My First Hour With Windows 8

By Shamus
on Mar 6, 2015
Filed under:
Rants

Apologies for two days of ranting. But it’s either this or nothin’, because this is my whole life right now. Also, writing about this is amazingly therapeutic. If the post becomes overwhelmingly bleak or angry, return here to the top and look at the kittens until you feel better.

Here we go, I shove the Windows 8 install disk in and…

During install, a bright red line appears, right down the middle of the monitor. I’ll come back to this later, but just bear in mind that while all of the following is going on, I’m also trying to find out what this red line is and why it’s there.

It asks me what drive to put Windows 8 on. Crap. I have four physical drives, some of which are broken into multiple partitions. For whatever reason, it’s not showing me the VOLUME LABELS, but only the drive and partition numbers. I could understand if these were drives from a foreign OS, but aside from the one Linux partition it’s all Windows. Since the installer is about to NUKE a drive, it’s inexcusable that it doesn’t give me a way to SEE WHAT I’M DOING.

Deep breath. Okay. I know the old Windows Partition was 250GB. And here’s a partition about that size. And it’s drive zero. This is clearly it, but I’d feel so much better if I had a way to make sureLooking back, I could have booted into Linux and figured it out from there. You know, if I didn’t mind doing everything all over..

Let’s do this.

(Hum showtunes while the files copy.)

It obliges me to log into my Microsoft account. There’s no skip button. I used to joke about “The operating system from the people who brought you Games for Windows LIVE”, but that’s exactly what this is. A useless unwanted login. Grrr. Am I tying this product key to my Microsoft account? Because that would be inexcusable. We generally attach the OS to the machine, and machines get passed down through the family as upgrades happen. I don’t know if this copy of Windows 8 is now bound to me. I actually don’t understand what we’re trying to accomplish here other than making an already stressful process that much more annoying.

I suppose I should be grateful that I remember my login credentials and don’t have to borrow one of the other computers to sort that mess out. It’s not like I use this one very often.

During install, Windows 8.1 asks me why color scheme I want to use. This bugs me. I mean, color scheme is important, but I usually take care of this myself once I have the vitals sorted out. Once I’m downloading programs and updating things and running install wizards there will be plenty of time to noodle around with desktop colors. But I can’t skip this step. Fine. I pick lavenderI love lavender. Best color..

And then it asks me to log in. I mean, again. Like, I just typed in my Microsoft name and password, and now the name field is already filled in and it wants the password again. There is no “remember my password” option. My Microsoft password is a real, proper password. It’s long and it’s a pain in the ass to type. And now I need to type it every time I use my computer?

I type in the password. I’ll deal with this crap later.

The machine boots up, and everything is mustard yellow. Son of a bitch. What happened to lavender? I right-click, change the display properties, and pick something blue. Close enough for now.

Can’t find control panel. Shit, I can’t even find “my computer”.

Oh-kay? If I click on the start button I go to that stupid “I’m a PC pretending to be a tablet” Metro interface. I finally find My Computer. It’s a tiny little button (the smallest size of button on the screen). It’s surround with great big visually noisy crap with news and other bullshit. And… is that celebrity gossip? In my start menu? I’m so angry I want to punch somebodyNow is probably a great time to scroll up and see what those adorable kittens are up to..

I will never click on this gigantic stupid “George Clooney said something outrageous…” bullshit. And what is this other thing? An advertisement? Stuff about a cooking show? It’s like when you launch Internet Explorer for the first and last time so you can download ChromeOr something else civilized., and it’s automatically set to the Microsoft homepage. But now the bullshit has escaped Internet Explorer and spewed cultural waste all over my desktop.

Why is all this distraction here? Part of my workflow is avoiding unwanted information! The last thing I need are a bunch of stupid headlines and images screaming “Hey! Look at me!” every time I launch a simple program. I diligently avoid checking Facebook every 5 minutes, but that discipline is undone if you build distractions into the OS interface.

Okay, so we need to get this “My computer” button out of Metro and put it somewhere where I can reach it easily. How? You can’t drag things out of metro. Right click? No. Apparently I can map it to a network driveWhat would that even DO?, but I can’t make a shortcut for it. I open My Computer and click on “Dives and Devices”. That’s what I really want. A way to see all my drives at once. (I have a lot.) I right click to add a shortcut, but instead it creates six shortcuts on the desktop, one for each drive.

The amount of thinking this system wants to do for me is directly proportional to how stupid that thinking is. I eventually find some combination of clicking and cursing that gives me an icon to “This Computer”More correct than the old “my computer”, at least. on my desktop. Fine.

I click on it, and… wait. These drives don’t look right.

Shit!

Windows 8 just installed itself over Linux and left my Windows 7 install alone?!? Oh wait. Hang on. The drives are just re-ordered. I’m pretty sure the Linux drive is fine and Windows 8 is where it is supposed to be. Still, I feel strongly that the volume labels should have been visible at install time. Would have saved me a near heart attack.

Okay. Steam installed. Except. Steam didn’t start? It sort of launched, logged in, and vanished? I click on the icon like a good little monkey but nothing happens. Maybe I need to reboot? Let’s try thatThis is an ongoing problem with Steam. It does not like being installed over a previous copy of itself. I won’t dwell on the rest of my Steam adventure here. We have enough bellyaching to worry about as it is..

“Restarting.” It says. That’s all it says. The screen is blankAnd to be fair: This is apparently where they put the lavender I asked for. except for “Restarting”. After five minutes, I begin to think this might be a lie. The little icon is still spinning so the machine is working on some level. After ten minutes I’m angry again. I really feel like my computer has wasted enough of my time today. I’d kill it with the power button, but I’m terrified it will break this new install of Windows and send me back to square one.

What are you doing, Windows 8? Are you dead? Working? Meditating? I vividly remember Windows 7 (and XP, too, I think) would tell you what was going on. It would tell you if it was applying updates (in which case: DON’T REBOOT) or just waiting for some loser program to get around to killing itself. If the process took long enough, it would even offer to kill the troublesome program for you. None of that is happening here. It’s just a spinning icon with no feedback.

After fifteen minutes I storm off and do something elseKITTENS! amirite? Huh?.

I come back an hour later and the machine has rebooted.

Oh. Time to log in again. This is like the fifth time I’ve had to type this stupid password. In disgust I look for the option to turn this shit off and discover it doesn’t exist. I can make my web browser remember my password. Steam remembers my password. But Windows itself has decided to make me type it every time I want to use the machine.

Are you new at this, Microsoft? Do you get that very often computers are used by more than one person? I don’t need your stupid security. Piss off. I’m not going to ask everyone in my family to memorize this monster password so they can use my computer once in a while. I can put a little stickynote with the password here on the monitor where everyone who visits can see it. Or I can change my Microsoft password to something like “1234”. Either option makes everything less secure. And no, having them create their own Microsoft accounts is not a solution. You have to be a certain age to do that, and I’m a big believer in the idea that people ought to be able to use a computing device before that age. For crying out loud. You insufferable pricksThe kittens! They do nothing!.

After some searching, I find a site with the solution. The steps to disable this are ridiculous.

Also my background changed again. It’s rainbow now. I find the auto-change feature and disable it and set the desktop wallpaper back to something un-horrible. And hey! I found an option to let you stretch a single wallpaper across both monitors. I guess that’s pretty nice. Well, aside from the red line.

Hm. I guess I took this before I set the wallpaper to span both monitors. Oh well. I did.
Hm. I guess I took this before I set the wallpaper to span both monitors. Oh well. I did.

Let’s figure out what’s causing this red line.

