back to article Here comes Windows 8.1! Microsoft grits teeth, pushes upgrade to world

Microsoft today unleashed Windows 8.1, the version to soothe folks ruffled by the touchscreen-friendly user interface. Crucially, the software giant really didn’t want to make this particular upgrade: it's effectively stepped back from the original Windows 8 blueprint. At 4am Pacific time (7am Eastern, 12 noon UK time), …

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  1. IGnatius T Foobar Bronze badge
    FAIL

    Still not enough

    Still not enough. Users don't just want the Start button back. They want the start MENU back. They don't want the Start button to make the entire screen suddenly turn into a smartphone.

    Users also want Office to start acting like it's meant to use on a computer again. That means when you click on the "File" menu, you get the File menu, not a touch-optimized colossus sliding into the entire left third of the screen.

    Microsoft needs to get it through their thick skulls that a desktop computer with a keyboard, mouse, and upright screen is NOT A TABLET and any "touch-optimized" user interface elements are also "desktop-hobbled." *ALL* of these elements need to be presented in a desktop-optimized mode when running on a desktop.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Still not enough

      Do they? Most regular Windows users (i.e. non-techies) don't really seem to like the classic start menu... nested menus are fiddly and you can never find anything. That's WHY so many Windows PCs end up with the desktop totally full of icons... which is not dissimilar from the W8 start screen.

      I've yet to see anyone explain why a full-screen start screen is a bad idea, only to keep reiterating that is. When the start-menu is in use, you cannot use another application, the UI is fully modal. So making full use of the screen rather than force you to look in one corner while the rest of the screen is unused isn't really a bad thing.

      You only have to look at OSX, regarded as easy to use, to see this is not some controversial new design. On OSX both the Applications and Launch-Pad thing open a big tiled window. Granted it's not full-screen but it's far more similar to Start Screen than Start Menu.

      The Metro UI is clunky on a desktop, for sure, but that is now optional.

      1. jonathanb Silver badge

        Re: Still not enough

        In OSX, Applications opens up either a menu or a resizable folder window. Launchpad is a relatively new addition, and it is full screen. Like the iPad, and unlike Windows 8, you can arrange programs into folders, so all the stuff you open once in a blue moon such as the printer settings prog from your printer manufacturer can be shoved into a System folder out of the way of everything else.

      2. Dave K Silver badge

        Re: Still not enough

        And when people rely too much on the desktop, it quickly turns into a humongous mess of randomly placed icons stretching far and wide. It's useful for a couple of dozen shortcuts, but that's not how most people use it.

        The same problem applies with the start screen. It quickly becomes a sea of mess and requires a chunk of effort to re-arrange and organise. Personally, I prefer the Start Menu as I can pin a dozen of my most frequently used programs there, most the others I've used recently appear below (yes, I always expand the size of my Start Menu to make it more useful), and if it's not in either list, typing the first few characters usually brings it up. And if I don't want to do that, things in it are nicely sorted by company/program automatically for me in a hirarchial way.

        I find it easier and simpler to use and often find the Start Screen overspilling into a huge mess in comparison. And when you go to the Apps part of the Start Screen, you just get EVERYTHING. It's like putting all your documents into one gigantic folder and is not pleasant to use IMO.

        1. Eeep !

          Re: Still not enough

          Icons may be randomly placed on your desktop, but not mine, and when I've looked over the shoulder of others the placement looks random to me but matches the items they consider the most important or most frequently used.

          I've suggested the use of briefcases to users with lots, and I mean LOTS of icons on the desktop, and found after initial comments that it's not for them, a few weeks later they know exactly which briefcase icon has the apps they use less frequently.

          One man's random is a librarian's perfection - just because you don't understand suggests it is not mportant you do.

      3. Dan 55 Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Re: Still not enough

        I know five non-geeks unfortunate enough to have a computer installed Windows 8, only one of those expressed anything positive about it (and even then it was qualified with 'once you get used to it').

        Just because a menu or a dialog box has the focus at this point in time, it doesn't mean that everything else should disappear. Remember when Windows 95 finally came out and those modal dialog boxes blocking all other input were finally dead and buried and people thought it was a good thing? That's because people could move or switch windows when they wanted or look at data in one window while inputting data in another without having their workflow interrupted. TIFKAM is worse, not only is it modal it completely removes those other windows. The Start Screen is jarring because you're temporarily placed in TIFKAM land.

        On OS X the Applications is a folder like any other (it's incorrect to say it's a tiled window because you can have hierarchical, details, or cover flow) and Launchpad can be totally ignored if you want to, you can even delete it from the dock and never see it again.

      4. Darryl

        Re: Still not enough

        JDX has a point about the desktop full of icons.

        It's not a really common occurrence, but I do get a couple of calls a month from users saying that they don't have x program on their computer. Investigation always finds that they DO have the program on their computer, but they DON'T have a shortcut to it on their desktop.

        People like these would probably benefit from the start screen, at least as long as it was well organized.

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: Still not enough

          "but they DON'T have a shortcut to it on their desktop. ... People like these would probably benefit from the start screen"

          No people like this would still be lost. They need someone to place and organise such app's on the desktop/start screen for them...

        2. joed
          Thumb Down

          Re: Still not enough

          So imagine yourself the start screen full of crap - no different than desktop and just as dysfunctional.

          As windows 8 user all I can say about it's esthetics is soc-realistic eyesore (and not solely because of the start screen).

          And forcing me to install a service pack through their store is awkward (if simply because I have no intent on binding my system to real person, definitely MS will never see my CC info).

        3. Sven Coenye

          Re: Still not enough

          Oh irony that this comes after ~12 years of XP whining if it can please, please, please clean those unused icons from your desktop and hide them where the sun doesn't shine...

        4. CLD

          Re: Still not enough

          I concur with the two of you... even after 18 years of the start menu (going back to Windows 95), users still don't know how to use it. I have also spoken to a lot of people who simply cannot find an application if it doesn't have a shortcut on the desktop. Tech staff typically either pin the applications to their task bar, or touch the Windows key then start typing the application name. Win8 provides the same function.

          The restistance to change is amazing... honestly, how much time do you spend in the Start menu??? I personally don't see it so much as a start menu, rather a hop off point to certain apps (which thanks to the live tiles can provide real-time updates) and another interface for developers to create tools that may not work particularly well in the desktop arena.

          I believe the slump in PC sales can be put down to a few reasons, and none of that has to do with Microsost's OS. Firstly, the hardware of the last 5 years is still more than capable of running any of the new OS's... I am running Windows 8.1 on a Dell D630 laptop with a core 2 duo and it runs great. it had Win7 and before that WinXP. Win8 is fast and sleek... i have no requirement for new hardware. From a business standpoint, most organisations seem to be falling into the same boat; the three year refresh cycle has given way to a four year (or more) refresh cycle (because the hardware still works). The second reason is the global economic climate... most businesses are under pressure to cut costs - IT does it's part, and because the hardware is still usable, the warranties get renewed for another year rather than CAPEX expenditure for new PC's.

        5. NogginTheNog
          FAIL

          Re: Still not enough

          No offence, but if this is a company you're talking about then it's a management failure to not train people in the basics of using their computer. Admittedly now maybe 80% of the population have access to a computer it's less common that it used to be, but this highlights why it can still be important if only to ensure a baseline of IT skills.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Still not enough

        A full screen start menu is one thing.

        But the start page in Win 8 is supposed to be more than that, with live tiles flashing news updates, new emails, etc. But it's pointless on a desktop.

        A phone spends 90% of its time in your pocket, you whip it out for a quick glance to check if anything needs attention. Live tiles and a home screen work fine for that - a nice summary, the first thing you see that tells you anything important.

        On a desktop, you do work - 99% of the time you're working on a desktop app or browser, you pin the programs you use frequently to the taskbar, so you hardly ever need go to the start page. So putting live tiles showing anything important that needs attention there is pointless. And on the odd occasions you are looking to launch a less-used program you don't have pinned, the last thing you need when you go looking for it is flashing tiles showing you that some bloke has been deliberately losing snooker matches or whatever.

        Microsoft still does not seem to understand that phones and desktops are not just different in terms of the interface (finger / mouse), but are used in different ways too.

        I've always thought that they'd have been much better off adding the new Metro platform as something that runs in the widget bar (which was removed from Win 8). Being able to run apps in a sidebar, especially the same ones as you run on a phone, would be far more useful than the awful full screen mess in Windows 8.

