About Time! – My review of Windows 8.1

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I have been taking a deep and long look at Windows 8.1 and wanted to wait till all the initial reviews had happened to write down what I felt about the new update.

In addition, I find that like recorded music, you may feel differently the first time you see a product versus a few weeks later.

So, here goes…

Oh by the way, you can click on any of the images for a larger view.

Microsoft have characterized Windows 8.1 as a “refined blend” or “refined vision” of Windows 8. The software company made over 800 tweaks and updates to Windows 8 to create this new version – Windows 8.1.

Some of the major changes made to Windows 8 in this update:

Less cluttered Start Screen

One of the things about Windows 8 that got my goat was the initial clutter of it all. I think Microsoft did a better job with the initial start screen because they give you the basics and let YOU add the rest as you please.

It seems a lot more pleasant to me at startup.

Windows81-less-cluttered-screen

The Start Button is (kinda) back.

I had pointed out in a previous article that the removal of the start button removal was a disaster and Microsoft should bring it back . Well they kinda brought it back.

I say kinda because it’s not quite what you expect.

Windows81-New-Start-Button

It’s a Windows logo shaped button and clicking on the icon takes you between the new Start Screen and the Desktop.

Right clicking on the icon gives you a BUNCH of options like Control Panel, Task Manager, File Explorer etc.

Windows81-Start-Button-Right-Click

I think this was ass backwards if you ask me.

Seems to me that the options should have been the default click option. Logically then if you were in the desktop there should have been a menu item for Start Screen and vice versa.

Just my take.

Still it was a nod to those who wanted a familiar button there. Call it a pseudo compromise.

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  • ac492

    So, overall they haven’t made Win 8.1 better than Win 7 – unless you use a touch screen. A lot of time and effort wasted then…

    • george_szubinski

      Its a personal decision I guess, a number of you decided you didnt like it… I’m the exception…. I have it on two desktops and my surface pro… and I have it on my Nokia phone….. loving it and loving the changes…

      and I have been in the IT business for well over 40 years…(yes Im old) and class myself as a developer… in that time I have cursed MS many times… but now with all the other services they are offering…. eventually they are getting there!

      You guys need to bite the bullet and move on with the new UI and interactions else you will be left way behind….

      I cannot understand such reluctance to change…. change is good – keeps you alive

      • ac492

        “I cannot understand such reluctance to change…. change is good – keeps you alive”

        If change is positive – then it’s good! If huge numbers of users don’t agree that Win 8 is a positive change from 7, who’s out of step? Is it the people who’re happy with a good, stable OS or the individuals who like to experiment with a new OS…

        Again, it all depends if you use a touch screen or not. If you don’t, there seems to be no advantage at all to Win 8.

  • Marko Toole

    i well not get windows 8 at all or 8.1 its poo am stoping whif windows 7

    • Rumin8

      Nice of you to spend the time telling us you don’t like it.
      Bye.

  • http://www.facebook.com/RonnieBruton Ronnie Bruton

    I still don’t think win 8 will be good for business, too many distractions and not multi user friendly. I don’t think people will jump on this in a workplace, my bank is using xp as is a lot of places. I don’t need all the eye candy at work.If they would make a os that is a workhorse for work like xp is and keep the price down would make me happy. 8.1 didn’t give me the wow factor. I install it on a laptop as a win 7 pc is what I use. Maybe the finished product will be better. Thanks for the hard work.

  • Steve Morris

    I have not got 8.1 yet in the UK. Not sure when we are going to get it. I use stardock so mine acts like Windows 7 but has the fast response of Windows 8. So I have just had 22 updates and mostly seem to be security. In light of the Edward Snowden discovery does this mean more changes to enable government snooping here and in the US? I read recently that Microsoft gave the US government backdoors to assist spying. Hmmm!!!!

    • Roger Wright

      8.1 preview for the UK was released over a week ago.

  • Ian Haynes

    Thousands of companies are soon going to be taking the decision of where to go after Windows XP. Sadly it doesn’t look as though MS have done enough with the 8.1 version to swing that decision in favour of Windows 8 rather than Windows 7.

  • Charles Parker

    I had the Preview of Win8 and now have had the preview of Win8.1. In General my reaction has been very positive. There were a umber of “Gotchas” in the Win8.1 preview that have been fixed as updates have come out. My General Reaction based on the way and what I use my PC for is quite positive. I find Win8.1 a very positive improvement. Depending on the app I use both the Start Screen and the Desktop. Some things seem to work better in one then the other so I have found that for me I go back and forth as needed. That shift between the two interfaces has become almost automatic and I don’t even think about it anymore.

  • Robert W. Burnham

    I like what they have done with 8.1, but I would have liked to see the option to make all tiles the same color, like on Windows Phone 7 and 8. It seems odd that they want a unified look throughout their products, but they skip one of the better aesthetic features.

