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Posted on April 11th, 2014 by Barry Collins

Windows 8.1 Update: an abject surrender

Windows 8.1 Update

Microsoft has become the Manchester United of the technology industry. After dominating for much of the 1990s and 2000s, it’s now suffering a crisis of confidence, crippled with uncertainty when it steps out on to the pitch. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the Windows 8.1 Update, or Windows Compromise Edition – Wince for short.

In an effort to appease the Windows 8 haters, Microsoft is backpedalling furiously. You don’t like the Start screen? We’ll just hide that out of the way and pretend it never existed (on laptops and desktops, at least). You want the Start button back? You can have that next time. At this rate, we’re going to have rolling hills in the desktop background, IE6 set as the default browser, and a free trial of AOL waiting on the desktop of Windows 8.2.

Microsoft seemingly wants me to go back to 2003’s way of opening everything from the desktop

Windows 8 was a long way from perfect, but Windows 8.1 had corrected many of the mistakes made in that original release. I may be in the minority, but I actually liked the Start Screen. With live tiles running for Mail, People, News, Weather and various other apps, I could boot my PC first thing in the morning and see a dashboard of live information, bringing me immediately up to speed on anything I missed overnight. Now I’m sent straight to the desktop, with absolutely nothing going on. To all intents and purposes, I might as well be running Windows 7.

The Start Screen haters already had the option in Windows 8.1 to boot straight to the desktop if they didn’t want to see it. Why change the default behaviour now? Making Windows 8.1 behave exactly like Windows 7 isn’t going to prompt a tidal wave of upgrades (why switch to what you’ve already got?) and the next time Microsoft attempts to do away with the desktop – most likely in Windows 9 – it’s going to face a barrage of criticism from the Start Menu zealots all over again.

Just in case you’ve forgotten about those new-fangled Windows apps, which you’re even less likely to use now the Start Screen has been tucked behind the stage curtains, Microsoft has dumped a Windows Store icon on everyone’s taskbar: a none-too-subtle reminder that Windows apps can now be run from the desktop. Once again, however, it’s a kludge.

The Windows apps now have maximise and minimise buttons on them, but no option to manually resize the windows, bar the vertical split-screen options that existed previously. StarDock’s ModernMix showed Microsoft how this should have been done, with Windows apps running in self-contained, resizable windows, just like any other desktop app. Now we’re stuck in no-man’s land.

The user path is bafflingly inconsistent, too. If you go to the Start Screen, open a Windows app by clicking on its tile, and then click the close button, you’re not returned back to the Start screen, as you would surely expect, but back to the desktop. Having spent two years trying to convince us this new Start screen is the future, Microsoft now seems determined to bury it at every given opportunity.

I’m sure with a few settings tweaks, I’ll be able to return most of these settings to the way they operated when Windows 8.1 was first released, but what’s the point? I adapted my way of working and deeply ingrained habits to accommodate Microsoft’s vision for the future of Windows – opening new apps by typing on the Start Screen, for example. Now Microsoft seemingly wants me to go back to 2003’s way of opening everything from the desktop.

Microsoft’s lost its bottle. I simply don’t know what its vision for Windows is any more.


Posted in: Software, Windows 8


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60 Responses to “ Windows 8.1 Update: an abject surrender ”

  1. David Says:
    April 11th, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    “I simply don’t know what its vision for Windows is any more.”

    Microsoft doesn’t seem too sure either!

  2. N132453 Says:
    April 11th, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    I couldn’t agree more. I wasn’t a massive fan of the Metreo side when I first got it. But after 8.1 update I actually miss it and that surprised me. Windows 8.1 pre update was about the right mix for me. It wasn’t perfect admittedly but this seems like a backwards step. Shame

  3. phil Says:
    April 11th, 2014 at 1:10 pm

    I disagree. I want to be memory jogged. having to type something I can’t remember is difficult. a few clicks is better than typing anything, if you can only type one finger.

  4. James Says:
    April 11th, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    Oh for heavens sake stop wingeing! Microsoft have simply given you more choices. Get on with life…

  5. Connor Says:
    April 11th, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    Great blog! Couldn’t agree more. One step forward, two steps back.