        1. Squander Two

          Re: Still not enough

          > And on the odd occasions you are looking to launch a less-used program you don't have pinned, the last thing you need when you go looking for it is flashing tiles showing you that some bloke has been deliberately losing snooker matches or whatever.

          True, but you could of course deliberately hit the Windows key in order to see updates. Then you hit it again to hide them. I don't see that that's much different from swiping down to see notifications in iOS then swiping back up to hide them again.

          I see your point about wanting notifications to pop up and disturb you when you're in the middle of something. I know some people like to work that way (Terry Pratchett, for instance, somehow managed to concentrate on writing novels while having six or eight screens of crap open in front of him). But not everyone. Personally, I like not seeing notifications unless I ask for them.

        2. mmeier

          Re: Still not enough

          At least the Mail App in Modern does show a "new mail" reminder on the desktop, same for the Message App. Since those are the only LiveTiles I use on my privat box I can't say about others.

          And if I use a full sized (Application) mail/message tool like Outlook or Notes than nothing has changed anyway.

        3. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: Still not enough

          "But the start page in Win 8 is supposed to be more than that, with live tiles flashing news updates, new emails, etc. But it's pointless on a desktop."

          Definitely, what is needed is for the Start Page/Window/Desktop to be minimised to the desktop system tray and for it to show status change notifications, like other sys tray icons. Click on the icon and the Start page is brought to the fore.

      6. Malcolm 5

        Re: Still not enough

        > I've yet to see anyone explain why a full-screen start screen is a bad idea,

        The main use case I know of is when following instructions to run a specific app when there are multiple apps with similar names. it is useful to be able to see the instructions and the start menu at the same time.

      7. RISC OS

        Re: Still not enough

        I agree. I have window 8 and like it. I don't miss the start menu... funny how you have been marked down so much.... and the op was marked up so much... the more down votes you have the more you were right ;)

      8. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Still not enough

        > I've yet to see anyone explain why a full-screen start screen is a bad idea, only to keep reiterating that is.

        Well for one thins, it is a very major visual distraction.

        Mobile phones *have* to do it because they have so little real-estate to work with.

        To have the screen change so much to perform a fairly small action is not ideal. It makes the eyes feel uncomfortable, particularly if you are having to perform it frequently to switch between apps.

        The reality is that the interface is not bad for touch. Some people like it, some people don't.

        The main issue is that it is patently clunky for mouse and keyboard use. Why have to "put up" with an interface that is clumsy when we have established paradigms that work well for "traditional" use.

        MS have really lost the plot with Metro. In their zeal to merge touch with desktop use, they have created a monster that caters well for neither. If they'd just spent a little more time trying to come up with a programming and design paradigm that could handle both the traditional and the touch then they might have had a winner. Unfortunately, they went down the obvious and failing strategy of trying to force feed touch onto a desktop without touch capability. Although they seem to be trying to superficially back off from that position now, they have so much invested in Metro that they seem institutionally incapable of backing up and taking another direction.

        Don't get me wrong, I don't criticise MS for trying something new. But if you're brave enough to try something different, you must also be brave enough to admit when you make a mistake.

        1. Squander Two

          Re: Still not enough @ skelband

          > Why have to "put up" with an interface that is clumsy when we have established paradigms that work well for "traditional" use.

          Established paradigms like the Desktop, you mean, which is still there?

          I simply do not understand all these people who complain about Microsoft forcing them to use Metro all the time instead of the Desktop. The Desktop is still there. Metro is optional. What's the problem?

          That being said,

          > The main issue is that it is patently clunky for mouse and keyboard use.

          I don't have a touchscreen, and I love it.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Still not enough @ skelband

            > I don't have a touchscreen, and I love it.

            Well it turns out that you are in a minority.

            Most people without touchscreens don't.

            But perhaps more importantly, it depends what you use the interface for. For media consumption, your interaction with the machine is small and therefore wouldn't really be an issue. For development work, which is increasingly becoming the dominant use case for desktops and laptops, it really is a non-starter.

            > Established paradigms like the Desktop, you mean, which is still there?

            Indeed, and this is getting better. The initial incarnation of Windows 8 had Metro popping up for basic functions even when you selected the desktop paradigm as your principle.

            This had it coming over as a hasty mash of two different interfaces that coexist very shakily indeed and uncannily interrupt each other in inexplicable ways. Things are getting a little better but most of the comments from people I read about with regards to Windows 8.1 is "it's not as shit as it was". This is *not* a recommendation.

            1. mmeier

              Re: Still not enough @ skelband

              And what IS the problem for development? After one year and some heavy Java including EJBs as well as classic frontends I still can't see a difference.

      9. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Still not enough

        >That's WHY so many Windows PCs end up with the desktop totally full of icons

        No most desktops end up full of icons because when software installs it typically defaults to putting a shortcut on the desktop. Most people, including IT support, tend not to put any effort into organising the desktop. You only need to look at the typical iOS or Android device to see exactly the same level of attention - how many use folders on the iPad?

      10. Richard Plinston

        Re: Still not enough

        > That's WHY so many Windows PCs end up with the desktop totally full of icons...

        I recall that when Win95 came out MS claimed that "at last we have got rid of the 'hated' Win3.11 Program Manager*". I disliked having icons on the desktop (and particularly hated the active desktop of Win 98, but so did everyone else). My 'desktop' is covered by my working programs, I don't want to lose sight of those just because I want to start another.

        I know some people can't cope with multiple applications. On Win95-Win7 they minimize their current app, select the next with the desktop icon or task bar. Only one Window open at a time. They probably find Win8 OK to use. I have several desktops (I dumped Windows a decade ago) and each with multiple Windows and can easily switch between these or start new ones _without_ going to desktop icons.

        * Actually Win3.x worked OK. You could Alt-Tab to PM to start a new task without it taking over the whole screen.

      11. Blitterbug
        Facepalm

        Re: I've yet to see anyone explain why a full-screen start screen is a bad idea...

        >sigh<

        Ok, try this. You've installed an application (note: proper desktop application, not Metro-crud-app-a-like). Lets say, Office 2010. It would be rather spiffing if an icon for Word or Outlook could be right-dragged from its home on the start menu to the desktop for instant access, without having to flip to a whole other screen first. Ok, no problem. Lets just... oh, wait...

    2. Spearchucker Jones

      Re: Still not enough

      I do get that beating up on Microsnot and Windoze is a popular (and official) pastime these days. However:

      I've been using Windows 8 since October last year. Even though I run it on a Series 7 Slate (i.e. with touch screen), the only Metro app I've used relatively frequently is Video. Everything else I do on the desktop (which really is a vast improvement on 7). My single most compelling reason for Windows 8 is taking notes and drawing diagrams with a stylus in OneNote (insanely good).

      But this is about RT. So, even though I've not found a single WinRT app in the store that is compelling enough to use daily, I'm actually slowly warming to the idea of creating WinRT apps. Now that the store submission requirements have been relaxed, I think we might actually see touch-based apps on Windows that are usable.

      I've a Surface Pro 2 on pre-order, so for now I can only offer my expectation - that the Pro2 will allow me to use a tablet as I would an iPad, and when I need to, to run Visual Studio, SQL Server and Office as though I was on a desktop (small screen notwithstanding).

      1. Dave K Silver badge

        Re: Still not enough

        How is the desktop in W8 a vast improvement over W7? Seriously, I'm genuinly interested. I personally find Windows 8's desktop themes to be dreary, flat and lifeless, I do like the new task manager, but am not impressed with the "ribbonised" Windows Explorer. Hence overall, I actually prefer the feel of Windows 7's desktop overall.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Still not enough

      I concur, Mr Foobar

      EPIC EPIC EPIC FAIL.

      I want Metro to die, and everyone who stood there and let it happen, to be thrown into an industrial mincer.

      1. Turtle

        Re: Still not enough

        "I want Metro to die, and everyone who stood there and let it happen, to be thrown into an industrial mincer."

        That's harsh. But not, I regret to say, harsh enough.

        1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Still not enough

          May I humbly suggest that the output from the mincer be made into Burgers and force fed to Balmer and his BOD?

    4. Pristine Audio

      Re: Still not enough

      >Users don't just want the Start button back. They want the start MENU back.

      Not bloody likely, thanks. After using Windows 8, going back to a Win7 installation is horrible - especially the crappy Start Menu!

      1. Jess

        Re: Still not enough

        > especially the crappy Start Menu!

