Windows 8 Even Worse Than I Thought

Up to this point, after some initial bad impressions trying Windows 8 briefly, I have avoided it like the plague.  However, my son needed a new laptop and the only ones that really met our requirements only came in Windows 8 flavors, so we bought one.

What an awful mess.  The system boots up into a tiled mess that looks like some cheesy website covered in moving gifs and viagra ads.  To make matters worse, nothing on this tablet-based interface is organized at all logically.  The interface is like the room of an ADD child that dropped all of his toys and books in random spots.  I am sure these tiles have some sort of navigation paradigm, but it is completely different from any used in past windows versions.  I could not, for example, figure out how to easily exit the store except to alt-tab out (there is no exit or quit option and right-click context menus which are one of the great advantages of windows over mac don't seem to work a lot of the time).  Again, I am sure there is some way to do it, but I have no idea what it is and no desire to learn new navigation commands.  Perhaps Microsoft intends that one use a gamepad instead of a mouse -- I would not be surprised at this point.

Unlike older versions of windows, windows update did not run automatically at first bootup.  I knew from past experience there were likely dozens of security patches I needed to install right away.  I hunted for quite a while just to find the windows control panel (so I could run windows update).  It was buried in a sub-menu of a toolbar on the right side of the screen that only pops up if you find a tiny (unmarked) spot in the corner of the screen with your mouse.   It amazes me that anyone thought replacing the start button with an unmarked spot on the screen was a good idea.

Of course, the control panel is called something entirely different now, but I did eventually find windows update and there were, as expected, over 70 security patches that needed to be installed.  But for some reason they would not download immediately, but kept giving me a message that they would be downloaded at some future indeterminate date.  I finally found a way to force them to download.

My next step was to get rid of the stupid application tile interface and get the computer to boot directly to desktop and get the old start button back.  This requires a free upgrade to windows 8.1, but there is no obvious way to do this, even through windows update.  I finally had to search the internet to find the link.  This sent me into the windows 8 app store.  What a total mess that is!  If anything, it is more poorly organized than the Apple app store.  Like the Apple store, it seems aimed at people who want to browse applications virtually at random rather than find something specific.  Incredibly, there is no search function.  Yes, I know, I have to be wrong about that, but I scrolled all over that damn storefront and cannot find a search box.

So I cannot actually find the Windows 8.1 upgrade.  The web site tells me that I should be presented with a prominent option to download it in the store, but I am not.  It is nowhere to be found.  I found an FAQ somewhere that suggested that I would not be offered the 8.1 upgrade if my 8.0 installation is missing certain patches, so I am going back to windows update to see if there is something I am still missing.

I was wrong about windows 8 -- I once wrote it was bad but perhaps not as bad as Vista or ME.  But it is.  This is the worst thing I have ever seen come out of Microsoft.  It is inexplicable that this company with such a strong market share in the business world could saddle its flagship OS with an interface more appropriate to an XBOX.

In the past, I have said that I would not want a desktop with a tablet interface.  But at the end of the day, I would not want a tablet with this interface.  Perhaps with hours of work, I will make this computer usable.  Who would have ever thought I would have longed for the day when I had to spend an hour with a new computer removing bloatware.  Now I have to spend a day trying to emulate the windows 7 experience on windows 8.

People have developed many hypotheses for the lingering recession.  Some say it was too small a stimulus.  Some blame the sequester.  I blame the Windows 8 launch, which I think has a lot to do with suppressing PC sales and thus much of the electronics and retailing sector.


  1. chrispy:

    I'd recommend checking out Start8 and ModernMix from You can basically make it work like windows 7. Or perhaps better: I don't know much about it, but as I understand it there are some under-the-hood improvements over 7. True, you shouldn't have to pay extra just to make it work correctly, but at least there is a good workaround.

  2. Metatron:

    I actually got to rather like it ... on a Surface Pro tablet, it's not nearly as intuitive as an IPad in the give to grandma sense, but very logical and quick to navigate with the minimum amount of finger swipes once you know how. But yeah for an office environment it was a disaster, it's OK once you get to know their UI paradigm, but what retard thought that breaking a paradigm known by 99% of computer users users was a good idea? However the under the hood improvements are actually rather good and HyperV is amazingly good, it's better than VMware and is free with Windows 8. Runs Linux well out of the box too.

