, and love it mostly – because I did install the classic shell. I would love it completely if I could ever figure out how to port my Free Virtual XP machine over to my Windows 8 system from my Windows 7 machine!
At least we all seem to agree on one thing, the latest version of Classic Shell is a really excellent free program. I use it to bring back much of the look of XP’s start menu in Windows 7. Only recently has it become very similar to the real XP start menu and I much prefer that style.
I suppose there are many social sites that are perceived to be unjustly attacking Win 8, I don’t know since I don’t seek those places out. Rest assured though, there are a lot of thoughtful and analytically users who have rejected Win 8 after more than a fair shake for many technical reasons as well as logistical deployment reasons, and also understand, there is no beef with touch devices that are designed for Windows 8. In such cases Win 8 is the only Windows OS that makes any sense.
Anyone who states that this is just a vendetta or what’s wrong with our country now, please, you’re even more emotionally based in your responses than those who gather at whatever social media sites to apparently rail incessantly against Win 8. If you really want to get a true assessment, seek out sound analytic sources, for instance the Windows Weekly podcast. Mary Jo and Paul Thurrott saw this controversy coming, saw the weak sales as inevitable, wished Microsoft had progressed toward a more logical distinction between touch devices and non touch desktops (after all they can come up with SKUs aplenty for any of their OSes since Vista), yet they still report on the good aspects of Win 8, provide tips on improving usability, and try to analyse what Microsoft is thinking, producing and releasing for retail and where their efforts are directed toward in the future.
I want to say this: Windows.
I use windows and lots of them – all at the same time – in many different sizes, and I use two screens so I can see them without jumping back and forth from one app to the other. Windows 8 limits that, thereby rendering it useless. I need an OS I can work with, not one I have to fight.
I care not at all about the Start Menu. I care about staying productive. I care about choices. I care about convenience. I care about the 80 apps on my system (yes I use them all) and the fact I wouldn’t be able to use but a few of them on Win8 – and certainly not in any practicable way.
MS ugly new OS no doubt works wonderfully for the many folks who use their computers for entertainment and for people who are members of the tablet world. I need a desktop and I need an OS that allows me to do what Windows has done for so many years: Run windows.
I too am totally happy with W8 ! After running the Preview versions I had already decided that I would adopt the RTM version as my OS of choice !
The “Start Menu ” business has not bothered me in the slightest and I remember all too well that in the previous flavours of Windows…there were loads of “rumblings ” along the lines of ” What sort of OS is it..that needs a user to click on a “Start ” button …in order to turn a PC off ?
Now that Microsoft has delivered W8 sans “Start Menu ” many of the self same users are moaning about its’ abscence ? Beats me ?
For me …Windows 8 is a pleasure to use ..I am a disabled user with limited upper body mobility and I don’t need the “Touchscreen ” capability …..I get on just fine with a “mouse ” as my preferred navigation method !
The rest of the performance that W8 delivers is smooth and slick and hasn’t presented too many negative isssues that are enough to cause me to revert to W7 at all !
We all have different expectations and ideas on the ideal OS …and for me personally ….W8 delivers an enjoyable experience all round !
Welcome back Leo! I just came from win xp so it was a huge difference for me. There is no touch screen options, on my laptop so I use what I know, I use a mouse. I have noticed a few problems that if I was using an tablet, I definitely could navigate better… but that is just life.
What I don’t like about WIN8 (or probably more… what I’m not used to yet) is the way photos are displayed… back in XP you just clicked the folder/file and then seen the pict. Hit an arrow key or click an arrow and you could navigate back and forth. If you wanted to change it THEN you click a button and then you have your change options, but I installed different photo customization software. In Win8 the photo is automatically sent there… to the modification page. I haven’t figured out how to just view it yet. And the folders are really different. You have to pretty much click “large view” in order to view the contents of the folder, xp just had 4 small pics in the icon folder. I’m not fond of when I insert my flash drive to upload photos to my lap top… they automatically go into folders and are arranged by date automaticaly! UGGGG! I’m sure there is a fix, some box that needs to be checked or unchecked… I’ll find it some day! I just do photos/videos on my desk top XP machine and use my flash drive to upload to the net via the lap top!
