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Saturday, June 14, 2014

Thoughts on Windows 8.1 (and What Should Come for Windows 9)

I dropped my laptop a few weeks ago and my hard drive became corrupted from the fall. For anyone wondering, if you interrupt the hard drive while it is writing or reading, it has a very likely chance of being destroyed from the inside and it will be very difficult to recover your information. So be especially careful about dropping a laptop when you have programs running and always make sure to make backups, unlike I did.

My fix was relatively simple; just buy a new hard drive. But I figured it was a good time to upgrade and wasn't so sure what else could have broke on my computer so I went ahead and bought a new laptop. I was running Windows 7 previously, really enjoyed it, and refused to move to Windows 8. But buying a new laptop made that difficult to find exactly the specs that I wanted, out-of-the-box, and not have to use Windows 8. Long story short, I ended up buying a laptop with Windows 8. This laptop also has a touch screen which, in my opinion and experience of using Windows 8, is very necessary for a more positive experience.

I was saddened by the loss of two features from Windows 7 that were not moved over to Windows 8. Those two features were Windows Gadgets and the Start menu. I was surprised to find out that it is possible to incorporate both features into Windows 8 even though Microsoft has not released any official updates to include them. To anyone curious, here are the links that I used to get these (I've been using them for two weeks with no issues but use them at your own caution):

Start menu for Windows 8 ==>

To anyone curious, Microsoft provides a reason why they removed Windows Gadgets and I think you should read their reason before downloading this pack. Click here to view Microsoft's official reasoning for removing Windows Gadgets.

Windows Gadgets ==>

This experience with Windows 8 has...actually been more pleasant than my previous encounters with the OS. Regular readers will probably know that I didn't have any respect for the OS. While I certainly won't venture to say that it is better than Windows 7 (my absolute favorite version of Windows), it has been nice.

A touch screen is, in my opinion, the best and only way to enjoy Windows 8. Without it, it feels clunky trying to navigate through the "Metro" menu.

I read something earlier about some analyst saying that Microsoft didn't need to add a Start menu in Windows 9 once released. I found myself disagreeing with this for many reasons.

My beef with Windows 8 continues with them leaving non-touch users out. What Microsoft ought to do is either add the Start menu or make two versions of Windows 9. One specifically designed with touch screens in mind and the secondary being for non-touch screens. Many of the users I work with that use Windows 8 do not have touch screens and don't seem to have a problem navigating the menu, but others of us find it tedious moving the cursor across the screen as far as needed. Classic design is best for traditional mouse-only users and the Metro is fine for touch screens.

I think incorporating both the Metro with the classic Windows design is an interesting concept.

The above image is a concept someone had come up with that incorporates both the classic Start menu and the newer Metro design. On first look, it looks ugly and a little too cluttered, but perhaps Microsoft can find a way to make it more appealing to the user and find better ways of categorizing objects. I think this is also a good idea for users who don't have a touch screen too. It's not as big and wide as the current Metro setting is while at the same time, it's still touch-friendly for those with bigger fingers.

The change is nice, but most users are still left in the cold. Businesses rely on reliable versions of Windows that are both compatible and work well for their business needs. Microsoft lost out with businesses by changing too much. Microsoft only won with some businesses by default because they needed a new machine and one that was reasonably priced which happened to include Windows 8.

The Windows Store is a nice additions with more user friendly apps. It's nice to find causal games and other apps all in one place that other Windows 8 users have access too. However Microsoft needs to step away from things like "Windows RT" that don't allow regular program file installations outside of the Store unless Microsoft found them profitable in some way.

The change from many and expensive versions of Windows to simply two is probably my favorite change of all. Rather than Windows Basic, Home Premium, Business/Professional, and Ultimate, users only have to choose between a standard edition and Pro (or the lesser, RT). Not only was the change in coming from more to less a much better idea but the change in price was also refreshing. I remember Windows Vista and 7 costing around $300, but the upgrade cost to Pro is only $99. That is much better for all of us that need some of those features. Most computers came with Home Premium so they were missing lots of things especially businesses that rely on connecting to a server and can't join a domain unless on something higher than Home Premium.

All in all, there's good and bad. I still prefer Windows 7 in many ways and if given the option would downgrade, but Windows 8 isn't as bad as my previous experiences. 8.1 brought a lot of other much needed changes but there's still room for improvement.

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