    Here are 2 keyboard shortcuts that will make it less frustrating by an order of magnitude:
    1 - WinKey + x => all settings, i.e. control panel, power, etc.
    2 - WinKey + w => search within system stuff, so windows update would be WinKey + w => type up => hit enter as windows update is the first on the list, similarly printers would be WinKey + w => type pr => hit enter
    As I said it's actually quite logical, but really not intuitive at all and probably designed by people with Aspergers, and the flat Metro look just plain sucks compared to Win 7 Aero.

  3. Sol:

    The Mac certainly has "right-click" context menus. On the laptop, you access them by clicking with two fingers. On a one-button mouse, you can get them by clicking with the control key down.

  4. CT_Yankee:

    A few years ago I had a desktop shipped back because it arrived with Vista and the retailer failed to honor the advertized free upgrade to Win 7 Microsoft had a "deal" with a deadline, however the retailer failed to update the description to reflect that the offer had expired. I was offered "a good price" for the software that was supposed to be included, so I felt cheated and sent everything back, and had another place customize one. Suggest you just return before you waste more valuable time fighting the system, and find a place that sells the laptop customized, and order what you actually want, with the software you want on it.

  5. Metatron:

    Also about a couple of the issues you were having: The solutions illustrate precisely why the UI is both ergonomic when you know it and unintuitive as hell at the same time
    1 - To kill windows store(or any app) - swipe down from the top of the screen(but the swipe has to start from outside of the screen - good luck trying to figure that out grandma!) across the whole screen right to the bottom.
    2 - To search within windows store - swipe from the right of the screen, hit the search icon. This applies to any app with some kind of search.

  6. Matthew Slyfield:

    "I once wrote it was bad but perhaps not as bad as Vista or ME. But it is."

    You are still wrong. Win 8 will be a fiasco rivaled only by MS Bob.

  7. Curtis:

    CNET is your friend. I always go there first for questions about crap like this. Bon chance!

  8. Frederick Davies:

    Windows 7 4ever! 'Nuff said.

  9. LexiRedLion:

    Except for XP in VirtualBox on my desktop, I don't do Windows. I typically keep on the lookout for good deals on laptop hard drives. When I find one, I'll buy 3 or 4 at a time. When I buy a new laptop, before booting, I replace the hard drive with a new blank drive, then install Linux (Debian or Mint LTS). The Windoze drive goes into my spare drive bin.

  10. mikehaseler:

    Over xmas I updated so I could see which are the most popular blog posts.

    I finally got it working yesterday and sat back to see who would come out top.

    Was it going to be something intellectual about feedbacks, something right wing - or heaven forbid .. a warmist.

    It turns out to be this post on windows 8.

    Yes windows 8 is utterly carp. The only thing that makes it barely tolerable is the program that I downloaded to make it look like vista. Even then, there's some stupid mouse movement that brings up the whole windows 8 carp which I regularly have to get rid of.

    Only thing that stopped me moving entirely to linux was something equally stupid by Ubuntu which now means I regularly get complaints from my daughter about her machine which I thought I would "upgrade" but instead it is far far worse.

    How can people make "improvements" that make things far far worse? What kind of mind set do they have?


  11. mikehaseler:

    A user interface ... is that ... an interface with the user. Windows 8 is not a user interface ... it is an interface that is not intended for windows users but intended to push people toward buying Micro$oft $oftware.

    It is a micro$oft interface, for the benefit of micro$oft and not for the user.

  12. mikehaseler:

    I worked at Xerox for a while and had the opportunity to use the original computer which introduced the mouse. - and you want me to go back 30 years and start using keys?

    I tried your keyboard shortcuts ... and I quickly remembered why I never use them. It is like being back in the days of DOS 3.2

  13. Dave Boz:

    Every few years, Microsoft takes a system used by a couple billion people, and changes the navigation and the names of things. This might make some things easier for someone who has never used Windows before, but for those other two or three billion.... well, it's perverse.

    I used to work for Microsoft. A customer once asked me, "If you guys weren't a monopoly, do you think you'd be able to get away with this s**t?"

    The answer is "of course not." If you aren't a monopoly, you have to listen to your customers. Unfortunately, at this point it's probably uneconomic for someone else to invent an operating system that will be widely distributed (i.e., by the PC makers). So, you're stuck and f**ked.