    • JohnnyG321

      I thought it was pretty intuitive. I didn’t have to look it up on Google. I found the option right away.

  • Robert Jamerson

    still I don’t approve,i am sure there are some that they think they really have a jewel or a peach , I guess that it was worth a try just to see what all they did change, beside’s taken away DVD playback , hav to buy , it is all a money scheme that will eventually hurt your pocket book or wallet, I believe that if you had the money to invest in the new computer models and other software that may be needed to perk up the system and software it just might be worth it ,and I did say might, not old computer friendly, cant find or install older driers not compatiable!

  • Nipam Limbachiya

    hi i have window 8 single language OS now if i want to move 8.1 so should i have to pay charge

    • Anna McCullough

      All Windows service packs are free updates, so there won’t be a cost to patch your current Windows 8.

  • Daniel Gray

    They could have left BING out of the mix as no matter how much they want it to be, BING search engine just plain sucks! And they could have done the same thing for the “cloud”. I can see this for a business in allowing multiple machines using one program, but unless you are running a business, this is just a waste of space and effort and I absolutely REFUSE to “rent” a program. If I want it, and I buy it, the damn thing is MINE!! I see they have not improved the backup program that they promised to place in Win 8, nor have they improved the replacement if something goes wrong and you have to format. You still have to call them back and then sit on the phone on a long distance call and argue with them for over 2 hours to get a new serial for Windows 8.

    What MS needs to do is to LISTEN to their beta testers and improve what the testers say needs improved. And I agree, this new OS every few years needs to stop. I mean my God they have not got all the bugs fixed in Windows 8 or 8.1 and they are already working on Windows 9 that is set to be released in the 2nd quarter of 2016! Bloody well fix the blinkin problems with the present OS before you start trying to stuff another one down our throat.

    • Rumin8

      The gestation period for an OS release is long.
      Consequently the next version is in the works at the same time.
      They don’t wait till 8 goes out before starting on 9.
      I agree with you about Apple prices.
      Even with Microsoft around, Apple still run a walled garden,
      and a Mac costs 2-3 times the price of a PC.
      If there were no Microsoft, it would be worse.

    • Jeffrey_S

      I am curious to know why you think the Bing search engine ‘just plain sucks’?
      Frankly, I would beg to differ, but would appreciate your input.

      • Daniel Gray

        Ok here it is in a nutshell

        1. Way too much pictures. Each of these pictures takes time to load and resources for you to see it. BING is nothing more then eye candy for people who dont know how to use a search engine.

        2. Somehow BING keeps being made the default search engine with each update from MS. The only way to stop this is to remove it completely from the list of available search engines.

        3. There are more errors with BING then with nexus or Google. Just for fun and giggles I tried a listing that I know has been on google and nexus for well over 10 years and unless they have fixed this(BING) since this morning (7-11-2013) it STILL was not even found on BING and it is world famous, it is the Jack Daniels Distillery in Tenn. And this is just one of the 250 different things BING said does not exist when they actually do.

        I could go on and on but space on this site does not allow it. You are free to disagree as that is your choice. but I have tested and used many different search engines since I started in computers back in 1972 when a tandy home computer was more expensive then a new car and almost as expensive as your house ($8000. retail) and I can honestly assure you that BING rates lower then Bob 1.0 against the search engines of today. (if you are wondering, Bob 1.0 was the very first precursor or attempt at Windows)

        • Jeffrey_S

          There are a fair number of pics, but I have never found it to be a resource hog. Honestly, it’s usually just the first few results in most, not all cases, that display a very small thumbnail image. I’m not sure what you are seeing on your end.

          It’s an MS product, Bing will be integrated into the updates, not unlike Google forcing Chrome. Simple enough.

          I am not sure what you were expecting to see in the Bing results for the JD Distillery, but I received immediate and quality returns on my search through Bing; the first being a direct link to the distillery’s own website….?
          I’m with you on the experience and the museum quality hardware we had to use in those days, but I just don’t get the bitterness towards Bing, when I found most of what you dispute to be untrue in my VERY recent (since your post) research. And yeah, I know what Bob was, and to say Bing rate lower, is way more than a bit of a stretch, but to each his own. You were breathing pretty heavy at that point in your post.
          No worries, I am not here to try and convert you, that obviously won’t happen, and that’s fine. I just wanted to know why you hate Bing so much.
          Have fun, and be well!

          • Daniel Gray

            Its not only my opinion that the Bing Search engine sucks, but of quite a few others as well. If MS would have listened to its beta testers (myself included) BING would never have made it off the table. In fact if you do a simple nexus search, you will come up with well over 2 million sites saying the same thing with even sites showing you how the “BING challenge” was rigged in BING’s favor. And here are just 5 reasons that BING sucks:

            1. You have a moving background – Do you know how slow this loaded on my virtual machine? It almost crashed the browser not to mention it is a resource hog!