        I can happily live without the start menu. It is easy enough to put shortcuts onto the desktop and into folders (like program manager on windows 3.x) and to use the command shell. (Just like using an old Linux).

        However, I'm not sure normal (non techie) users will agree on this one.

        The thing I detest is the jumping to full screen for metro and metro apps, it is hideously jarring, and unlike MSDOS mode in windows 9x, doesn't give you an option for it to be within a window.

        This for me is the show stopper. (And the price) Had the facilities to remove it been available when the cheap version of 8 was available, I would have purchased, but I found the preview so awful to use, I didn't bother.

    5. qwarty

      Re: Still not enough

      Speak for yourself ITF. Most of us have personal preferences or ideas for what constitutes an ideal desktop environment. I don't miss the old start menu or classic application menus everywhere. but don't claim to be a spokesperson for other PC users to promote my preferences.

      1. Squander Two

        "don't claim to be a spokesperson for other PC users"

        Exactly. Well said, qwarty.

        I like Windows 8. I am obviously well aware that a lot of people don't. Fair enough. I also liked Mac OS9 when a lot of people didn't, and I can't stand iOS on the iPhone when a lot of people seem to think it's the greatest interface of all time. But there appears to be no-one out there capable of understanding that some people like Windows 8 and some others don't. No, no, it's always "I hate this and therefore SO DOES EVERYONE IN THE WHOLE WORLD."

        It's a lot like politics in that respect. God knows why.

      2. Dave K Silver badge

        Re: Still not enough

        And I'm happy for people like yourself to use the Start Screen, I truly am. I don't necessarily want Microsoft to drop it altogether, I just want them to give users a choice - that's all anyone is asking. Microsoft always used to do this - until Windows 8 came along. As I've said before in other threads, users shouldn't have to install a pile of third party tools to get Windows to work in a way that suits them - especially when what suits them was the first choice interface in the previous version.

        I want a version of Windows where I can enable a Start Menu and some nicer looking desktop windows (I hate W8's dreary collection of "themes"). Until Microsoft can offer me a version that I can easily tweak to work how I want without 3rd party tools and hacked DLLs, I'll continue to avoid it and will stick to a version (ie 7) that suits the way I work.

        1. Euripides Pants
          Linux

          Re: Still not enough

          "Until Microsoft can offer me a version that I can easily tweak to work how I want without 3rd party tools and hacked DLLs, I'll continue to avoid it..."

          Holy oyster buttocks, Batman! If MS actually provided the ability to customize the UI it would be no different than...

          LINUX!!

          AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!

    6. BobChip
      FAIL

      Re: Still not enough

      Let's wait and see.....

      Personally, as a heavy end CAD and graphics user - hence large screen and desktop PC - I find that a touch-focussed interface is fundamentally unusable. I appreciate that it is now perfectly possible to boot directly into desktop, add a second large monitor and install a mouse etc.. But all of these things involve bending the system to meet my requirements in a way that MS seem to regard as alien to their objectives. I'll stick to a system which meets my work requirements without my having to kick and punch it into compliance. (Have MS forgotten what business computers are used for?) I will not be getting Win 8.1.

      8.1 looks like a brilliant system for consuming internet content on a phone or tablet, but so are iPads, Chromebooks and Android phones etc. - and they are already well established in the marketplace. Add to this Microsoft's blatant hubris, and focus on monetisation at any cost, and it is easy to see why they have lost their old position as the de facto OS and software supplier of choice. Ignoring your customers and hacking them of is far and away the best way to lose them for good, particularly if you do it at a time when a range of viable and economical alternatives are increasingly available.

      MS will not disappear overnight, but their days of dominance are over. I'm happy to be proved wrong, but as I said above, let's wait and see. Give it 6 to 9 months, to sort out units shipped, units sold, and units actually in use. But I'm not holding my breath....

      1. Christopher Rogers

        Re: Still not enough

        "it is easy to see why they have lost their old position as the de facto OS and software supplier of choice."

        Thats only in the consumer world. In business they still have the game.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Still not enough

          > Thats only in the consumer world. In business they still have the game.

          That's merely a question of time. Turn over in business is a *lot* slower than in the consumer world.

        2. majorursa
          Mushroom

          Re: Still not enough

          They still may have the game in businesses but they are doing their best to get rid of that as well. What's with the sudden price increases that punish those that stayed loyal? And how about even more complicated licensing structures that even M$ themselves doesn't understand, at the same time as sending new BSA extortion letters to the confused IT managers?

          No better time than now to move away from this bully and reposess your own IT.

    7. plrndl

      Re: Still not enough

      What MS cannot grasp, is that to the user, the interface IS the product. Users don't give a damn about what's going on inside the box.

      The problem with W8 in any version is that it's NOT WINDOWS. Call it somerthing else and give Windows users the option to downgrade to W7.

    8. Wade Burchette Silver badge

      Re: Still not enough

      I wish I could triple up-rate the OP.

      "Microsoft needs to get it through their thick skulls that a desktop computer with a keyboard, mouse, and upright screen is NOT A TABLET and any "touch-optimized" user interface elements are also "desktop-hobbled." *ALL* of these elements need to be presented in a desktop-optimized mode when running on a desktop."

      More to the point: different tools have different purposes. A hammer is not ideal for putting in a screw and a tablet UI is not ideal for a desktop/laptop. The purpose of a hammer is different than a screwdriver; the purpose of a tablet is different than a desktop/laptop. Microsoft forget this important rule.

      I will be installing 8.1 tomorrow. But I already know it doesn't get rid of my second grievance of Windows 8: the fact that the UI is hard on my eyes. The square corners with just two colors just make it hard for my eyes to focus on anything. Windows 3 had more color contrasts. AND THE ALL CAPITAL LETTERS ON KEY MENUS ALSO MAKES IT HARD TO FIND WHAT YOU NEED. (That is the reason why I will not install Office 2013.) Windows 8 is two features short of being very good: A proper start menu and the return of Aero. I say this in truth, Windows 8 would be on my primary computer if Aero was still around. Start8 solves the other problem with Win8.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Still not enough

        >the fact that the UI is hard on my eyes

        Yes I hate the fact that none of the standard desktop themes for Win8 and Office 2013 provide any real level of contrast - but then I liked the clarity and highly functional nature of the WfWG interface...

    9. asdf

      Re: Still not enough

      How sad is it years after he has died Microsoft still has not broken out of the way Steve Jobs framed them in the I'm a Mac and PC commercials. Don't get me wrong I would much rather develop on a Windows box (f__k Objective C) for Windows (than Apple but actually prefer *nix over both) but that is not the bling people want when they get to choose off the desktop.

    10. asdf

      Re: Still not enough

      Besides who cares what the user wants? Its all about what best for the corporate strategy going forward.

    11. Jolyon Smith

      Re: Still not enough

      Not really. Users want some of the things that the Start Menu gave access to but certainly not everything.

      But I agree that just a button that takes you to the start screen is not what most people want either.

  2. JimC

    Its the UI changes that kill it for me...

    Really need to upgrade my 80ish mother's PC, but no way will she be able to learn a new user interfacr

    So right now it looks like the best option might be to keep the old box until it dies and get her an android tablet for web browsing.

    1. dogged

      Re: Its the UI changes that kill it for me...

      She can use an Android tablet but can't learn a new interface.

      Right. Remind me not to ask you to think anything through.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Its the UI changes that kill it for me...

        >She can use an Android tablet but can't learn a new interface.

        Yep, sounds right. My 84 year old father can't get to grips with Windows (keyboard and mouse) but has had no problem with the iPad. I think it is down to mindset, a PC you sit at a desk and hence use in one mindset, whereas a touch screen tablet is used differently and hence helps to create a different mindset around it's usage. That's also why I can use my non-touch screen Kobo eReader and touch screen iPad concurrently.

      2. Jess

        Re: She can use an Android tablet but can't learn a new interface

        Surely the point is that if she is forced to learn a new interface, why would you stick to Windows, when an Android tablet would probably fit tthe requirements better, for far less money?

    2. Mag07

      Re: Its the UI changes that kill it for me...

      Or get her a new PC with whichever version of Windows she fancies? I dislike MS stuffing their new trend down our throats but truth is, it won't affect you if you don't allow it to. Noone forces you to buy a new machine with a new system on it, there are multitude of alternative custom made systems that will be shipped with whatever system you fancy and happen to pay for, or without any.

    3. Big_Ted

      Re: Its the UI changes that kill it for me...

      Try looking at a chromebook if your mum isn't running any windows programs.