I swap monitor cables. I swap sockets on the graphics card. I turn the monitor on and off. It doesn’t matter. The red line is always there, even in Linux. I suppose I can’t blame this on Windows 8, or Windows 7, or any of the other things that have been tormenting me today. It’s just a completely random coincidence that in the middle of one disaster a different, unrelated problem arose in a different piece of hardwareUnless the monitor is sensitive to being yelled at. In which case it’s a miracle it didn’t catch fire..

This is a 27″ monitor. It’s basically new. It just passed the return date a couple of weeks ago. I’m doing the angriest cry I can manage.

I’m installing Ventrilo (voice chat) now. It’s been stuck at “computing space requirements” screen for fifteen minutes now. I search. Looks like they found the solution: “Never mind, I fixed it.” You bastard.

I need to kill the installer. Clicking close just causes it to hang. So I fire up Task Manager. It’s reduced to this tiny little window with no info. I click on the button to show more details and Task Manager itself hangs.

misery1.jpg

In the middle of all my rebooting, a new program appeared. “3D vision Photo Printing”. I guess Metro is finding “apps” for me? There’s an icon on my Desktop and everything. Gross.

Now for the good news:

Quicklaunch still exists. As with Windows 7, it’s sort of a semi-hiddlen, undocumented, possibly entirely unintended feature. But it’s there. This is a huge part of my workflow. I’m never just using one program. At any given time and for any given task, I’m usually interacting with a handful of related programs.

  1. Making music: MAGIX and Audacity, and a couple of browser tabs about music theory.
  2. Coding: Visual Studio, Notepad++, Calculator, and half a dozen tabs open to various forums and documentation..
  3. Writing for the blog: Bandicam, Steam, a game, my image editor, FTP client, and a browser tab of whatever I’m writing.

And on top of these I always have an MP3 player open, along with the moderation feed for this side. If there’s anything I need to improve my workflow, it’s a better way of dealing with pages that I’ll need for two days and then never again. Currently I just leave them open, which gets out of hand quickly.

Launching groups of apps is really annoying with a start bar kind of setup. And the default “recent programs” thing is too small to hold them all. It’s much easier to shift between types of work by just clicking on the icons I want. I don’t think I’ve used the Windows start menu since Windows 95, so I doubt I’ll interact with Metro very often.

Windows 8 still allows this, which means once I get everything installed I should be able to re-create my old workflow.

I could think of better ways to spend a weekend. Thanks for listening.

And since you read this far:

splash_sw_hitman.jpg

I’ll be honest: The next season of Spoiler Warning is likely going to be a little negative. But after this computer debacle, it’ll probably feel like a party. A dumb party where everyone complains and nobody can leave. I’ll see you there!

Enjoyed this post? Please share!

Footnotes:

[1] Looking back, I could have booted into Linux and figured it out from there. You know, if I didn’t mind doing everything all over.

[2] I love lavender. Best color.

[3] Now is probably a great time to scroll up and see what those adorable kittens are up to.

[4] Or something else civilized.

[5] What would that even DO?

[6] More correct than the old “my computer”, at least.

[7] This is an ongoing problem with Steam. It does not like being installed over a previous copy of itself. I won’t dwell on the rest of my Steam adventure here. We have enough bellyaching to worry about as it is.

[8] And to be fair: This is apparently where they put the lavender I asked for.

[9] KITTENS! amirite? Huh?

[10] The kittens! They do nothing!

[11] Unless the monitor is sensitive to being yelled at. In which case it’s a miracle it didn’t catch fire.


A Hundred!A Hundred!2020202013There are more than 292 comments. But less than 294

From the Archives:

  1. The Rocketeer says:

    Good a place as any for this, I guess:

    A while back I found an episode of Spoiler Warning had broken links on its blog page, due to a mishandled dash in the URL. I think I’ve found another.

    The Last of Us EP12: Shooty Time

    Also, sorry about Windows Ocho: The Revenge. No one deserves that. And I am even more sorry for the suffering Rutskarn will visit on the world during the next season, but we probably deserve that at least a little bit.

  2. ehlijen says:

    Did you upgrade to 8.1?

    It’s still far from being windows 7, but it does include a much better approximation of the old start button (needs to be right clicked) and task bar (including a shortcut to ‘file explorer’ which is what they call ‘my computer’ now).

    • Thomas says:

      I’d never right clicked on the start button before I read this :p

      You can get most of the good stuff in that menu on the right hand charm though, so I guess it’s not a huge quality of life improvement.

    • General Karthos says:

      He says it’s Windows 8.1 a few paragraphs in.

      • ehlijen says:

        My apologies. I missed that.

        Curious though, when I upgraded to 8.1, it put a file explorer icon in my task bar right away, I’m pretty sure.

        • Thomas says:

          Even when you buy Windows 8.1 and the disk/download says its Windows 8.1, it sometimes actually gives you Windows 8 and then updates to 8.1 like a week later.

          If Shamus opens up a metro app and it’s there on the startbar like a normal icon when he tabs its 8.1. If not his operating system is going to change how it’s UI works randomly in the middle of this week :p

          EDIT: Nope it’s 8.1 you can see the start button on his screenshot.

          • ehlijen says:

            So something that should work is: if shamus can open ‘file explorer’ through metro and it opens a window, he can then right click the icon for the window in the task bar and click ‘pin to taskbar’.

            It’s not quite a short cut, and may eat space on the taskbar he was hoping to keep for other things, but it does avoid metro.

    • Tizzy says:

      I am so relieved to learn that Shamus can benefit from the therapeutic value of kitten pictures, even when rolling around the grass with these cuties would surely be a death sentence for him.

  3. Daemian Lucifer says:

    This is clearly it, but I’d feel so much better if I had a way to make sure[1].

    I deleted a bunch of data from a storage disk once because of this.I did manage to retrieve 60% or 70% of it,but it still sucked so hard,and not just because the process took three days.

    Anyway,after that painful experience,whenever I want to reinstall windows,I open the computer and unplug the storage drive,leaving only the system one inside.Thats the only way to be sure.

    • Wolf says:

      Also the only way I ever found to make sure Windows does not get any funny ideas about it’s sexual identity and (randomly? always? who knows) decides to install itself as a humble slave of the already present windows version. Which is funny because the old windows is probably broken once I decide to install a new one and I probably want to scorch that drive at some point once I am confident nothing has been left there.

      • 4th Dimension says:

        That is why you delete the partition on which the old system is located, so Windows doesn’t “helpfully” try to import all the old crap into what is supposed to be a new clean install.

  4. James says:

    Two words Classic Shell.
    Basically it turns the atrocious metro interface off and gives you a classic start menu like in 7 with the option to use metro. It’s light easy to use, and actually makes win 8 tolerable.
    Google it cause I apparently can’t post link.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      So does anyone but me think its weird that win 7 became a classic shell?Because it definitely isnt classic in my eyes.I like it,but its not old enough to drink,let alone be considered classic.

    • Dev Null says:

      Wait, a Windows 7 interface is what passes for a “shell” now? Sweet Bourne preserve us!

      • James says:

        I know its sad but well its better than the metro interface. Well ok anything is better than the metro interface. I will never understand their thinking. why wasn’t the start menu an option cause as we see it takes next to no programming just to give us the option but no they have to push their terrible features.

        • Henson says:

          “It looks like you’re trying to use a touchscreen interface on a non-touchscreen monitor! Would you like some help?”

          • Bropocalypse says:

            It’s symptomatic of Microsoft design: Imitating successful things without understanding why those things came to exist in the first place.

            • MadTinkerer says:

              At one point Microsoft had stopped aping Apple and was acting like an actual market leader in OS software. Not everything they produced was good, but even Vista was fixed eventually and 7 was actually a 100% perfect operating system for my purposes that I never had any major complaints about. Then they decided after all they had learned that the iPhone interface was a better way for me to use my Windows applications than the existing Windows interface. They decided for me that a rotary dial was a better interface for my adding machine than the existing adding machine buttons because telephones are cooler than adding machines. And that’s when I decided I was done with them forever.

