back to article Here's the $4.99 utility that might just have saved Windows 8

Veteran software outfit Stardock has offered Microsoft an elegant way to escape its Windows 8 Metro Notro dilemma. With Windows 8, Redmond foisted a new and radical touchscreen-driven user interface on a desktop PC market that was already in a once-in-a-generation slump - and both consumer sales and enterprise interest have …


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  1. Mark McC

    The downside

    Once TIFKAM apps are reduced to windows running on a desktop, it becomes even more apparent how crushingly inadequate they are compared to traditional desktop programs. I imagine this is going to be one of those things people try once for the novelty, before going back to ignoring TIFKAM apps once more.

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: The downside

      Yes and no. TIFKAM makes a lot of sense on a tablet or small screen. Even desktop apps run maximised, if the screen is small enough. Heck, I know people wit 27" monitors than run with the browser, Outlook etc. maximised all the time!

      But for power users, multi-windows on a large display (or multiple displays) is great and this app from Stardock should make a huge difference. This is something I said when Windows 8 Preview came out, TIFKAM didn't make sense on a large display and desktop users needed the option to window them.

      Using both a W8 tablet and large screen laptop, I see the point of TIFKAM on the tablet, but I sorely miss the windowing ability on my laptop. I'll be taking this for a spin on my laptop.

  2. Robert E A Harvey

    This continues to amuse

    Given that $MEGACORP have yet to migrate me to W7, and that at home I am entirely Apple/Linux, this remains a source of amusement rather than personal pain. But I am running low on popcorn!

    At least it should provide Mickysoft with a defence next time the EU competition commissioner comes to call. "People have to go to 3rd parties to make our stuff work. How can that be abuse of a monopoly?"

    1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Re: This continues to amuse

      How can that be abuse of a monopoly?

      You're right - it's more and more feasible to call it a former monopoly..

      1. Euripides Pants

        Re: This continues to amuse

        "How can that be abuse of a monopoly?"

        Just call it abuse and be done with it....

      2. John Smith 19 Gold badge

        Re: This continues to amuse

        "You're right - it's more and more feasible to call it a former monopoly.."

        Don't start counting your chickens too soon.

        There are few things more dangerous than a cornered corporation rat.

    2. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: This continues to amuse

      How can that be abuse of a monopoly?

      The only reason Win8's TIFKAM even exists is because they are a monopoly - consumers are essentially forced to buy it if they want a PC at all. (As the OEMs are pushed away from Win7)

      If they had a choice, almost nobody would buy Windows 8 - you can see approximately how many would choose it by looking at sales of Surface and Surface Pro.

      I'm still pissed off that they neutered the task bar - so much of the cool stuff it did has gone :(

    3. TEQ

      Re: This continues to amuse

      I think it's more accurate to call it self-abuse...

    4. Lars Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: This continues to amuse

      As far as the EU competition commission is concerned, so far it has been all American companies complaining and asking the EU for help. I suppose they felt Microsoft has the US DOJ in its pocket.

      The EU has perhaps got some compensation for the work but the benefit of keeping an eye on how Microsoft is using its monopoly I would assume to be international. You can read more about it downloading Case COMP/C-3/37.792 Microsoft and similar.

  3. K

    Gets my vote..

    But I am ashamed to admit I brought this, not for what it-is, nor that I use Windows 8 - but the fact Microsoft majorly f*cked up, yet they will see me using Windows 8 an "endorsement" for it.. which it is not, to be brutally honest, I F*CKING HATE IT! (with the exception of how quick it is, and that is worth the value of Start8 itself!)

    1. Rebajas

      Re: Gets my vote..

      I bought it thinking it surely can't be that bad.

      I was wrong, but just like you I am now part of any statistical success Microsoft tries to spin around Win8.

      What annoys me most actually (most, among many other things) is that - having added my Music library to Windows Media Player, I thought I would be able to use the Music App as a replacement of sorts for the missing Media Center... but the Music app can't see my library still :\

      I like IE10 though - as a second browser - on my one Windows machine.

      1. EvilGav 1

        @rebajas Re: Gets my vote..

        Yes, the music app (along with the photo and video app) can see your music, wherever it is.

        Like the old Media player, if you don't store it in the defined place, you need to tell the app where to find it. This is not done in the same way as the media player, but a 5 minute google found my answer - basically, you open up Explorer (Win + E) and add the relevant directory shortcuts under My Music, My Photos etc (i'm at work on XP, so don't have the exact manner in front of me).

        Before I get shot down with "but that's just silly", please remember that Media Player has been the same since it was launched, it assumed all media types were in the directory it wanted them and you had to tell them where to find the files if they weren't, nothings changed except how you tell it (which changed between Media 9 and Media 10 as well).

    2. mrweekender
      Thumb Up

      Re: Gets my vote..

      Using Start8 to boot directly to the desktop. Good solution to a shit experience. Don't use the apps, probably never will. Windows 8 boots faster than 7, overall happy with the speed and stability. Wouldn't use it as my primary OS, for me a Mac is far more productive for the effort expended.

  4. eek the geek
    Thumb Up

    Worked for me

    Got an email at the start of the year from Stardock advertising this. Ended up upgrading 5 family PCs and bought this for each one!

    1. CreosoteChris

      Re: Worked for me

      I ran with Win8 defaults for 6 weeks on a 3-screen no-touch desktop setup, thinking "give it a fair shot and see what happens" Never got to like it though... it was perfectly useable once the app/filetype mappings were adjusted to stop TIFKAM from appearing. But not preferable to W7 for a pure desktop.

      Then I installed Start8 and *instantly* I felt at home, thought "this is what it should have been at the outset" Start8 is very well-thought-out and has lots of nice touches. Classic Shell is OK, but Start8 is worth it, quality at the price of a pint.

      Bad mistake by MS, marketing Win8 without Start8 or similar features.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. JDX Gold badge

        Re: Worked for me

        Maybe MS will just buy it and make available as a powertool or whatever they call those things.

      2. Paul Shirley

        @Keith 72

        My problem with Metro is that MS dethemed desktop mode to match it's fugly look and that materially affects its usability.

        In Metro mode it really doesn't matter if you can't easily distinguish window borders, since you can have 1 or 2 of them in constant positions. On busy desktops it causes just enough confusion to annoy me.

        In Metro having UI elements poorly marked on a monochrome background might work - you don't *need* to use scroll bars with touch for example. On the desktop it makes for a hard to use and headache creating mess.

        My Win8 desktop became a whole lot more usable after installing the Royale 8 theme and restoring some sanity to the desktop chrome. Pity that takes hacking a 3rd party theme engine into Win8 and inevitably affecting stability.

        1. EvilGav 1
          Thumb Down

          @Paul Shirley Re: @Keith 72

          No offence, but if you'd spent 5 minutes longer you would have found that you don't need any 3rd party app's to do exactly what you want.

          On the Win 8 themes screen is an option to make the window borders context sensitive or static. Setting them to static and to whatever colour you want would, from your note, have done exactly what you wanted.

  5. Tezfair

    My cost effective solution that costs $0.00

    format c: /s

    1. Michael Habel

      Re: My cost effective solution that costs $0.00

      Lets not forget to delete /windows/system32 too while we're at it. I've been told for years that this simple little trick does wonders for Windows!

      1. pompurin

        Re: My cost effective solution that costs $0.00

        or deleting the WinSXS folder because it's 20gb for no apparent reason

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Re: My cost effective solution that costs $0.00

          "the WinSXS folder because it's 20gb for no apparent reason"

          I asked Steve Ballmer about that, but he just said, "That's the secret of my SXS!"

        2. Adam Azarchs

          Re: My cost effective solution that costs $0.00

          The SxS folder is almost entirely made up of redundant hard links. While these confuse file size counters, they don't actually take up that much space. In reality deleting the SxS folder would only free up a couple of gigs, not 20+.

          1. Silverburn

            Re: My cost effective solution that costs $0.00

            In reality deleting the SxS folder would only free up a couple of gigs, not 20+.

            When a bunch of aliases/shortcuts takes up a couple of gigs, I know something has gone wrong somewhere. A couple of MB, tops?

    2. Fatman

      Re: My cost effective solution that costs $0.00

      Is a Linux Live CD.

  6. Piro Silver badge

    So what we're saying is..

    .. Once you murder everything Windows 8 stands for - full screen TIFKAM - with Start8 and ModernMix, you end up with a half decent OS.

    This is basically the answer to what everyone was saying through the development of Windows 8. I remember the Dev Preview.. then the Consumer Preview... The complaints. The complaints didn't subside with RTM, either, as expected.

    I'd still have rather had them polish up the Windows 7 parts of 8 then spend any time on TIFKAM, it's still not the finished OS I'd like, even avoiding TIFKAM, it still doesn't show enough shine. Also, the flat windows still look crap, 7 Aero still looks better..

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Re: So what we're saying is..

      Vista. Win7 and Win 8 are thus pointless for laptops & desktops and all users & Business really want is a SP4 for XP that removes some bugs and inconsistencies.