            2. I don’t really want to hover over parts of the background to find out more, my aim is to search for the thing I came here to search for and then leave!

            3. You may think that offering downloads for a browser toolbar will increase your market share, but am I NOT going to download it or add any kind of toolbar to my browser (you’d be better bundling it into free software as a must-install)

            4. What’s the Point? – I was expecting some kind of textual
            information here, when I clicked I was faced with a map of some ‘Point’ in Canada. I’m in the US bing, detect my IP please IF you can, and seemingly you cant.

            5. There is no need to put ‘popular searches’ on your homepage. This isn’t Twitter, it’s not a popularity contest it’s a search engine dang it, I dont need to know tweets from people who seemingly have nothing better to do then tell others how many times they went to the bathroom today!

            And if you are in Europe…or anywhere else not in Canada or the US, good luck in using it as over 97% of the people in Europe alone hate this thing with a passion as it does not work there!

            I would tell you more but in deference to our host, space forbids it.

  • Edward Allen

    This looks good and I agree with you that access to the tools in windows should have been the default click option. As far as the old start menu being revived, I believe that there is really no need for that. On the other hand , using left click to switch directly to the new simplified Windows 8.1 Metro App style desktop may not be such a bad idea after all

  • Roger Salzman

    I was forced into Windows 8 when I bought my new laptop. I really didn’t care for it, so I downloaded the Classic Shell which lets me boot to my desktop, and gives me the start button in the lower left corner. Since then, I have been happy with the way my computer works, so will probably not upgrade to Windows 8.1 anytime soon.

  • Daniel

    That Windows 3.0 will never work, (you need a mouse). I will stick with DOS 3.1.
    Windows NT S….. The only OS that any good is OS2
    123 will always be the Spread Sheet.
    If it not for you write your own.

    • bob bray

      M$ bob was the best screw up the password 3x and it offers you a reset :)
      and wordstar rocks. spinright keeps disk fast. later folks i’m off to play doom.

  • DCJason

    If I am reading this correctly, the review of 8.1 was done on non-touchscreen hardware. Hmmm…isn’t the touchscreen experience suppose to BE one of the key differences between Windows 7 and Win 8/8.1? If so, shouldn’t the review be done on touchscreen hardware? After reading all the negative comments and people saying they will stay with Win 7, I don’t think they ‘get it’ because they are not using touchscreen hardware. Didn’t we go through this in the early 1990′s when Microsoft introduced the mouse? How many people refused to change and wanted to stay with their friendly DOS system or doing everything in Windows by keyboard stroke? I’m amazed on how many ‘technical savvy’ people want to hold on to the past because of their fear. I could understand if it was a financial reason, especially if your PC/laptop is only a couple years old. But then, they wouldn’t be writing a review. I would have someone who has touchscreen hardware and actually USES Windows 8/8.1 regularly. They would be better qualified.

    • http://www.windows8update.com/ Onuora Amobi

      Hi DC,

      As a longtime reader you know that I have used and reviewed Windows 8 on many platforms including tablets and touchscreen PC’s.

      Especially on http://www.Windows8update.com

      The fact that I was reviewing this OS on a non touchscreen device shouldn’t have made that much of a difference to the core experience. If Microsoft is saying that Windows 8 is optimized for touchscreens and is a substantially worse experience on a traditional PC, they’re in big trouble.

  • Leif S. Jakobsen

    I have read your review – I have mailed Microsoft , Denmark earlier today (10.07.2013):

    In my opinion Windows 8 PRO is merely a Windows 7 with
    some changes, some features and a different face !

    I should like to give the following observations:

    The frontpage (after opening) with the Radio
    Tower is unnecessary, as it slows down efficiency !

    You also get the Windows 7 Frontpage, and when
    you have the Windows 8 Frontpage it is unnecessary, as it slows down
    efficiency !

    Windows Update – there is a change vs. Windows
    7, as when you have 2 lines of updates, and you engage ONE line, the program
    engages BOTH lines of Download !

    Installing the program – you enter your E-Mail
    address along with Password, which becomes WINDOWS PASSWORD – (NOT
    CAREFULLY thought out !)

    Changing the Password there is a FAULT in my opinion – you click SETTINGS – CHANGE PC SETTINGS and up pops Windows 8
    Frontpage ! Nothing else happens !

    If you click the All Apps button – you get ALL the features of Windows 8 – NOT very easy to overlook and make a decision – Rather Messy – Inefficient !

    There is NO Start Button !

    Closing the Windows 8 – you first have to LOG
    OUT as User – reengage the Windows 8 Display and then you can CLOSE, RESTART or SLEEP !

