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My review of Windows 8.1

Windows 8.1 start screen

Here’s my review of Windows 8.1.

So Windows 8.1 is here and after checking it out and reading about all the benefits it brings, it still doesn’t resonate with me.

I made the move to Windows 8 because I found a really great deal at Staples where I was able to get Windows 8 Pro for $59.99. My PC was pretty quick but after using Windows 8 on a test laptop for so long, I wanted to see what it would be like to move my production PC to the new Operating System.

The result was mixed to be charitable and I’ll tell you why.

Start Screen

The new start screen in Windows 8.1 is less disruptive than it was in Windows 8 but the same issues remain. It’s simply not relevant to the way I work. I use a desktop and do not use ANY of the new functions on the Start Screen.

None. Not. Even. One.

I got Start8 and that’s gone now.

Start Button

Not to re-litigate this issue or kick this dead horse but I still want my Start Button. I live in a world where I like to be able to type out “cmd” really quickly and keep my productivity going. Once again, Start8 solves this problem.

Performance

My PC is not faster with this new OS. There are some functions that are quicker like file copy but I find that opening and closing apps and documents is EXACTLY the same experience I had in Windows 7.

Even startup times from sleep aren’t significantly faster for me than Windows 7. Sure Windows 8.1 gets me to the login screen faster but it still takes a while to log back in from a dead sleep – at least for me and my PC ( an HP, 3GHZ, 64Bit AMD PC with 8gigs of RAM).

Scrolling

Microsoft have refined the scrolling motion so that a mouse scroll takes you from left to right across the screen. That’s cool when you’re in the start screen or Metro apps but I fundamentally disagree with the entire concept of the horizontal scroll.

We read websites vertically all day so the concept of scrolling across makes no sense to me. It’s particularly silly in cases like the Windows Store when you are scrolling from left to right trying to:

  1. Find information
  2. Avoid scrolling too fast
  3. Keep track of what you’re scrolling past

I find that to be a less than ideal experience.

Software

I can’t name one Metro app that I NEED. Nuff said.

Bottom Line

I may not be a typical use case but I feel like Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 simply were not made for me.

SkyDrive integration is cool but I simply don’t need it, I already have other cloud options of my own. The fact that the Metro interface is not a place where I plan to spend any time eliminates a lot of the user benefits that Microsoft have crafted for people like me.

Bing integration and searches are very cool but once again, I use Google and am in the desktop most of the time.

The new IE? Looks great I guess but I have so many bookmarks in Chrome that I am a Chrome user for life. I’m also one of those people who think that IE has had way too many chances to get web browsing right and Chrome came in and did what Microsoft should have done a long time ago – made the browsing experience quick, fun and useful.

The Windows Snap etc and other functions are also cool but… you know the rest.

I have been studying Windows 8 for 4 years now and it seems to me like the features are cool but will lose a lot of people.

Have you ever been to a really beautifully designed home where everything looks immaculate BUT you didn’t feel comfortable in it – like you could just hang out and kick up your feet?

That’s the way I feel. Microsoft have built a really beautiful house with a lot of beautiful stuff that I really don’t need and want. I think that some people will like this but a lot of people will upgrade because Apple and Linux aren’t viable desktop Operating Systems yet.

I continue to think that Microsoft made a mistake merging Operating Systems and think that two separate Operating Systems would have been the way to go.

Maybe I’m old but that is HONESTLY the way I feel.

I don’t have a track record of blowing smoke up your asses or being diplomatic about this issue and this is true here as well. In many ways I am a tech dinosaur and I just like the way my PC runs.

I run a couple of different businesses on my desktop and I need to keep things running smoothly. Now to their credit, the upgrade process was smooth and I haven’t had support problems reinstalling any of my apps.

That is great.

However, I used a lot of desktop apps before (on Windows 7) and the majority of my time will be spent in the desktop going forward. It simply isn’t a use case for me to spend any time in the Metro environment every day.

Let me know how this Operating System feels to you – use the comments below…