I think surfing is especially better (for me) using WIN8 on my laptop after I got used to that side screen popping up if I mouse too close to the edge of the screen. Those are little things… patience! And I will check out that classic shell you all are talking about.
I know there are always haters when something new comes out and it takes awhile to un change all the changes that come with an upgrade in order to feel comfortable again. If it is like anything else, I will be comfortable with WIN8 when WIN14 comes out! Or… since I read your news letter… perhaps by the end of the year?
I recently got a new laptop, no touch screen, with Windows 8, and I really like it. It took me less than one day to get used to no start menu. For the most part, I use the start screen more than the desktop and I like using the start screen apps better than their desktop counterparts. Anyone who is just switching over to Windows 8, I suggest trying it without Classic Shell.
Since the upgrade offer seemed too good to miss, I plumped to install on my Vista desktop and my HP XP laptop. Very few problems with the desktop. I expected lots with the laptop, because I got it just before Vista came out and the Vista upgrade advisor basically said “forget it”! As it was, it all went very well apart from three problems. My initial desktop screen came up in a clunky low-res mode and nVidea didn’t offer a Win8 driver but I eventually found a Win7 one that worked. The TV Tuner card manufacturers have no driver, so I had to buy a USB dongle that works just fine. It also took a while to get HP Quick bits to work, though that’s no big deal – who needs them anyway? Finally, I agree it is no real problem getting 8 to boot into the desktop. After trying most of the options, I went for StartIsBack, recently upgraded – a bargain at $3 for two machines. It had the advantage over classic start that there is no sign of the tiled screen on startup. A bit of research enabled me to get back my old POP Windows mail with all the past messages; the only problem is that I haven’t found a way of forcing web mailto links not to go to Win8 mail. The other irritation is that my D-Link Shareport always opens a window at startup and I have to close it. Mostly, I like the improved speed and so far it seems pretty reliable. Also there seems to be more “under the hood” to customise yet still some things I still find too minimalistic.
Just wanted to add an afterthought to my original
comment. When I bought my new computer with
windows 8 pre-installed, one requisite was SSD, very
fast. Along with the touch screen it makes my windows
8, very enjoyable, and I do use the tiled start screen
rather than the desktop as much as possible. Glad
to see, not everyone hates windows 8.
I recently had my Windows XP upgraded to Windows 8. The person who did it didn’t like Windows 8 (He had Windows 7) but I insisted on the latest version.
I am very happy with this version and don’t understand why it gets so much negativity. We live in a world where things change all the time.
We have to live in this world and adapt to new things and new circumstances. It is just another change.
I wrestled with upgrading from Win7 to Win8 when I learned that the window (sorry!) of opportunity for the $39 upgrade was elapsing. I bought the upgrade and installed it with zero problems on any software.
I tried playing around with the tiles for awhile but eventually decided it wasn’t worth the effort and now hit the “desktop” icon after booting and use the traditional interface.
One area of complaint is that Microsoft offered very little tutoring in how to use the new interface. (Yes, I did look into MS and third-party tutorials online but found them lacking.) How much effort would that have been for them to have effective tutorials?
I might consider the Classic Shell option in the future, but I am quite satisfied with my $39 upgrade.
Despite all the good you told about W8, I´m still
hesitating. First I´m a XP PRO adept and it still runs on my desktop. On the laptop Win 7 is the boss.
I tried it out. I miss a number of features of XP pro.
Handling fotos is so much easier on XP.
Win 7 has those impossible “bibliotecas” (Win7 in Portuguese) You find fotos everywhere… I ended up to start on a separate disk a directory for my fotos and other documents. Only way to get some order in things.
Another remark : I am running a french software
which is has many capabalities for editing fotos
and furthermore a lot of functions that Iám notgoing to detail here. Will that program run on
Win7 or 8 ? And the many other programs I run on XP. It is a real concern for me. With XP I have never run into compatibility problems.
I do not hate any Win but why take on an new win when your actual OS gives you entire satisfaction? You wil not get support anymore?
Well I´m still running Win98 SE Plus on an old desktop I am using sometimes when I want to run some old DOS programs… it is just for the fun of it. 98 doesn´t get support, but runs just fine.