    I may come across other problems, and then I shall report to
    you ! Please do not forget, we live in a fast society, so we need efficient
    fast tools – one way to accomplish this may be SIMPLICITY !

    In my opinion you should pass my observations to the
    program people in USA !

    Regards,

    Leif S. Jakobsen

    • Rumin8

      Sounds like you have had very little experience with Windows 8.
      For example, you don’t have to log out to put it to sleep.
      And all that fuss about the radio tower background image,
      which makes no sense unless your machine is extremely slow.

    • bob bray

      logging in with your outlook account makes your local user account a networked account .this would be cool if that increased security.

  • Leif S. Jakobsen

    TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN ! Windows 8 PRO – reliability + simplicity + performance !

    (Headline/Subject in E-Mail to Microsoft Denmark)

    Leif S. Jakobsen

  • Gaston

    Mr. Onuara. All what you said about Windows 8.1, I am with you with all you said.

    • http://www.windows8update.com/ Onuora Amobi

      Thanks!

  • JesseK

    I have 5 desktops that I run windows 7 on. Two of them have touch screens. I still will only run windows 7. I have two laptops that one is touch screen and one without touch screen. I have windows 8 on both of them. the no touch one I don’t like because I feel that you have to have a touch screen to take full advantage of windows 8. the Lenovo with touch screen I love it. I use a wireless mouse and touch and it works great.

  • JohnnyG321

    I was going to respond to this post this morning, but I decided to ruminate on it for a bit. I have to say that I disagree with the author on several points. The first item – that windows 8.1 is beautiful ‘in a museum kind of way’ and that he’s afraid to touch it for fear of messing something up – I would say that is definitely his own hang-up. While I’m certain that other people may have the same hang-up, it speaks more to his own fear than anything in the OS. Personally, I find myself more and more drawn to the OS the more I use it. My iPad has largely become a toy for my nephew while I do most of my stuff on my Surfaces (I have both a Pro and an RT.) Frankly, much to my surprise, I use my RT more.

    I fully recognize that this is a subjective argument, but so was the author’s original premise. I only mention it as a counterpoint because, while his position is one of fear, my own has been exactly the opposite. I don’t think it’s fair to judge the OS based on one’s own personal fears.

    In his second statement, he says that he’s become convinced that horizontal scrolling was a fundamental OS mistake. I really have to disagree with that. Certainly it’s not the paradigm we’re accustomed to in the desktop world. Yet, this is not a desktop world. The fact is that desktop and laptop use is shrinking fast – a fact that Microsoft critics are all too quick to point out. Unless that trend slows and stops, most people will be using tablets or some sort of touch-based hybrid.

    I would point out that iOS employs the same horizontal scrolling mechanism. So does Android. To say that horizontal scrolling is a mistake for Microsoft, but not for anyone else seems a little off base. I agree that it felt odd at first, because it wasn’t what I was used to, (much like getting your ‘land legs’ after getting off of a boat.) But as I start designing apps for a touch world – it makes a lot of sense. It can certainly be abused, but I think it’s a logical design choice.

    The third argument about response time for apps is, I think, a little misplaced. Apps are not the OS. Yes, some apps are slow, but it’s not necessarily because of the OS. Any given app can perform slowly because of what it’s doing. That speaks more to the app’s design rather than to the design of the OS. If I had a nickel for every poorly designed app on other platforms, I’d be a very rich man. Now, if every app loaded slowly, this might be a valid point, but that’s not the case.The Windows store app that was used as the example has to retrieve significant amounts of data from the cloud. It’s also still under development. A 2 to 4 second start time is not unreasonable. It may not be ideal, but it’s not unreasonable – especially for a cloud based app that’s still in development.

    I have to concede the final point. There is no killer app for Windows 8.x. But my question is, does there need to be? To my knowledge, there wasn’t one for Windows 7 either – or Vista or XP or 2000 etc. The key feature is that the old stuff works. The same is true now. Anything that runs on Windows 7 will run on Windows 8. Does there really need to be a killer app? You get everything you had before AND the ability to use apps that are designed for touch. While the OS still has a few growing pains to work out as it moves through its awkward adolescence, it still really is the best of both worlds.

    • Jeffrey_S

      I wanted to add to your post when I first started reading it, but then came to the conclusion, that all I can say is: BRAVO! Well stated!
      I feel the same way about this OS. It’s a lot of fun to dig into it, unafraid, and find things out.
      Thanks for the long, yet succinct post! It was needed here.

    • http://www.windows8update.com/ Onuora Amobi

      Now you know a comment is good when it gets me back engaged.

      OK to respond to your points:

      Museum – My hangup i stated as much all good.