              I probably will end up getting a machine with Windows 10. I will probably use Windows 10 myself. But I will never, ever deliberately make software that is compatible with Win 10 and not Win 7. I will never use any useless crappy post-Win8 features. I will never even test anything with Windows 8 because I will never use Windows 8. I may be forced to tolerate Windows 10 because of inertia, but I will never tolerate Win 8 or any “new features” that aren’t part of Win 7. Because Windows 7 was the last good version of Windows.

              And I’m reinstalling Windows Vista on my laptop as soon as I finally find the install disk.

              EDIT: Well okay, maybe not that last one. Like I said, Win 7 is working pretty well for me. But that’s what I want to do.

          • MrGuy says:

            Here is a site where you can order a touch screen monitor to replace your current monitor. I’ve taken the liberty of providing them your personal details and credit card number. Would you like me to help you set up expedited shipping?

    • Zukhramm says:

      You know what, now that I think about it I haven’t actually used the start menu for anything other than searching since about 2004. The Metro screen I actually use so I’ll say it’s an improvement.

      It’s probably the least bad part of Windows 8.

      • If you click on the little arrow-and-circle thing toward the bottom of the metro screen you can actually customize what appears on your metro screen, so that helps.

        But, yeah, I’m on 8.1 now and it took a lot of dicking around to figure out how to get to My Computer and Control Panel. I use the This PC button that’s bound to my taskbar and I put a shortcut for Control Panel on my desktop. I’ve basically put icons for everything I use on my desktop and that’s how I access EVERYTHING now.

        • Trix2000 says:

          Customizing the Metro panel is a must – all that crap they put on it to start is just ridiculous to sift though, and personally I always want relatively easy access to control panel. On the Win8 work machines I use, I tend to just put all that onto the desktop and/or task bar so I don’t even have to bother with Metro in the first place (you can do a ton just by having File Manager on the bar).

          Thinking about it, there IS one thing I do appreciate from Win8: you can easily open command line in any directory, just from the File Explorer menus. I don’t know if this was possible in prior versions, but 8 at least makes it easy to find.

    • Eruanno says:

      EDIT: Replied to wrong comment. Disregard!

  5. Daemian Lucifer says:

    I search. Looks like they found the solution: “Never mind, I fixed it.” You bastard.

    Now I am tempted to go on a bunch of technical forums and ask some random frustrating questions,and then just add “found a solution,never mind”.

  6. Daemian Lucifer says:

    I click on the button to show more details and Task Manager itself hangs.

    Oh yes,I see it now,so much more stable than windows 7.Im a believer now.

    Yeeeah,Im gonna skip this one just like vista.That whole “recent news” thing alone is enough to make me never want to touch this thing.I dont mind that it changes the layout,or that it tries to introduce some new stuff,or all of that.That I can get used to.But this mobile app thing?Fuck no.

    • Thomas says:

      It takes like 2 seconds to get rid of. You little just right click on it and press ‘unpin’.

      I don’t feel like Windows 8 is stabler though. I’ve never had it crash on me, but the metro interface breaks semi-regularly. (I was trying to open one of the charms whilst reading your comment and it was broken again). It doesn’t stop you from doing what you’re doing but I imagine it would be really irritating for people.

      …on the other hand boot times! I restarted my laptop to fix the interface and my whole laptop restarted faster than it used to take to past comments here :p. Admittedly that’s not a whole lot of positive when I’m using it because their interface doesn’t function properly.

      • Kalil says:

        Unpin is not uninstall, though. That takes a bit more effort.

        • Thomas says:

          That’s just three button presses instead of two. One click to get you into the program system, one right click on the app and then ‘uninstall’

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            Thats three clicks too many.

            • Ivan says:

              It sounds really petty but I kinda agree. It’s just more evidence that this particular iteration of windows was designed for someone else.

              • The question is, WHO is it designed for? I have seen a few people with the “meh, it isn’t as horrible as people say” but have yet to see ANYONE who loves it, and I deal with a very wide range of people. At least a few of those people have to be the people that Microsoft think they designed it for.Even the friends who like that sort of gossip and such hate Windows 8 because they can’t do what they want to do and can never find what they are trying to find. It over complicates simple things and babysits you through simple things.

                I really think it is a case of Microsoft trying to force people to accept the inevitable, which is Microsoft’s big brother idea of how things should work. 8.1 is just a slightly warmer pot than the frog was ready for.

                • Daemian Lucifer says:

                  The question is, WHO is it designed for?

                  People who buy lots of apps for their smartphones.Which is perfectly fine,but keep it on the phones.Dont try to cram it on my desktop computer(or my laptop,for that matter).

                • I know someone who loves it. He also has no sense of smell and well, let’s just say tasteless is not a bad adjective to apply to him. He raved about Win 8 for hours.
                  He’s also allergic to the command line, thinks all flavors of Linux originated with Satan, and would rather things look good than be functional.

                  So, of course he loved it.

                • Felblood says:

                  My 15 year old cousin thinks it is the greatest thing to ever happen to Windows.

                  “Once you get all the settings configured just the way you want and remove all the annoying crap it’s great!” he says.

                  If I wanted to do all that crap I would go back to Linux.

                  I just want an OS that can get my games talking to my drivers and then STFU. It is the exact opposite of hard or complicated, but they still mess it up every time.

                • boz says:

                  I think somewhere I read a quote from someone in Microsoft, saying exactly that. Found the article: http://www.cnet.com/news/windows-8-designer-why-microsoft-forced-metro-on-us-all/

                  • Wide And Nerdy says:

                    I can kind of relate to Microsoft. I’ve seen many a casual user decline to take even five minutes to learn something that would make their lives easier. I know plenty of users in my agency that still rely on shortcuts on their desktop and are helpless when those are deleted. A way of thinking that worked for them in an old windows environment. I’ve tried pointing out to them that using pinned apps would make their lives easier (not having to minimize all their windows). Some try it, some don’t. How hard is it? You drag an icon to your taskbar and boom, its pinned.

                    And thats far form the only example.

            • AdmiralCheez says:

              Absolutely! This should be available as an optional install, not a default feature. If I wanted to see ads and celebrity gossip and “things you may enjoy based on your recent activity,” I’d go on the internet.

      • I had SPECTACULAR crashing issues the first month I was on 8.1. Dragon Age: Inquisition crashed so hard that I couldn’t even get Task Manager to open to let me kill the program, I had to hard-reboot my computer every single time. I eventually figured out a combination of settings that fixed the problem but GOOD GOD it was awful.

        Even DDO went through a week of frequent hard crashes. For a while there I felt like I’d traveled back in time to Win 95.

  7. Scerro says:

    I have tamed my Windows 8 enough. I’ve gotten used to most of the tricks you need just to get it managed. It’s easiest to just skip past the make/login to a windows account, and make a local account (run-> ‘control userpasswords2’ , second tab, second button down. Also enable that built-in administrator account).

    Also, this is more relevant to the previous post in this series, but if you got into your boot options when you were getting a BSOD with Win7, you could have turned off the option to reboot when encountering an error, and thus be able to see what your BSOD was from. (I get the feeling it was a stupid error, possibly screwed up disc boot-type)

    Google ClassicShell. It’s a freeware win7-like start-menu replacement.

    Overall, my opinion of Windows 8 is that is does what it intended to do – let tablet users have all the functionality of a PC. With a touchscreen it’s fine. They overlooked traditional computers though, and it’s a pain with a standard keyboard-(non-touchscreen monitor)-mouse setup.