  6. Chatan Says:
    April 11th, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    I think Microsoft have done us a favour. I spend almost all my time in the desktop on my home PC, and yet on my Surface RT I never use it. Now Windows boots in to both and I can use both

  7. David K Says:
    April 11th, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    Choice was taken away and now its been (largely) given back …. but thats wrong in your book !

    I am quite happy with all my “dead tiles” so to speak.

  8. James Masterton Says:
    April 11th, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    Could not agree more. Rather than sit and moan I quickly got used to the idea of having the start screen and indeed liked having all my new Modern apps and links to old fashioned desktop apps all within easy reach. My muscle memory with Windows has changed so much than when I’m using my office desktop (still on Win7) rather than my laptop I’ve abandoned clicking the Start button and just use keyboard shortcuts to launch appps – which is actually quicker and easier than clicking and scrolling.

    Stick to your guns Microsoft. You’ve actually created a better way to use computers. Just let people get used to the idea.

  9. CA Says:
    April 11th, 2014 at 5:43 pm

    Interestingly from the same publication that gave it 5 out of 6 stars…

    The vision is one Windows across all devices, it’s not hard. This means tweaking things every now and then ie. TRIAL AND ERROR.

    People complain that Windows 8 isn’t like Windows 7, so Microsoft backtrack a TINY amount…only for these same people to say, actually I quite liked it how it was. Sounds like damned if they do, damned if they don’t to me.

  10. gweloboy Says:
    April 11th, 2014 at 6:29 pm

    When will Microsoft issue a single edition of Windows? How much effort goes into separating Pro and Home?
    Our nemesis Apple seems to manage with a single OS.

    How do you ask Microsoft to do this?

  11. Willem de Leeuw Says:
    April 11th, 2014 at 7:37 pm

    I like the update, though I’ve been using Start8 and ModernMix since they were realeased in order to keep me on the desktop. The first thing I did with this version was to remove the (modern) store icon from the taskbar and replace it with the (modern) Mail app. It’s useful that modern apps now appear on the desktop’s task bar, and the taskbar is available when running full screen modern apps.

    It’s classic Windows: customisable with multiple ways to make the proverbial omelet (or omelette).

  12. Tom B Says:
    April 11th, 2014 at 9:05 pm

    “The Start Screen haters”

    Shallow interpretation. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the start screen as an object. Having it crammed down keyboard/mouse users for the singular benefit of forcing people into their app ecosystem, is a design flaw whether you are capable of recognizing it or not. The start menu is returning now that MS has gone down the path of embedding apps into the desktop (and not a moment sooner!). Again, in order to maximize utilization of their app ecosystem now that they have to cater to the user . You could instead call it “haters of self interested design flaws at the expense of the user”. I know, a bit wordy and requiring of actual thought and perspective.

    It seems that the majority of people who defend metro, never actually see the problem with how it was implemented in a mouse/keyboard environment. This same shallow perception of it, is also directed at the people who have a problem with metro’s implementation, calling them simply haters. The problem is not as simple as the presence of a start menu or not. If it were, then the multitude of start replacements would have offset that by now. It has not, and thus this matter requires some actual thought to re-interpret the obtuse position of it being a case of “start menu whiners”. It really is funny (for those that can see) how metro apologists seem to think it’s implementation is such a great step forward, and representative of seeming greater intellect advancement, yet can’t even grasp the problem at any level higher than “start menu whiner”.

    Microsoft has wasted everyone’s time with this debacle. Even the people that liked it, because now that is going to be rightly pulled away from them. Maybe one day you will see that for what it actually is, and not just some shallow, holier than thou bs.

  13. Russell Says:
    April 11th, 2014 at 9:07 pm

    In my view the Start screen was a mess (for desktop users) – I hated the way that certain applications dumped you out of desktop view into the “Metro” interface. If Windows 8 had been like Windows 8.2 (assuming the start button reappears in that version) no one would have had reason to moan. More choice, more configurable? Hows that a bad thing?

  14. Iain Says:
    April 11th, 2014 at 10:33 pm

    Don’t really understand this article at all. It seems to me like the update adds a fair few tweaks that improve things for people who want a more traditional mouse/keyboard experience with almost no negative impact on the full metro touch-first experience. I’m a big fan of the start screen also but it’s pretty clear there’s a sizeable group of people who feel otherwise – to completely ignore those people would be daft.