      IOS and Horizontal scrolling – absolutely different. IOS has limits on how far right you can scroll I believe. Look at the paradigm of the Windows App Store and you can see how ridiculous it is to have to scroll right continuously to look for what you want. Yes it has been abused in Windows 8.

      Apps and response time. The app I referenced was an App from Microsoft (the App Store) so it’s indistinguishable from the design of the OS. Microsoft rolled out the whole package OS + Apps so I hold them responsible in this case.

      Killer App – yeah I think there needs to be. It’s kinda the reason why people upgrade when they technically dont need to – because they FEEL they have to.

      There was a killer app in Windows 7 – it was Windows 7. After Vista, the entire package worked so well that people felt they needed to upgrade.

      I dont believe the same is true now.

      I know some people like and love Windows 8.1 and don’t forget, my review had a lot of complimentary things to say about the OS.

      I’m just not in a rush to upgrade.

      Thanks for the engagement..

      :-)

      • JohnnyG321

        First of all, thanks for the response. This is a fun one to discuss.

        With regard to horizontal scrolling, I still disagree – partly. I agree that endless scrolling -whether horizontal or vertical – is cumbersome. Microsoft agrees too. Part of their design guidance is that if you have to swipe more than twice, you should include semantic zoom. In other words, you pinch inside the list and it effectively zooms out to broader categories so that you can more easily locate the grouping that you want. They do this on the start screen and in many of the apps. Also, its recommended that each group in your horizontal scroll limit the results returned – only showing the full list when the user selects the group. They employ this strategy in their windows store app. They don’t do it on the start screen because who are they to tell you how many things you can have on YOUR start screen. That’s up to you. You only put there the things that you want anyway.

        As for the store app – yes, it’s created by Microsoft – and yes they should be held responsible. But I come back to the same arguments. a) it’s still under development and b) when you have to load data in from the cloud, you don’t have control of how fast that data comes in. You optimize it as best you can and employ asynchronous loading to keep the UI responsive. But there comes a point where you just have to hope for the best. And again even if Microsoft is the one who created the app, the app is not the OS. An app that performs slowly does not indicate a fundamental problem with the OS. If your goal is to review the OS, I think it’s disingenuous to use a single app’s response time as a metric.

        As for the last point, we may have to agree to disagree. I could make the same argument as you and say that Windows 8 IS the killer app. Whether you love it or hate it, it brings whole host of features to the OS that weren’t there before. It allows you to have a single device that functions both as a tablet and as a desktop or anything in between. I understand that you’re not in a rush to upgrade and that’s fair. I personally find the performance optimizations more than enough reason to upgrade. The fast booting, copying multiple files, power management, windows to go – and on and on have made the upgrade more than worthwhile for me.

        • http://www.windows8update.com/ Onuora Amobi

          Cool.

          Semantic Zoom is a band aid for a more fundamental problem. There shouldn’t be 500 apps on the right of my screen.

          Visit this directory http://joeant.com/ and explain to me how scrolling right is a better way to approach showing more information than a traditional directory structure. Can’t be done.

          Windows 8.1 includes Microsoft’s apps. The apps are part of the OS. They come with the OS. They are not add-ons. The MSFT team developed the bundle so I respectfully disagree about that. The entire package is Windows 8.1 including the App Store. I wasn’t just using a single app. A lot of the apps are slow because like you said, they often rely on data in the cloud etc.

          My company develops websites for a living and response times are critical because the longer it takes to load, the less patient the reader is. I don’t get to blame the reader or hope they “understand”. We have to cache the heck out of these pages to make them load decently otherwise people have a poor experience. Period.

          Regarding Windows 8 being the killer app, while you CAN make the argument, it is in dispute. There is clearly a mixed response to Windows 8 and Windows 8.1. It was pretty clear the Windows 7 was better than Vista and there was an almost universal sigh of relief when Windows 7 was released.

          That’s the difference.

          :-)

          • JohnnyG321

            Ooh, this is fun! I haven’t had been this engaged for a while. ;)
            Before I get started, let’s clarify a few things.

            First of all, I want to be clear that I never said that horizontal scrolling was better than a hierarchical directory structure. It’s not. It’s merely different. But a ‘traditional’ hierarchical menu is largely unworkable in a touch environment. I simply disagree that it’s a fundamental mistake.

            As for the app issue, I think my hangup with the way that you presented it is that you used it as a metric for performance of the OS – or at least that’s how I interpreted it. I’m not arguing that Microsoft is responsible for it or that its included with the OS or that it can be improved. But at the end of the day, its still an app. Its performance is not indicative of the performance of the OS as a whole. It’s only indicative of the performance of THAT app – whether it’s part of the OS or not. If you want to say that THAT app needs some improvements, fine. I just don’t think it’s fair to imply that the OS is slow because a particular app isn’t as responsive as you’d like – especially one that’s still under development.