    • Thomas says:

      I’m confused why this log-in thing hasn’t happened to me? I definitely have never needed to follow all those steps in the link and my windows account seems to be signed in?

      When I log-in I have the ‘type 4 numbers’ pin thing instead (kind of funny considering Shamus’ example)?

      Did I fiddle with something and just forget

      • Scerro says:

        The purpose is that I (and Shamus) don’t want our log-in accounts to require our microsoft account passwords, which are more complex. Making it so that it doesn’t require that password is a pain the the rear, but apparently Shamus found out how to, my solution was to create a separate user account.

        • Thomas says:

          What I mean is that mine doesn’t require my Microsoft login password although it appears to be logged in? I’m not really sure how I ended up with that, because I didn’t do anything obscure or difficult to look up

          It’s possible I did your thing and forgot about it

          EDIT: Double checked, and yes, mine definitely does log into my Microsoft account without requiring me to type my Microsoft password.

          I remember being annoyed at having to type my MS password 3 or 4 times and then I just ticked an option for it not to do that (and use a PIN system instead)

          • Thomas says:

            Okay double checked, I’m pretty sure you don’t need to use a local account, you don’t need to go through the ridiculous steps in that link Shamus was looking at.

            On the start screen right click and select ‘sign in with PIN’

            If that’s not available to you yet just type ‘PIN’ into the search bar and it will come up with the “allow PIN setting” to do it. It’s much much easier than either of the other solutions. I have no idea why the link Shamus was looking at didn’t tell him to do this.

            It’s one of the other things I really like about Windows 8, because logging in with a PIN is super smooth. It automatically signs you in once you type the 4 numbers so you don’t even have to click a button or press enter to log in any more

            • You still need a pin. In our house we prefer to never ever see the login screen ever because too busy to bother. When you spend a great deal of time in front of a computer screen and a lot of breaks are, stand up, walk away, think for a few minutes, eureka, and back to the computer, you don’t want to have to wake the computer up, login , find the page. You want to move the mouse and get to work. Every extra step is one more step between you and getting something done before an interruption or you forget your idea.

              • Thomas says:

                That’s fair enough. You can set it so it doesn’t need even a PIN from sleep, but there’s no easy way to remove the password requirement completely and that’s functionality that a basic OS should have.

              • Scerro says:

                For me, it’s more of a legacy thing from back when my computer took 4-5 minutes to boot, and a login would require me to be present with 2-4 minutes to go for it to still be usable. It defeated the purpose of turning it on and walking away.

                Now that I have a SSD, it’s kind of a worthless thing. It’s a 20 second boot time, it’s enough to where I turn it on, do a quick something (grab my headset) and wham, it’s on the desktop ready to use. It’s almost kind of unsettling.

  8. Daemian Lucifer says:

    So if hitman is the next game,is Rutskarn going to be the pilot?I mean he is the 47.

    No dognesses!

  9. Incunabulum says:

    *If* I’m reading this right, you should be able to sign into Win8 using a local account (not your Microsoft one but one created on the computer).

    “You should be able to click “Create an account”, then at the bottom of the following screen there is a link that says “use existing account”, which uses the local account yous set up when you installed Windows 8.”

    https://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/windows/en-US/882eaf9f-2456-4c7a-9a2e-e11de70d9123/skip-sign-in-to-your-microsoft-account-windows-81-setup?forum=w8itprogeneral

    I don’t have Win8 so I can’t verify, but I sure hope so. I certainly do not want to have to have an internet connection (and give MS better ability to gather data about what I do with the computer) to log in. That sort of crap is annoying enough in *games*.

    • CodeFourteen says:

      Yes Incunabulum, There is a clear notification near the lower end of the screen.

    • MichaelG says:

      I did all that crap, and when I upgraded to 8.1, it undid it. But I don’t care, since I only have Win8 on a really slow laptop. I use it for compatibility testing on my code, and for nothing else.

      Because IT’S UGLY AND STUPID!

    • Mike S. says:

      Yes, it works. I have three Win 8 (now 8.1) machines, none of which use my Microsoft account for the login. MS clearly wants to strongly point you in the direction of using the MS account as your primary login to the point of hiding the ball, but it is possible to avoid.

      (I don’t hate 8.1, but I didn’t have to try installing it over an existing system, let alone one that I couldn’t log into. It sounds like that process was deeply unpleasant.)

      • ehlijen says:

        Some programs don’t work in an offline account though. I use my tablet in offline mode because I don’t believe in cloud storage being a good idea in the age of cybercrime, but every time I want to make a skype call I have to sign not just skype but the entire OS into my MS account. Seriously, WTV?

      • Zak McKracken says:

        The repeated use of the definite article in conjunction with “Microsoft account” makes me shiver … is having a Microsoft account mandatory now?

        I want an operating system, and I want to use it on a computer. That’s it, thank you very much.

        … I guess the good news is that Windows 7 will still last for a good while and Linux is gaining ability to replace Windows more and more, even in the gaming sphere.

    • Ahiya says:

      This works. It’s stupid, hidden and horrible, but it can be done.

      If it doesn’t get easier in Win10, I won’t be upgrading my Win7 machines.

      • MichaelGC says:

        Indeed, it can be done: you just have to deal with multiple strands of passive-aggression.

        You’re missing out on all this awesomeness! Don’t you want to be awesome? You know, like the cool kids. The cool, safe, well-protected kids. Oh well, be a reckless maverick if you must. Just don’t come running to me when you run out of drive space because of all the trojans and keyloggers you’ve installed.

        That’s if you managed to find the option which is labelled something like: “Do The Exact Opposite of What I Want.”

        Before beginning the process it’s advisable to have at least one actual kitten within audible-purring range.

  10. Licaon_Kter says:

    You can skip the need for an account on install, you just click next until a sneaky low contrast skip/ignore text (not button) appears on the lower left side of the screen. This is a pain in the business sector.

    BTW, better disable the whole login thing as soon as possible, I had that problem ( and the internets are full of it ) when it just says your password is wrong although you write it properly and you can’t log in until you reset the password (on another system/device), also after a while you might get it again.

  11. Tom says:

    “Cultural waste” – perfect phrase; totally stealing it.

    I think you’re making a key misassumption here, Shamus – you mentioned the concept of “work-flow.” I think it’s abundantly clear that the designers of Windows 8 had no interest whatsoever in work-flow; it is obviously structured primarily and overwhelmingly as a “media and DLC consumption platform” (as if literally building click-bait into your operating system’s primary user interface weren’t an obscenely blatant give-away all by itself), not a work platform and certainly not a computing platform. The “traditional desktop metaphor” interface, with multiple windows open at a time feels like exactly that; sitting at a desk, where I can work or recreate (is that a word?) with roughly equal ease. The touchscreen, tiles and “apps” approach feels like vaguely channel surfing whilst vegetating in front of the telly. This is not a feeling conducive to work. Windows 8 made my computer less like a computer than ever before, and turned it into a net-enabled TV with no tuner.

    I have a seemingly very out-of-fashion conception of computers; I see them as tools to be used to achieve things. Apparently people who think as I do are in the minority now, and computers are regarded more as an item of furniture than anything else; so Microsoft have basically decided to stop selling workbenches and sell coffee tables instead. I guess I could clamp a vice to my coffee table, if I were really quite spectacularly desperate.*

    The most obvious sign that they weren’t thinking at all in terms of how effectively it can actually be used to achieve things (that, really, sums it up – using windows 8 is practically a passive experience, not an active one) is that the interface they replaced the start menu with was inherently NON-HIERARCHICAL, and when they then, feebly, attempted to put back something approximating the start menu, that too remained non-hierarchical, despite this being the very core of the start menu concept, and thus showed that whoever presumably grudgingly did that utterly failed to even grasp WHY people wanted the start menu back.