    Also don’t understand the bro-ha-ha over whether it boots to the desktop or start screen. Do people actually still cold-boot their PCs each morning? Personally, I’d choose to boot to the start screen also, but regardless of which way is default, one keypress takes us to the other view. Hardly an “abject surrender”.

    The right-click stuff on the start screen also makes sense. There can surely be no question that it’s faster & more efficient for mouse/keyboard users? Even if it’s not particularly beautiful!

    The vision is as it always was in my opinion – they just need to ease some people into it more gently than was first thought ;)

    Basically, I agree with commenter 3 ;)

  15. SteveQ Says:
    April 11th, 2014 at 10:58 pm

    Oh for crying out loud, author, you people will find ANY reason to criticism Microsoft. People complained when Windows booted to the Start Screen, now you complain when it defaults to booting to the desktop. You DO know that all it takes is one checkbox to get it to boot to the Start Screen again, don’t you?

    Microsoft is not surrendering on anything but giving the user choice. The lack of choice is what made 8 such a disaster, and the return of that choice does not signal an abandonment of the Modern UI at all. Much to the contrary, they seem to finally get what’s necessary to make Modern UI apps useful on the desktop, which will vastly expand the potential market for app developers… which is good for everyone.

    Stop complaining already.

  16. RIchard Says:
    April 11th, 2014 at 11:32 pm

    Windows 8 is such a complete mess, and so incredibly difficult to use that customers are simply not moving to it. Any UI where your mouse wheel up and down motion translates to side to side scrolling is a disaster from a UI perspective. A search “Everywhere” that doesn’t include everything, hidden buttons and settings everywhere that no-one can find without spending hours trying, and as for shutting down – what a complete mess. One Operating System for multiple device interfaces is a crazy idea – they are just too dis-similar. Oh wait, Apple Mac sales have increased by 800% so far this year – I guess users can vote with their feet, and are!

  17. boethius Says:
    April 11th, 2014 at 11:47 pm

    Crikey. MSFT can’t make anyone happy. People hate Metro so they fix it in 8.1. Now they fine-tune the 8.1 UI to be more Win7-like – yet retain the basic Metro start menu of Win8 and people are still complaining, this time that Microsoft has ostensibly gone “too far.”

    Win 8.0 should have been 8.1, unquestionably . I am used to the new Start menu and actually it’s FASTER because you know where to click to get to your apps, instead of it being buried under a large series of sub-start-menu items like in Win7.

    8.1 update brought logoff/shutdown back down to 3 clicks, like it was in Win7 and XP. The “hover” UI paradigm does NOT work for a desktop, period. That ship has sailed, Microsoft, and we don’t all live in a tablet/touchscreen world. Had everyone migrated to touchscreen laptops by the time Win8 rolled out it would have made more sense, but of course only a tiny niche is using touchscreen laptops. Heck, almost no one is using Surface but clearly it makes more sense there.

    Win8 remains a pretty radical departure for Microsoft. Their biggest misjudgement is their assumption that a smartphone / tablet oriented world would embrace a touch UI when in fact almost none of those using Windows 8 actually had a tablet/smartphone. I applaud the vision, just not the execution and their seeming willingness to stomp on 30+ years of Desktop users that are still very much alive and well.

  18. Chris Says:
    April 12th, 2014 at 8:42 am

    All MS needed to do to please everybody was to include the equivalent of ClassicShell. “If you would prefer not to move to the Modern UI just yet, click here”

    Does anyone think Microsoft would be in a worse position now, had they done that from the start?

  19. Ed Says:
    April 12th, 2014 at 11:16 am

    Choice is good….but Microsoft didn’t give me the choice of either boot to Desktop or Win 8 Start when the update installed on my laptop.

    …and not easy option to switch back

    My 80 year old parents took awhile to get used to the new Start menu and then it literally disappeared overnight.

    All they had to do was give the option!

  20. geek49203 Says:
    April 12th, 2014 at 6:10 pm

    I’m pretty sure that Bob, Vista, and ME had their fans too. Hell, part of me misses the Novell NetWare stuff.