            Lastly, I realize that whether Windows 8 is the killer app or not is still in dispute. My point was, does Windows 8 need a killer app because none of its predecessor’s had one? I still don’t think it does. I personally don’t think Windows 7 was anything special. It IS Vista with a few bug fixes, minor enhancements and much better PR. The masses love Windows 7 because the tech press told them to – not because it’s anything more than Vista with a fresh coat of paint. Personally, I think that Windows 8 IS the killer app. Many may disagree, but I don’ think it’s a fundamental failing of the OS. I think it’s more about people’s resistance to change. Just my opinion.

          • http://www.windows8update.com/ Onuora Amobi

            LOL

            I wont let you off the hook that easy.

            :-)

            Horizontal scrolling is not “different”, it’s qualitatively worse. It’s a counterintuitive and less efficient way to consume and search for data. This primarily because it’s an unnatural web movement (compared to everything else we do online).

            We’re still stuck at the “Microsoft is responsible” point re: the apps in Windows 8.1. I didn’t say that the OS is slow. In fact I said it’s the fastest OS Microsoft have ever made. I said that the slow apps make the experience cognitively dissonant when they occur.

            Your opinion about Windows 7 is not supported by the facts, by it’s reputation and it’s stability. It’s widely considered the best and most stable Microsoft OS of all time.

            You are right about resistance to change but I question whether that’s the whole story.

            Change should be clearly beneficial. Microsoft added an “update” 8 months later because there were overwhelming questions about the value of Windows 8. Windows 8.1 is the answer to some of those questions but I think you hardly ever get a second chance to make a first impression.

            Windows 9 will be the real damage control.

            Always fun.

          • JohnnyG321

            Ok, well I’m going to give you pass on the ‘apps vs OS’ thing. We’ll just say that what you said and what I thought I heard were two different things. I believe I’ve made my point. People can either agree or disagree.

            As for the scrolling issue, the first thing that comes to mind is that we’re not talking about the web, but that’s just semantics. There’s no need to split hairs. What I will say is that I don’t believe there’s any such thing as a ‘natural web movement.’ There are natural movements to be sure and there are ways that we have traditionally interacted with web pages – which has been predominantly a desktop-browser-based experience. However, I don’t think there’s any special way of interacting with the web per se.

            I think it would be more accurate to say that scrolling horizontally is not a natural MOUSE movement. I think that’s what you were really driving at and I would have to agree with that. The question is – why isn’t it natural? Well, it’s mostly because a standard mouse doesn’t have a horizontal scroll wheel and repeatedly clicking and dragging to scroll data horizontally is a pain. Of course, it was just as much of a pain to do it vertically until the scroll wheel was invented – and people have become accustomed to that.

            The thing is, we’re not talking about a predominantly mouse-based experience. Using a finger to drag a list of items left or right is a very natural movement. It’s every bit as natural as using a finger to drag them up and down. It just becomes cumbersome when you try to affect the same movement with a mouse. Not impossible or even difficult – just not as natural. And Microsoft’s work-around to use the mouse wheel to scroll a horizontal list is ‘kludgey’ at best. It’s not intuitive and certainly not ‘natural’ to move one thing vertically to get something else to scroll horizontally.

            That said, I don’t believe there’s anything intrinsically or ‘qualitatively’ wrong with presenting data horizontally in a touch environment. Swiping left or right is a very natural way to interact with that data. A great non-Microsoft example of this is the cover-flow control that Apple uses in their iTunes app. Where that experience tends to degrade (significantly) is when you try to affect the same motion with a mouse – which was not designed to do it. And of course, whether you’re scrolling horizontally or vertically, if you have a lot of data, it’s always nice to have a way to jump right to what you want. That’s where features like semantic zoom and incremental search come into play.

            So what does it all mean? Well, for starters, it means that Microsoft really oversold the ‘no compromises’ premise of Windows 8. There ARE compromises. They said it was ‘touch first’ and it is. It’s optimized for touch. But that means it’s not ‘optimized’ for mousing. That doesn’t mean you can’t do it. You certainly can and it’s effortless in the desktop where a mouse has traditionally been used. But the new Windows Store apps are designed for a touch environment first with Microsoft providing what amounts to workarounds to allow mousing in those environments.

            I guess the real question is “How much does that really matter?” Most users aren’t going to be mousing around the Windows Store apps – nor will they be using their finger to navigate the desktop – at least not for anything more than the most basic tasks. If you get a new machine, you can have the best of both worlds. If you don’t, you can still stay in your desktop and never come out – except for the start screen and you have complete control over what appears in that.

            It seems to me that most of the complaints about Windows 8.x are coming from people who are lamenting that they can’t ‘have their cake and eat it too.’ In point of fact, with Windows 8, you can. You may have to wear your dentures and eat a little more slowly, but you can do it.