      Most of the stupidity of Explorer's design is STILL in Win8.

      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

        Re: Mage Re: So what we're saying is..

        ".....all users & Business really want is a SP4 for XP....." Yes, but M$ can't charge for a new license for just a service pack.

  7. Adam Trickett

    Classic Shell?

    Some WIn8 users I know tried Classic Shell, it's free/open and made Win8 usable.

    I don't run Windows myself so I'm not sure whet the differences between the two are.

    1. Ian Yates

      Re: Classic Shell?

      I was coming on to say exactly that. My girlfriend's brand new laptop had Win8 and I put Classic Start (part of Classic Shell) on it.

      Completely skips Metro (or whatever it's called) and works exactly as she'd expect it to.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: Classic Shell?

        Thanks for the heads up on Classic Shell. Personally I use KDE on Gentoo or SSH to BASH for most things but the new laptop I bought my wife came with WIn 8. This should make it rather more usable for her.



    2. Asok Asus

      Re: Classic Shell?

      I've used Classic Shell for years, including on Vista and Windows 7. I like it because it's so customizable and brings back XP-style foldout menus, which I find to be more productive than other menu styles. You can make your customizations and then export them for reuse in an XML file and then import that into new login ids or new systems. And it's free. Oh, and it's free. Did I mention that it's free?

    3. Eletruk

      Re: Classic Shell?

      This, in conjunction with Classic Shell works Great! Classic shell adds an app menu, and with Modern Mix, they act just like real windows programs, imagine that.

    4. Grogan Silver badge

      Re: Classic Shell?

      I run a computer service (not sales, just good on site service). Classic Shell makes my people happy, when they have subjected themselves to Windows 8 through a new computer purchase. I don't configure much, I just install it and choose the option of "Vista/Windows 7" for the start menu style. This brings back a Windows 7-like shell and goes directly to the desktop after login. It also brings back traditional shutdown menus and stuff.

      I was previously offering Windows 7 "downgrades" for a nominal fee, but that's a lot of bollocks tracking down drivers from the chipset manufacturers (especially on notebooks where the OEM doesn't provide them) and also other concerns. (Hint: Microsoft doesn't allow "downgrade rights" for consumer editions of Windows)

      Unless someone would like to try a nice Linux distribution (which I am more than happy to have done, also for a nominal fee), I think Classic Shell is the best solution for Windows 8 shitboxen. It's Free (MIT License), does exactly what most users want with almost no configuration (with assloads of options available for those who do know what they want) and to my knowledge, doesn't cause any problems. It seems to be implemented as an extension to the explorer shell, rather than a shell replacement. That could be a matter of semantics, but I'm guessing it's less likely to cause any unexpected surprises that way.

      So that's what I'm doing now, for anyone I encounter who expresses exasperation at that absolutely retarded user interface.

      I set up local logins (Microsoft wants everyone to use a Windows Live login and people think they have to), I add back the solitaire games from Windows 7 (google for that, if interested) so they don't have to have a Games for Windows Live account and go through the chicken before egg bullshit of needing to update the client software because it can't log in, and I also tell people to resist drinking the Microsoft Store koolaid.

      They get an explanation of my ideological objections to this blatant attempt to establish apple-like lock-in dumb-down, for no charge.

      1. nematoad

        Re: Classic Shell?

        "I was previously offering Windows 7 "downgrades" for a nominal fee, but that's a lot of bollocks tracking down drivers from the chipset manufacturers"

        There, and I was starting to believe the FUD that Linux is "difficult". It just works straight off and what's more I don't have to hand over an arm and a leg to get the privilege of using it.

      2. Dana W

        Re: Classic Shell?

        Except my Mac is neither locked in nor dumbed down. At least Apple can tell a desktop from a Tablet and that they are actually DIFFERENT things.

  8. Efros

    Startisback is a very good Win 8 Start button utility 5 PC license is $5, 2 PCs for $3. Configure it right and you won't see metro at all.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Yes, I endorse Startisback. With it, I actually prefer Windows 8 to Windows 7, except for the infuriating popup box that says "There's a pretty useless, inferior Windows app to do what you're doing", or words to that effect.

    2. SleepGuy

      Agreed, I just bought a business license pack for Startisback for our Windows8 standard build. It's a great product with a lot of flexibility (I am also partial to the "XP Style" flyout's just more efficient)...

      1. Silverburn

        Startisback = brilliant name btw.

        And at least we're seeing some developers making serious cash out of Win8...

      2. John 62

        flyout menus

        I thought the flyout menus were win95-style. Though Windows XP probably does the best version of the Windows 2000 theme (Win7's is pretty darn good, too).

  9. RRoker

    Metro Apps = painfully slow

    I'm running Windows 8 on my Core2 laptop with an SSD and (before I reset all of the defaults) it would take about as long to open the Metro picture viewer as it would to open Photoshop (and a lot longer than just using the normal Windows preview tool). (So I'm not sure I'd be that bothered about being able to run Metro apps in a window as I don't want to run them at all).

    I'd recommend classic shell to anyone else running Windows 8, as apart from the interface it is better than previous versions of windows (and when I brought it was a lot cheaper than upgrading to Windows 7 from Vista on my laptop)

    1. Steve Knox

      Re: Metro Apps = painfully slow

      Sounds like a configuration issue to me.

      I'm running Windows 8 on an old Dell AMD box with 4GB of RAM and a 5400RPM 2.5" HDD, and I don't see that kind of lag.

      As for the whole interface issue, Microsoft is clearly trying to shift from their classic "worker-bringing-work-interface-home" strategy to mimic Apple's "home-user-bringing-toy-to-work" strategy. The sad thing is, if each of them stuck to the market they (used to) serve best, both companies' products could be a lot better.

  10. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    Now with that add in W8 might be OK at home

    I dread the idea of "upgrading" at home, simply because the missus will freak out with things being in different places (or simply having a different icon/colour/name). You would not believe the level of complaints I got when I installed Office 2010 at her insistence to be compatible with her work environment (Office 2007), and it was not pixel-compatible with her machine at work. Before that I drew flak about having LibreOffice to handle docx files (which always mess files up, according to her). I was somewhat amused that MS-Office 2010 made a similar pig's breakfast out of the same Office 2007 docx files from her work.

    Thank God I use LaTeX!!!

    <deep breath>

    Sorry, end of rant, I needed to get that off my chest

    With workarounds to make it look like W7 I might be spared quite some pain.

    The kids will have no problems with the transition, I would guess.

  11. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Ballmer gets out the chequebook and buys out Stardock

    then fires them all. Stuff like this makes MS look bad.

  12. jptech

    never heard of modern mix

    I started using windows 8 a couple of months ago. I started with the open source "classic shell" and then I moved to start8 because it's a nice implementation.

    I actually don't use metro at all. The only time it's ever started for me was by accident when one of the apps is set as default for a file type. And then getting back to start8 is easy.

  13. Schultz

    Alternative option...

    Just install proper programs for mail (Thunderbird), images (Irfanview or Picasa, or the like), and anything else you need and forget about TIFKAM completely. Worked for me.

    And Classic Shell gets my vote for offering the familiar start menu of the good old days.

    1. csumpi
      Thumb Up

      Re: Alternative option...


      I have Win8 on my new laptop, use all desktop programs, and it works great. In fact it seems faster than Win7, and looks nicer and cleaner.

      In fact I don't mind the removal of the start menu. Gives me more space on the taskbar. And you can use the full screen start menu the same way as the old one: hit the windows key, type the name of the program, hit enter.

      1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        Re: Alternative option...

        Yeah... uh... typing the program name to run it is a feature that they had -before- Windows. In fact, I think they stole it from CP/M.

    2. Asok Asus

      Re: Alternative option...

      Correct. Install Classic Shell, and a half a dozen FREE high-quality programs, point all of the default Metro UI file-associations to the new programs and, Voilà!, Metro UI disappears from your life forever!

  14. Micha Roon
    Big Brother

    How the heck is Steve still at the helm?

    This is the the second major OS disaster for Mr Ballmer and the board will not kick him out.

    He missed the phone market and it is not looking like they are going to get in.

    He lost the browser war (after Bill won it)

    The image of the company is that of a multiple sclerosis sufferer

    The share price has stayed flat for the last 10 years. It was outperformed by Apple of course but also IBM (3x) or Intel (0.5x)

    Come on, kick that loser out before he spends all the cash and sinks the boat.

    1. Nanners
      Thumb Up

      Re: How the heck is Steve still at the helm?

      Been saying that since day one, but honestly, do you want to be the one to tell monkeyboy he's fired? He's likely to rip out your heart with his bare hands and eat it.

      1. Vic

        Re: How the heck is Steve still at the helm?

        > do you want to be the one to tell monkeyboy he's fired?



      2. Red Bren

        Re: How the heck is Steve still at the helm?

        "He's likely to rip out your heart with his bare hands"

        Wouldn't he use a chair?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How the heck is Steve still at the helm?