Am I just a little bit to conservative? Comes with age I suppose. (74 …very much alive and kicking).
Nevertheless, I´m perhaps put a Win8 on my desktop, but only in double boot….just to see.
You never know!
Thanks for eval Leo. I got 8 in Dec when my machine totally crashed & got a new machine. At first I flipped until I got Classic Shell. I liked your review because it gives me a professional’s opinion to share with friends who keep saying I am nuts to have just “gotten used to 8” and keep saying it is like 7.
My main problem is more that the horrible touchpad they put on this machine is really for a tablet and 8, so works like yuk on this really great machine. I am currently trying to figure if I can change the touchpad for a different one.
But what I really wanted to say to you was, I also have an HP printer attached to this, had same problem you are regarding the print error on 8 side until I got on HP site just last week and found a new download for upgrading HP Solutions software. Now it is better then ever, no error and it doesn’t even go “offline” like it used to all the time. Mine is an HP Photosmart tho, so not sure if yours has the new driver or not. Just letting you know in case you want to check.
Love your newsletter. Great help all the time, even when sometimes I don’t know what you are talking about!
I have read your article which I appreciate and all the comments and I just have to say that it seems a little odd to say, “I don’t understand why everyone is complaining about Windows 8” when what you are telling us is that the way to not hate Windows 8 is basically to not use the brand new features of it, just use the behind the scenes desktop. I too have tried it and found it incredibly frustrating and annoying until I went back to its familiar and much more user friendly “desktop”.
I commented following Leo’s earlier article on Windows 8 at which time I had installed W8 on my laptop but was waiting a while before installing on my main PC. I’m pleased to say that I’ve now graduated completely to W8 on all machines and find it superb. Interestingly, once I became comfortable with the very few real changes, I don’t miss anything and can see no value in using Classic Shell.
Windows 8 does not run faster than Windows 7. When Windows 8’s power option “Fast Startup” is enabled (which the installer enables by default), Windows does not shut down normally when you go through the shutdown routine. It hibernates. This fools the user into thinking it really boots fast, but in fact when you hit the startup button, you’re not really starting the computer up, you’re just awakening it from hibernation.
Here is an important caveat to users who “hot swap” boot drives or have a dual boot setup: Disable Fast Startup. Immediately. If you don’t, you seriously run the risk of corruption of one or more of your operating systems.
Think about what’s happening with your computer when you make changes to a computer that you think has had its memory cache cleared, but it really hasn’t. It’s not a mystery how or why corruption is almost guaranteed.
In my opinion, Fast Startup is a bug. Anyone with older versions of Windows who wants the fast-startup experience can do the same thing by hibernating the computer instead of shutting it down.
I learned this from the very best instructor – experience. Do yourself a favor and do not allow yourself to have the same bitter experience I did.
I had reservations about Windows 8 when it first became available for beta testing. However, since it was launched in all its full glory I have found it more appealing. True there are certain irritations about it … I miss the games such as Mahjong and Freecell for instance but there are ways around this. And as Leo points out, you can easily get back to the traditional Start menu with Classic Shell if you prefer that approach. In earlier years I was a confirmed XP addict and vowed I would never go beyond that version but, as with most advances in technology, if you don’t keep up with it you get left behind. Yes, I could still be trundling along in my old 1930’s Hillman Minx but boy, I really enjoy what technology has done for the modern motor car … and likewise with Windows 8, it grows on you!
thanks, you answered most my ?’s about windows 8…ken
What I don’t get is why would you put out a new operating system that people have to find reasons “not to hate it”. Neither the article nor the people who comment had one thing to say about clear improvements of Windows 8 over Windows 7. I used the Beta of Windows 8 and on a desktop I found nothing on it that I found superior to Windows 7. Perhaps on a tablet it is a different story but the only reason I could find to switch to Windows 8 is because Microsoft wants more money which for me is no reason at all. I don’t “hate” Windows 8, I am just disappointed that they put out a “new” operating system that is clearly not superior to the previous one. I think Windows 8 clearly illustrates that Microsoft has lost it’s edge.