            Microsoft designed an OS for the future. If you prefer to linger in the past, they didn’t leave you out in the cold, but they didn’t give you status quo either. They’re trying to make you as comfortable as possible as they drag you (kicking and screaming) into the future.

          • http://www.windows8update.com/ Onuora Amobi

            You make great points and I could (once again) provide rejoinders but I think this thread has run it’s course.

            You are a worthy advocate for Windows 8.1 and if Microsoft were smart, they would make you an MVP or employee. P.S. The MVP program is crap so don’t waste time there.

            Thanks for the sparring. It was fun and keep reading!

          • JohnnyG321

            LOL. Thanks, I appreciate that. I enjoyed the debate as well. I will definitely keep reading.
            P.S. Although it may appear from our sparring match that I’m a die-hard MS fan, that’s often not the case. I just understand the reasons for some of the decisions and occasionally I even agree with them. :-)

          • http://www.windows8update.com/ Onuora Amobi

            Oh I know you’re not a fanboy. You sound way too balanced and intelligent.

            :-)

          • JohnnyG321

            I do want to give some special treatment to the horizontal scrolling issue though.

            First of all, I’m not sure if you’re talking about horizontal scrolling in general or specifically about the horizontal scrolling of the start screen. If it’s horizontal scrolling in general, that’s largely an issue of how the application developer designs the app. The app developer has to make some intelligent decisions about how to present the data that the app expects. Horizontal scrolling is a great way to do it, and it’s great way to browse, but if you have a lot of data you need to make sure that your app provides alternatives.

            If you’re talking about the start screen, it’s important to understand that there are only 500 apps on the start screen if you’re dumb enough to put them all there. In 8.1, apps don’t show up there by default. You place your most frequently used apps there. And it’s as much a dashboard as it is a menu – which is the real value add. So it’s always up to you how big that menu gets.

            As for the rest of the apps that you only use occasionally, search makes more sense anyway. I would argue that 500 apps in a start menu is a pretty unruly menu. You may be able to display them all more concisely in a traditional start menu, but that’s only true if you make the menu items as small as they traditionally have been – which works fine for a mouse but is unworkable for touch. I’m not saying its a bad idea in desktop mode, but I also think it’s unnecessary to have two completely different ways to launch applications in the OS. There have always custom app launchers for people who hated the start menu. People that are really married to the start menu can still get one. It’s really not necessary for the OS to provide a second one.

          • http://www.windows8update.com/ Onuora Amobi

            Yeah the bottom line is, time will tell whether people get on board this OS fully.

  • Mark

    I am so disappointed in Microsoft, they had a chance to fix Win 8 and didn’t. I use multiple screens so it is totally unusable. I won’t downgrade to Win 8.0 or Win 8.1, Yes downgrade!

  • Leif S. Jakobsen

    Reply to Rumin8: I DO use Sleep – I am just pointing to Microsoft my sentiments about Windows 8 !

  • John Carnagey

    Concerning “boot straight to the desktop”, I believe I followed directions carefully, but on the two computers I am running 8.1, a right click on the task bar brings up something entirely different and I cannot find navigation at all. The task bar that comes up looks like the old task bar in 7, more or less. What is my hang-up?

  • John Carnagey

    Never mind. Read it for a fourth time and got it. Duh.

    • http://www.windows8update.com/ Onuora Amobi

      LOL

      All good.

  • Francis Kowal

    Hey Onuora ,, You need to post a review on this for those that get WIN 8 or 8.1

    http://www.reviversoft.com/start-menu-reviver/
    You no longer need MS start menu, as someone wrote on tech republic, MS should buy the company out. This is what you call a WINDOWS 8 Start Menu!

    • http://www.windows8update.com/ Onuora Amobi

      Hey Francis.

      Thanks! I’ll take a look!

  • iBooa the First

    I disagree completely on the start button. First of all, the basic right-click functionality was there in Windows 8. Also, the start button takes you to start. I hope that teaches people a little about Windows 8– the start screen IS start. I don’t know why you expect them to do what you want.

    And the boot to desktop is where it makes sense: on the desktop. It’s the same place where you configured the taskbar on Windows 7. That’s where you deal with the desktop. It’s not personalization.

  • iBooa the First

    You need to learn correct terminology, too.

    It’s the Start Screen, not Modern Desktop. The desktop is the desktop. The start screen is the start screen.

    It’s All Apps, not App Summary. It isn’t a summary, it’s an app list.