    Needless to say, Windows 8 is now gone from my life. I only ever kept windows around at all for those few programs that still wouldn’t work in Wine, and none of them were essential – mostly just a couple of games so obscure or badly programmed that nobody’s figured out how to make them go in Linux yet.

    *I have relatively few qualms about placing a coffee mug on my workbench.

    • Mike S. says:

      I’m not going to tell you what works for you, but I’m old enough to remember similar complaints about moving to a window-and-GUI system. One SF author I used to be online-acquainted with would go into tirades about trading thousands of years worth of development in alphabetical language in favor of hieroglyphs, and kept her ancient DOS-based 286 machine going long past what anyone else would have deemed credible. (I think she was finally weaned off it when getting files from a used 286 became too tough, and a friend hacked together a Linux box set up for command-line only that would run her beloved ancient word-processing software Protext in DOSBox.) My wife’s old boss ran Norton Commander for years rather than get used to Windows’ file management. And of course George R.R. Martin still famously writes in WordStar.

      And that’s fine. Everything isn’t an advance, and I’m no advocate for change for the sake of change. There’s no question that, e.g., the Win8 start screen isn’t primarily aimed at the desktop user.

      But it’s also true that I use my own Win 8.1 machines 90% in desktop mode, using the same taskbar and desktop icons and window arrangements I do on my Win7 machines. The start screen is basically just a big obtrusive start menu. (Its filling the screen is occasionally inconvenient, but not in a dealbreaking way, and if it were I’d install one of the start menu replacements.) It’s non-hierarchical, but in practice I don’t find starting to type the name of what I’m looking for (at which point the search starts listing matches) notably more inconvenient than navigating multiple menu levels.

      I even use my Surface Pro tablet in desktop mode most of the time, which is a little inconvenient (since the mouse targets are too small to be convenient for touch) because the Metro browser doesn’t support plugins. (Run a browser without Adblock Plus and Privacy Badger? I don’t think so.)

      So for myself, thus far I don’t find Win8.1 a major obstacle to using computers the same way I have for the last decade and a half. Mileage obviously varies. It sounds like MS is bringing back the start menu for Win10, so that should help some.

      • Tizzy says:

        I don’t even see the start screen that often. I guess there is a way to log in directly into desktop mode. I can’t remember, I set this up a while ago. It was a pain at first, but it didn’t take long to make it usable.

        • Mike S. says:

          With 8.1, that’s the default if the Windows detects that it’s a desktop rather than a tablet.

          If for some reason it messes up, it should be fixable thus: Right-click on the taskbar and select Properties. Then select the Navigation tab, and under Start Screen, check “When I sign in or close all apps on the screen, go to the desktop instead of Start” and click OK.

          (And the reverse if you’ve got a desktop but for some reason want to boot to the start screen, of course.)

          • tzeneth says:

            Thank you for this. I was wondering how to set that up without having to go through any ridiculous steps or start searching through many menus. Man, right clicking can do a hell of a lot more than I thought. Especially after learning about right clicking the start menu button (so many useful quick links!).

  12. Is that Hitman: Absolution? Dang. I just bought the SquareEnix Humble Bundle because it had Startopia & Deus Ex HR in it and reviews on its Lara Croft Marlo Briggs style game were good. It came with a bunch of (according to most reviews) really crappy games: Murdered: Soul Suspect, Hitman:Absolution, the Kane & Lynch Collection, etc.

    I was about to never install Hitman and just let it fester, but now…

    • Henson says:

      Yeah, me too. I was going to play Thiaf first, just to see what all the fuss was about, but it looks like I’m going to have to change my plans. Still! I haven’t played a game along with Spoiler Warning since Skyrim, so that should be…fun?

      • Ivan says:

        I’ve been sitting on this game for a while as well, this might be fun.

        Initially I wasn’t going to get it because I wasn’t happy with a number of the changes (the live score counter is still an incredibly irritating concept for me). Then it dropped down to $5 on a steam sale and I decided that for that price maybe I was sending the message that I wanted to send (that I want more hitman games, just not watered down versions of them). Well if nothing else I might get $5 out of enjoyment out of it.

        Not sure exactly why I never got around to playing it though…

      • Oh, yeah. Thi4f. Forgot about that one.

        I’m basically going to sit on that (and the others) in the hopes someone makes an amazing total conversion mod or something.

        • Isaac says:

          There are no mod tools for Thief 4.

          • That doesn’t preclude someone from coding their own or mucking about with it in ways we mere mortals can’t.

            The question is if it’d be worth it to do so.

            Now that I think of it, wouldn’t it be great if game companies released modding tools as a way to boost sales of crappy games? I mean, it’d increase sales (albeit on discount, but that’s a quibble for accountants) and the end result could be a much better experience for players in the form of a less broken or even different game using the base structure of the original (see: Skyrim).

  13. RCN says:

    Oh, wow, you started this post with a picture of kittens.

    This is NOT going to be pretty, is it?

  14. Neko says:

    Well, look at it this way, now you can upgrade to Windows $NEXT_VERSION! Which fixes that terrible problem people complained about in $PREVIOUS_VERSION. You might find $NEW_FEATURE a little annoying but don’t worry, it’s completely optional and you can turn it off with a simple registry fix.

  15. Mechaninja says:

    Shamus.

    http://www.ninite.com/chrome

    I’m not even playing. It is the best thing, the simplest thing, etc. When I need someone to install Team Viewer so I can fix their computer, I don’t send them to http://www.teamviewer.com and walk them through the install. I send them to http://www.ninite.com/teamviewer and get them to run the download.

    Save that little downloader, or better still go to the home page and customize one.

    Run it once a week to update a handful of programs. Save to a flash drive and use it to install Chrome/etc. when you have a new computer, or have to reload Windows, or etc. There are pay versions if you want to keep stuff updated for multiple clients/sites/users, but the free version is just amazing by itself.

    I cannot emphasize enough how wonderful these guys are. It doesn’t solve your Windows 8 hassles, but it helps me a lot more than pictures of kittens. If only I’d posted this before you went through some of this.

    Also, I’m assuming you know about Process Explorer and were only using the task manager because you hadn’t gotten that far yet?

    (This is not an add, daggum it, though if I could get paid to advertise for Ninite, I would in a heartbeat. Sorry about the multiple links.)

  16. JackTheStripper says:

    You don’t need a Microsoft Account to make a user in either Win8 or Win8.1, but the option is not clearly visible. What you gotta do is go to Create Account and at the bottom you’ll see an option to use a Local Account (which is what you want). You just gotta look for it, though I agree that it sucks how much they push it.

    Anyway, as much hate as I’ve heard for Win8 over the Metro UI (which is unnecessary, I agree), the rest of the OS is substantially better than Win7. I’ve used both Win7 and Win8.1 for long periods and Win8.1 is clearly more stable and versatile, but it takes some getting used to. For those who can’t get over the UI differences though, Win10 is just on the horizon, and the Start Menu is back to what it was.

    • Ahiya says:

      Not really.

      We’re getting a Start Menu, yes. But all the screenshots I’ve seen are different from the Win7 Start Menu. The Metro screen isn’t going away. It’s simply being shrunk and given a button.

      I don’t know why MS thinks a non-hierarchical melted-crayons-on-table UI is the wave of the future. I’m old enough to recognize that most things shouldn’t be neon, and that includes my computer interface.

      • ehlijen says:

        MS’s big mistake was thinking that touch screen tablets and mouse+KB desktops should be using the same UI.

        I can get behind wanting to make things as similar as possible to allow for better cross platform operations, but touch screens and mice aren’t even close in how people want to use them :(
        This was not a smart UI design move. Different input methods need different UIs.