      The boat has sunk, but there are certain things that always float.

      Someone just needs to put their foot on his head.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thanks for the heads up.

    I'll probably still stay away from Win8 and see what comes next. mind you, I'll likely continue to avoid if TIKFAM is still there. Who the hell wants change for change's sake?

    1. NumptyScrub

      Re: Thanks for the heads up.

      quote: "Who the hell wants change for change's sake?"

      Me? If you don't deliberately shake things up every so often, you won't find anything that works better than your current system. Of course the down side is, you also get to sit through a plethora of stuff that is just plain worse :(

      It's a double edged sword, but one which I feel is worth the inevitable pain and frustration for those few gems you do find. Plus, it stops the whole thing getting too boring; I'd have euthanised by now if GUI development had not progressed since 1985.

  16. VaalDonkie

    Gee people, the only difference between Win 7 and 8 for regular people is the bloody start menu's size.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Downvoted for not using 'blerrie'. Jacob Zuma also thinks size matters.

    2. cordwainer 1

      No, there are HUGE differences, even for "regular" people

      There is a long, long list of features and functionality removed from Windows 8, including features "regular" people use (whatever that means, considering most Windows users are familiar with the basics).

      Check out some of the lists of "features removed in Windows 8" all over the internet. Some of them are going to frustrate and trip up both home and business users rather badly.

      By the way, Windows 8 doesn't HAVE a "Start Menu", so what do you mean by the "start menu's size"?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I disagree. The loss of the start button makes a huge difference to the average user.

      I know Windows 8 was going to be a train wreck when I had to use google to find out how to shut my machine down!

      Swipe right, select settings, then power, then shutdown


    4. VaalDonkie

      The start menu is that thing that pops up in full screen mode when you press the windows key or click in the bottom-left corner of your screen. You can call it whatever else you want, but it's function is the same as the W7 start menu.

  17. Citizen Kaned


    to be honest i bought a new win8 home premium tablet recently (the acer iconia w700) and with touch win8 is actually pretty good. no worse than ios or android IMO.

    i did try a stardock app that allowed me to control my menu page's colours but it caused some conflicts so its gone now.

    you do wonder why MS dropped the ball on a few things. why cant we natively have white text on windows? i prefer black/dark window headings with white text, you need to hack the themes to do this.

    why cant i choose which colours i want on the start menu? most of the options are utter cack.

    why does the touch screen media player (xbox music/video) have a progress bar that is only 20% of the screen width? surely you want it bigger for touch?!

    still, i hope that MS can sort these issues out without hacks and they can and do cause issues elsewhere

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: hmmm

      Yes, it does work well on a small touchscreen device, like your tablet. The "fill the screen with the app" approach is the right one when screen size is small and the navigation works very well with touches and swipes.

      Where it's a ruddy pig's ear is on a large, conventional monitor with a keyboard and mouse for input. Which is what we're talking about here.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: hmmm

      You say:

      "and with touch win8 is actually pretty good. no worse than ios or android IMO."

      and then go on to list all the crap you don't like about it! Seems that what you should have said is that "actually win8 IS worse than iOS or Android"

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: hmmm

      Comment section usage guide: ignore all downvotes on honestly contributed personal experiences

  18. Spoonsinger


    Fairly sure there are totally free versions of this utility out there. But I suppose if MS go all mental, (well more mental), paying someone for the bypass 'might' be worth it when they try to f**k it up.

  19. Anonymous Coward

    Oh Brad!

    If you pull MS's chestnuts out of the fire then I won't be able to feel good about your rescuing WPS and OS/2 back in the day.

  20. Lee D Silver badge

    People use Metro apps?

    1. Spoonsinger

      People use Metro apps?

      Got a screen snap shot of their weather app showing a sandstorm in Biggleswade last November and never bothered again. That, and the fact all the Metro app's seem to have been designed by second year Uni students who had just transferred from Marketing degrees, and had no UI/Design or actually coding ability. Kind of left me cold.

  21. Michael Habel


    I absolutely refuse to pay a Third Party to fix something that shouldn't have ever needed fixing in the first place. This is not like Windows XP where everyone was bitching about how Microsoft re-did the Start Menu. which to there credit turned out ok, (Comparing that to say Win9x and Win2k); Or even what they did to it again afterwards with Vista and, 7.

    Sure such Tools were useful for those that were uncomfortable with the new-er/ish GUIs but on the whole they were left largely unchanged, till Windows 8 that is.

    The point here being that if you wanted something like this you had the right to quietly go about your business and do so. While leaving the rest of the World to get along. Now in order to actually get any kind of work done this $5.00(USD) hack has suddenly become the most single popular App for Windows 8? What are Microsofts thought on this?

    For a while I swallowed the Kool-Aid from the like of this site (and others), that Vista was total and utter shite. Then I used it on the hardware I actually bought it with a Fujitsu-Siemens Laptop w/an Intel C2D & 4GiBs or RAM, and it ran everything that Windows 7 does or did for me.

    Unlike then however all the hate surrounding Windows 8 is IMHO very justified Microsoft are using this crap to SPAM TIFKAM at everyone everywhere, even to the places where it's not welcome. Corporations, Windows Server 2013, People who just want to run a simple little beige Box to play the odd game of Sim City perhaps?

    I for One hope that Mr. Shuttleworth (irregardless of how the "Community" sees him), succeeds in his task to take Linux kicking and screaming into the Main-Stream. If anyone Person could do this, then it would be him. He has just shy of a Year to do so. By which point a whole Hell of a lot of People will be left homeless after Microsoft drops the Axe on Windows XP SP3 and Office 2003 SP3.

    No doubt a fair number of those people will mumble on to Windows 7 (or even 8), but I wonder how many of them would at least give Linux a try by that point?

    Given that most People only use the Computer to surf the 'Net, use Skype, check eMail etc... Well it's not like Linux can't already do that with Firefox, the exact same Browser that that I had been using since time in memorial on Windows XP.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nope.jpeg

      That's silly, like refusing to buy a case for your iPhone because it didn't come with one.

      1. JDX Gold badge

        Re: Nope.jpeg

        Typical Linuxboi... cutting off your nose to spite your face and then running around telling everyone about it like it's an achievement.

      2. Michael Habel

        Re: Nope.jpeg

        Nope I have to disagree with ya there pardner a Cell Phone Case irrespective of who made it is almost certainly gonna be of more use then the crap the crap that Microsoft are dropping. But, hay this has at least driven me away from that stinkhole vender. The time for Linux to make its big push (if its ever gonna make One IS RIGHT NOW!), really the only one that has anything to gain by this are in fact Apple. That is if even they can be arsed for a moment to remember that they make, and sell Computers that is.

        But, really to all those XP holdouts where will ya go post April 2014?

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hang On

    Why should we the consumer have to pay so that we can put right what MS fucked up in the first place.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Hang On

      You mean like paying for Office because Wordpad doesn't do everything?

      You don't HAVE to pay. If you like the functionality provided, buy it. Otherwise don't.

      1. Michael Habel

        Re: Hang On

        Couldn't agree with ya more so I wont and, make that double for Windows 8!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hang On @ JDX

        Don't you remember the New Coke fiasco where they changed the recipe. MS should learn from history that you don't change the formula for the sake of it, it's what made you familiar and successful in the first place.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hang On

      Because not everybody thinks it's "fucked up" and actually prefer it.

  23. Anonymous Coward

    Classic Shell is free and open source, and has a community

    If you are going to put a 3rd party add-on on your system, I would recommend Classic Shell. It's open source, and has an active developer community making constant improvements.

    I don't know why anyone would need the window-ized feature for Metro apps from Stardock. I've never used a Metro app on the desktop, and don't see any features that would lead me to want to in the future.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Classic Shell is free and open source, and has a community

      If you've never used the functionality then your opinion that it's not useful isn't exactly worth much.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: Classic Shell is free and open source, and has a community

        >"If you've never used the functionality then your opinion that it's not useful isn't exactly worth much."

        I stated that badly. I've opened a bunch of them and looked at what they do. I haven't used them for any work. The Mail metro app isn't full featured enough for me - I would use Outlook or Thunderbird anyway. The Maps and weather apps are functions I prefer to get in a browser. I don't use a chat program, so that's out. The photo metro app seems less useful to me than the normal Windows Photo Gallery program.

        I'll probably try out their music player at some point. One good thing about Metro apps is they don't have to run in full screen - if you hit the Windows Start button + "." on your keyboard, the Metro app will slide to the right or left and leave you a lot of screen space to run a normal windowed program. Or you can use the same function to run two Metro apps side by side.

  24. 1Rafayal

    This kind of reminds me of the Windows 3.11 days, when you were able to buy your own preferred version of a windows manager.

    Maybe MS would be wiser to provide multiple options for windows management instead of forcing people into a new regime. No idea personally.

    Ultimately, it will be up to the masses to decide what they want. The consumer may end up simply going with the flow and adopting TIFKAM, they may not.