    Here’s a short list of issues I’ve run into in the last 24 hours:

    1. 8.1 wouldn’t install, and I’ve spent a couple of days trying to update drivers, etc. The cryptic error code was a common one, meaning it didn’t like a driver that worked well in Win8, but obviously no fix from MS to find the problem. So yesterday I ended up doing a reformat+reload, plus an install of all patches, plus an update of drivers (6 hours?). Then the new build locked up, and it wouldn’t revert back, so the “refresh files” option took me back to… Win8, gold release (or something close to it). Had to reinstall ever patch, and re-update every driver, to get it to take 8.1 again. Another 6-8 hours, and I haven’t activated Office, etc etc yet.

    Meanwhile, my iPad just sat there, laughing its butt off.

    2. My VMWare client won’t work worth a damn. Very very slow. Works fine on Win8, and yeah, didn’t have to dig down a couple of levels to find the VMWare icon.

    3. The LeOhNo (don’t want to disclose the vendor ya know) bloatware takes up the good real estate. Yeah, I can fix it, but meanwhile, my iPad sits there, laughing at me.

    4. Every time I move the touchpad, if I have a little bit of dirt, I go from “what I’m doing” to Metro. Or my browser zooms. My iPad sits there, laughing at me.

    You see, this was supposed to compete with the iPad. And obviously it is NO competition to iPad’s stability, touch, feel, etc. (Yes, I have a touch screen, which means I have a supply of screen cleaner.) That’s the real issue — not only did this make a horrible “computer” experience, but it didn’t even make an acceptable “iPad” experience.

    Meanwhile, my iPad is laughing… and running.

  21. Robbo Says:
    April 13th, 2014 at 12:05 am

    Win8 has scored more debate about the OS than the applications. Bit like wondering whether your car runs better on petrol or diesel. Hope Win9 is free.

  22. Enda Says:
    April 13th, 2014 at 9:37 am

    I agree with some of the comments. Modern is great. Why are MS taking it away. I still get it on my Surface but on my desktop it’s hidden away. I respect that MS wants to appease some of the militants, who probably want XP back, but they should force change on all of us. Go back to what Windows is all about, personalisation and customisation. If I want Modern all the way no matter what, I should get that, if the desktop is my thing I should be able to bypass Modern if I wish. That would be better than One-Size Fits All Windows

  23. Enda Says:
    April 13th, 2014 at 9:38 am

    “but they should force change on all of us”. That should be SHOULDN’T

  24. ncgarymcp Says:
    April 13th, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    I’m not sure what is dumber. The article or the comments. All it takes to default back to the start screen is going to the task bar, right click, go to properties, and the navigation tab. There are all kinds of goodies in there to choose to default to. I have an all-in-one touch screen computer for home. I still use keyboard and mouse and like the desktop. That said, if I ever change my mind, it’s simply a mouse click away. Thank you Microsoft for giving me control of my PC environment.

  25. Richard Says:
    April 13th, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    I do not understand some people. A maker built something that appealed only to a few possible purchasers because it was based on a premise. That premise appears to have been that everyone had a particular mobile phone and that everyone wanted a desk top that looked like that phone. They found out, slowly this idea was wrong. Now customers have a choice rather than an imposed one size fits all. Hello people this is choice. We are not all ruled by some dictator who says we must all use the same devices.
    Removing the pointless CPU from a ’special upgrade version’ let’s call it ‘Windows Phase Out XP Edition’ would be a sensible pragmatic step forward that might see XP closed out and useful sales generated from the more marginal users who cannot just throw money about.

  26. Joe Campbell Says:
    April 13th, 2014 at 6:33 pm

    This update just irks me! (Pretend this is all caps)
    I actually chose Windows 8 because I liked it! I absolutely hate all of these (take us back to 2003) changes. I have an HP Spectre X2 hybrid. I want it to act lie a tablet most of the time, and like a laptop when I write. I teach and use the modern UI all day long. Now my PC keeps jumping back to the stinkin’ desktop. They ruined an awesome OS by appeasing to bunch of idiots who resist change. Angry? You betcha’! At least give us the option to keep things the way they were intended to work in Windows 8. Just offer a ‘Win7′ mode and a ‘Win8′ mode. Done!

  27. Joe Campbell Says:
    April 13th, 2014 at 6:37 pm

    When I close an app, it goes back to desktop, not start screen. I use start screen way more than desktop, and the check boxes to return it to previous functionality are not working! I am very tech savy people… the update is half-baked.