My main irritation is IE10 that can’t be rolled back to IE9. There are some websites that haven’t caught up to IE 10 yet and just don’t work. Yes, you can do a F12 and change the browser mode back to IE8 or 9 but it only helps so much. Because of this we have been recommending our clients not to upgrade to IE10 or Windows 8 until the web sites they use get upgraded to work with it.
My Windows 8 does boot significantly faster than Windows 7 did, and doesn’t just come out of hibernation. My computer and all its associated hardware are on a bus strip. When I am through with the computer, everything is completely powered off. When I start the computer, it is a full-fledged hard start.
Your experience is much like mine, except I didn’t have any programs on Windows 7 that didn’t work on Windows 8. My Lexmark Z515 isn’t that old, so Windows 8 used the same drivers as Windows 7 (which I had to download from Lexmark to get the printer to work). The only pre-installed apps I use are Weather, News, Maps, Store and Desktop. These I don’t mind being full-screen. I tried Mail and IE, but found they couldn’t be adjusted, so I don’t use them. I access those from the Desktop.
As I’ve said before, the Start page is fully customizable. The first thing I did was delete those programs I won’t use and unpin those I don’t, but may, use. Then I added the programs I do use. With Windows 8 I can even add documents (with the provided free app); something I couldn’t do with Windows 7 without a workaround. After I had only what I wanted on the Start page, I rearranged things according to type and frequency of use. The Windows key, or moving the mouse to the lower left corner and clicking the popup, are now my Start button. Actually, Windows 8’s initial page is just glorified version of how Windows 3 started up.
With every version of Windows since 3 (except Vista that I bypassed) the first thing I did was change the desktop – deleting unwanted shortcuts, moving frequently used ones to the taskbar and adding what I do use. (With the Start button, I put everything there instead of scattered all over the desktop.) So, modifying the Start page was natural for me.
Something I really like about the Start page is that you can start typing the name of a program or file and get an alphabetical listing of what is on your computer with the letters typed. Once what you want is listed, you can either click on it or use the arrow keys to highlight it and press Enter. The latter keeps your hands on the keyboard so you are ready to start typing as soon as the program loads (if appropriate).
I wholeheartedly agree with you that if a person is happy with his/her current OS stick with it. For those who want a uniform experience (look and feel) over several devices, then Windows 8 is (currently) the way to go. Also, judging from the direction Apple and Linux (albeit limited) have been going, Windows 8 GUI is the “wave of the future” – uniformity on all computing devices. After all, uniformity is the one thing all every society seeks; that’s why we have laws and rules, to force everyone to act within certain limits. Look at the basics of automobiles, TVs, household appliances, tools, reading material, even the way we write (try writing vertically, upside down or backwards and see if anyone can read it). Why should computing be any different?
OK, so this is catch-up time. I’ll enter several comments, then sit back and wait for flack.
The first one will be to Leo.
Although I don’t agree with their other comments, I do agree that by using ClassicShell you aren’t really evaluating Windows 8 – just a slightly modified Windows 7. Since my Windows 8 does not have any 3rd party alterations, and my main goals are very similar to yours, I would be happy to assist you in answering some of the questions. Of course, if I step out of line, I expect you to let me know (preferably privately – you have my e-mail address). Or if you prefer, you could field me some questions to research, and I could post the answer on your Ask Leo! page.
Re: Ed, April 9, 2013 10:13 AM
My Windows 8 machine has no problem accessing my XP and 98 machines. However, I could not do it with Homegroup. I had to set it up as a Network. The only way Windows 7 would access the 98 machine was through the XP one. Now I can import files from 98 to 8 without having to go through a mediator.
Re: Mobile PC Medic, April 9, 2013 10:21 AM
By reading some of the “How To” articles on PitStop (where I met Leo), ZDNet, CNet, and other tech e-newsletters, I knew quite a bit about how get around in Windows 8 well before its full release – how to shutdown the computer was one of the first things I learned. Since you say your job is to help people work with their computers, perhaps it would be in your best interest to read some of these. Also check YouTube for some excellent videos on how to get around in Windows 8. (I like: youtube.com/watch?y=5BSmmSU-UZU&feature=youtu.be “The Missing Windows 8 Instructional Video – Who moved my Windows 8 cheese?”)