        • Henson says:

          I wonder, however, if our attitudes towards this will change once touchscreen monitors become standard. Not that the touchscreen would replace mouse & keyboard, but you do get used to using the touch controls in some ways. Will the terrible metro interface start to feel normal?

          • Tse says:

            Imagine yourself using a 30 inch touchscreen placed at an arms’ length. That wouldn’t be a good viewing distance.

            • Not to mention the arm motions needed to use the whole space. I use a WACOM Cintiq that’s 21″ and there are times when it can seem too big.

              I could see a sort of Wii U setup someday where the computer comes with an “interface touchscreen” or something, but a touchscreen the size of even a “small” TV? I can’t see that working, especially if you actually want to watch movies or play games on the thing. Just imagine all the scratches and fingerprints…

            • JackTheStripper says:

              I use a 32″ TV as a computer monitor that sits just out of arm’s length. It takes a little getting used to, but it’s awesome.

            • ehlijen says:

              But would we keep that monitor setup?

              I’ve already seen some novelty desks where the screen was built into the surface rather than standing on it upright. If touchscreens become standard, flat screens lying on a desk might be the future.

              Heck, it might even bring back handwriting (albeit with a lightpen)?

      • Zak McKracken says:

        …and even the W7 start menu is’nt really an improvement over the XP one :(

        OK, so they fixed the problem with people right-clicking it to start the file explorer (when the function was only meant to edit the start menu…), but that search function shows you the results but refuses to tell you where it found them. If you want to see what’s in a branch of the start menu, you need to click, then click again to close it again — the mouse-over in earlier Windows versions was soo much faster!

        Actually, what is it with launchers in operating systems these days? Indexed searches and stuff are pretty cool, but why downgrade all else? Even KDE either requires several clicks (and a useless animation) before you see what’s in the menu, combined with a search function, or a proper launcher menu but no search (although it used to have both once!), Android thinks it should present everything in alphabetical order, no way to arrange things yourself or group them … this is plain silly.

  17. Ben says:

    Ah, the first experience with Windows 8! It’s fun to watch the reaction, kind of like feeding a baby a lemon. Fear not, once you get the right settings adjusted, it’s just like Windows 7 but better in literally every way.

    The truth is, I REALLY like Windows 8. More than any previous Windows. It’s faster than Win7, stability is about the same, and it’s got a lot of nice features befitting a modern operating system. It makes great use of your RAM and will happily run on less than either of its two immediate predecessors. Boot time is short on a hard drive and spectacular on an SSD. I’ve even grown to like the Start screen, especially on a laptop where the huge icons are easy to click. And if you want something less frequently-used, just like Win7, you can hit the Windows key, start typing a program name, and hit enter. Once you get the associations set properly, you never ever have to use a Metro app for any reason. And somewhere, there’s actually an option to use a local sign-in instead of your Microsoft account (be warned, change this right away – you’re technically creating a new user, and it throws away some of your user settings).

    But. But, but, but. The out-of-box configuration is absolutely inexcusable. The Start screen is full of useless garbage programs, and half of them open to a desktop while the other half open to a full-screen Metro app. The Microsoft account thing is extremely frustrating.

    When you first install/boot Windows 8 on any computer with a physical keyboard, it should boot straight to the desktop. Every single filetype should be associated with a desktop program, not a Metro app. The first-boot page should let you make a local account, with a check box to connect to an existing Microsoft account, along with a description of whatever benefits you might gain by doing so. And like every Windows since 98se, they should take a cue from Apple and ship a lot fewer miscellaneous bullshit programs by default. If they did this, it would genuinely be a world-class operating system and people would be a lot happier with it.

    On the plus side, I think Windows 10 is really nothing more than Windows 8 with a couple of the above improvements.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Fear not, once you get the right settings adjusted, it’s just like Windows 7 but better in literally every way.

      You keep using that word.I do not think it means what you think it means.

      stability is about the same

      And yet,on a fresh install,this:

      I click on the button to show more details and Task Manager itself hangs.

      That doesnt scream stable to me.Like,at all.

      • Trix2000 says:

        Because task manager was so stable in prior versions.

        I’d have to agree that, at its core, Win8 is basically Win7 with some performance improvements and a new coat of paint. It’s about as good or bad as that might sound to you.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          In 7 it is.So much so that I was able to terminate quite a few programs that used to brick my xp.

        • guy says:

          I’ve never had Task Manager actually hang on me, though it sometimes runs slow when I’m trying to use it to shut down a program that’s stealing all the CPU cycles from everything else.

          • Soylent Dave says:

            Likewise – I was horrified at the idea that Task Manager hung for Shamus.

            I’ve never had that happen in Win 7; I’ve had it take a little while to end something particularly CPU hungry, I’ve had it take a little while to open, but never, ever Stop Responding.

            That would have infuriated me.

            • Richard says:

              All you have to do is set something that uses a fair bit of CPU to “Real Time” CPU priority.

              *Never do this*

              • guy says:

                Ah, yes, I haven’t tried that. However, having the Task Manager hang in that case would be Works As Intended, because the computer has been explicitly instructed to prioritize resources to the other process even over system functions. Obviously that is not generally a good idea.

      • Asimech says:

        “You keep using that word.I do not think it means what you think it means.”

        It starts making sense* once you replace every “literally” with “like” and imagine it being said in a valley girl accent.

        * In a manner of speaking.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      “it’s just like Windows 7 but better in literally every way.”

      “The out-of-box configuration is absolutely inexcusable.”

      I would rather finally get off my lazy butt and learn how Linux works than try to learn all the tricks to make Windows 8 tolerable. I would rather use my mother’s Chromebook than a Windows 8 machine. I would rather use a Mac, because Macs know better than to try to be iPhones.

      • Matt Downie says:

        My new office computer is Windows 8. It really didn’t take me long to adapt. Anything I use regularly, I pin to the taskbar. For other stuff I press the windows key and start typing the name of the thing I want. (I suppose I could stick things in that silly Metro apps menu but I don’t.) Beyond that, I can’t really think of anything noticeably different from 7.

  18. Jokerman says:

    Oh… you guys giving Absolution a kicking will be fun to watch for me, if that is the game that you are doing. Any of the other Hitman games… it would feel like you are kicking my puppy.

    • Shamus says:

      Absolution for sure. The fact that you want to defend the previous games and are eager to see Absolution take a beating says it all, really.

    • Dev Chand says:

      I really like the Hitman series, but frankly I wouldn’t mind if they got a good mocking. They have several bad design decisions that lead to really odd situations, and the games have always had a tonal problem. They often tried to evoke B grade action films, but sometimes try to make the situations look serious, and sometimes end up being too slapsticky.

  19. Ahiya says:

    ClassicShell really does help. It feels so wrong to install addons to fix what MS broke, but it works so much better than the Metro idiocy.

    I somehow managed to get the Metro screen to present lists of items instead of the randomly-sized-squares, which is much better. It’s still a flat, busy, neon eyesore but at least it’s not as much of a busy eyesore. If I remember how to do that I’ll post.

    Good luck getting everything installed and working again! Reinstalls are a huge pain.

    • SKD says:

      “It feels so wrong to install addons to fix what MS broke”

      We in IT have been doing it for years, the Metro idiocy just happens to be one of the more egregious examples.

    • Volatar says:

      >I somehow managed to get the Metro screen to present lists of items instead of the randomly-sized-squares, which is much better. It’s still a flat, busy, neon eyesore but at least it’s not as much of a busy eyesore. If I remember how to do that I’ll post.

      The arrow button in the lower left switches between those modes.

  20. Grenaid says:

    Fixing a steam install is often as easy as deleting everything in the folder except the games themselves, and steam.exe.

    Run the exe (as admin) and it will reinstall itself with default settings and find your games.