  28. Katie Says:
    April 13th, 2014 at 7:58 pm

    Has anyone found a way to make it return me to the start screen and not the desktop when you close an app (like before the update)? I preferred that functionality, but can’t find how to get it back. If anyone could tell me what to adjust I’d be very grateful!

  29. Mark H Says:
    April 13th, 2014 at 8:41 pm

    A backwards step to what worked perfectly for all those years is fine by me. Sometimes it seems to be change for the sake of it, but the old Maxim of “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” was never more relevant than when Windows 8 first appeared.

    To me it seems like windows simply tried to invent something that works on tablets and phones to complete with Android and iOS, and to be fair Windows Phone 8 isn’t bad, but it just doesn’t work in a desktop.

  30. Ian Says:
    April 14th, 2014 at 8:49 am

    Put down your stick and put your teeth back in you lot arguing this or a similar position.
    If this were adopted as policy then there would be no failed attempts and therefore in all probability no successful attempts to progress in case they failed.

  31. James Says:
    April 14th, 2014 at 9:23 am

    Once again ignorance and prejudice rule! If you want to return to the start screen after closing an App then go to Taskbar Properties and make sure the option to show the Windows Store on the Taskbar is uncliked. Then on the Navigation tab make sure that under Start Screen the first option – “When I sign in ……” – is unticked. Then when you close an App you should be returned to the Start Screen not the Desktop.

  32. henryg Says:
    April 14th, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    Very OTT. Perhaps they could have defaulted the install to loading the start screen, with an option on it to make desktop the default for those that want it. Even as a happy Win7, non-touch screen user, I can see uses for live tiles.

  33. Mik Says:
    April 14th, 2014 at 12:30 pm

    Live tiles for Mail etc all very well and good… unless you use Outlook and then it just doesn’t work.
    So once that elephant in the room has been spotted, there is nothing compelling to keep me at the Start Screen anyway.

  34. Chris Allen Says:
    April 14th, 2014 at 5:02 pm

    Microsoft made a change, it was unpopular, they’ve now given customers what they want. What should they have done, blamed the customers (”you’re holding it wrong”) like Apple does whenever it messes things up.

  35. WDHellS Says:
    April 14th, 2014 at 8:42 pm

    Microsoft Windows has made ​​perfect in adapting to this new structure,
    Common applications are perfect transition to the new interface 8,
    the trick is to have a user account with applications for internet and another user account for your productions with desktop.

    Individuals do not know how to use the computer with their televised minds
    porting the production environment that is made in participation with the system failures are put into these events.

    Because the amount of available production and adaptation in manufacturing system,
    fail to develop that remains available in Desktop style.

  36. Al Says:
    April 17th, 2014 at 6:32 am

    Windows 8.0 was about forcing people to do some tasks in a completely different way. For why? Windows has always given us dozens of different ways to do the same thing, why start eliminating some of them? Windows 8.1 seems to be about restoring some of those options and yet we have complaints. That attitude is like complaining about democracy because the trains don’t run on time.

  37. wittgenfrog Says:
    April 17th, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    I’ve always liked win8.x,in all its incarnations. I have a Tablet and various non-touch devices.
    The touch has worked well on the tablet, & I can use the desktop productively on my other devices.

    8.1 simply adds convenience. Take it or leave it. MS is clearly moving towards “Metro”-only for touch, and mixed desktop\Metro on other devices. This will eliminate all those clunky to-and-fros between Metro & desktop which plague RT at the moment.

  38. cyberlizard Says:
    April 17th, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    all we need now is for Apple to release OSX directly onto the x86 market and windows will probably die a death… however I don’t think they will do that anytime soon. Maybe they should have an OEM version with no customer support to test out the potential.