Re: James Morris, April 9, 2013 10:17 AM and rocketride, April 9, 2013 11:05 AM
Microsoft tried having two versions of Windows – 95/98 for home use and NT for corporations. Corporate sales weren’t that good, so Microsoft went back to a single version, XP. Then Microsoft tried again with 2000 for corporate while XP was used at home. Sales still were enough to warrant two versions. Right now there are still too many corporate users (including many government agencies) that haven’t upgraded from XP. It is a simple case of supply and demand – poor demand, poor supply. Consider; the ratio of cars with standard transmissions vs. those with automatic transmissions. It’s the same with every other industry – they go where the money is. So, why should Microsoft be any different? Using your argument, home users could complain because there isn’t a lite version of CAD programs – or any other corporate aimed program. I don’t find many posts from home users about having to pay big bucks for a program with a lot of fancy features they won’t use.
Re: Richard, April 9, 2013 11:26 AM and April 9, 2013 11:43 AM
You should find Quicken files in WindowsUsersPublicPublic DocumentsIntuit.
Apps don’t have .exe files. They are .dll files which won’t open from the Desktop. The apps were available for Windows 7, but they were called Gadgets – no .exe files, either.
Solitare is in the Store. Narrow results to Games and Free. You will find it listed as Microsoft Solitaire Collection. Solitaire is called Kondike. You will also find Minesweeper and Mahjong there, too. The only one I couldn’t find is their old Hearts. There are two versions, but I don’t like them as much as Microsoft’s.
Re: Phil, April 9, 2013 11:45 AM
If you downloaded the apps from the Store, they would be automatically added to the Start page. Otherwise, they are in [your name]Downloads.
Re: Mark J, April 9, 2013 12:16 PM
Your last paragraph is very good. I have three computers. One runs 98 for my scanner that the manufacturer wouldn’t update the drivers to XP. One running XP for programs that wouldn’t run on 7. And one with dual boot 7 & 8 (I don’t use the 7 side, but keep it in case I have a need). Since I’ve personalized Windows 8, that is the one I use the most.
NOTE: I upgraded from 7 to 8 because I couldn’t personalize 7 like I did XP. Windows 8 allows me to do that – and more
Re: Mahesh S. Paniker, April 9, 2013 12:34 PM
Windows includes a Magnifier for the visually impared. There is also a Narrator that will read the text for you. They can be accessed in Windows 8 by right-clicking anywhere on the Start page and clicking “All Apps” in the lower right corner. That brings up all programs loaded on the computer. Scroll all the way to the right. Right-click on Magnifier to get a pop-up along the bottom of the screen. Then select “Pin to Start” or “Pin to taskbar,” whichever you use most, or even both.
Per your request to Leo, I checked Narrator. When I clicked on your request, it read everything very well. I think you would like it. It is much better than the previous version. At least you can try it for free – very near where I said Magnifier was.
Re: Dan, April 10, 2013 6:39 AM
You hit the nail on the head with your comment about your company just finishing the Window 7 rollout. A few months ago I read an article giving the state of Windows 7 rollouts. Even they were supprised to learn some companies still haven’t finished the XP rollout. Companies who just converted to Windows 7 won’t be interested in another rollout any time soon – everyone (with a few exceptions – have to leave room for detractors) wants to get the most out of their money. Microsoft (and any other company) recognizes this. I have serious doubts that Microsoft expected corporations to jump to Windows 8. Their own records would show that wouldn’t happen. Why produce a product for a known weak market? Go where the money is – like everyone else. It will be a several years before corporations will be ready for a new OS. By then Windows 8x – or whatever – will be more mature and ready for them.
I was happy with XP but won a software package that needed Windows 8 to run. For that and other potential future compatibility issues, I decided to update. Windows update assistant flagged up a few software and BIOS issues that I was able to resolve, but did not make it obvious upfront that you needed the disk to go from a 32 bit to a 64 bit configuration. Apart from that, it takes a while to get used to it, but several months later, I do not regret changing to it.