  14. panzersage:

    When my wife got a personal laptop with Windows 8 I just went ahead and purchased an OEM copy of Windows 7, reformatted the laptop and reinstalled it with Windows 7. This has the benefit of a decent operating system but at the cost of having to buy it.
    For a couple of friends computers I googled instructions on how to force it Windows 8 to act like Windows 7. There are a couple of programs that will give you enough control that it saves your sanity.

  15. MNHawk:

    I never got the hate about Me and Vista. Sure they would eventually be improved, but they're both better than what they replaced. I remember the anger of losing work, many many times, when my Windows95 system would crash. Daily! Upgrading to Me improved that situation.

    No, Windows 8 is in a league all it's own. The New Pepsi of high tech.

  16. LarryGross:

    It's relatively easy to get to the other panel screens, just move the cursor to the edges left and right and the corners...

    I have to admit, until I found that out it was pretty frustrating... but once understanding the edges and corners, the rest of the navigation is fine.. but yes, different.

  17. Griffin3:

    I have had to "fix" dozens of computers for new Windows 8 customers: M$ is crazy to make loyal users learn a crazy new interface.

    Classic Shell is what I use; it reverts to Windows 7 (or XP) style menus, and goes pretty far towards reverting windows explorer to what it should be. It's also open source, which is a plus for a linux weenie like me.

    I've gotten to the point where I keep it on a thumb drive (along with Malwarebytes' Anti Malware), and just preinstall them when I get the call to "help" someone learn their new Windows 8 computer. Thanks for keeping me employed, Microsoft!

  18. LarryGross:

    Pretty cool! thanks for the LINK! I'd only use it if I could easily do an clean back-out because
    I'm concerned about what happens if MS sends out an update that conflicts ....that's the downside
    of "forked" software... which is rampant in Android. You see all these phones and tablets that are stranded at earlier versions of Android because they have been "forked".

  19. mikehaseler:

    But there is NOTHING and I mean NOTHING on any other screen that I ever want to use. In contrast I have an auto-close menu and so I'm constantly getting micro$oft rubbish. It even happened to my wife who just touched the keypad and up jumped micro$oft.

  20. Simon Fraser:

    Find the Desktop tile and just click it to bring up the old fashioned desktop! Then use shortcuts like you always did.

    I have the Desktop tile in the bottom left corner where by instinct I wold be ponting to the the Windows icon.

  21. panzersage:

    I have installed Classic Shell on at least 4 friends computers so far. It is a sanity saver. I had just forgotten the name of it.

  22. jon:

    The windows key is your new best friend with Windows 8. I actually like W8, the only thing I don't like is that it won't let me upgrade to 8.1 even though it keeps prompting me to.

  23. jon:

    I think the biggest mistake M$ made was not putting a screencast/tutorial on the computer for first time users with a desktop/tile shortcut if you ever wanted to come back to it. If you are going to force people to learn a new layout you should at least give them hints on how to use it.

  24. LarryGross:

    totally agree.. a good bit of the problem seems to be people who just didn't realize the built-in features..that were available - like have been pointed out here.

  25. A Friend:

    I think you meant "New Coke" replacing Coke, which is a perfect analogy. Great plan: replace a popular and beloved product with crap. The Porsche 928 "replacing" the 911 is another disaster that comes to mind. It's hard to think of others of this magnitude!

  26. kidmugsy:

    I'll say it again: the main problem with the IT world is that it is full of modestly intelligent people who think they are very intelligent.

  27. A Friend:

    Windows 8 is like buying a new car with the brake on the right, gas on the left, and where you steer by shifting your ass around on the seat. Except you can't start it, since the starter button is in the trunk! But the maker says it's great since you can drive it without tires attached to save some room in your driveway. Epic, epic fail.

  28. MNHawk:

    Ooops. Butchered meme. :-)

  29. marque2:

    "Windows 8 is worse than I thought"

    I guess to make a proper evaluation - we need to know how well you think! :P

  30. marque2:

    I thought you just did a very long click on the Mac and it comes up. But then I haven't used one in 10 years.

