This entry has been updated for the 10th time. Last update was 10/7/2014.
You may also view our Windows 8 guide. First, I will update this post as I see the need. The most recent update is March 29, 2013. including corrections for grammatical errors and I added a few sentences in the main part of this post. Nothing was removed. Second, I am tired of everybody saying “you don’t use Windows 8 and that is why you hate it”. I’ve used it and the more I use it, the more I hate it.
A hammer is not a screwdriver. You do not put in a nail with a screwdriver and you do not put in a screw with a hammer. Each tool has a different purpose. Microsoft, you forgot this most essential fact: A tablet isn’t a desktop. A tablet has a different purpose than a desktop.
The interface formerly known as Metro but now known as Modern is clearly meant for touchscreen. How many people have touchscreen computers? I used one of those all-in-one computers with a touchscreen and after the novelty of it wore off, I found it annoying to be reaching forward to things. Point blank: the so-called Modern user interface DOES NOT WORK WITH A KEYBOARD AND MOUSE! There is no way around this. What was once a short mouse move away is now a long mouse move away.
It gets worse. Type “uninstall” in the Windows 7 start menu and see what comes up. Type the same thing in the Modern start screen and see what comes up. In Windows 7 you get an option to uninstall all programs; in Windows 8, you only get an option to uninstall programs that have an uninstall shortcut in the start menu/start screen. In Windows 8, you must go to the control panel, which you have to type or pray you find in the Modern UI, and then find programs and features to get a list of all uninstall programs. What was once a quick process is now several steps.
It gets even worse. Type system restore in the Modern UI. Nothing will come up. Maybe the Windows 8 I was using didn’t like me, but once again I had to take the long route to the control panel to get system restore.
It gets much worse. While you still can open programs, now called apps just because tablets and smartphones call programs apps, programs designed to be used inside the start menu will only let you have one window active at a time. Quite often, I have many windows open in the background and that feature is still there for the smart programs, which are programs NOT designed for the Modern UI. However, programs working in the Modern UI mode won’t let you do that. Internet Explorer 10 has both a traditional (read: better) mode and a Modern UI mode. Having one window at a time open is good for tablets and smartphones, but desktops and laptops aren’t these devices. I spent 5 minutes trying to figure how to close IE10 in the Modern UI mode. Eventually I used ALT+F4 to close Modern IE10.
Which brings me to the biggest flaw of Windows 8: It does so many things differently that you need to relearn how to use the computer and you have to do this without any manual to help you.
In my opinion, the two best features in Windows 7 were Aero, which is the pretty translucent effects on the various windows, and the ability to pin programs to the start menu. I have 20 or so icons on my desktop, some very important, and my most common programs pinned to the start menu. What I need to find is easy to find. You can customize the Modern UI start screen, but it doesn’t have enough space for my most critical programs, shortcuts, and documents. Windows 8 is also lacking Aero and so it looks ugly and really it is an eyesore. Windows 8 has a taskbar still when you are in desktop mode and the taskbar works the same as it did in Windows 7, but without the Aero effects and the good idea known as the Start button.
Windows 8 is a fine operating system for tablets and smartphones. It is not acceptable for desktops and laptops, even touchscreen laptops. Microsoft Surface looks like an excellent product and I would strongly consider it for a tablet. Avoid Windows 8 for the desktop like the plague. To let you know I am not just scared of something new, I have used Windows 8. On the internet message boards when I air my gripes about Windows 8, that is what the few supporters of it tell me. All my gripes only come from firsthand experience.
I will say that Windows 8 is not all bad. The under-the-hood improvements are excellent. It boots up much faster than Windows 7. Windows 8 can be salvaged by doing one simple thing: get rid of the start screen and return the start menu and menu bar that was found in Windows 7. If Microsoft does this, Windows 8 can be saved. I also want Aero back, but I can live without it.
UPDATE 1: I’ve been playing with Windows 8 some more, and I still hate it. But there is one thing it has that I do like. It has a settings menu that is a lot like those found of tablets and smartphones. Everything is organized and easy to adjust. As nice as it is, it still highlights the fundamental flaw with Windows 8 in that it does tries to make a hammer a screwdriver, it tries to make a desktop a tablet computer.