I’m referring to your comments about Fast Start. Like you, when I first installed Windows 8, I couldn’t believe how fast it booted. But it was smoke and mirrors. Pulling the plug, as you’re doing, doesn’t make a difference. When you shut down Windows normally, the state of your computer is still in RAM, and will stay there until you do something to overwrite it. It has nothing to do with power to your computer.
Here’s a test: Time the speed of a normal boot (Impressive. Right?) Now shut the machine down and clear the RAM cache at the same time by going to a command prompt and keying in “C:WindowsSystem32shutdown.exe -s -t 00” (without the quotes, of course) and hitting the Enter key. Now hit the start button, and time the boot. Not so impressive now, is it?
I mistakenly used the term “hibernate” in my earlier post. The proper term is “hybrid shutdown” and it is significantly different from hibernation. Whatever the name, though, I maintain that Fast Start is a cruel trick.
My warning about Fast Start wasn’t for users who only have one hard drive in their computers that stays there all the time. It’s for people like me who have multiple drives and like to experiment. I’m sure a lot of Leo’s other readers fall into the same category.
My biggest problem with W8 is the price. I was ready to install it on my Vista machine when I formatted and re-installed. But they raised the price a couple of weeks before I did the upgrade. I installed W7 and it runs well. Of course I’m a bit of a radical, I believe that OSes should be free and the company should make their money producing apps.
And, yes, I do have a couple of machines running Ubuntu.
And a phone running Android for that matter.
Re: Eddie, April 13, 2013 7:51 AM
What type of RAM are you using that retains data when the power is off? The sole purpose of a cold/hard reboot was to clear the RAM. A warm/soft reboot refreshed the OS and usually cleared the RAM. However, that didn’t always work. Sometimes it took longer for the RAM to clear. ‘Power off – ten second wait – power on’ has been the long-standing standard RAM clearing maintenance procedure. That’s how we reset our modems and routers – except we are told to wait 30 seconds before powering up. All we are doing really is clearing the devise’s RAM.
Command Prompt isn’t needed. I have that string as a shortcut on both the Desktop and Start page – a tip I read elsewhere. That’s what I use to shutdown the computer. If you use “r” instead of “s”, you can add a Restart shortcut, too. Hibernate and Sleep require rundll32.exe parameters.
My Windows 8 computer has three internal SSDs and six HDs in external cases (IDE and SATA). The only thing I have to wait for is the communication with the externally connected HDs. Even that is less than half the time Windows 7 took. I don’t really HAVE to wait, but if I don’t, I get asked how I want to open the “new” drive.
They can also use Chrome of Firefox to accomplish that. I never use IE.
Welcome back Leo!! I’m an intermediate user and found I had to buy a new laptop. Old machine was XP. Only Windows 8 were avail at Costco as I was out of town. Happy with your encouraging words and am rather happy at the 3 month mark.
Just read a comment on how nobody said anything about any specific improvements of windows 8 over
windows 7. Not true, my original post mentioned how
windows 8 is superior for viewing photos over windows
7. Important to me as photography is a big reason
why I use a computer.
I’m an English subscriber, and read something rather disturbing in that Hewlett Packard (in the uk?) only install Windows8 without the option to downgrade to Windows7.
Indeed, it appears that maybe the BIOS is written to specifically stop ANY other OS installing. HP press office are quoted as saying “they are Windows8 Machines” + HP technical support don’t seem to be able to clarify their position.
Clean install attempts have failed.
I find this clandestine approach most disturbing, if correct and wonder what Tom’s Hardware thinks of this inference.
I don’t know whether UK retailers are aware of the practice, or would tell potential customers if they were.
This info from a well respected UK computer magazine
1. Why upgrade to something that you then have to configure and fiddle with to get it back to the exact same way it used to be?
2. On an enterprise scale, how much OT do you want to pay your techs for needing to hand configure every new PC during a rollout?
Personally and professionally, No thanks.
Absolutely, there isn’t a reason why I should hate Windows 8. Like you I installed Windows 8 on my SSD along with 2TB SATA III HDD for games and storage and it’s been brilliant since. Funnily enough, the longest part of booting up is when I log on otherwise I get to my desktop in seconds.