    I’ve been running the windows 10 tech preview for a while now, and it fixes a lot of windows 10’s problems. The upgrade process is pretty painless too.

  21. the kleptomaniac skeptic says:

    Yiu can set the start menu so it oppens to the application view when you hit the windows key. I find it to be much more tolerable. Otherwise, try classic shell. It works pretty well for replacing metro

  22. General Karthos says:

    These posts make me glad I have a Mac. There are legions of problems on the Mac side as well, Lord knows, but the solution to most of the problems is highly intuitive, and if it’s not, you can find five different possible solutions to any problem. Like yesterday my volume adjust stopped working. I found a site with five different solutions. I tried all five. Only one of them worked, but the point is that one of them worked.

    Also nobody in the forum where people were talking about the problem was calling the original poster or any of the others “f***ing n00b retard!” or anything like that, which is most of what I see on the Microsoft forums when I’m looking for a solution from a Microsoft program like Skype (which has become an ungodly mess since Microsoft acquired it, but is unfortunately essential if I don’t want my weekly call with my friend in Japan to cost $120-300) or anything to do with my XBox. (I really thought it was just the teenage moron twitch-shooter video game crowd, but man… either everyone who uses Microsoft products morphs into a rage-filled shell of a human being or all the polite Microsoft folks found somewhere else to go.)

    Anyway, really off-topic…. Point is, I do feel where you’re coming from on the… well, no, honestly, I don’t. But you’ve given me one more reason to avoid messing around with Windows.

    Though I still envy you your games.

    • tmtvl says:

      On the other hand, Windows let’s you choose a colour scheme, I still haven’t found the preference in Yosemite that lets me do that (and don’t go telling me about the highlight colour that can go from blue to grey or vice versa).

      Weird how I used Windows for 12 years of my life and then made a total and complete switch to Linux with nary a hiccough, but switching to Mac makes me tear my hair out.

    • Your description sounds less like the MS forums I’ve perused (the most recent trying to get an Xbox controller to work with my PC) and more like the ones I look at for Google Chrome.

      And to be honest, in both cases the ire is lobbed at the parent company more often than not, especially when any “help” starts sounding like a chatbot armed with FAQ links instead of an actual human who recognizes the links don’t contain any helpful information.

      • General Karthos says:

        That was always my problem with EA. I mean, even before they became the embodiment of all that is evil in the video game industry. You had to register to ask for technical assistance… and then you sent in a request for help, and they sent back an autobot e-mail saying: “Thank you for your concern, someone will get in contact with you at some point before the second coming… if we feel like it. But because we hate all consumers and think you are gibbering morons who will keep buying our products no matter how much we abuse you, we probably won’t bother.”

        Really, I’ve stopped sending e-mails for technical support to any company other than Apple. Apple is the only one that has EVER gotten back to me with helpful technical support.

        Oh, and the color scheme option? Yeah… I suppose that’s one thing you can’t do on a Mac. But all I need is a nice background. At least you can disable the whole password thing for a family computer with a single click of a button. I think you have to type your password to disable it, but it’s a LOT simpler than the work around. :)

        But I’m not here to start the whole tired Mac vs. PC debate. I think we can leave it at the fact that PC does some stuff better than Macs (particularly games) and Mac does some stuff better than PCs.

        • I have to say the only color scheme I care about is “off.” :)

          I pick a desktop wallpaper that looks nice from desktopstarships.com and that’s usually the last time I look at it.

        • tmtvl says:

          PC’s are hardware, Windows sucks, Linux is awesome, and to show hidden folders in Yosemite you have to type some arcane command into the terminal. Same for disabling mouse acceleration and scroll acceleration. Because having an accurate mouse is a luxury that isn’t really needed.

          Which is why I do as little work as possible on the iMac and do as much as possible on my OpenSUSE laptop.

    • Zak McKracken says:

      Since I’ve found out that Jitsi runs on everything (non-embedded devices, that is) and is dead easy to configure (though somewhat ressource-hungry) and allows both voice and video calls (and conferences!) via XMPP (aka Jabber), and every other e-mail provider (gmail for example…) gives you an XMPP acount along with your e-mail, I’ve made a bunch of people use that. Love it.

      Oh, and voice and video calls are properly encrypted using zrtp, no semi-official backdoors and crap like Skype. It don’t get much better than that.
      From Android, I can use Chat Secure to do instant messaging via XMPP, though voice and video chat don’t quite work that way, sadly.

  23. Leonardo Herrera says:

    Every time I see people bashing Windows 8 I find myself dumbfounded. I mean, it is so much easier and streamlined to use than horrible, horrible Windows 7 that is not funny. Actually, the problem it’s the old Start menu: it is a horrible, horrible thing and it deserves to be taken outside and shot. (I’m appalled to see they’ll bring it back in Windows 10.)

    Want to know a secret? The Windows key is everything you need. Press it and start typing and let the Search pane do its magic. It is so nice I cannot stand Windows 7 anymore.

    Press the Windows key again and bam!, you are back where you were.

    You all Windows 7 worshippers are nothing but philistines.

    • guy says:

      Congratulations, you have invented a terminal.

      I vastly prefer using a mouse. Win7 lets you do exactly the same thing and people don’t do it.

      • Thomas says:

        Searching on Windows 7 was crud. Absolute dire. It threw everything into a tiny little box in the start menu, it felt slow to find anything you want and everything about it felt clunky. In Windows 8 it’s just ridiculously smooth and much faster.

        I tried to use search in Windows 7 and I never could get into. In Windows 8 I use it for literally every program not pinned to the startbar.

        • I think you are using the word “literally” wrong, do you mean “every program” or “almost every program” or “most programs” ?

          People tend to say “I literally died” which is not true as they are alive so it can’t be literal.
          They can not have almost died either as their health was never in danger.
          The meaning of the word “literally” has been ruined sadly.

          This is what the word literally literally means.

          You might have meant that you “figuratively use it for every program” or that you “use it for every program (figuratively)”.

          • Matt Downie says:

            Literally everyone knows what ‘literally’ means. (I was using ‘literally’ figuratively there.) But in the above case he clearly means ‘literally’ literally. Whenever he wants to load a program not pinned to the bar, he does it by literally typing in the first few letters of the name. I literally do the same thing.

          • Thomas says:

            Nope, you’re just hanging onto an outdated model of linguistic formalism :P It’s funny I had to school someone on this exact thing two days ago

            Oxford Dictionaries:
            1. In a literal manner or sense; exactly:

            1.1 informal: Used for emphasis while not being literally true

            http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/literally

            You can’t fight the signal man. Life flows on

            • krellen says:

              Rejecting changes we don’t like is one of the privileges of age. Get off my lawn, kid.

              • I don’t reject changes, I encourage them.
                I’ve written often to politicians in my country about some issues, but it falls on deaf ears.
                I’ve written on forums/and site comments and many times emailed higher ups at AMD and other places suggesting ideas or ways to improve things, never got a word back.

                Nobody has an issue with change if it costs nothing, but if they thing it costs something or they loose something then people start to resist change.

                Feel free to try to persuade me to change the use of the word “literally” and “literal”, if your argument is sound and shows positive progress then I have no issues ditching the centuries of traditional use of that word.

            • He did write “I use it for literally every program not pinned to the startbar.”

              I basically said the use of the word was ambiguous, there was no way for me to infer from that sentence if he actually meant e”very program not pinned to the startbar” or if he meant “almost all programs not pinned to the startbar”.

              You might think the use of the word literally to literally mean literally rather than an exaggeration is outdated.
              This is fine, but if the meaning of the word changes then that change should be consistent.

              The purpose of a standard language and standard words is to avoid confusion on the meaning of something.