  31. John:

    I had the same initial opinion, however after getting stuck using the Metro interface after my initial Start8 trial period expired while our office IT guy was out of town I realized it's a lot better. Similar to the Ribbon interface in excel, I hated it initially but have since come around.

  32. Duane Gran:

    Windows 8 is an epic train wreck. What really goads me is that they insist on pushing this user interface onto the server edition as well. If you think the Metro interface is useless on a desktop PC it is entirely ornamental on a server. What makes it worse is that I'm not comfortable applying third party fixes for the interface on a server because the risk for adverse side effects is too high.

  33. JoshK:

    I didn't like it at first when I put it on an older desktop. But, I put it on a touch-screen desktop and really like it now. I am kind of surprised, I expected to hate it. But the touch gestures are really efficient and natural.

  34. Metatron:

    Not really, in Dos you had to type everything the long way, whereas now you just hit a few keys and it guesses the rest. It's way quicker than using the mouse. In Linux, a lot of important stuff can only be done in the terminal(and the rest is done quicker by hitting Ctrl+Alt+t and typing in a few characters and then hitting Tab,Enter) and no one complains. Also, hitting WinKey in Ubuntu brings up their smart search everything screen that is functionally indistinguishable from the new Windows 8 start screen(screenshot attached, as you can see the sequence of keystrokes for running updates is almost identical,WinKey => type up => hit enter as update manager is the first on the list) and when that came out people were like "ooh this is so much better than that antiquated Windows 7 interface that Micro$oft hast got, go open source!

    You just can't please everyone.

    Btw, if you want some of this functionality while still using Windows 7, try a program called Launchy, I used it before.

  35. LarryGross:

    yes. it was designed to work with touch screens and non touch screens.

    from that perspective - if you compare it to an Android Tablet - you see the same "touch" type
    interfaces.. the same Icon-based apps, and other really big differences between tablets
    and laptops.

    I think MS might be thinking that laptops are gradually becoming the "desktops" compared to Android and Apple tablets.. and such.

    they were looking at a wider scope downstream but did do a disservice to people who had grown
    used to their Win7 interface...

    not sure why Win8 had to be "in your face"... it could have easily been built to "sense" the fact it was on a laptop and provide the classic interface but invite Win8 and a easily-revertible basis.. a little like
    Chrome works.. you can configure it for Win8 or the classic version.

  36. LarryGross:

    but a hell of a backup if the mouse fails!!! ;-)

  37. ErikTheRed:

    On the modern "magic mouse" you can set it so that you just click on the upper-right side of the mouse.

  38. ErikTheRed:

    Eh, I work in the IT world. I'd say that at least 80% of the people in my industry are a complete and utter waste of oxygen.

  39. JoshK:

    Yeah, if they let you choose which type of default start screen you want on instal or new user config it would have been smarter.

    I put Win8 on a media PC and that was nice. Also, the app store coming to Win is a good idea that was long delayed. I think getting Win8 with a 32" touch screen might be really cool.

    I bot the dell XPS flip screen with win 8 and like that a lot. And it's a good bridge to take my kids from ipads to something more sophisticated.

  40. Andrew:

    That word doesn't mean what you're using it to mean.

    A 'fork' is "...when developers take a copy of source code from one software package and start independent development on it, creating a distinct piece of software. The term often implies not merely a development branch, but a split in the developer community, a form of schism." (Wikipedia)

    What you're referring to in Android is called "fragmentation" and happens primarily because as newer versions of the OS come out older devices are unable to handle the new features. It's more an annoyance than an actual problem, exactly like the fact that old computers can't run new versions of Windows is annoying, but hardly a reason to never update Windows.

    As far as what you are worried about with regards ot Classic Shell in Windows 8, here's the link to the uninstall directions for Classic Shell:

  41. Andrew:

    ME was intended to replace 98 SE and was a significant downgrade. It would certainly have been a great upgrade from 95, but that's because 95 was a broken mess too.

    In case you're curious it went roughly like this:
    Windows 95 (aweful), Windows 98 (decent), Windows 98 SE (basicly a service pack that fixed everything), Windows ME (crap), Windows 2000 (good), Windows XP (broken), Windows XP SP2, (another service pack that made everything wonderful), Windows Vista (broken at launch, updated to crap eventually), Windows 7 (basically another magic service pack that made everything better, but rebranded as a new version because Vista had such a terrible reputation), Windows 8 (broken), Windows 8.1 (better, but still not fixed)

  42. LarryGross:

    actually I mean making changes to OEM software such that the next time the OEM issued an update - it may not be compatible.with the modified changes.

    so the classic shell modifies or probably works off of the original OEM code - but that original OEM code could change in an update rendering features on the Classic shell inoperable.

