The title of this article likely surprises no one. However, this posting is to help save consummate early adopters from wasting their money on the hope that their basic needs will be met by Microsoft Windows 8.
Companies like Microsoft and Apple (and now Google) have a strange sort of stranglehold on the marketplace. No longer do people purchase upgrades for new features, even though these companies are convinced people do and keep adding more crap to their shitpiles. These days, we upgrade mainly because we hope that long standing problems are finally being repaired. Usually we are let down, but still feel we are in a better place because some small remedy emerged that makes it barely worth continuing use of the upgraded product. Such is the case with Microsoft Windows. Again.
Just like empty promises of the past, this was also supposed to add new useful features and repair some glaring problems in security and system stability. More than that, it was supposed to be an entirely new interface that would provide the compatibility between standard software that Apple’s proprietary mindset prevented. Microsoft’s alleged genius move was to create an operating system that would work the same on a tablet and a PC. This would be very different from Apple’s strategy because Apple didn’t attempt to make their desktop operating system function like the iPad’s iOS. Why would they? They are completely different types of machines that need different interfaces. That logic was lost on Microsoft, who played yet another scam on the world by touting their new system as a universal desktop/pad system.
What Windows 8 Really Is
At first it looked like Microsoft really did redesign the whole thing…for the first time since the ancient Windows 3.1 came in the late 80s. The first thing you see after installing Win 8 is a screen that organizes the monitor into screens of buttons like you’d see on a smartphone or ipad. It includes basic “apps” to organize your life the same way Apple attempts to, by presenting you with an integrated Mail app, an address book, a browser app, a chat app, and an app/music app. You think, “cool…since these are so integral, they must have redone them to be simple and effective.” You would be wrong with that assumption.
You quickly realize as you try to tweak basic system data that the welcome screen goes away seemingly randomly, revealing the same old windows desktop of previous versions. With one exception: you can’t click on a start menu to find all the programs you need. Instead, you have to use your mouse to make “gestures” akin to swatting imagined flies in the room until you happen on the right area of the screen that activates the recognition and interprets what you are doing as something other than a fly dance. With the right gesture, you can open the new start screen mentioned earlier (that isn’t like the old start screen…just a collection of buttons). After a long period of fiddling, you discover you can get the system to show all apps, which approximates the old start menu, though never as easy to get to.
Since Windows 8 supports gesture recognition, and requires it in some cases, it seems like it makes more sense to use it with a touchpad than with a mouse. So for this evaluation, a Wacom Bamboo ($99) input device was used. On it’s own, it is a nifty device that lets you use a pen to take full advantage of graphic design software like Photoshop. It also allows for finger input and multitouch gesture recognition in Windows 8. Now think…neato…I’ll be able to fly around as easily on Windows as I do with an iPad. Again you would be wrong.
The main thing about any graphical interface is that multiple windows are open and need to be moved around from time to time. Windows 8 can’t tell the difference between a gesture to open its own features, moving a window, or interacting with open software, which makes it completely and entirely useless. The one feature Microsoft left out that would save their asses from another decade of user resentment would have been to include an option to turn off the stupid new interface and simulate acting like Windows 7…but no…that would have made too much sense.
So now, since you are in the habit of talking to yourself, you say, “screw it, after all this work it is too hard to back out now. Besides, I can’t return software I’ve already opened so I might as well take a reduction in productivity to keep using this so I feel like I’m on the cutting edge.”
You keep configuring. You learn you can delete crap like the Microsoft Store that forces you to download or buy only Microsoft approved applications and music through Microsoft. Gee…you guys didn’t copy that asinine idea from Apple did you? How do you expect to poach customers from Apple who hate some of the things Apple does by being just like them. But wait, there’s more!
Continuing their mini-me obsession, Microsoft has a service it calls “Skydrive” that lets you store all of your prized and personal data on Microsoft’s server to use with other Microsoft appliances (such as their own iPad made available through other vendors). They keep it in your face and it keeps annoying you because they make it clear your world won’t work properly unless you concede to keeping everything at their house.
Another fun thing. You can’t set up an email account, or even log into the computer without setting up a special Hotmail account with Microsoft. You can add other emails later and there is a workaround, but for all intents and purposes, they make it very clear you are expected to submit to living, eating, and breathing in Microsoft’s strange cloud world if you want to be granted the privilege of paying them to use shitty software.
Here’s the worst. You finally get all your email accounts in their email app and begin to rely on it for your career, your business, and your life, only to discover that Windows 8 mail doesn’t freaking work. It seems like it does at first, but it is sporatic and buggy. When you look closely after writing mail and telling it to sync after you tell it to send…you notice it randomly and sometimes constantly can’t access your mail server when you want it to. After many minutes of waiting, you may see a tiny “server unavailable” message in the upper right corner of the screen. If you blink, you may miss it. Turns out this is a very widespread problem if you google the term and review all the frustration being vented. The solution most have come to? Don’t use Windows 8 mail. Microsoft has carefully edited any reference to the widely known email malfunction from its support area and website. You can’t find anything there that acknowledges the problem. And five months out from the initial release, Microsoft offers no upgrade, fix or alternative for this problem. Email has never worked right on Apple’s iPad, either…unless it is hosted with Apple. Wow, Microsoft…did you have to copy ALL of Apple’s iOS flaws too?
The only redeeming quality of Windows 8 is it seems to be more stable than prior versions. That’s it, but what good is it if you can’t really use it for the basics you depend on the most?
The industry trips over itself so often to con investors into stock purchases by promoting fancy projects, they apparently distort their view of reality to such an extent they ignore the most important issues facing computer users. Since they all do it, the choices of functionality are always reduced.
Microsoft had a great opportunity to save the company by addressing the frustrations of people who just want to get things done in a world that feels as free as the promise of any liberty. We, the people, want a secure system that doesn’t crash, a way of easily searching for and finding any file stored on OUR computer, email that works quickly, easily, and consistently, and an uncluttered, simple to understand interface with customizability available if we want it.
Beyond that, we want a music and video player that doesn’t suck or force proprietary alliances like Apple or Microsoft stores. We want to control all aspects of privacy, and we don’t want a company scanning our email and files in cloud storage to skim information used to target spam and other advertising at us.
The big companies that control the computer world are all working in opposition to what we, the people want. How do they get away with it?
It’s like if three asshole families owned most of the rentable property in Klamath (wait…they do). You have to live somewhere, so you’re going to have to deal with one of them. You don’t have a choice. That’s the new capitalism. It used to be called feudalism. Whatever you call it, our productivity is being ruined between unmet promises, forced upgrades (everyone eventually has to upgrade to stay in business through compatibility), and the battles among patent trolls that keep alternatives from the open market. There are benevolent ways government could resolve this simply through demanding functionality and interoperability through their bulk purchase contracts and redesigning intellectual property, but government is just as inept as any of these other behemoths at taking correct actions.
Basic information appliances are now infrastructure. No economy functions well within infrastructures that do not. Save your own productivity by avoiding Windows 8.
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