    I recall reading on the Reg that MS may go to yearly updates of Windows, if this does become the case then it would be a relatively easy thing to replace TIFKAM for something else, or give the user a greater control over which interface they choose to use on a regular basis.

    To me, TIFKAM always seemed to be something that was thrown in at the last minute, after the buzz around the Metro interface on WinPho 7.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      It reminds me of the Win 3.1 days as well, but because when Win95 came along loads of Windows users insisted on using file manager and program manager as the shell, and not the Win95 interface because it was "better".

      I use Win 8 at home and, while I understand that people don't like the start menu taking up the whole screen, that is all it is. Way over 90% of my time is spent at the desktop, I have a couple of metro apps, such as thetrainline, but I mainly use standard Windows apps. I just don't get the hate.

      1. Hyphen

        Re: Yes...

        "I have a couple of metro apps, such as thetrainline"

        Pro tip... ditch TheTrainLine and book through any of the railway operators' websites. Save yourself the ridiculous booking and credit card fees TTL charges.

        Personally I'd recommend or - both use modern booking engines superior to what TTL offers. The layout makes more sense, and you can see with a swift mouseover what trains are available for a particular tticket, OR what tickets are available for a given train. Oh, and you can use any of these sites even if your journey doesn't involve travel with that particular operator!

  25. Rampant Spaniel

    I might give this a try, I put win 8 on an old laptop and it is sorely missng a touchscreen and is pants for work. Even Apple haven't tried to ram ios down the throats of osx users. Metro is great on phones and tablets, but they really screwed the pooch on desktops.

    I need to go sit down, I'm sounding like Eadon.

  26. Turtle

    "Put off..."

    "The new operating system is a step too far for enterprises with limited training budgets – and only 17 per cent of business PCs shipped in the UK in December ran Windows 8. 'Most consumers will be put off by the thought of having to learn a new OS,' Canalys' Tom Evans said at the time - and most analysts agree."

    This is actually a pretty common problem in my experience. Not only with apps but with - especially - websites. There is a gui, or a webpage with a certain layout, and it might or might not be functional and ergonomically logical to begin with, but it always gets replaced by something that is less functional, is ergonomically moronic, and that was designed for the sake of appearance at the expense of usability. And one now has to unlearn the old interface or page design and learn how to use the new one, which has no advantages over the old one. (A very florid example of this is what those monkeys at Steinberg have been doing with the gui's of Cubase and Nuendo. Not as florid as what Microsoft did with Win 8 but pretty stupid nonetheless. )

    Like most people I have no objection to learning how to use software - if there is a point to it. Having to relearn an app for no good reason other than that some more-than-likely-clinically-diagnosable-asspie wants to improve the looks of the interface, however, angers me.

    Am I the only person who has ever suspected that gui designers like to get together after work and laugh about the tricks they pull on their users?

    1. Asok Asus

      Re: "Put off..."

      Web sites change constantly, and constantly change for the worse usually because big corporations have big, permanent web site staffs, and these folks have to justify their continued employment somehow, so they constantly "improve" stuff that has no need for improvement.

      HP and Dell are some of the worst offenders. I use these sites a lot to obtain software updates, and buy Dell products for my clients, and every time I go to buy a Dell product, I'm confronted with a completely different look and feel, so in effect, each and every time I want to buy a Dell product, I have to undergo a useless, pointless, and painful learning experience. It's infuriating, actually because it's only point is to keep Dell web site staff employed.

  27. reno79

    We get it. Everyone* is stuck to the old mantra that Windows 8 sucks. Yawn, can we get a new thing to hate please? Maybe I should find some Apple Vs Android articles to post?

    *Everyone that is apart from the people that choose to learn how to use it

    1. GregC

      "Everyone that is apart from the people that choose to learn how to use it"

      Nope, sorry, that's bollocks.

      I spent a lot of time with the dev preview, and a lot less time with the consumer preview. It's got nothing to do with "learning how to use it". I suppose someone will be along to tell me I'm holding it wrong next.

      tl:dr; version first: I don't like working with everything maximised. That means the start screen breaks my flow every time it comes up. This is shit.

      Long version if you can be bothered: Win8 seems to be based on an assumption that everyone uses software maximised. Two of my colleagues work like this, and they get on just fine with it. I've got lots of lovely desktop space across two screens and I like to use it, thanks. That usually means whatever software I'm using right now, a command prompt and a file browser on the main screen and email & IM on the other. In Win7, when I hit start, I get a nice compact menu that leaves most of my working area intact - I select whatever I need and I'm on my way, with minimal interruption. In Win8, my main screen gets wiped out and I'm taken completely out of the context I was working in. As in the short version, this is shit.

      Add to this that the start screen is eye searingly ugly (which is purely a personal preference, of course), along with the pretty unattractive reskin of the actual windowed part of the UI, the hot corners that seem to require sub-pixel accuracy on a multi monitor setup, and various minor annoyances - it all adds up to a pretty solid "no thanks" from me

      1. reno79

        Re: "Everyone that is apart from the people that choose to learn how to use it"

        I too have spent a long time using Win8, being a beta tester, using the dev previews and the RTM and gone ahead and purchased a win8 laptop since it became available.

        Everyday that I use the laptop (my tablet get's more use lately, I'll admit) I'm sat there with two apps, side by side quite happily. When I connect the laptop to my TV or ext monitor I can have 4 apps. If I could be bothered to do so, I could connect an external monitor via DVI and my TV via HDMI and have six if I so chose. Granted not as many as with Win7 but the rest are only an alt-tab/win-tab away.

        Your argument about everything being only a menu away is counter productive. You press the Win key (or the start button, if you want to stick to the mouse) and select your option - exactly the same as me.

        I shall ignore your "eye searingly ugly" comment as you say that's your preference, I kinda like it. It's not perfect, but it's alright, particularly if you get some good live tiled apps. Never had a problem with the corner context menus, but I rarely use them as I find everything I want either on the start screen or via keyboard shortcuts.

        It took time for me to like it, I was a heavy Win7 user and struggled to adapt (took me maybe three months?) but I feel the persistence paid off.

        1. Richard 12 Silver badge

          Re: "Everyone that is apart from the people that choose to learn how to use it"

          One question to think about:

          How many applications do you have installed?

          Under all previous versions of Windows, the "launcher" had folders to let you organise your installed programs into groupings, and to let the installer put their links together.

          That's gone in Windows 8.

          If you have more programs than fits a screen, you have to flick through several pages.

          If the installer used to put its links into a given folder (eg all from the same supplier), it won't anymore, you'll have to drag them around yourself.

          Even iOS has folders on its "launcher" - and most people have far fewer things installed on their phone than on their PC.

          The Win8 Start Screen just doesn't scale. If you've only got one screenful of applications, it's ok. As you add applications, it becomes more and more unwieldy.

          Personally, I have well over a hundred applications installed - most are "rarely used", but I still need them and I still want them grouped nicely so I can find them quickly.

          - As I use them rarely, I may not remember enough about the name to use Start->type, or even recognise the icon, but finding "widget drawing" in the "drawing" folder is easy.

          Doing the same in Win8 Start Screen isn't possible. I must recognise the icon or know its name, or it is almost impossible to find.

          - One example of a useful UI improvement that was clearly based on proper research is "Pinning" in Win7 - those few applications I use every day end up pinned, while the more rarely-used stay in folders in the Start menu.

    2. Rampant Spaniel

      This really isn't the case. The gui works really well on tablets and phones with their touchscreens, devices that are intended to be held and where their use is primarily consumption rather than creation.

      I know how to use windows 8, it just isn't as good at content creation. It's clumsy to use when you aren't using a touchscreen device and more so when you are bouncing between 8-12 programs.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    well hold on there pardner...

    I was determined to hate Windows 8. I've been supporting MS tech since MSDOS 3.x and every once in a while we get a real turkey of an OS.

    Everyone has been telling me how bad it was, how bad metro is, the jarring experience, the lack of user control.

    Then the evil day came - my girlfriends mum got a laptop with Windows 8. Oh boy I thought as I rolled up my sleeves and prepared to hate it.

    On boot Metro came up with it's big icons and live information. Oh how I was getting ready to guffaw at MS's lack of UI design.

    Then I pressed the Windows key and the desktop appeared. [WIN]+[R] gave me a run command. CMD gave me a DOS prompt. Pressing Windows key again got me back to Metro where I could search for the documents I previously copied over and easily open them.

    Then I thought to myself - It's not so bad - no need to hate. Just needs a little getting used to.

    1. kyza

      Re: well hold on there pardner...

      You bastard, with your tricksy keyboard skills and knowledge and whatnot.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Paris Hilton

        Re: well hold on there pardner...

        lol, well let's not let the reality cloud the MS hatefest.

      2. censored

        Re: well hold on there pardner...

        Fair enough. But I have an aunt who is a relatively literate user, but by no means expert. She lives with her husband, who knows nothing.

        She has an iPad for day to day tasks but is looking to replace her elderly XP machine which has slowed to a crawl and would take me a day to sort out (it takes me another day to even drive to her home).