      1. dogged
        Trollface

        Re: Its the UI changes that kill it for me...

        @Big_Ted - yeah, because a Chromebook doesn't require learning a new interface at all, right?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @dogged - Re: Its the UI changes that kill it for me...

          Erm, you know what Chromebook is, don't you? You are confusing a full blown OS with a minimalist Internet brower. If you have trouble understanding that then you should spend some time away from any kind of computing device.

    4. Christopher Rogers

      Re: Its the UI changes that kill it for me...

      Windows 8.1 - Put a shortcut to the browser on the desktop and tick the "boot to desktop" option that bypasses the menu screen. And anyways - with the applications being represented by big icons and bright colours, surely this is a better option for grandma??

      1. Paul Shirley

        Re: Its the UI changes that kill it for me...

        I don't care what my grandmother would have wanted, its my computer and I only care what I want on it. Pretending I want the same from my PC as any other user is wrong and ultimately insulting.

        Microsoft always know best. That's the problem.

    5. Oz

      Re: Its the UI changes that kill it for me...

      I have just bought a new PC, for a relative, from a well known supplier with a big red and white web site from their store located on the South Coast. I had the choice of WIndows 7 and Windows 8 and, for ease, I chose Windows 7. So there are ways of keeping Windows but not buying Windows 8

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It could have been so good... :(

    Needless to say but I'm sticking with Windows 7 and have no intention what so ever to even look at this critter (through TechNet, now that it still exists).

    I think it's a really sad development because there is plenty of potential here for something good. The idea to allow desktop users to gain access to their mobile start screen for example could be very slick. I'd pay to see that; you setup your new (online) grocery list and because you know that you'll be getting those within the next few days you can already pin the list on your mobile start screen. Right from behind the PC. That would have rocked.

    Or what to think about easier content management? We have SkyDrive (or whatever new name they need to come up with). Why can't I simply drop a few items there and opt to have my phone synchronize with that? Need some new music: just dump it on SkyDrive and the phone automatically adds it to the playlist(s). That would also allow us to do a lot of content management for the phone right from behind the desktop.

    The infrastructure is there, the technology (Metro) is also available on the PC, and the compatibility is also a fact (I can already create documents from behind my PC and then look at the info on my phone, even while on Windows 7 & WP7.5).

    So why doesn't Microsoft take that extra step?

    1. John Sanders

      Re: It could have been so good... :(

      """So why doesn't Microsoft take that extra step?"""

      Because Microsoft is now in the same market IBM was before them, this is not about empowering the users or make the ecosystem better.

      This is about turning the PCs into dumb terminals and preventing 3rd parties from doing precisely that, providing with something the users want.

      Why? well because if a 3rd party does it for free they (MS) make no money, if a 3rd party does it for a price, they make no money either.

      With the PC's locked down using cloud crap ala dumb terminal they make lots of monies, if they lock the PC and you buy an "app" through their (MS) store they make a monie's cut.

      Microsoft for some reason wants to be the beginning and the end of computing each time someone invents or unlocks a market (Google or Apple). The most shocking thing is that MS is the first one to always dismiss those markets, IE: Tablets, Internet, etc. and then when those markets flourish suddenly they want in.

      In the end MS is going to die of a thousand cuts and fade away in the next decade, it has been proven time and time again that they can not gain a foothold on a market unless they can kill all players.

      1. Christopher Rogers

        Re: It could have been so good... :(

        "Microsoft for some reason wants to be the beginning and the end of computing each time someone invents or unlocks a market "

        Apple make all the hardware and software and you cannot use OSX on NON-Apple hardware (but you can run Windows on Apple machines) Lets remember, MS make software (regardless of if you like how it looks) that runs on shedloads of devices, including the most frankenstein of homebuild PCs.

        Linux provides this service too, however looking at the Linux posterboy Ubuntu, they are now trying to emulate Microsoft, putting Unity across every device type and trying to tie it all together. Eventually, they will have to try and monetize their efforts for the existing investment (time, money) to have longevity.

        And Google and their Chrome OS. They provide a nice twist to the conversation in that you pretty much get the OS experience by using the Chrome browser and a gmail account.

        And lets not forget 1 thing - this lot are in business to make money. They are going to try and grab as much of their industry as possible to make as healthy a profit as possible.

        1. mike_ul

          Re: It could have been so good... :(

          Well said.

        2. asdf

          Re: It could have been so good... :(

          >Linux provides this service too, however looking at the Linux posterboy Ubuntu, they are now trying to emulate Microsoft, putting Unity across every device type and trying to tie it all together.

          Yes and a very large portion of Ubuntu's user base has rejected Unity and moved to other distros because of it at least on the desktop. At least with Linux you get a choice of the UI you want to use which is one of its main strengths.

          1. CLD

            Re: It could have been so good... :(

            With Windows you can choose the UI, it just doesn't come out the box... I've used Aston Shell in the past which was quite sleek, there are other third party add-ons / extensions to change the look and feel too (Wincustomise and Classic Shell for Win8 are two examples). Windows is foundational... it is designed to be built upon, like almost all MS products. If it doesn't meet your requirements, go hunting, there are probably already extensions out there to meet your needs.

          2. Christopher Rogers

            Re: It could have been so good... :(

            Its also why Linux has not been taken on by the masses - fragmentation. Multiple versions multiple interfaces. Its main strength is also its main weakness - people need a consistent experience (hence the uproar going Win7 to Win 8).

    2. Test Man

      Re: It could have been so good... :(

      "Or what to think about easier content management? We have SkyDrive (or whatever new name they need to come up with). Why can't I simply drop a few items there and opt to have my phone synchronize with that?"

      What the hell are you on about? Right now I drop anything in SkyDrive on XP, Vista, 7 or 8 (former two via webpages) - I get instant access on my mobile. RIGHT NOW.

  4. Tim 11

    too many platforms

    One thing that will certainly come back to bite MS their decision to "unify" on 3 separate (and mostly incompatible) platforms rather than just two. None of their tablet stuff can work on phablets

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Never going to use any work related thing with Metro on it.

    It's just utter shit.

    I don't want the whole screen to disappear while I'm trying to quote from it in something else.

    The whole paradigm is the wrong way round. Metro should be a child of the desktop, not the other way round.

    A classic case of the liberal minded pushing something through by sacking a few techies to put the frighteners on everyone else. I note that Ribbon Woman still works at the company. Balmer's even gone, and she's still there.

    1. John Sanders

      Re: Never going to use any work related thing with Metro on it.

      """Ribbon Woman"""

      Gosh it was designed by a she... that explains a lot.

      And no, I'm not being misogynistic, women for some reason tend to design amalgam things like that: "A mix of a pull-down menu, a tool bar and a form" the only thing the old interface needed was a fucking setting to prevent the tool bars from float freely (another MS great invention, floating tool bars no one needs floating around).

      1. Squander Two

        Re: Never going to use any work related thing with Metro on it.

        I can't stand the bloody ribbon, but, to be fair, Microsoft introduced it because most of the requests they received for new features were for features they already had and average users couldn't find. I never had a problem with the menus, but apparently a lot of people did. If you want an interface that the average user will be happy with (which is what criticis of Windows 8 invariably claim), then sorry, that's the ribbon.

        1. Yag

          "... features they already had and average users couldn't find."

          And thanks to the ribbon, average users and experimented users can't find them.

          1. Squander Two

            Re: "... features they already had and average users couldn't find."

            You are probably right, but your point is slightly undermined by containing a rival OS's spelling fuck-up.

    2. mike_ul

      Re: Never going to use any work related thing with Metro on it.

      They still have the desktop. I do tons of work on it. I only use the desktop and, with start8, have no need to go into W8 start menu. Everything works just fine. Perhaps you should try it.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Never going to use any work related thing with Metro on it.

      "Ribbon Woman" - Larson-Green designed Metro as well. And she is now head of the Windows division. Ahh well best start downloading those Linux ISOs...

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So long M$

    Thanks for all the BSOD's, horrendously long boot times, constant " <name your programme> is not responding, crap UI's, dreadful install and update times (primarily loading updates when a user is shutting a machine down and expecting the user to keep their machine on for hours while patches are downloaded and installed...which Redmond Monkey dreamed that little mindfcuk up?), not keeping up with competition, not listening to their customers needs and a consistent record of bringing crap products to market that don't quite work.