Also, Microsoft decided once again to hurt people like me. I have a subscription to a Microsoft service that lets me download a lot of their software. I can use this to get Microsoft software and learn how it works. This, in turn, lets me help others use these products. I am more likely to recommend a program that I know how to use well. With Windows Vista and Windows 7, I received these operating systems uncrippled. This is an invaluable aid when repairing computers because now I have the DVD’s need to reinstall Windows. For Windows 8, Microsoft decided it was a good idea to give us crippled versions of Windows 8. You cannot add new features from Microsoft, such as Media Center, with the DVD’s Microsoft made available to us. So now if I need to reinstall Windows 8 for a customer, I will have to hope they have a retail copy of the Windows 8 DVD otherwise I will be installing a crippled version of Windows 8. Or hope someone finds a hack or hope Microsoft will fix this problem.
UPDATE 2: The more I use Windows 8 the more I realize how much of an eyesore it is. The minimalist design makes it look like something found in early computers. It is a sad day when Windows 3.1 looks better than Windows 8. The whole screen of one color that is not black hurts the eyes. My sensitive eyes anyway. I can’t watch 3D movies because of my eyes. I also hate the fact that Microsoft is trying desperately to push their poor excuse of a search engine. Bing would have trouble finding water in the middle of the ocean. In fact, when I was searching Microsoft’s own website, I was unable to find what I needed with Bing but I did find on the first page with Google. Stop trying to copy Google. Those who do everything do nothing well. Guess what, you do nothing well anymore. Office used to be the best, now Office 2013 offers little improvement but uses the ugly design of Windows 8. It is now my opinion that the entire management of Microsoft needs to be fired and replaced with people who realize you don’t mess with what works and you don’t try to do too much.
Another problem: Windows 8 is unusable with a touchpad, period. The touchpad is treated like someone touching the screen when, in fact, a touchpad is meant to replace a mouse. So, all the touchscreen gestures are carried over to the touchpad and the result is frustration.
I hate the fact that Microsoft is trying to tie the log-in process to a Microsoft account. They do this to make it easier to get your money. Just like app stores on cell phones. Look, Microsoft, it ain’t none of your business when I log-in. Yes it is optional, but that doesn’t change the fact that Microsoft wants to connect the two.
I hate the fact that finding System Restore is harder than finding a needle in a haystack. I hate the fact that what was once one click is now several and it requires you to move your mouse long distances. I hate the fact that the UI is counter-intuitive. I hate the fact that you give old ideas new names and then use those new names like we are supposed to know what they are. I hate the fact that the names you give make no sense. Where did you come up with the name of “charms bar”? Were you eating Lucky Charms for breakfast? But mostly I hate the fact that you thought that abandoning a well-known and well-understood concept was a good idea.
UPDATE 3: I’ve known for a while that Microsoft is now encouraging the big box manufactures — Dell, HP, Acer, and so on — to not put a sticker with the product key on the computer. That is very annoying, but I only considered it to be a minor annoyance because you can use free tools to recover the product key and the product key is now stored in the UEFI (the replacement to the BIOS). Storing the product key in the UEFI is actually a good thing because then you can reinstall Windows without having to enter a product key. But what if the motherboard dies? That happens. Then you cannot get into the UEFI to recover your product key. And even worse, you cannot transfer that product key to a new motherboard, period. So if your motherboard dies, you must buy a new copy of Windows. “But”, you might say, “I will just make the recovery discs ahead of time like I’m supposed to because the big computer guys are too cheap to give them to me anymore and I will use that to reinstall Windows 8 on a new motherboard.” Sorry, but that won’t work either because all the computers I’ve seen preloaded with Windows 8 won’t let you make recovery discs.
I found this YouTube video that, despite some cursing, explains well why Windows 8 is horrible. Of course you will have your Windows 8 apologists who think that people who hate it with good reason are stupid. But the people who hate Windows 8 are in the majority.