  39. Domnan Says:
    April 21st, 2014 at 5:40 pm

    There have been tablet PCs since XP however Microsoft did not really support it because sales were just fine. Now in an effort to outdo Apple to the unified desktop, the try to shove new enviroment on users claiming it is better. Spare me please. Win 8 was clearly not well thought in relation to the desktop enviroment and non WP users who are a lot.
    On start up you are hit with a barrage of options (and distractions), your best friend (search bar) now threatens you with market apps when you finally find him, trying to retreat to shutdown requires a bit of calcus (I dare you to get to shutdown faster than Win 7). Pity those who rely on memory patterns because the presentation is inconsistent.
    I believe a good interface should be neat and operated with as little thought as possible -Win 8 was clearly not that.
    PS: We Africans consider it rude to insult people for their opinions even if it is an “old way”- I’m not sure about the rest of the world. I’m not going to force it down your throat but I would like you to consider it. Thanks

  40. Peter Clarke Says:
    April 23rd, 2014 at 7:22 pm

    Too little too late. I finally moved my Acer Iconia W700 from Windows 8.1 Update 1 to Windows 7. Despite all the installation madness due to UEFI and secure boot, I’m still pretty glad I did it. I did a video showing the tablet after the upgrade here:

  41. shaun Says:
    April 23rd, 2014 at 7:33 pm

    Bit late to comment but I thought I would anyway as it’s one of the first articles about windows 8 I actually agree with.

    I must start by saying I like Microsofts new idea with windows 8. If they didn’t change things they would be left behind. Ok, so they didn’t handle it the best way because they tried forcing a big change instead of several smaller ones.

    A couple of things:

    1. If they had given a tutorial on how to use windows 8 on day 1 there would have been much less complaining as people may have known how to use it effectively. P.s. The start button is not needed!

    2. When they realised some people don’t want the start screen and the first update came out with the option of booting to the desktop they should have given this as an option when you rebooted. Do you want to boot to the Start screen or Desktop?. They didn’t do it that time and they REALLY should have done it with this 8.1 update rather than force a change for desktops. When the start screen is such a contentious issue why force one way of the other? Give us a box to choose when we restart. Then everyone can choose what they want and then they could get an accurate idea what people want by the number of choices each way. I’ve stuck with the Start screen.

    3. Can people please stop complaining about shutting down the computer.
    a: Use Alt + f4 then press enter (same as windows 7)
    b: right click the bottom left corner and select shutdown
    (basically same as windows 7, just a right click to begin
    with not a left click)
    c: use the charms menu (ok this is slower)
    d: now on the start screen.

    Yes they should have done things a bit differently to begin with but this back track is to keep the people who whine happy so they may get some better press and more people changing to windows 8. A little too late and now they are annoying the people who have adjusted but they keep trying!

  42. shaun Says:
    April 23rd, 2014 at 7:51 pm

    In a podcast a while ago one of the females (sorry not sure which one) said she still gets REALLY ANNOYED by windows 8 every day for 2 reasons:

    1. Whenever she opens a pdf it opens a full screen app jerking her out of the desktop. She said it is horrible and she gets angry every time it happens. Um?…. Why not install Acrobat Reader or Foxit? You had to do this on windows 7 so why can’t you do it now? No one is forcing you to use the built in pdf reader. It is there for ease of use out of the box for your mum or dad. Don’t like it. Don’t use it! Same goes for pictures too.

    2. She also complained about the Facebook app saying she hates it, it annoys her and using the browser is better. Um?…. once again why not use the browser then? I’m pretty sure it doesn’t say anywhere you have to use the app.

    No wonder Microsoft is backtracking when someone in the technology media business says these things only a couple of months ago. To hear a reporter say she gets REALLY ANNOYED everyday by windows 8 no wonder Microsoft is doing what it is doing.

    P.S. My sister didn’t want to use her free upgrade from windows 7 to 8 as she thought it was bad but I convinced her to upgrade and she told me a month later she was glad I got her to.

  43. David Rector Says:
    April 24th, 2014 at 4:02 am

    I am a desktop mouse user and I never minded the Start Screen. But then I’m not picky and use a Mac, PC, iOS devices, and anything else I need to use. MS certainly should have just left the start menu in place and asked to boot to desktop or start screen when Windows gets installed. Touch? use the start screen. Mouse? Use the desktop. It’s not really a big deal.

    What is a big deal is this latest update beaks rules. In the Metro interface, a right-click displays the application bar. But not anymore on the Start screen. Now it shows a desktop-style popup menu. It’s more of a half-assed decision than it was when they got rid of the start menu. And now apps have caption bars. WTF? They are supposed to be full screen apps, like the iPad that someone mentioned was so much better. But now they act just enough like a desktop program to be annoying (and to cover the top bit of apps that sometimes use that space).