    I ditched Microsoft years ago; Ubuntu and OSX work well for me. Very competent alternatives are available which out-perform Windows and OS choice is no longer a one horse race. I hope Windows sinks into oblivion which I am quite sure it will, as the PC market is totally different to that of 10 years ago :)

    And Googles Android is to your personal information like inviting Jimmy S to baby-sit.

    1. breakfast

      Re: So long M$

      I hold Metro in absolute contempt, but I cannot fault the startup time in Windows 8, it is way faster than any other OS I have used, including Mint on the same machine.

      That said, booting up into an operating system which is experiential equivalent of placing one's face in front of a jet of raw sewage rather negates the benefits- I only boot into Windows about once a month at most these days and then it makes me angry.

      1. mike_ul

        Re: So long M$

        Boot into the desktop, then. It works virtually the same as W7.

      2. mmeier

        Re: So long M$

        @breakfast

        I agree on Metro. Lousy, very lousy. We should definitly break up the monopolist! Can't have one company own the two big electronics outlets in Germany and Austria!

    2. mike_ul

      Re: So long M$

      Fair enough. You don't like windows. Fine. But don't pontificate to everyone else who might actually like the OS. Each to their own, yes?

      Windows 8 is *really* quick. I haven't had a blue screen. Yes, there are patches but that is the price for an open machine. People will insist on trying to hack it :) The more OS's the merrier so you should not wish MS ti fail,

  7. David Austin

    Offline Install

    Something I've not seen anyone talk about:

    If Windows Update is delivered through the Windows store, what options are there for "Offline Installs" Of the 8.1. Update?

    Some 8 customers are on very slow links, or behind internet blocking firewalls: What can I do about them, apart from do an upgrade install from an 8.1 iso, assuming that even works...

    1. dogged

      Re: Offline Install

      You can download the ISOs from Technet and I suspect that there are similar options for offline installs to, for example, the Office 2013 install.

      1. David Austin

        Re: Offline Install

        we can download the installs off Technet, yes, but what's the Average end user on a slow internet connection to do?

        The Windows Store Download is ~3.6GB~, which could take an age for some people, and that's before you look into capped internet (2 PC's on BT option 1, and you've just used your monthly limit)

        I'm assuming if they know one of us, we can use our full TechNet Iso's to upgrade them but as this is basically a glorified Service Pack, I'd like to think they'll be some sort of Network Install available at some point?

    2. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Offline Install

      I expect one or more of the monthly PC magazines will include it on their cover along with the three post-RTM updates - remember it is a service pack, so MS can't really complain...

      I wonder when MS will release 8.1 on Windows 8 Update as a security and critical update...

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is it just me?

    10-15 years ago, whenever MS were building up to a new OS release, I was highly interested and went out of my way to install the pre-release versions and see what exciting new features they had.

    These days it's more a case of "oh bugger, what am I going to have to work around / re-learn now".

    Maybe it's just that I'm older now, but instead of excitement I'm now facing dread each time MS release something.

    Next on the list of things to U-turn should be Office 2013; 2010 was OK, 2003 was good.

    1. MysteryGuy

      Re: Is it just me?

      > but instead of excitement I'm now facing dread each time MS release something.

      I think for a while now theyt've passed their zenith, and most new 'improvements' seem to actually harm the usability rather than help it.

      With WIndows 8, it seems more about craming the users into their "one OS to rule them all' idea than actually wanting (or even trying) to make desktop users more productive.

      And I thought it was bad when they changed everything for the 'ribbon' interface...

    2. John Sanders

      Re: Is it just me?

      No, they are going downhill fast, for some reason the mantra in the IT industry is to change things that do not need changing every 6 months.

    3. jonathanb Silver badge

      Re: Is it just me?

      Out of interest, what is your problem with Office 2013? The only real differences between it and 2010 I've noticed is that

      1. in Excel, spreadsheets open in different windows by default, enabling you to have two open side by side. You could do that in earlier versions of Excel, but you had to remember to open a separate instance of Excel for each sheet. They did the same thing for Word a while back, certainly it was the case in 2003, and I think before that as well.

      2. in Outlook, you can have multiple exchange accounts set up at the same time. It was possible in the Mac version of Outlook, and Entourage before that for as long as I've used it.

      The one slight problem is the default white-only colour scheme, but you can change that.

  9. sjsmoto

    Allow more variety on Start screen

    I think the desktop Start screen has a potential to be more useful if widgets were allowed to live on it. Just like on Macs where a key press will show you the widgets screen, why not have some useful things (weather radar for your area, twitter feeds, news headlines, task manager info) on the Start screen as well. Press the Windows key, have a look, press again to close.

    1. Squander Two

      Re: Allow more variety on Start screen

      It already does exactly that. Twitter feeds, news headlines, and weather forecasts are all available on tiles. For anything that isn't on a tile out of the box, someone could program a new tile. Same as with widgets, then.

  10. Sporkinum

    Downloading

    I started the download this morning. 2.1 GBs worth! I am hoping it is more stable, as I have had more instability with 8 than with Vista that it replaced (I got it for $15). Start button is useless to me, so I will continue to use classic shell. Metro is mostly useless as I have a 4:3 screen and you can only run 1 app at a time in metro that way. Not only that, the email app is useless on a 4:3 screen to as some mails will not fit in the limited space they give you. I'll see if they happened to fix that, and the stability problems.

    1. dogged

      Re: Downloading

      Metro is mostly useless as I have a 4:3 screen and you can only run 1 app at a time in metro that way.

      8.1 changes this, apparently.

  11. Moeluk

    The one thing I want to know is how metro apps can be so incredulously slow and shit at the same time.

    For instance I'm running win 8 in a Vm on my MacBook. I have a JPEG of approximately 500k...double click it in OS X and preview loads instantly.....

    Double click it in win 8 I get the metro image splash screen and then the dots of despair move across the screen for anywhere between 5 and 10 seconds...before I get to see the pic. WTF?

    How can it take that long to load a picture?

    1. Squander Two

      It doesn't take that long to load a picture; it takes that long to start an app. Once the app's runing, pictures load instantly. Much like every other app on every platform, then.

      Preview is integrated into OSX, I believe, so that it doesn't have to be started up per se. I agree: good idea, and Microsoft should copy it. I've generally moved from Mac to PC, and probably the only thing I miss is OSX's previewing, of pictures, sound files, everything -- way better than Windows. At the moment.

      1. John Sanders

        """Preview is integrated into OSX"""

        OS integration is no excuse for Windows being that slow.

      2. Moeluk

        It shouldn't take that long to load an app, when the image viewer in Win 7 was also damn near instant though...

        1. Circadian
          Trollface

          takes a long time

          But you are all forgetting the time it takes for the thumbnail to be uploaded for NSA approval!

          (Wonder how long it'll be before this meme gets stale? <sniff, sniff> Ah. Too late.)

      3. James O'Shea

        "Preview is integrated into OSX"

        Err... no it's not. _QuickLook_ is integrated into OS X; click on the pic (or the vid) and hit the spacebar, and pic (or vid) loads. Preview is a separate app, and Apple has been screwing with it lately so that it is nowhere nearly as good as it once was... and even back before Apple screwed with Preview, I usually used Graphic Converter (35 euro shareware, and truly excellent) as my quick pic viewer of choice.

        QuickLook is tied into QuickTime (well, duh...) and the exact pics or vids it can access depends on what codecs you've told QT about. I have yet to find a picture format that GC can't access. There's a _reason_ why it's called Graphic _Converter_.

    2. Test Man

      Mug - I have images open in the Windows image previewer... the same as in Windows 7.

  12. CrazyKanuck

    Good and bad in the same time

    I do use Windows 8. I have to. Regardless what people say, Windows is going to exist masivelly on the business side. Because it owns it. Regardless of the numbers, I don't think that the PC is going the way of the Dodo. Because we still need to work, write letters, use multiple displays, program something... whatever. You can't have that with a tablet. I still need the possibility of adding a keyboard and a mouse. Ah... when I want to disconnect, I can go on the web. But how many of us are doing it? I take the train everyday and I watch people with tablets or smartphones - they play or read some newspaper. They don't work. The ones that work use laptops, thank you very much.

    And the application store? Who needs a million apps? I have a smartphone (android) for a long time here, and I have a few games (free) and a few apps (free too). Why would this (the number of available apps) be an issue regardless of the OS maker? I am pretty cool and happy with the options available in Microsoft Store.

    Where the buck stops however, is the price. I think that Surface Pro is way to expensive, and it is not going to be a success. And that is the problem in my opinion.