UPDATE 4: It appears Microsoft is not learning and doubling-down with this accursed Modern UI concept. The codenamed Windows Blue, or Windows 8.1, improves on the Modern UI design, but still does not get rid of it. Windows Blue now lets you have two things open in the Modern UI at the same time. Wow! What an advancement! Microsoft improved Windows 8 to do something that been possible since Windows 95! What an age we live in. The definition of stupidity is to do the same thing again but expect different results. Microsoft is officially stupid. I checked HP’s website on March 27, 2013 and saw that the Windows 7 computers were listed before Windows 8 computers. Dell and Lenovo still had their Windows 7 computers buried deep.
I have put Windows 8 on my home-theater PC. Along with the Classic Shell program that gives me a start menu. I like it better than Windows 7 for my home-theater PC, but it does a few driver issues. One is Microsoft’s fault and one is not. My device from Ceton, which lets me get all the channels from my cable company, does not have a good driver. This is not Microsoft’s fault. But the driver for the remote control does have problems. This is Microsoft’s fault. Sometimes I have to unplug it and plug it back in, a restart does no good. Windows 8 for home-theater/media center PC’s is much nicer than for Windows 7.
UPDATE 5: I was just made aware of this article in Vanity Fair. It clearly shows why Microsoft is flailing. You cannot treat your employees like dirt and expect your customers to buy whatever you produce and expect to succeed for long. The more I use Windows 8, the more I hate it. If Microsoft ever stops selling Windows 7 and if they don’t start listening to their customers and return the old start menu, I will start putting Linux on my customers’ computers. Free Linux and free Libre Office will work well enough for many businesses. Furthermore, Microsoft has officially revealed that Windows 8.1 does not return the start menu but only the start button. *BOING* HELLO MICROSOFT! We weren’t pining over the start button, we are pining over the old, simple, effective, concise, easy-on-the-eyes start menu! I am saying it again, you are stupid! Who is running a company (read the link below) that thinks your paying customers don’t know what they want?
UPDATE 6: Microsoft, in a desperate attempt to make us think Windows 8 is a success, revealed some creepy information: Microsoft has sold 100 million licenses and that Windows 8 has logged 60 billion hours of use in a year. Why does Microsoft know how much time I spend using Windows 8? Better question: Why does Microsoft need to know how much time I spend using Windows 8? And if Microsoft knows how much time we spend using Windows 8, what else are they silently recording? I’m sure they will tell you in the phone book of a contract they make you agree to when you first start it, but who reads that?
And since you know how long we are using Windows 8, why don’t you tell us how many people are actually using Windows 8? Why do you continue to tell us how many licenses have been sold? I have helped install Windows 7 on several computers and I know a lot of people who have taken advantage of the Windows 8 downgrade rights to put Windows 7 on their computer. Licenses sold also does not mean a sold computer either. Why don’t you tell us how many people are using Windows 8? (Why? Because tell us how many people are actually using Windows 8 will show what a failure Windows 8 is and Microsoft is desperate to make it a success.)
If you do the math on the numbers Microsoft gives you see that the 60 billion hours really means 2 hours per day. 60 billion hours / 100 million licenses = 600 hours per license. Windows 8 has been out about a year, so 600 / 365 = about 1 hour 40 minutes per day. If we assume that 75% of licenses sold are actively being used, then 600 billion / 75 million users / 365 = about 2 hours 12 minutes per day. Once you get away from the large numbers, this is further proof that the majority hate Windows 8. Now that I know Microsoft knows how much time I spend using Windows 8, I’m going to avoid it even more.
Update 7: Windows 8.1 has been released and I did install it on a few computers. It took about 3 1/2 to 4 hours depending. The reason why it took so long is because Microsoft is making everyone except the corporate volume license people go through the Microsoft Store. Why? Probably because they want to use it so that you will get used to using it so that you will buy their programs (on a desktop or laptop, it ain’t an app, no matter what Microsoft says!!!!) through Microsoft instead of from somewhere else so that Microsoft will get a cut of all programs sold. This delivery method is good if and only if it is a true tablet.
As you can tell, I hate the direction Microsoft is taking Windows. Windows was such a success because it allows you to install anything without Microsoft’s approval and because programs from a long time ago still work on it. Forcing users to go through their own store is taking away two of big the reasons why Windows became so entrenched, especially for home users.