        When you start up Win8 does it show you where to click? Does it remind you in two months, when you've forgotten? Does it explain charms and the task switcher? Does it tell you you're effectively running two UIs with no cross-compatibility? Will it explain to her how to use the Windows key and the shortcuts to switch to desktop? Is there a tutorial about why IE and IE Metro don't talk to each other? Or will I get phone calls saying "I can't find my bookmarks" or "why can't I see the letter I'm writing and my email at the same time to reference them?" or "I downloaded a program from the Store and now I can't find it on my start menu?".

        Such a massive UI change, with NO visual prompts and reminders, is only good for confident users. And runing two incompatible UIs at the same time is no good for anyone.

    2. The Serpent

      Re: well hold on there pardner...

      Glad you find it to be better than expected. However I think your examples are, if anything, illustrating the point that many people put forward - namely that 'Metro' is an unnecessary step in the proceedings on a non-touchscreen computer.

      Win+r works on my XP machine, cmd has given me a command prompt since NT4 days and I'm not sure how those examples are relevant as they aren't Windows 8 features. Neither is the easy location of and handling of documents - that's a bread and butter task for any OS. You didn't need two user interfaces to accomplish those tasks.

      Any of those things work fine on a 11 year old operating system (XP) and, if you drop the requirement to press Win+r and allow 'command' instead of 'cmd', you can get the same results from Win 95. (For all I know, Win+r might work there too)

      1. The Serpent

        Re: well hold on there pardner...

        Make that a 20 year old OS - I just tried those things in a Win 3.11 VM I forgot I had.

        Win+r didn't do much though..!

      2. Jeff Deacon

        Re: well hold on there pardner...

        Win+r certainly works on this Win98 box, though it has been updated with Unofficial Service Pack 3.

    3. Asok Asus

      Re: well hold on there pardner...

      So, the best way to use the new "GUI" is to use the keyboard for command shortcuts? Like with DOS?

      1. reno79

        Re: well hold on there pardner...

        Are you telling me you don't CTRL C, CTRL V? even CTRL Z or use the Windows key on your keyboard?

    4. Avatar of They
      Thumb Down

      Re: well hold on there pardner...

      And then you went to desktop mode and tried to find control panel, and then couldn't and went to the TIFKAM and typed in control panel, only to be rushed back to desktop mode and found it was loaded up in there. And you thought "Wow that is such a logical place, how I have loved adding three actions and a loading of typing to get to the basics? Why didn't it open in TIFKAM, or let me open in desktop mode."

      And then you added Administrative tools to TIFKAM and realised every single icon that has been there since windows 3.1 is still there, and you guffawed at how ugly they look in their 8bit pixelated look compared to the flashy new (and ugly) squares.

      And then you tried to alter the general feel of TIFKAM and found yourself going round in circles because of the confusing terminology change, or the fact some personalised features can only be edited from within the desktop features.

      And then you ran IE and found out JAVA isn't supported in TIFKAM and you then have to close that and go to the desktop mode to open IE and try again.

      Or how you love the 24 inch monitor in 1920 x 1200 and the constant muse movements on my small mouse mat to be able to drag my stupid little mouse across MASSIVE tiles to get to the one I want because I don't have a touch screen... Or the fact I have dual screens and it takes TWICE as long.

      Oh how you loved it.

      No? Oh only me then,

      1. Greg J Preece

        Re: well hold on there pardner...

        Or how you love the 24 inch monitor in 1920 x 1200 and the constant muse movements on my small mouse mat to be able to drag my stupid little mouse across MASSIVE tiles to get to the one I want because I don't have a touch screen... Or the fact I have dual screens and it takes TWICE as long.

        You have a 24 inch monitor and no mouse wheel?

        Metro for me is a glorified start menu, and with the keyboard support they added after its first appearance, I use it like I use every other menu these days. Hit the windows key, type a bit of what I want, hit return. It's what I did in 7 and it's what I do in Kubuntu. I see Metro for about a second, then it's gone again.

        And to get to the control panel? I hit the charms menu and it's right there. That's way easier than it was in 7!

      2. Mr.Key

        Re: well hold on there pardner...

        Try [Win + x].

    5. Moeluk

      Re: well hold on there pardner...

      we've said it once, we'll say it a million times...

      How many 'average' users do you know, that know start menu keyboard shortcuts...

      hell i'm a techy, and wasn't really aware of them until the consumer preview of Win 8...BECAUSE I'VE NEVER EVER EVER NEEDED THEM

      If you have to revert back to using the is that advancement?

      1. Combustable Lemon

        Re: well hold on there pardner...

        I installed Win 8 over a Win 7 install about 3 days ago or so, got to say that so far i actually like it. All of this rampant "it's rubbish" type speak is a complete nonsense. It took me all of about 30 mins to learn how to use it, since it largely works exactly like Win 7 did, and it is faster (or at least it seems to be on my machine).

        As for the start menu, in between pinning to the desktop and windows + r what exactly do you need? If anything, for the type of user who needs to use the start menu that much, i'd think the visually appealing large interface would be helpful.

        Downvotes, etc.

  29. Anonymous Coward

    A third party fixes Windows 8...

    ... by adding the features Microsoft stripped from it? Infinite facepalm!

    Great program, this should have been a feature of windows 8 from the start.

    Picture is what I expect Microsoft's development team to look like (either by force from management's poor decisions, or choice?)

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: A third party fixes Windows 8...


  30. Anonymous Coward

    Not sure I agree here..

    (about introducing Metro in some sort of "Battering ram" style)

    "When you think about it, it’s not a bad strategy.

    I have to disagree there. Because this strategy does not account for one major aspect: the fact that consumers have many options to simply ignore the environment all together. Even more than in the days of Vista.

    Microsoft needs to realize that they're not in a position where they can simply dictate the market any more. Tick people off enough and they're going to look and find alternate solutions. And then you'll have lost them as customer.

    1. Asok Asus

      Re: Not sure I agree here..

      "Microsoft needs to realize that they're not in a position where they can simply dictate the market any more. Tick people off enough and they're going to look and find alternate solutions. And then you'll have lost them as customer."

      Indeed, Microsoft hasn't figured this out yet. But in less than a year, they will, as Windows 8/Windows RT/Metro UI will have completely crashed and burned by then, taking down a lot of Microsoft's "partners" with them as well, and permanently reducing the pool of customers for Microsoft products as they finally move to other alternatives and decide the word "Microsoft" really means "Radioactive". The only question at that point is whether the board will fire Ballmer.

      1. Michael Habel
        Thumb Up

        Re: Not sure I agree here..

        My only regret is that I only have One upvote to give ya....

        Here have a Thumbs up too!

    2. Asok Asus

      Re: Not sure I agree here..

      "Microsoft needs to realize that they're not in a position where they can simply dictate the market any more. Tick people off enough and they're going to look and find alternate solutions. And then you'll have lost them as customer."

      Indeed, Microsoft hasn't figured this out yet. But in less than a year, they will, as Windows 8/Windows RT/Metro UI will have completely crashed and burned by then, taking down a lot of Microsoft's "partners" with them, and permanently reducing the pool of customers for Microsoft products as they finally move to other alternatives and decide the word "Microsoft" means "Radioactive". The only question at that point is whether the board will fire Ballmer.

    3. Michael Habel

      Re: Not sure I agree here..

      Ya mean like Mint Linux? Yeah probably the One of the better decisions I've ever made, was ditching XP for it. The only time I ever missed or felt slightly nostalgic for it was when I actually read up on this Months line of Hotfixes due up next Week. Then it slowly downed on me whooooo I'm not using Windows anymore, why the Hell am I reading this for?

      Really though I have to give Mint Linux real credit though for making me suspend my disbelief of actually not running a Microsoft OS. I can only encourage others to try it out for themselves. Pretty much covers all the tihings that made XP great, and no TIFKAM cruft!

      1. xehpuk

        Re: Not sure I agree here..

        Absolutely. For someone used to XP migrating to Mint (mate) will be way easier getting used to than Win8. So if you must reinstall your dads or moms PC then give them Mint. They will complain the first few days but much less than with Win8. Office tools and multimedia players etc will be included with the initial install so much less work for you too.

      2. t20racerman

        Re: Not sure I agree here..

        I moved to PCLinuxOS about 5-6 years ago and have never looked back. Love it. Use it for everything. I still try different distros regularly though on other machines and just loaded Mint 14 Mate on an old basic laptop.... and it flies!

        Meanwhile, back to the topic... I teach Physics in an Independent school and am known as a techy geek (I run Computer Geek club...). Because of this I have seen first hand that the children I meet are already very, very anti Windows 8. One guy has it on his new laptop and the others laugh at him! This is actually quite important, as it shows that even youngsters hate the sh**e that is Win8. They are never going to warm to it.