    What Microsoft should do is really have two packages - one for tablets and one for PC's. All that SLATE crap is not helping on a PC (or laptop) that doesn't have Touch...

    1. John Sanders

      Re: Good and bad in the same time

      """Regardless what people say, Windows is going to exist masivelly on the business side. Because it owns it. Regardless of the numbers, I don't think that the PC is going the way of the Dodo."""

      Of course, the IT vendors were used to just sell new stuff in droves, now that the market is reaching maturity and the seemingly unlimited market growth is over they want you to adopt a new form factor so you buy more and they get their market growth back.

      See all those under powered tablets will be superseded in 9 months and it is time again for you to show the $$$monies$$$ in the counter.

  13. Tom 35

    U Turn?

    More of a dogs leg. Still going in the same stupid direction.

  14. This post has been deleted by its author

  15. sandman

    Four way split

    I'm thinking (and given my reputation for getting every single trend totally wrong, caveat emptor) that the popular tech market is / is going to split into four sections.

    1. Luxury/aspirational = Apple

    2. Business (laptop, desktop and some server) = Mostly Microsoft with lots of Linux on the server side and some Apple on the laptop/desktop.

    3. General Consumer = mostly Android, Apple where 1. applies and Microsoft where business compatibility affects buying decisions or for gaming or "creative" uses (where 1. doesn't apply).

    4. High-end computing = Linux (lots and lots of it) Unix, Microsoft and various bespoke OSs, inc the IBM ones.

    No one dominant company across the spectrum of computing and plenty of opportunity for competition

    1. Khaptain Silver badge

      Re: Four way split

      Isn't that basically the situation today ?

  16. TRT Silver badge

    It's not just the tiles

    It's the look of the windows as well with the horrible washed out colours and almost invisible vertical dividing lines and square cornered buttons...

    Previous versions of Windows let you (even if it was horribly clunky) change the shading of the UI and turn advanced features off etc. You have a look in the themes section... it's all photographs and junk. Where's the plain and simple, business-like options?

    Horrible.

  17. Ebaneezer Wanktrollop
    FAIL

    The end of an era

    At the age of 15 I was a wizard in DOS. GEM and WIndows 3 tried to lure me to the dark, windowed side but who needed all that 51/4" disk swapping when it accomplished nothing but wasting my time - my .bat files could do in 2 seconds what would take a day in a windowed environment.

    And that was the beginning - a few trips on the way up and in between but along came XP and Windows 7 (XP but with a hint of arsing about added) and now 8.1 which in my humble opinion is the biggest pile of shite ever to come from the USA (notwithstanding that Cyrrus tart but she's probably built for touch also)

    I never thought I'd ever do this but yesterday I bought an iMac - been installing them for years and just generally impressed with the quality. My PC will remain reformatted every week or so with Linux and server distro's for my endless tinkering but Ladies & Gentlemen, in my life at least, Microsoft has left the building.

  18. DrXym Silver badge

    Better than nothing

    I suppose it's nice I can have a half size tile to save space and a few other options to control the startup behaviour. But I suspect most desktop users would prefer a start menu which launches at least a mini-metro that doesn't swallow up their entire screen, and a start screen which can be zoomed in or out and scale properly with the mouse wheel.

    Aside from the start menu stuff, so far I've generally found Windows 8 to be a pleasant and stable experience. I hope 8.1 provides some mouse / keyboard relief but it needs to go further.

  19. ubergeek

    Anti Virus

    Before anyone upgrades, make sure that your anti-virus software will run on 8.1 as I've had a notification from Kaspersky saying that:

    Kaspersky Endpoint Security currently does not support Microsoft Windows version 8.1.

    The new Windows version 8.1 will be available for download (upgrade) starting October 18, 2013. The update process will be run at the user's consent.

    If you decide to upgrade your Windows version to 8.1, in is necessary that you uninstall Kaspersky Endpoint Security 10 before you start. Otherwise, you may encounter Kaspersky Endpoint Security 10 and the Windows 8.1 OS malfunctioning.

    Once you upgrade to Windows 8.1, you will not be able to install Kaspersky Endpoint Security 10.

    Windows 8.1 support will be implemented in one of the upcoming releases of the product.

    1. mmeier

      Re: Anti Virus

      Why does one use an external AV software on Win8? The on-board solution is good enough for all normal users. Granted, if your bookmarks are full of dubious sites like www.fsf.org you might need better support but otherwise 3rd party AV solutions are useless.

      So unless it is "must be there" from the company IT- ditch it. OTOH company IT will likely be 6-12 weeks from Win8.1, quite likely more so no problem there. If they are not - fire (on) them

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Anti Virus

        I just tried to make a Microsoft Defender Offline disk on the 8.1 demo version I've got running. Didn't work.

    2. WatAWorld

      Re: Anti Virus

      That is the biggest problem I have with Kaspersky.

      They don't seem to participate in vendor beta programs. They don't support new versions of common software until months after they come out.

      They've habitually been like this with Firefox. They've only just last month started supporting current versions again.

  20. KPz

    Question On Surface Pro 2

    So, if it's running proper Windows 8.1 and has an Intel Core i5, and a decent-sized SSD, does that mean I can run Steam, and anything on Steam that doesn't need serious graphics grunt?

    You know, like Civ 5, or one of the Total War games, or some of the fantastic Indie games out there like Gone Home, or Kentucky Route Zero, or FTL, or Papers Please etc?

    If so then that might make me shell out some money on one....the only time I get to play games these days is on the commute and for about half an hour in the evenings when the kids aren't yelling.

    1. mmeier

      Re: Question On Surface Pro 2

      It is a core i5-ULV Ultrabook with 4 or 8GB main memory and 64-256GB SSD. If that hardware can run your games/programs - so can an S/P(2). I don't run much games on a tablet pc but stuff like Photoshop or Netbeans IDE (for smaller works due to 4GB limit) run fine on a 1st gen i5/ULV with 4GB and the S/P2 has more CPU/GPU power and can have more memory

  21. WatAWorld

    Lack of useful improvements in PCs is responsible for low Windows sales, NOT vice versa.

    Sales of PCs are going to stay down until either existing PCs fall apart from age or PC makers provide significant useful innovations.

    If people were not buying computers due to Windows sales of computers with Windows alternatives would be soaring. But sales of Linux machines are extremely dismal, and sales of Macs are not going anywhere either.

    Lack of useful improvements in PCs is responsible for low Windows sales, NOT vice versa.

    Reviewers need to stop blaming Windows for bad hardware sales.

    Why have PCs failed to have useful improvements over the past 3 years?

  22. David Webb

    SSD

    Has anyone figured out how to get 8.1 to install without an 0xc1900102 error when you have your User directory on another hard drive? My SSD is too small to accommodate my User directory, and I'm loathe to delete all my por... err.. photos of cats, and probably reinstall Windows just to get an SP working.

    1. KPz

      Re: SSD

      Why not just backup your por....photos of cats, then do a clean install?

      1. David Webb

        Re: SSD

        From what I've read, once you've installed 8.1 you can't then move your user directory over, it's stuck on the SSD drive. As much as I love the speed on my SSD I only have 66Gb Free, my old user directory (just did a reinstall after my hardware went kaplop) is 104Gb, though I guess I could reinstall and then just move my Downloads and por... err... Top Gear videos directory to my other drive. Just seems a lot of faffle just for what is, basically, an SP :-/

  23. WatAWorld

    Why have PCs failed to have useful hardware improvements over the past 3 years?

    Why have PCs failed to have useful and meaningful hardware improvements over the past 3 years (even 5 years)?

    Now that is a good idea for a reporter to investigate.

    Is it patent trolls?

    Is it lack of competition in chips and HDDs?

    I am not saying nothing has changed in PCs over the past 3 years, but nothing has happened to make your old desktop obsolete. Lower power consumption is not a selling feature for a device that is plugged in. SATA2 and SATA3 are do not make a difference when the limiting factor is your HDD speed. SSDs and graphics cards are not enough to make old PCs obsolete, since you can just pop one in.

    1. mmeier

      Re: Why have PCs failed to have useful hardware improvements over the past 3 years?

      If by "improvements" you refer to new hardware or new hardware entering the main stream / affordable to Joe Average - there has been a lot. Like SSD that only became a "typical" component in mobile systems below 1000€ post 2011 and in desktops post 2012.