Regarding 8.1: It is a big upgrade over Windows 8. Calling 8.1 is not inappropriate. Remember Windows 3, then Windows 3.1, then Windows 3.11? (As an aside, all three of those versions of Windows were much prettier than Windows 8. And easier to use with a keyboard and mouse too. How sad is that?)
You now have the option to boot straight to the desktop, which is nice. But those options are hidden and purposefully hard to find. You also have a start button back, which is nice, but it takes you to the so-called Metro screen, which is not nice. In my opinion, this is an insult to users. We asked for a start MENU, not a start BUTTON.
8.1 does one thing I hate. When you first install, Microsoft tries desperately to get you to sign in to a Live account still. You have to take two steps, none of which are clear, to not do this. Related to this, Microsoft also tries desperately to get you to use their sorry excuse of a search engine, Bing. Be sure never to use the express setup, always turn off anything tracking and Bing related. All of this is, of course, an attempt to get you to use the Microsoft store to buy your programs.
While 8.1 adds many nice new features, it still does not make Windows 8 good. Until Microsoft gets off this “one interface to rule them all” fixation, the last good Windows will be Windows 7.
Update 8: There are rumors of a Windows 9 being released spring 2015. Details are still sketchy, but the rumors are that a full start menu is back in Windows 9. It also appears that the “Windows 8” name itself is poison and so Microsoft wants to start fresh with the next number. It also appears that calling programs “apps” is not going away.
By the time Windows 9 is released, AMD and Intel should have CPU’s that will allow long battery life like the CPU’s found in other tablets and phones. That means Windows 9 can completely unified between a tablet, phone, and true desktop/laptop. That should make programming easier.
What is certain that the people responsible for the disaster that is Windows 8 are no longer working for Microsoft.
Personally I am glad Microsoft went back to naming Windows with a number.
Update 9: A start button is making a return in Windows 8.1. But not the logical start menu you are used to. No, this start menu is still desperately peddling “apps”, those programs that work well on a tablet or phone but are dumb ideas in anything that requires a mouse.
While I will admit Windows 8.1 is not pure utter trash like Windows 8 was, it still is inferior. The user-interface is hard on the eyes (at least my eyes), the app store ecosystem is still pushed extra hard just to pad Microsoft’s wallet, and SkyDrive/OneDrive is the default save location. Always, I repeat always, avoid creating a Microsoft account when using Windows 8.1, no exception. I’ve had many customers have password nightmares when linking your computer’s log in to a Microsoft account. Clearing a password using a local account is a 10 minute process, if that. Clearing a password using a Microsoft account requires working internet. I have had a few customers not able to clear or reset their password because of this. The only reason for connecting your log in to a Microsoft account is to try to get you to buy programs through Microsoft. All the other reasons given are just to blind you to this.
I also always turn off all the Bing and OneDrive settings that are on by default in Windows 8.1, and you should too. For you, the cloud is only good for backups, and nothing else. Use the search engine of your choice and don’t be forced to use one.
Talking to many customers, only a few actually like Windows 8. Most just tolerate it. I myself would always pay extra for Windows 8 Pro then take advantage of the free downgrade to Windows 7 Pro mostly because Windows 8 is hard on my eyes. There is just something about those square corners with bright title bars that just hurt my eyes.
Update 10: After months of using Windows 8 I can now officially say the two things I hate the most about it are how it looks and the ultra-tight integration with Bing and the cloud. I hate the cloud. I’ve used Windows 10 — Windows 9 was skipped because some search algorithms might confuse it with Windows 95 or Windows 98 — for just a little bit and the two things I now hate the most about Windows 8 remain. Although I remain hopeful that the flat, hideous ugly look will be gone based on the amount of people asking for the return of Aero, the visual effects found in Windows Vista and Windows 7. I will say this, so long as the cloud and Bing integration is in the OS, I will hold on to Windows 7 until the bitter end. You can turn it off now, but will that always be true? Better to avoid that junk by sticking to an operating system that doesn’t even have it at all.
This is likely the last update to this post. I will now focus on the upcoming Windows 10.