        Similarly, in my job, I probably see 100+ mobile phones a day clutched in the hands of our pupils... and I've never yet seen ONE Windows phone. This isn't me being a Windows hater, it is just the truth. If I see a new phone I haven't seen before I ask to play on it to see what its like, and have actually been looking for a Winphone8 so that one of the kids could show me what its strengths are. I'm still looking. Seems the kids of today laugh at Windows8 on a laptop, and won't buy Winphones either.

        This signifies trouble ahead for Microsoft.


  31. Alan Denman

    a slight hiccup there

    "I was determined to hate Windows 8. I've been supporting MS tech since MSDOS 3.x and every once in a while we get a real turkey of an OS."

    strange, most of us were determined to like it and look what happened.

    Still, someone has to like it.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is a test of Balmer's metal now...

    From the looks of it, this is not far from a panacea for Win 8, but the trouble for SB is he can win the battle or the war but not both.

    A lot depends on your view of W8 as a long term contender *with* metro. I know architecturally W8 is more or less W7 in a flash jacket, but MS have decided that the classic interface has to go - in the same way that say, Coke decided New Coke was the way to go (and back tracked) or Apple decided OSX was the way to go breaking the linage with Classic Mac OS.

    Balmer now has to choose between "rescuing" W8 in this way or letting it ride. About face and he's sending really clear messages about his roadmap (and his ability to organise a drinking party in a brewery). On the other hand if he stands fast, in "Balmer's New Clothes"(tm) he's risking the undercurrent of dissatisfaction with W8 tainting the OS in the same way Vista did and OSX and Free alternatives gaining just that little bit more ground on the desktop and MS losing that little bit more credibility.

    Choices eh?

    I guess that's why he's (presently) paid so much more than me... :)

    1. TheRealRoland

      Re: This is a test of Balmer's metal now...

      >Balmer's metal

      Metal what?

      Mettle, you mean?

      1. illiad

        Re: This is a test of Balmer's metal now...

        skule?? wassat??

  33. Mr. Nobby

    I don't get what the problem is...

    I boot into Windows 8, check my mail (the only Metro app I use) then it's off to the desktop for me.

    I only see the start screen when I want to launch an app that isn't pinned to my taskbar.

  34. Tom 35

    only 17 per cent of business PCs shipped in the UK in December ran Windows 8

    And even the 17% were likely re-images 5 seconds after they were taken out of the box.

    Other then a few shiny touch screen ultrabooks for the execs to show off to each other.

  35. David 155
    Thumb Down


    Looks messy to me. In the video, he opens an app and the window size isnt big enough.

    We cant go on with a windows 2000 start menu and UI forever and ever. There is definitely room for improvement, especially for users who dont have a touchscreen but I think most people will just get used to it.

    1. Michael Habel

      Re: Nah

      Why can't we? Now I wouldn't go as far to say that Cinnamons (i.e. Mint Linuxs'), Start Menu is an exact copy of that in say XP. It isn't! But, I'm not there left scratching my Arse going bloodly Hell WTF is going on here either. Of KDE, Gnome or Unity I really do kinda feel at home with the Cinnamon GUI.

      So... No Microsoft should have left the Start Menu (Button) thingy alone.

  36. Alex Wilson

    I tried a selection of both free and paid for start button replacement programs, so far I've found 'Start Menu 8' (from iObit iirc) to be the nicest to use and has the added bonus of being free:)

    It takes a while to get it configured (ie get rid of metro etc) but I'm rather enjoying Windows 8 for the moment...

    1. IT veteran

      Re Start Menu 8

      Just remember to untick the "I want to install cr*pware" on the last install screen. Also, the start button seems to occasionally drift...although I think that was more me trying to get an old program working ;-)

  37. Another Justin

    Utterly pointless

    So this is for people who want to run Metro-style apps but in a window, which is who exactly?

    Anyone who hates the Metro-style interface even 10% as much as the author does just won't bother with metro apps and will just use the fully fledged Win32 equivalents instead (which are actually designed to run in a window)

    For everyone else having Metro apps be full-screen is kind of the point (pretty much the only app I ever use is the Netflix one because it works well in full screen mode)

    1. Not That Andrew

      Re: Utterly pointless

      I don't use WIn 8, although I've evaluated it fairly extenmsively, and If I used it regularly I would probably use some of the apps if they could be windowed and minimised, instead of the hogging the entire screen.

  38. The Axe
    Thumb Up

    That and other utils

    A big thank you for highlighting the product. Will help my wife use her PC as she hates Win8. Everything is too different and it gets in the way of doing tasks. Multiplicity from Stardock will be dead useful at work for me. I can now have three monitors even though my PC can only handle 2, just use a spare PC. Offloads processing power on to the spare PC too.

  39. knarf
    Thumb Up

    Classic Shell

    Use Classic shell which is really good.

    Did use ViStart which is a crapplet which take over your search engines choice and generally messes your browser up.

    I really like windows 8, its quick and fast, but Metro offers less functionality than the comparable browser app. The mail client is a joke and its stuffed with crappy games and trial versions of crap. I deleted them all and stuck on classic shell.

    Remember its call "WINDOWS" with Metro you only get a single "WINDOW" , should it renamed ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Classic Shell

      You don't get a single window, you can butt two metro apps up against each other.

  40. Jess

    Has the cheap upgrade to W8 expired now?

    Because it actually sounds like an interesting combination.

    (But not for full price, I'll stick to XP)

    1. Michael Habel

      Re: Has the cheap upgrade to W8 expired now?

      Not for much longer you wont...

    2. Dana W

      Re: Has the cheap upgrade to W8 expired now?

      Enjoy your three gigs of ram, and no drivers.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Can this rescue Microsoft from the pickle it finds itself in?"


    If Microsoft were to offer it for free via Windows Update, then just maybe they'd get some good press and things might improve.

    But I think it's way too late for that.

  42. J. Cook Silver badge

    While we are bashing Windows 8's UI...

    I'd like to have a word or two* with whoever thought that 1280*720 was "too low" of a resolution for Metro- I have my HTPC hooked up to a 720p native projector which does quite nicely for 99.9% of the stuff I push to it. (that .1% is the few metro apps I've played with, after setting the HTPC's resolution to 1080p and coping with the projector scaling the quality off the resulting image)

    Seriously Microshaft- the difference between 768 and 720 is all of 48 pixels. Your shiny new UI wastes more then that in empty space.

    *And by words meaning "my steel toed boots in their nether regions, repeatedly"

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've started stocking up on W7 install licences as some big suppliers no longer sell them - just as a precaution. The users are currently happy with XP - so they won't want to move to the next OS until XP stops getting updates.

    W7GUI will need some selling to them - and they might need a dual boot to retain an offline XP for treasured applications. However they would hate the current implementation of the W8 GUI.

    Even if W8 suddenly has a change of style it will be too late - my tech refresh budget will have been spent.

    1. Michael Habel
      Thumb Up

      If ya have to stick with them, then this is a sensible precaution!

      Personally IMHO although the difference between XP and 7 seems huge, its really just a cosmetic One. Yeah it got on my nerves a bit too. After about a week of using it though I never thought twice about it. So this Ones not the problem your looking for. Destroying 18 years of user experience out the window with no rhyme or reason, just to SPAM the Hell outta your new all-singing & all-dancing GUI however is. Especially when that GUI is hardly tailored for a proper Keyboard & Mouse environment. Like say on the Desktop, where everyones having a bitch about it. No doubt TIFKAM is nice enough on Touch Devices e.g Surface Pro & RT + WP7 and 8. But it simply does NOT belong on any Workstation OS and or, Server OS.

  44. beast666

    Win 8 is great!

    Pinball FX2 for TIFKAM.

    That is all.

    1. reno79

      Re: Win 8 is great!

      That's a good shout, I wonder if the Star Wars tables are out for it yet (They're on iOS and Android)

  45. Lallabalalla
    Thumb Down

    The more I read about win8

    the less I want to get involved, either as a developer or as a user. I have work to do, believe it or not, and there's no way I'm devoting any time to this dog's dinner. What a mess!

  46. My Alter Ego

    OS speed

    I really hope that the amount of time it takes for Solitaire and Minesweeper to load is not indicative of the OS speed and responsiveness.

  47. BorkedAgain

    So... This is Windows for Windows, then?

    That's nice.

  48. Alan Denman

    A walled in future

    "MS would force users into its Metro walled garden complete with MS App Store where MS can cream off profits from Metro app sales, Apple style."

    Exactly, it is not for our benefit. They simply need to appease shareholders.

  49. earplugs

    Bye Steve Sinofsky

    Bugger off

  50. Greg J Preece

    Take away the context-switching torture feature, and Windows 8 is probably the best version of Windows that Microsoft has produced. The performance and storage improvements alone are worth the upgrade. But the UI is keeping punters away.


    Under the silly UI (which on a Surface or phone works great), Win8 was worth the 15 quid I paid to stay up to date. It's bloody fast, and I mean bloody fast. On this tri-booting MacBook Pro it's easily the fastest operating system of the three, booting in seconds, and absolutely wipes the floor with Mac OS X (stick that in your tuned-to-the-hardware pipes, fanbois). The little enhancements lying around here and there also make it worthwhile, and it means I'll have the latest DirectX available.