      If by "improvements" you refer to "enough to force me to buy a new system" then the answer is simple:

      The technology has matured to a point where improvements are no longer cost-efficient

      Same with cars. Small/mid sized cars (< 15000€ new) from as early as 2005 have anti lock breaks, electronic stabilisers and enough airbags to turn you into a "canneloni" in case of an accident. There is nothing new that is cheap enough to add AND useful enough to have. So advances happen only in the "luxury" element(1). So cars only get replaces if worn out and new tech slowly trickles down when it gets cheaper like the interaged hands free system that start showing up in the below 20k segment

      Same with computers. New stuff gets added in mobile systems (Better onboard GPU, less power consumption, SSD, LTE) since there the customer sees a benefit AND prices (and margins) are higher. Business notebooks are aimed at the higher payed employees (engineers and PHBs) with a budget for an extra 100€. And that is where a lot has happened recently. And where changeover still happens with Haswell/Baytrail or the trend to "SSD only" systems. Since those offer enough benefits over the 3 year old sandy/HDD system (Endurance, speed, ruggedness)

      (1) Stuff like HUD, integrated navigation/screen etc. are nice - but 99 out of 100 drivers won't pay extra for it. Less so in the "Golf and below" mass market segment. In the "50000€+" segment those get added since "an extra grant's not a problem and it might be a nice toy"

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Why have PCs failed to have useful hardware improvements over the past 3 years?

        Agree about cars, it says a lot when a car is sold on it having a built in connection for an iPod/iPhone/Mp3 player.

        Most of the current batch of ad's are all about image/fashion and nothing really about what's different.

        In fact the same could be said for Windows 8.1. Looking on a MS Windows 8.1 microsite (http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-8/meet?ocid=WIN81GA_O_MSCOM_PROG_MEET_NULL_NULL ) I note that the most important thing is to compare it's features to XP; no mention of Vista, 7 or 8.

    2. Robert E A Harvey

      Re: Why have PCs failed to have useful hardware improvements over the past 3 years?

      > since you can just pop one in.

      Which is presumably why the more modern devices don't have removable bits.

    3. Brenda McViking

      Re: Why have PCs failed to have useful hardware improvements over the past 3 years?

      I'll tell you what I think happened - consoles.

      The biggest driver for PC development prior to Xbox 360 and PS3 was gaming, faster drives, higher performance graphics cards, faster RAM, more memory. Then, after PCs had caught up and surpassed the consoles, no one cared any more, because EA and Ubisoft had bought everyone, and believed that PC piracy would destroy gaming, so didn't bother developing for PC any more. Made commercial sense for them, and they've been successful, so fair play.

      However, as a result, the market for PC gaming came to a grinding halt, and with it, so did development. Now everyone just wants free throwaway gaming apps where they can buy smurfberries, and they're happy - the drive for better machines dwindled, and what is most appaling, is that the PS4 and XBone have barely raised the bar by an inch, and will probably be the last of the old-style gaming consoles.

      It's a pity, because whilst gaming is seen by some as a frivolity, the arms race it spawned in the silicon development stakes has benefitted us immensely - for HPC, parallelisation, simulations, speed - everything. These advances haven't gone, but they're slowing (though in their place mobile computing is driving down power consumption and increasing performance, but it will be a while before it gets to where the mighty desktop once roamed.) Desktops are part of the old "multiple consumers, limited markets" world. Mobile is part of the new "limited consumers, multiple markets" world. The King is dead. Long live the King.

  24. Jerky Jerk face

    In my humble opinion - what M$ did with the new windows from the start was cramming an upgrade to a great solid platform like 7 for desktops and laptops AND making a leap into the tablet world - And the part they messed up was having a choice about using either, or a mash up of both.

    Ive used windows 8 on a touch screen laptop and its a nice mix, you get to use touch intuitively and yet still get most things done as normal with a mouse/trackpad and keyboard.

    All they had to do was ask when you start your machine up, "would you like computer mode, tablet mode or a mix"

    People like options if they are RIGHT THERE IN FRONT OF YOU, why not make them available.

    Forcing new trends with your flagship OS on users who have been clicking for decades was bound for failure.

  25. Steve the Cynic

    Article: "things have become more flexible with users now being able to size and layer apps, where before they were set to a fixed size and apps had to be locked side-by-side."

    Ah, like when Windows 1 gave way to Windows 2? (Well, actually Win1 would resize the tiled apps as needed to make them all fit, and if you had, say, 5 you'd often get a row of three and a row of 2 that were, inevitably, not all the same size.)

  26. This post has been deleted by its author

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    World+dog prepare to press Start button

    And then it comes crushing down on them, that it's no magic fix to a fundamental software failure.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm no Linuxbeard, Metro is just as bad as Ubuntu's Unity.

  28. Semaj

    Hurf Durf

    I'm hoping this fixes a few of the annoyances of Windows 8 on my (crap, low res) laptop.

    The start button and custom corners will be nice currently it's annoying with the rubbishy trackpad. The top right one for example causing the charms bar to appear when I'm trying to scroll something.

    As for the start menu / screen debate. Honestly I (and I suspect most other advanced users) don't much use the Win7 start menu. We open it, search and press enter or we use taskbar or keyboard shortcuts. One thing that we do use is the fast access to computer management etc but that's BETTER in win8 because you can right click on the bottom left hotcorner (most useful feature in the whole thing).

    The only people who will actually have their use case changed are those who enjoy scrolling through the start menu, which is a waste of time.

    That said - I do think the start screen is ugly and unnecessarily large on a proper screen. A middle ground would be nice.

  29. MissingSecurity

    I'd be content...

    ...if they would just migrate enterprise features such as NFS client support to the Pro version (Hell, do away with Enterprise and Ultimate -- they only exist as POS licensing schemes). I don't give a shit about the UI. I can navigate around it plus I don't use Windows unless its application specific but I have a mixed windows and Linux server environment and if MS would simply stop impedeing basic compatiability I'd be more content migrating to Win 8.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pathetic

    Bollocks to Metro, bollocks to apps, bollocks to the ribbon and bollocks to Ballmer, Larson-Green, Sinofsky and all the other half wits who have foisted this garbage on us.

    Oh and the latest other news on Windows 8 is an official 'facebook app'. What is wrong with a browser? Seriously this stuff is absolutely dire.

  31. regorama

    i really don't understand Microsoft anymore , they fail to understand the concept of "choice" , simply give us a freaking menu at installation or 1st startup for preinstalled jobbies that asks what configuration you want for the device that you are installing it on , ie most people installing it on a desktop system will opt for the classic windows 7 look which works well yet they try to shovel their tile system on it which i no doubt is fine for tablets etc but absolutely dreadful for desktops , also give us an advanced mode or idiot mode for people who have used windows for years and those just starting out ,how hard can it be?? , unfortunately they seem to be going down the route of forcing people to use their crappy new ideas which just don't work for everyone used to the older versions of windows , until they do this i am sticking to Windows 7 and Kubuntu and i have absolutely no intention of ever installing another version of windows until they sort this disaster out.

  32. RonaldRaygun

    Metro will never die!

    Doesn't matter how much you all moan, Metro is still there, and will continue to be in the next iterations in Windows. People genuninely prefer Metro. The only ones clamouring for the Start Menu are a bunch of Linux bullies who don't even use Windows!

    1. mmeier

      Re: Metro will never die!

      Never understood why people flock to Metro. They are not cheap, customer service is lousy. Buy at Amazon or the next local shop

    2. Robert E A Harvey

      Re: Metro will never die!

      Don't worry, RR, I won't vote you down. I recognise heavy irony when I see it.

  33. Metonymous Howard

    Desktop Icons

    Mention of icons all over the desktop reminded me of the Office 97 shortcut bar. A desktop toolbar, installed from Office, loaded on boot, no need to run Office. It could be placed on any edge, with optional auto-hide 'till mouseover; both of which would be very useful for widescreens with limited depth. You could add additional bars which changed the colour with an (optional I think) name, and which replaced each other in the same space. Drag and drop shortcuts onto it (with a few Microsoft exceptions, Internet Explorer of the time was one) for programs, folders or files. I had 8 toolbars for various things, all with multiple icons (Just bitmaps, renamed .ico). Nothing was more than two clicks away. Out of interest I've just been to the old XP machine with a 22" screen, made a new toolbar called New (short name) and had room for 58 icons. Some toolbars have longer names so I've now got nine bars with space for about 450 (say) icons, all grouped, all auto-hide. It was dropped in Office 2003, never knew why. I found it one of the most useful little add-ons MS ever produced and moved it from machine to machine until Windows 7, which doesn't support it. It had much more space for icons than the taskbar, and really reduced start menu usage.