I honestly don’t miss the Start button either, I use Windows + X to open up a panel of Windows applications. I like the revamped Task Manager too. As soon as I read comments with words like M$ and Windoze in them or containing factually incorrect pieces, I immediately stop reading.
Great timing, Leo! I read your article on W8, and my new PC arrived – with W8 installed, naturally.
No panic – and I’m going with W8 as is, and not trying to pretend it’s W7, and so far, I’m happy – thanks to your encouraging piece.
An I correct in my guess that spinrite is useless on SSD? I have neither an SSD or spinrite. The word spin, to me means a regular hard drive.
I setup a lot of computers for customer’s IP surveillance cameras. I love the quickness of windows 8 but I dreaded having to hear customers complain about windows 8 while trying to teach them how to use the surveillance software.
Leo your article is brilliant and saved the day for me and for my future installs. Life is back to normal again. Thanks Leo and I look forward to more of your helpful advice. A+ on your work!
Good review. I purchased and installed Windows 8 when it became available. I must admit, I never looked back. I truly enjoyed W8. It is very fast (even on my 5 years old computer), stable and the more I explore it the more I find useful functionality.
In all, Windows 8 works very well for me.
Thanks for your review again.
I upgraded from Vista Ultimate x64 to Windows 8 Pro x64 as soon as it was released way back in October of 2012. However there were “registry issues” as there is always with Windows and I had to do a clean install. There were certain updates that got “stuck: and started to install themselves over and over again, in fact the same update installed itself over 25 times. Something was obsviously wrong. The second issue is that we wanted ” Windows Media Center” so got the upgrade package, but it didn’t install. So finally we decided to bite the bullet and redo the install. That was 2 months ago and since then everything has been running smooth.
Windows 8 is fast, smooth. I for one never ” caught on to Windows 7, I found it “flakey”, still is, yes it has other ” non Vista” virtues, but for me stability is the absolute key, Windows 8 feels way more stable.
Also there have been many ” under the hood” improvements that have made Windows 8 way more responsive and broadly compatible. Of course a few things didn’t work but that was not unexpected as we had done the ” upgrade compatabilty scan”.
There are many great features that make Windows 8 a much more reliable platform.
My only gripe , is that folks should know that Microsoft “writes” an “identity tag” on the actual Bios chip of the motherboard, if that motherboard dies or malfunctions in any way, you will have buy another license key from Windows if you bought the upgrade version.
Personally I find that type of “security” somewhat offensive and invasive.
Other than that, great OS.
My experience on a clean install on an six year old Sony went very well. It certainly made the old machine work faster. I added the Classic Shell to make me feel at home. Only one issue popped up and that was trying to find a new driver for the display. It took a bit of time but eventually it was installed satisfactorily.
RE the comment by John Browne, in your last newsletter.
There is a Stardock program which costs about $5 which is called ModernMix. Here is a quote from their web page:
“ModernMix enables you to run multiple Modern apps in individual separate windows on the desktop as well as launch them from the desktop.”
Must be honest, there are a ton of reasons to fuel the hatred towards Windows 8, none of which I am going to go into here.
Bottom line, Ill benchmark Win 7 against Win 8 any day, Ill get around Win 7 much quicker even with the classic shell and well performance wise, let get a benchmark here why don’t we?
All in all, a very well written article, heads up to the author!
Not all of us know how to install this Classic Shell thing, and frankly, because of the tiles etc., everything takes more time to find and to remember how one found it in the first place. People are complaining not so much about the OS but about the frustrations of time consumption; inability to find frequently used items such as control panel. When websites load and I click on the ‘show picture’ button, it never works. Some websites will only process my login if I use Modzilla, and won’t work with IE on the OS 8. Updating Adobe Flash takes about 15 minutes. Time is of great importance to me and OS 8 just sucks it up. Plus having some mobility issues, the effort to close an application is hard.
If we install a classic shell are all of the installed programs and apps still available? Does it’s installation affect my files and existing programs? If it doesn’t work will system restore work?
I recently installed Win8 on my touch laptop.
My gripe with Win8 is the same gripe I have had with every new version of windows – every time the version changes, more things are ‘hidden’ from the user. The more things are hidden, the less a user knows. The less a user knows, the more problems they run into when something does not work as expected.