    So for me, this system continues to be:

    Linux: Primary system, for work and getting shit done.

    Windows: Secondary system, for games and media Linux can't handle (pretty rare these days).

    Mac OS X: For when I have to, otherwise never booted.

    1. Michael Habel

      Then praytell why you allowed yourself to get jammied up the duff buying a Apple Laptop when you could've gotten a bog standard model for around half the Money? If you almost never use OSX?

      1. Greg J Preece

        What, you think I bought this? It's a company laptop. You're right, I wouldn't have gotten a Mac otherwise.

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't get it

    I use Windows 8 on several desktops and my Laptop, I have them configured such that Metro is not there. I have no other issues with the OS, it is fast, it boots very quickly, it seems to work better on lower specced hardware than W7 does and it is very stable. M$ were pretty stupid to bundle Metro in there but the basic OS is very good. Bring on the downvotes.

  52. MissingSecurity

    I find it a little funny

    Without trying to start a GNOME interface debate, I find it funny that this functionality to make Windows 8 work is similar to my Fedora 17 Desktop functionality.

    Not exactly eloquent, but but functional.

  53. IGnatius T Foobar

    Lipstick on a pig

    Lipstick on a pig. 'nuff said.

  54. M Gale

    Something I have noticed.

    The people who don't like the New Bullshit have varied and many reasons why. They will go into great detail about how and why Windows 8 is a step backwards from Windows 7, and how Metro really is an awful interface for a desktop, or even laptop machine. These are not people who are going on a knee jerk reaction. These are people who have tried Windows 8 and found it severely lacking. I'm not going to go into detail about it in this post myself, because I and everyone else have done it to death already.

    These people then get set upon by a crowd of deranged fanboys who call them retarded, luddite, "MS Hater" (as if that's a bad thing) and various other personal insults, with a sneering, nasty and superior-minded attitude.

    About the most convincing argument I've seen for Windows 8.. that is, an argument that doesn't involve telling me to enjoy anal sex with myself or comparing me to early French loom operators, is "it's okay once you 3rd-party-hack it all the way back to Windows 7".

    You know, alternatively, I could just stick with Windows 7.

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've used it for a couple of months now, and have had no real issues. Then again, I'm mainly a keyboard guy. I hardly ever see Notro, unless when searching and that goes fast. Will I be rolling it out to my users ? Hell no. But for me it's ok.

    However... I got a nice little HP Elitepad, with all the trimmings, even with a dock with an ethernet port, vga out and 4 usb ports. Used it for 2 days, then dumped it on an unsuspecting victim. The touch interface was ok on the tablet, the desktop interface was ok when docked. The desktop in "tablet mode" was a horror to use, and there my main problem was : when opening a file in desktop mode, I don't want to see Notro. And vice versa : opening a pdf when using it as a tablet, I don't want a desktop app popping. So basically I don't need any third party app to get an old school start menu back, I'm pretty confident that I can work faster than most of the point-n-click brigade with a keyboard around. do want to be able to decide what the file type association should be when I'm in touch or in desktop mode.

    So : Win 8 on the desktop, no issues, Win 8 on a tablet : I won't be replacing my iPad anytime soon.

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sorry AO this won't get you your money back

    All this Win8 hate from AO will not get Apples share price back to what it was when you exercised your awesome intellect and bought it at the peak of its bubble.


  57. CmdrX3
    Thumb Up

    Another nice little utility

    Windows 8 isn't that bad once you get shot of TIFKAM (which is that bad) for Start8. I actually did like some of the TIFKAM apps, and now this actually makes them usable. Stardock really need a new slogan and I have the perfect one for them "We unfuck what Microsoft fucked".

    It's actually a decent enough OS and would have been better if Microsoft had listened to the several million people yelling TIFKAM sucks a sweaty one, get rid of it and mostly I don't have to bother with it at all now.

  58. Matthew LaShure

    Here's the free tool

    If you want a tool that works even better, and costs absolutely nothing, head over to SourceForge and check out the offering from ibeltchev

    The program is called Classic Shell, and you can choose between 3 different types of Start Menu depending on what your favorite past time menu was to use.

  59. Herby

    Maybe the "feature" they need is...

    ...the option to NOT have Windows at all on the machine I buy.

    Unfortunately, current conditions indicate that it is there even if I don't want it, and it isn't an option to remove it.

    Thankfully, after I put my Fedora DVD in the slot, it makes a workable machine out of even the most modern hardware. It even allows me to have an alternate boot to the trashy side of the street if I so desire.

    Life goes on.

  60. WylieCoyoteUK


    Recently been experimenting with Android as a desktop.

    Don't laugh, but it works better than TIFKAM.

    Running on a 1.7Ghz dual core arm processor with 1gb memory, 40gb storage (expandable) HDMI> 1080p monitor, powered from the usb port on a TV. Watching iPlayer now, comes with an office suite.

    Cost me less than £50

  61. dannymot

    Ran windows 8 on an htpc and a laptop and I hated it. Everything I wanted to do just took longer and I use too many different OS's to remember shortcuts to speed it up.

    I tried classic shell and it didn't always disappear when it was meant to.

    I tried Start8 and it worked better but the task bar didn't always close on full screen videos.

    Then I backed up all my data and clean installed windows 7 on both again. It doesn't have the speed and nice tweaks that have been added under the hood to windows 8, but it runs all my apps and media well which has made everything so much quicker overall. Windows 7 re install all the way.

  62. Robinson

    I like it.

    I actually like Win 8. OK, I don't spend ANY time in Metro, except very occasionally when I have to search for something. But that's rare because all of my stuff is in shortcuts on my task bar (grouped). I've got about 120 items down there.

    There are some things in desktop Win 8 that are quite nice, including the new task manager.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: I like it.

      There are some things in desktop Win 8 that are quite nice, including the new task manager.

      Yes, there are a lot of nice things. It boots faster, has many improvements "under the bonnet" and has quite a few useful tweaks to built-in utilities.

      Then they ruined it by ripping out some useful features and cramming a tablet UI on the front.

      It's like bringing out a new, faster Ferrari but insisting you cannot buy it in red, and steering now uses a lever.

      Obviously you could take it to a paint shop and bolt on a steering wheel, but why should you need to?

  63. Gil Grissum
    Thumb Up

    Start8 ROCKS

    First thing I did after installing Windows 8 is get Start8 for $4.99 to get the start button back. I'm rarely in Metro interface, but it's easy to escape and get back to the regular windows desktop with a start button.

  64. Jeff Deacon

    How about we stop whinging ...

    ... and support ReactOS instead?

    Buy them a pint or something

  65. Martin Maloney

    The end of XP?

    Does anyone really believe that the average home user of XP will care about the end of XP support in April next year?

    Will they even notice? After all, the end of XP support doesn't mean that XP will self destruct, Mr. Phelps.

    Those fanbois who are dreaming that the end of XP support will start a stampede to Linux are just that -- dreaming.

    (BTW, I'm not knocking Linux. I switched to Linux Mint four years ago. I just don't fantasize that "the year of the Linux desktop" will ever arrive.)

    1. Michael Habel

      Re: The end of XP?

      Yes but your missing the point here. Microsoft don't have a massive popular OS going for them right now. As long as Microsoft had an XP to sell ya that was more or less universally loved, then yeah Linux didn't stand a chance. But, this current line of vitriol of hate that started with Vista. I just don't see an exit en-mass to Windows 8.

      1. illiad

        Re: The end of XP?

        I remind you about the 5% who have any clue about the internals of windows... many are using xp due to win7 cost, and usually have only 1 or 2 pcs... much more are using win7 happily, due to network needs, driver support, etc.. try connecting your brand new smartphone to XP by usb, and you will see why... :)

        I think it is the desperate drive by shops to get new stuff, to get more customers, that seems to have blinded them to the fact win8 is for *touchscreen* PC only... 'I see dumb people' indeed... duh, it must be better, is new...

        1. Michael Habel

          Re: The end of XP?

          Never had a problem connecting my Galaxy S1 up to Windows XP it just worked.

          To prove I'm not even a hatter, I'll have to confess if anything connecting the same Phone via the same Computer running Mint 14, Takes longer to sync up with the Desktop to the point where I thought it just crashed.

          So ughh no... If Microsoft were to just cave in and continue to support XP forever, I think you'd find that most People would be happy with that. Cause XP continues to just work. And the things that don't work IE9 and 10 are just blocks placed there by Microsoft to try and get People to move along.

          Once Microsoft kills off support for XP, as will Adobe, Mozilla (i.e. Firefox),

          People will (or at least should catch the drift), that they need to update the OS if only to protect themselves from harm. When that day comes I will be installing Mint on the old mans Computer too.

          Count on it!

    2. IT veteran
      Thumb Up

      Re: The end of XP?