    Microsoft can only be criticized for not thinking things through enough.

    Heck, how often do I swipe in from the left edge of the screen over and over waiting for one of the apps to be the Start Screen?! It should show up like any other Metro app. Now that would have been consistent!

    PS. Domnan, you don’t have to be African to be polite. We’re not all name-calling jerks around here :)

  44. IanR Says:
    April 27th, 2014 at 7:56 am

    The desktop changes are only a minor superficial issue; the real problem is that the ergonomics of Windows 8 really suck. You only get to appreciate this once you start trying to use a Windows 8 PC for real workplace tasks.

    For just one example, now you can never fully turn off UAE, not even as a temporary measure to do admin work unmolested by nags. Try installing software from a network share with this arrangement, and you begin to see that the coders who made this change hadn’t thought-through the consequences properly. (But, they never do, do they?)

    Basically, this kind of awkwardness doubles or quadruples the time taken to do typical admin work, and to business users is a cost which far exceeds the asking price for the software itself.

  45. maxwild Says:
    April 30th, 2014 at 2:49 pm

    The general tenor of both article and comments should please Microsoft. Perhaps W8 was too big a change for some but 8.1 has resolved that. W8.1 is an excellent advance particularly how it brings together PC, tablet and phone. I am sure that the next releases will tighten this integration and we will all be even more pleased.

  46. Milton Hey Says:
    May 1st, 2014 at 7:59 am

    My version of Win 8.1 is not as described in this article. I do not have the option to boot to the desktop, nor do I have the windows store icon on the task bar. I have downloaded a classic shell start menu for the desktop because some programs just work differently when started from the Metro screen and all the differences make for less efficiency in their use.

  47. +__+ Says:
    May 1st, 2014 at 10:40 am

    Listening…at last Microsoft are responding to the feedback and with Ballmer ditched they have the latitude to refine the OS towards a balance point.

    I suspect we will see a See-Saw of refinements for few months as each layer of choice and tweaks has unpredicted impact on either the ‘Desktop’ or ‘App centric’ user groups.

    Microsoft are distilling 8.x toward a perfect 9, pleasing both camps and giving useful refined choice and that is an exciting prospect in my book.

  48. Gary Hunt Says:
    May 1st, 2014 at 6:57 pm

    You can’t polish a turd. I’ve already gone back to windows 7

  49. Tim Says:
    May 1st, 2014 at 8:19 pm

    I don’t care what Microsoft does with Windows 8.X.

    The OS is useless for my purposes: I don’t Facebook, tweet, post selfies or otherwise indulge in social media. I do not own a smartphone, tablet or any device that would benefit from “one OS to rule them all”.

    Most importantly, the programs I run are incompatible with Windows 8, 8.1 and 8.1 update. That’s terrible. Also, I don’t use “apps” or have any interest what-so-ever in buying them from the MS Store or paying MS for services I can do for my self. So why on Earth would I switch OS’s? I think in MS’s mad dash to cash in on what Google & Apple clearly do better they forgot what they do best: provide OS’s and software you can use how you want.

    For now, Windows 7 works best for me and that’s why I’m sticking with it.

  50. Maurice Jordan Says:
    May 2nd, 2014 at 6:38 pm

    It has nothing to do with being a hater. I just don’t want to relearn a new OS, that’s all. It’s a disservice to the people who have used windows for so long.

    It’s like when google force + on everyone or now Firefox with their chrome clone.

    Changes are fine, yes but ease us into them and give us the option to switch back.

  51. peter maben Says:
    May 5th, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    Hmm. . similar discussions, which have largely died down now in the Linux/ Gnome world, where gnome-shell introduced a UI a lot like the Start screen .. type first two letter of app name etc.
    Desktop fans didn’t like it, the community stepped into fix it, and now a simple choice at login lets you choose. ..
    Freedom as in freedom of choice, freedom expression.
    Viva FLOSS !