  • aseries

    Just as with Windows 8 Preview I installed 8.1 Preview on my Dell Mini 9 netbook, 2GB ram, 32 GB SSD, 22 inch 2nd monitor, Intel 1030 WiFi/Bluetooth. 30 minute install and all the old XP drivers still work, no “?” or “!” in Device Manager, 10 GB used. Somehow IE11 picked up the notorious “sweetpacks” browser addon within minutes. One big negative. Microsoft has eliminated the Windows 7 Image Backup feature that was included in Windows 8.0. I had to use Easus Todo Backup. There is a File History Utility that only works with an external storage device but I prefer a complete image for disaster recovery because I store critical files in the Cloud.

  • 123321

    what i still don’t get is why are so many people saying win8/8.1 is not usable or not perfectly usable with mouse and keyboard? really i don’t get it. what are exactly the problems?
    sure, win8 was designed for touch. but that doesn’t include that it is working worse with mouse and keyboard… honestly I am using win8 since consumer preview last year, I don’t have a touchscreen and I am able to do everything I do much faster than in any other OS before. and that’s because of the mouse gestures, hot corners and semantic zoom. oh and don’t forget the charms bar.
    once I got used to it (one week after first use) it feels more natural than anything else. sry i cant help but i really dont get the problem… if anyone knows more i’d be glad if you will share your thoughts…

  • Jeffrey Chard

    All the media reviews of 8.1 Preview have overlooked the very substantial improvements to a the Metro Reader App. It is much more functional, It is now possible to open up to 5 PDF and in separate windows at the same time. see my post http://chardjeffrey.wordpress.com/2013/07/18/microsoft-reader-app-8-1-preview-the-hidden-gem/ for more information.

  • tullphd

    Well everyone I’m sure that now after my one full day of using windows 8.1; I won’t be as in depth as those of you that have been running the Trial 8.1 version, or for that matter someone that is married to Microsoft’s unforgivable defects in quality. Remember “Windows for Workgroups ..3.1 xxx), or the forever delayed Windows 95. Yikes. Things have improved. And yes the 3 gig download of 8.1 took about 10 min on the Xfinity Comcast, internet Blast service, anyone want to buy a slightly used 56k modem, please! it might be an antique. (It never went over 56MPH and i only drove it to church on Sunday).

    First, as soon as I saw that 8.1 was available for download yesterday from an email from Onuora, I upgraded one machine, and all went well. So, then I started the second install, continuing to work in Photoshop, again everything was smooth. I’m using two Dell XPS 8300, one with 16 gigs of ram the other with 8, each with i7-2600 CPU @ 3.40GHz 64Bit operating Systems, Hey I had to look this crap up; it never concerns me. Bottom line, all went very well, and thank you Microsoft for the free upgrade from 8.0. I still have another server to upgrade but that can wait for now.

    I have lots of apps, Adobe CC, CS6, Office 360, 2010, Quark, net beans, Dreamweaver, text editors, on and on and 10,000 fonts, don’t know why but there you go. The CC (Creative Cloud) from Adobe just kept right on working, not a single glitch. They are such a great company and, their monthly cloud subscription service for the CC is the “wave of NOW” never mind the future. It works today.

    The only thing that I wanted to do was to change the colors of the tiles that 8.1 used for all my apps in start,(see attached), my goodness it looks like a bad golf shirt, If there is a way to change these colors i just can’t waste the time to find out right now. Yes, you can adjust the smart background and complementary colors of the filigree accents woodpile, do you detect any sarcasm?

    I want that guys job, making a bunch of desktop graphics, he’s probably a programmer and just loves the heck out of Microsoft publisher, come on get a real program,

    Until Microsoft will run for 6 months without a crash, I’ll will be loyal to Apple, and who cares how the windows scroll, just make it quit saying “bla bla bla the program is not responding and your computer will restart. Somebody kill that guy for me.

    I spend more time with my computer than I do with my wife, i just want it to work, not crash and when its not kickin’ my “ass” let me make it nice to look at. All the apps in the world so little time, But really it takes 1 sec to click on the “Quazi Start” button to reach the desk top. It has never slowed me down, So come on quit your bitchin’, put on your big boy britches (pants) and take off your skirt. Whenever you get what you want you’ll want what you had and live with wanting what you don’t have.

    Create something, the world is sick of the I WANT A desk top and start menu. I use to think the older generation never embraced change, Now that a few of you are the older generation (13 months till i can apply for social security), just leave this field to those that can handle the change inherent in the world of technology.

    Give me an app that will make clients pay their invoices on time. Or an app that solves the stupidity of working for some group or company because there’s a paycheck for getting by by doing as little as possible.

    And whats up with “Somehow IE11 picked up the notorious “sweetpacks” browser addon within minutes”, i stayed in CHROME but checked all browsers, safari ok, but Mozilla had a jacked up home page http:///, (it could not find that page). I’ll keep testing in between work, I wish I had time to write a book. It would not be about windows 8.1. Why read something that will be outdated in 6 months, Oh by he way checks your charms, get the latest 8.1 update.

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