      Indeed - I fixed a Win98 box a few years ago. A few years before that, I was asked to look at a Windows 3 (yes, 3, not 3.1) box (I pursuaded them to buy a new PC!). 90% of home users only upgrade when they buy a new PC.

  66. Stacy

    I really don't get the problem...

    I've used a couple of Windows 8 machines, and was that impressed I am currently getting everything together to upgrade my Windows 7 laptop.

    Sure, the Metro works best with a touch screen - that is what it was designed for, and my next laptop will have a touch screen (as I found out from my Infinity the combination of keyboard, mouse and touch screen is hugely superior to just keyboard and mouse).

    But even in it's current guise it works really quite well (in fact almost the same as Windows 7). you click the windows key and start typing the name of the app you want and 'ting' it's there for you. Where is the problem?

    My only question on it, is whether you can make the task bar smaller and move it around as you could in Windows 7. I have tiny icons and the bar on the side as I prefer to lose some of the 1920 pixels than the 1080 pixels to it.

    1. dotdan

      Re: I really don't get the problem...

      Yes, you can set the taskbar to show small icons, and yes, you can move it to the side in Windows 8 as you could in Windows 7.

      With Start8 installed, Windows 8 is better than Windows 7 in my opinion. The tweaks improve it, Start8 can disable to charms and hotspots nonsense. I need see the silly Start screen only once when booting up the PC, thereafter sleeping/waking/normal use does not expose the Start screen or any of the Metro crap.

      I also turned off the Windows 8 "lock screen", it looked nice, but with it enabled, I found my password was rejected more than 50% of the time because it took almost a second before keystrokes were recorded.

    2. CreosoteChris

      Re: I really don't get the problem...

      Right-click - properties - Use Small Taskbar Buttons - works for me

      Right-click - drag taskbar to side location - works for me

      Possibly that's because I have Start8 installed, otherwise dunno.... HTH

  67. jarjarbinks

    Brilliant strategy actually

    I am confused by so many articles and slams against Windows 8. I am a hardcore android smartphone and linux guy, but use Windows for some things, like games and audio/video stuff. I took advantage of the $40 upgrade price and updated a few computers, and frankly, it works/runs almost like Windows 7 with the UI overhaul. For anyone that's dealth with a fairly new phone or tablet, the new UI is not that hard to get used to. It's different, yes, but it's easy enough to work with for the most part.

    What throws me off is all the bashing of Windows trying to throw apps in our face. I think that's the best thing they've done with this. They have the PC/laptop market owned for the most part, they have the console gaming market pretty solid (shared with Sony of course.. Wii U I don't count anymore), and they now have these tablets and phones. Sadly their surface tablets, as cool as they are, are too overpriced for the tablet market, even though they are trying to bridge the tablet and laptop market with them. BUT.. as far as providing a means for developers to provide apps to the desktop, laptop, tablet, phone and xbox.. all in the same interface? Why the heck wouldn't that make sense? It makes total sense for developers..they can now write apps that work on every type of device out there that MS provides for, and not have to write special code for each platform. Sure.. specific things like big PC games can't be written for the tablet/phone as well, but for useful apps and simple games like we have on android and apple.. makes sense completely.

  68. Mr.Key

    Upgraded my T420 from W7 to W8 by using an upgrade offer. Instead of getting stuck with a lots of troubles, I found it very comfortable to work with it. No problems with the Metro interface, actually I find it simple and clear, no problems at all. Even better - I like it. The Start menu? I don't miss it since I learned the new concept. Actually now the old Start menu on older PCs now seems, yes, old. Metro apps run on fullscreen only? Why do you call it a problem? I'm fine with that. I like that. The standard look and feel of the desktop is one key press away from the Metro and vice versa. Desktop is a much better W7, nothing radically new to learn. In short, confused about the amount of negative comments on W8.

    PS Using Windows since 3.1, have used different Linux Desktops.

    PPS Posting from IE10, which I also find OK.

  69. Christian Berger

    Missing the point

    If you like Metro/Modern/whatever you install Windows 8, if you don't there are literally hundreds of alternatives. You can choose between dozens of multiple GUIs even on the Windows platform, plus you can switch to lots of other platforms. If you don't like it, don't buy it.

    And if Microsoft wanted to do Windows 8 differently, they would have done so.

  70. --

    Before I started using I thought of the same as described in the text and how it would be better.

    Now, I am using Windows 8 for 2 months and I must say, it would be a huuuuge annoyance to have these apps windowed.

    I find it much more comforting to have to focus on only 1-2 apps at the time, instead of the 7 screens you have open. I find it much easier to do anything. When in the desktop environment I have at least 5-6 windows open, multiple Explorer windows etc. etc. and it is a huge annoyance to have them all on your desktop and you'll lose sight of everything really quickly, and mainly that is something that I am really loving about Metro.

  71. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Kudos to Stardock, LOLs to Microcsoft

    "I'm running Windows 8 on an old Dell AMD box with 4GB of RAM and a 5400RPM 2.5" HDD, and I don't see that kind of lag."

    Oxymoron. If you have a system with 4GB of RAM in it, it's not all that old. Moore's law is truly Microsoft's best friend.

    Anyway... As with Robert E A Harvey, I'm more amused by this than anything, I'm 100% Linux, and things like Windows 8 make me ever so glad of this.

    That said, if I could buy StarDock stock I would. Microsoft shows their massive, overpowing egotism by making Windows 8 forceable boot into the Metro interface, and by taking away the user's choice (i.e. by not allowing traditional and metro apps on whichever desktop the user chooses.) StarDock has made improved shells for Windows for quite a while, kudos for them for continuing that tradition and I wish them the best.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Kudos to Stardock, LOLs to Microcsoft

      " If you have a system with 4GB of RAM in it, it's not all that old."

      My laptop has 4gb and is three years old; the only other systems I have (including a dozen work computers used for things from email to dev) with 4GB of less are three years old if they're a day. My laptop included. And I don't buy terribly high end stuff usually. I literally can't remember when I could go into Best Buy and find a machine with less than six - probably since before Vista showed up and x64 started becoming the default.

  72. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All in all..

    .. it seems it was a wise decision to stop using Windows altogether.

    No need for "fix this-and-that screwup" utilities, cheaper software, more stable platform, retained usability - the list of benefits is getting longer and longer by the day. Well done Ballmer..

  73. keith.nicholas
    Thumb Up

    Well, at least someone will be loving win8 to bits

    The people at stardock !

    What gets me, is microsoft went out of their way to get as much feedback as possible for win8, then completely ignored it and told us we will get used to it. I think they wanted us all to go "OOOOOOOOOO, its amazing", and when we didn't do that they just flipped the bozo bit on us and treated us like ignorant kids that will just have to learn new ways.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well, at least someone will be loving win8 to bits

      Of course, if they'd taken the advice of the average customer (including mine!) before doing a GUI at all, they would never have done it. I was a died-in-the-wool commandline guy - but I didn't foresee the changes in hardware quality and the potential of a GUI environment until later.

      Sometimes customers actually -don't- know what they want.

      That said, if you're sure of the direction you're going in, and you think people might not accept it quickly, it probably is a good idea not to ask them all what they want first...

  74. JeffyPooh

    Stupidity has a radius

    Stupidity has a radius, on the order of 5m. You need to stay about this far away from Stupid or you'll get dragged into its vortex. Try going out for a night on the town with a drunk moron to see where you end up - jail, hospital, morgue...

    Windows 8 is stupid. The people behind it are stupid. It's a very stupid concept for a PC. It might not be so stupid on a tablet, but having two versions in one name is stupid. Stupid. Stay away.

    I would have bought a new PC about now if MS hadn't ruined it.

  75. Kurt 4

    They actually thought it was a good idea to take the Windows out of Windows?

  76. IT veteran

    Thoughts on Windows 8

    I have been using Windows 8 since it was RTM, and I'm very meh about the Metro interface. I can see what MS are trying to do, but it is clunky and annoying. When you have to google how to get out of a Metro app, you know you are in trouble. But it IS much faster to boot and doesn't seem to have problems sleeping my PC, as Windows 7 did.

    I recently installed Start Menu 8, and will probably try Classic Shell now.

    One thing that no one seems to have mentioned/noticed - Windows 8 is the first version of Windows to have Anti-Virus installed by default (Windows Defender now has AV integrated). Not that I use it ;-).

    Interestingly, IIRC, Defender has not been Metroised.

  77. Chris Walsh
    Thumb Up

    Stardock get my seal of approval

    I've never been one for installing loads of gimmicky UI-enhancers but I have been using StarDock Fences for at least a couple of years now and was well worth the purchase.

    I've not used Win8 in a production environment yet but as a developer I can't imaging TIFKAM being a benefit to me and more likely a hinderence. I suspect if/when I choose move to Win8 StarDock may be a no-brainer for me.

  78. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Metro on a desktop.

    I really don't notice it, most of the animated wibbly things on that weird start menu just get uninstalled and it ends up a screen full of buttons for launching apps.

    I don't have a problem with it at all.

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