  52. Crystal Says:
    May 5th, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    I liked Windows 8 as it was. Yes, it took a little adjustment. So did learning any other new OS. When 8.1 was introduced, I didn’t mind so much if it made the switch easier for some people. Now, with 8.1 Update, they’ve back-pedalled so far it may as well be Windows 7 Update. I hate the fact that in trying to please all those who apparently can’t wrap their brains around change and who obviously have the biggest mouths and are heard the loudest, they’re forcing me to revert to an old system when I’m quite happy with the more modern OS. Yes, I can change settings so that it boots to the Start screen. Wonderful. It would be great if they had left it at that. Instead, it still opens the Desktop every time I open apps. Do you have any idea how bloody annoying it is to find yourself with the Desktop still open after you’ve closed an app? I did set it to not leave me on the Desktop when apps are closed. Doesn’t work. Why does it need to open the Desktop at all unless it’s an app that can’t run independently of the Desktop? Mail used to, and no longer does. So when closing an app, I now have to close 2 programs. My daughter says “it’s the same as it was before. What are you complaining about?” If I had wanted the same old thing, I would not have purchased a computer with Windows 8. They’re done so much catering to those who complained that they’ve totally ruined it for those of us who actually liked their new product.

  53. Al Says:
    May 8th, 2014 at 7:57 am

    As I recall in Windows 8.0 “classic” one simply did not close Apps. But see for how to return to the Start Screen when closing an App.

  54. rosselliot Says:
    May 9th, 2014 at 9:47 pm

    The “windows 8 haters” are in truth metro/modern haters, and seem to include more than 75% of Windows 8 users. Why wouldn’t MS panic, with the free Linux OS maturing into a very viable alternative? If metro/modern continued to be pushed as the only way to go, then I would certainly upgrade to Linux.

  55. Annabranch Says:
    May 13th, 2014 at 10:34 pm

    Sorry Microsoft you lost me with windows 8. I hate it. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. This was a huge step backward for Microsoft. It’s like Ford making cars for us to buy and upgrading each year to improve the last model. This Microsoft upgrade is like Ford stopping upgrading cars and producing a hovercraft and telling consumers suck it up, that replaces a car, learn driving skills all over again.

  56. Grant Watt Says:
    May 15th, 2014 at 5:57 pm

    Microsoft haven’t lost their nerve just coming around to the conclusion most in the industry knew already, when it was in beta. Yawn…waiting for Windows 9. This version is the turd next will be the tiara.

  57. Michael Kavchok Says:
    May 27th, 2014 at 3:31 am

    Windows 8.1 sucks. It makes my PC slow, and mom responsive. Continually crashes with error message Web Site is Not Responding. Do I have to give up on windows? Can’t get PC to run at the speed it was intended to run at. Michael Kavchok Swedesboro NJ

  58. Highlandham Says:
    July 23rd, 2014 at 8:59 pm

    Following all these Win8-ills I am glad to be a Linux only user.
    ie (L)(K)Ubuntu , Linux Mint

    Frank in the north of Scotland

  59. Jay T. Parker Says:
    August 31st, 2014 at 6:58 am

    As far as the fictitiously named Windows 9 is concerned, we must remember that MS is in it for the money. Unhappy consumers can lead to losses in the many millions. Wherever something bad is written about 8.1 you can bet some little MS spy has read it and forwarded it. It would be ridiculous for Microsoft to regress any further. Their best bet is to bring back everything liked and get rid of, forever, everything hated. Like those stupid “boxes” with nice square corners just like Windows 3.1 had.
    I truly believe Windows 9 will look more like 7, behave like 7, yet with a few added tweaks and maybe “gadgets” again. I’d lay a $1000 bucks on that one.

  60. Mark Hetherington Says:
    October 1st, 2014 at 11:19 pm

    I hate the fact that those of us who didn’t like the Metro UI are berated, even called idiots by one poster above. Why does not liking something make us idiots? I hated the way I couldn’t easily close an app, now I can. The right click menu option is a Godsend, as is adding W8 apps to the taskbar.

    My main problem with the Metro interface is if you want to load two apps in split screen mode (’snapped’, is it called?) then switch back to the desktop temporarily you cant – you have to set up the split screen again when you switch back to the start screen. Having a Start button on the desktop is just what we needed but you also need one for the desktop in a split screen, or a toggle button which switches between the Start screen, the desktop and your split screen setup.

    Metro works great on a touchscreen but still isn’t good to use with a mouse, and probably never will be.


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