    There are 3drd party companies that track OEM updates and issue follow-up updates to maintain compatibility but you don't see it that much in Android even tablets - as you'll get an Android system update but some apps may lose functionality unless they too are updated.

    I'm okay with 3rd party forks and updates as long as they have a reputation for keeping up... For instance Roboform works to keep up with changes.. and usually issues updates to keep it compatible with Chrome/Firefox changes.

    with companies I'm not as familiar with.. I want the option of backing out if things go belly up .. at least until I develop some confidence in their keeping up with changes.

    thanks for the uninstall .. but on the webpage there are reports of bugs with the uninstall ... are they all fixed now?

    see.. once you modify something.. undoing it .. has got to work or you got something less than wonderful.. that probably won't be easily fixed unless you reset the base system and start over ...

    am I wrong? tell me what you think about this.

  43. Genghis7777:

    "Every few years, Microsoft takes a system used by a couple billion
    people, and changes the navigation and the names of things. This might
    make some things easier for someone who has never used Windows before,
    but for those other two or three billion.... well, it's perverse."

    I don't think its perverse at all. MS has to watch what's going on in the world. Tablets and Smartphones are taking over. Lots of people who previously got their first experience of computing on PCs learn how to use them as Tablets and Smartphones now. Most PC users are also experiencing these new user interfaces so its only logical that they would merge.

    MS has already tried going in the other direction, migrating the desktop Windows experience to touchscreen formats. It got its but kicked and Apple stole a 3-year march. The world is a-changing. You can fight it or you can join it. I suggest join it. There are benefits on the other side of the learning curve.

  44. Genghis7777:

    "It is a micro$oft interface, for the benefit of micro$oft and not for the user."

    I'm not a M$ fanboy but this last statement is extremely naive. The market has spoken: They like touchscreen user interface designs and they are buying them faster than they are buying PCs. Smartphones and Tablets are taking over.

    I have an all Modern eco-system across my desktop, smartphone, and tablets and its amazing to how information is shared across all of them. I can pick up from wherever I left off in any platform.

    The UI is pretty quick and not hard to learn. 2-3 minutes watching the introductory flash-like presentation and away I went.

    Sure change creates a learning curve which feels like work at the beginning. All anticipated in any Psych 101 book. But its only temporary and needn't be a barrier.

    Just to show how useful MS and Windows really is, seriously think about the investment you will need to shift to Apple, Linux or Chrome and then think about the hidden costs like trying to communicate with workmates and ensuring your documents, powerpoints, engineering programs, and other work programs are all compatible.

    I did, and decided that the utility of the M$ eco-system outweighed the 2-3 minutes learning the new interface.

  45. marque2:

    I got an Amazon Kindle Fire HDX over Christmas and the help on it is amazing. Every time you go to a new screen it gives you a tutorial. I was unable to get my PC to recognize it and there was live help where the person on the other end fixed it in about a minute. Google and Microsoft could learn from Amazon.

  46. jimcraq:

    Me too. I can't figure out why Microsoft didn't think of the many consumers whose laptops didn't have touch-screens.

  47. johncunningham:

    Warren, you should have googled "new laptop Windows 7" I just did, and there are numerous for sale today. tigerdirect has some, as do Dell and Toshiba. there is a small shop in Cincinnati selling custom desktops and laptops in Win 7. and what about Linux??

  48. obloodyhell:

    That's because the HR people hiring them are 100% a waste of oxygen.

    The fact that it's almost impossible to get a job with 30y of experience and recent examples to demonstrate I haven't lost my learning capacity is more than enough to show what the problem is -- the HR people don't think experience in computer design is worth a damned.

  49. Eric H:

    Exactly. The Ubuntu install is relatively simple, then load VirtualBox and put Windoze on that for the occasional program that has to have it.

  50. Matt Harris:

    I use Classic Shell on Windows 7 & 8 - it works wonderfully.