  34. smiths121

    As a LINUX user for 20 years (give or take..started in redhat 2,1 kernel 1.2/1.3) I find myself in the strange position of not liking Windows 8 (or 7 come to that) but having Grudging respect.

    Have a nice widescreen 1920x??? laptop at home from about January with Windows 8. Very hard to get used to. Either download a 3rd party start button or create a toolbar from

    C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs

    Drag the little bugger to the far left. and close up eveything else. You are left with a menu called "Program" with a double area that opens a start menu style menu. Works really well for non-touch, gives you everthing added (except notepad, so pin it). On touch the double area is too small.

    I put LibreOffice on for sanity.

    At work just upgraded from 5 year old Windows XP Toshiba Tecra ??? with office 2004 to an SSD Windows 7 with office ???(2010 I think). Very fast OS , but Office sucks (particularly Outlook). The Ribbon replaces easy menu and shortcuts, that have been aroudn since Excell 5/Word 6 with new alternatives. Struggling with this! I really find the rbbon bar + loss of desktop real estate annoying at work..

    My view: Both Windows 7 and Windows 8 are great OSs under the hood - suck mighty in UI - might be blaming Office for Windows 7 to be sure. Give me Windows 7 + Ofiice 2003 + sensbile screen res at work, and I will be a productive happy chappy.

    What I have at home works well.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nothing wrong with touch UI on the desktop

    As an app developer I am constantly using touch-based apps (in simulators/emulators) on my desktop computer by clicking on stuff with my mouse. It works fine, unless you need to do a multi-touch gesture, in which case it gets hacky. But most apps are perfectly usable and useful without multitouch.

    It would be nice if Apple let you run iOS apps on OS X (in windows obviously). There are a lot of apps that are cheaper and better than their desktop competition. And it would give Apple a nice route to support touchscreens with their desktop and laptop computers.

    Microsoft's problem with "touch UI on a desktop" is not that it's a bad idea, it's that they did it wrong.

  36. Christopher Rogers

    Well for all the blood sweat and tears, I like it. It feels like the product Windows 8 should have been originally, but now its here, it feels like a decent OS. It boots straight to desktop, the start screen is very customisable and the Skydrive integration is much better.

    The return of the start button is f**king pointless however.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    December 15th

    At least they will ship by Christmas so they can makes kids cry about not getting that iPad or Android tablet instead and got a Surface instead. The day after Christmas for Microsoft stores will be a busy day handling returns.

  38. RMCholewa

    Nice way to be clear about security

    Just upgraded two PCs. a Sony Vaio VPCZ2290X legacy PC (with TPM) and a HP Envy2. *BOTH* were configured to use BitLocker Drive Encryption. Both were configured to ask for a PIN at boot. Guess what? Windows 8.1 upgrade not only booted the machine lots of times but it didn´t ask for the PIN, not only once.

    I don´t know if I should worry. Guess that I should, only if I have something private stored on those (and I mean... something I don´t want Microsoft or any government to get their hands on).

    Once the upgrade completed, it started asking for the PIN again. Please correct me if I am wrong (I want to be!!) but that means only two possible things:

    1. Windows stores my PIN or

    2. Windows has a key to secretly access bitlocker drives directly

    I don´t know what is worse.

    To be honest, if I had any doubt about the complete lack of security, privacy etc on the platform, this simple thing just washed it clean.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Whahhh

    A whole lot of crying about having a full screen start button instead of a pop up box.

    Win8 is just an easier to use and nicer looking Win7. It also cost me £15, so it's the first MS OS that I've bought in a very long time!

  40. Deadly Chicken

    I love how people feel that because their interface now has the ability to use touch, that the mouse and keyboard should be thrown out ?

    people wishing for the start menu back, so that they can pin things to it ?? lol how about you pin those things to the task bar ?

    Windows 8 does everything that windows 7 can do and some. People whinging that they are out of touch because they have a voiable touch based product, which is the only expanding market there is, MS have done the only thing they could to stay relevant. and guess what everyone else is trying to do the same thing.

    Android on phones, tablets and hybrids, Linux on phones tablets and desktops

    flat interfaces on ios

    I don't think there is a single valid argument against windows 8 in this entire comments thread.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      How the fudge do you shut the machine down?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      IOS and Android are mobile operating systems. They are not desktop operating systems. As for Linux itself, Ubuntu's Unity has lead to a lot of defection to Linux Mint, because of the interface. Similarly Gnome 3 has lead to people deserting it for Xfce and KDE, and now a number of competing distributions are offering Mint's Cinnamon or MATE as alternatives.

      I am sure Metro and the Start Screen have their place, but not on a 24" monitor. Users do not want the 'apps', walled garden and tablet paradigm on the desktop any more than they want Windows 7 or a full Linux distribution on a tablet. Nor do they want two completely different interfaces on the same device interlinked with each other, so they jump from one to the other whenever they do basic tasks.

      Figures from January this year suggest 3 million downloads of Start-8, and from May 4.3 million downloads of Classic Shell since Windows 8 came into existence. 1.5 million have downloaded Pokki. Now why are these programs so popular? Maybe because they restore the classic desktop paradigm. Pre-Windows 8, whilst some of us were aware of various add on shells to XP / Vista / 7, they weren't particularly common. Why the sudden increase? Could it be because perhaps users want the operating system to stay out of their way, and get on with using proper desktop programs, as opposed to it getting in the way with the full screen Metro Start Screen, and cut down useless Metro programs?

      I am sure some people do like Windows 8 and Metro. Some people liked Microsoft Bob and Windows ME. But when a product has 1) caused a significant number of users to boycott it, and cling to the previous versions (XP / 7) instead, 2) lead to many using 3rd party tools to bypass the way it is supposed to work, to restore the functionality of the old version, 3) made users seriously consider, and even adopt the alternatives (OSX / Linux Mint), and 4) caused Microsoft to make changes to the original product in a (very poor) attempt to appease / cling on to the dissatisfied users, it is clear it is not the public at fault, but the product.

      1. mmeier

        I'll tell that one of our customers on monday. Those guys have bought 500 Latitude 10s in Q2 because the wanted a tablet pc that can run a full powered Windows. But they must be stupid after all they only made 1+ Billion after taxes last year (100+ million for the part of the company we work with)

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Polishing a turd...

    ...will not unturd the turd. Expecting another turd polishing in Windows 8.2 soon.

    Microsoft should just be honest admit that Metro was a colossal cockup concocted by the highly unqualified dolt Julie Larson-Green, cut its losses and move on.

    It is immensely satisfying schadenfreude to see the incorrigible monopolist bully Microsoft sowing the seeds of its own destruction and now those karma fruits are ripe and ready for harvest.

  42. Winkypop Silver badge
    Alert

    Windows 8x

    Don't inhale.

  43. cortland

    Is this an OS?

    Or a DDOS? 3.5 GB for each 8.0 out there will be FUN.

  44. WereWoof

    I remenber windows 95 gave you the choice of progman or explorer :)

  45. Big Van Vader

    Fail

    I bought a £1000 i7 laptop. I really tried to like it I really did. But in a nutshell win 8 is the most frustrating POS I have ever used. Couldn't get it to dual boot with Linux due to UEFI. Installed Win 7 and could not locate drivers. So in the end disabled UEFI and fresh Ubuntu install....job done

    1. mmeier

      Re: Fail

      Assuming the unit was Win8 certified UEFI or Secure Boot definitly where NOT the problems.

  46. Mad3218

    I just want a PC that allows me the option of never hooking it up to the internet (NSA, Windows, Google, Facebook, spy system) Where my data is mine! I have twenty other devices that hook up to the internet, I want a PC!

  47. Old BRAT
    Thumb Down

    What TOOLs these Mortals be!

    I have been saying this since Windows 2k - build separate OS's for business and consumers. 8.1 is obvious designed to drive customers to MS business portals. In a business enviro, I don't want my user to have Media Center, Facebook, stock market, steaming news and sports, gaming and of course MS Store. Business wants, or should want, a solid and secure OS that doesn't require re-training users on every new version. Business wants to get the job done so users can go home and play. I have been on MS since I got a 286 running DOS, but Windows 8 has convinced me switch to Ubuntu on my home machine. The hidden costs are just too high, and I don't like advertising being added to something I PAY for. Too bad, MS. You shot yourself in the foot trying to be like Apple and Google, neither of which I will use either.

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