              The number of Chinese speaking people in the world dwarfs those English speaking people, by your logic Chinese should be the international language.

              Although I truly hope that the majority (literally) of people who use the word literally actually mean literally and not in an exaggeration.

              The issue with literally is that it’s a commonly used word, if a more obscure word was changed/adopted for a slang or other meaning that would be not so bad.

              But when a word ends either meaning “it’s true” or “it’s a lie” then that word has lost any meaning past or future.

              If have no issues with using actually (or other words) rather than literally, but then literally everyone in the world need to obsolete the use of the word for that purpose as well.

              I never liked the alteration (especially making a word have a opposite meaning) of a word based on the context.
              I prefer context free use of words as that avoid any potential confusion.

              Maybe it’s just the programmer in me, or maybe it’s because English is not my native language, I’m Norwegian, and my English today is International English which is a mix of TV/Media/Web English from all over the world.

              Take your name Thomas, it’s meaning has changed, the given name of Thomas the Apostle was Yehuda (Jude, Judas).

              Some changes are good, others are not.
              I think changing the meaning of literally is a negative one as it will impact other uses of the base word.

              What would you call “A literal work” if the word literal no longer can mean literal?
              Watering down of a language or the words of a language should be done with care.

              Here in Norway there is a special council that evaluates changed to the Norwegian language and if/how new words are added to it. Sometimes those changes are weird or makes no sense but at least it’s standardizes in some way even if I don’t agree with it.

              Also, most of the time the word “literally” can be skipped if you want an exaggerated statement.
              “I literally died” and “I died” has the same contextual meaning, and as far as twitter etc. is concerned, saving a full word is space saved for more text.

              • Thomas says:

                So this is the practical advantage of the word ‘literally’

                “I died” and “I literally died” have the some logical meaning, but they don’t have the same _expressive_ meaning. If you’re trying to convey a purely factual situation, then sure, it’s the same. However if you’re trying to convey an emotive expression they do not have the same meaning.

                Of “It was the best thing in the world” and “It was literally the best thing in the world”, the second one conveys more excitement, some sillyness and maybe a little light-hearted irony if you’re tone of voice is right. It’s much harder to convey the same meaning with the first sentence. Adding literally to the sentence tells people things about me and paints a different picture of the situation.

                “Figuratively” does the exact opposite. “It was figuratively the best thing in the world” might have the same logical meaning as “It was literally the best thing in the world”, but adding figuratively to that sentence makes it a little bit colder and more detached. You’re deliberately de-hyping people from the initial hyperbole, consciously drawing attention to the fact that it’s not actually the best thing in the world.

                Whereas literally is all hype.
                ————————–
                Regardless, ‘literally’ as I said it became standard usage a long time ago, and ‘correcting’ people for using language in an entirely acceptable way is wrong. There are plenty of other words and phrases in the English language which are inclearly defined but you don’t correct people because they’re a natural part of the language.

                If we were in a formal context it’s different, because in a formal context you’ve got to take account of the people who’ve refused to move on with the definition of the word. But this isn’t a formal context.

                • krellen says:

                  Written word is ALWAYS more formal than spoken word. While Shamus’s comments are pretty informal, they’re still written word, and no inflections can ever be assumed.

                  I thought you meant the true definition of “literally” here; the idea that you were using it for “emphasis” never even crossed my mind. We have tools for emphasis in written speech and do not need to abuse vocabulary to show it.

                • Asimech says:

                  There are plenty of words you can use instead of “literally” for the purposes of emphasis and expression. But is there a word to use when someone wants to succinctly express that what they’re saying is not meant figuratively nor with emphasis but is meant to be taken, well, literally even if it sounds like it’s figure of speech or an exaggeration?

                • MichaelGC says:

                  Yes and no – if language is a constantly evolving process (which it clearly is!) then complaining about specific instances can be a legitimate part of that process.

                  I guess there’s a tipping point somewhere which “literally” is figuratively past by now… but in very general terms, for useful evolution to occur there must also be adversity.

            • RandomInternetCommenter says:

              Nothing is more damning for a new product than an apologist outing himself as a “new is always better” guy.

    • Eric says:

      I am not opposed to the idea of a “home screen” on a desktop computer, but then again, this is also basically what the desktop is to begin with.

      Part of me thinks that if the Start Menu was going to be overhauled, Microsoft should have just replaced it with an Android-style app drawer and search function. Instead we got some weird hybrid of all these ideas which probably could have been streamlined into the desktop itself. In fact, they already had the idea of Android-style widgets years ago. They’re called… gadgets.

      Truth be told, I never actually use the Start Menu for anything except for searching, my list of pinned apps, and quick links to stuff like Downloads. I never bother for anything actually in the menu itself.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      “I mean, it is so much easier and streamlined to use than horrible, horrible Windows 7 that is not funny.”

      That’s hilarious and it made my day. I am amazed you said that with a straight face and applaud you, sir.

      Windows 7 is what they wanted to do with Vista from the start. Windows 8 is what they wanted to do with XBox One from the start. The former is forgivable, the latter is not.

    • Xeorm says:

      Here I’d like to note that people work differently, and when designing a UI it’s best to take that into account.

      For me personally, I suck at names. I will often not remember names, especially if I don’t use the item in question much or have much time to look at what it’s actually called. By comparison, I can remember placement and general gist of what it is much easier. So, at the end of the day, the majority of any programs that I use are on the desktop or in the quick menu, while lesser used items are located conveniently in the start menu with nice, hierarchical ordering to help me find what exactly I’m looking for.

      Plus, after so many years of gaming I intentionally try and forget that windows key exists. Too many deaths from that silly waste of space on my keyboard.

      • Richard says:

        More to the point, a large part of my UI training can be boiled down to:

        Don’t move the cheese*.

        The majority of people only remember where something is, and (roughly) what it looks like.

        They don’t remember it’s exact name – it’s “the thingy” or the “whatsit” until they use more conscious effort because “It’s not where I left it”.

        A ‘good’ UI doesn’t require that conscious effort – and so feels intuitive and easy.

        When learning a UI, people search, read, and try to find patterns. Once they find a pattern, they’ll then try to apply it everywhere in the “system” – even if it’s the wrong pattern.

        So if you do a UI redesign, make sure it looks pretty similar to the previous. Never do a full break with tradition – even if it’s provably ‘better’, it’s still wrong.

        * Unless you want to make them think it’s entirely different cheese.

    • Were I in charge of Windows (and I can’t see why I’m not, really) I’d have a selection at install and changeable later that goes something like:

      “Select an interface preference: – Tablet/touchscreen. – Keyboard only. – Keyboard & mouse. – Command line. – Other (more complicated settings) – Etc.”

      I mean, I’m sure there are names for whatever a taskbar & desktop icon setup is vs. a kind of smartphone setup is, and at this point, giving users an initial choice they can live with and tweak later would seem a no-brainer.

    • Zak McKracken says:

      The thing is that they never improved the start menu but tried to replace it, and made the start menu worse in order to encourage people to let it go…

      The one thing (which I occasionally do) that you cannot do using the search function is finding an installed program whose name you have forgotten.

      On Linux (at least KDE, but most other environments, too), programs will be automatically sorted into categories, some in several. So if you’re not sure which graphics editing software you have on your system, you just move to the according submenu, and there you see them. Searching through the start menu in Windows 7, though, is a pain because they removed the ability to peek into a submenu just via mouse-over, but rather force you to click, plus limiting the on-screen size of the damn thing (while giving a full screen to the stupid W8 metro-thingie…) — and wait for people to complain that the start menu was useless and schould be replaced.

      For, me, the version in XP plus search function (which actually shows you where it found something) is the ideal.
      Sadly, this only existed for a very brief time in the very last KDE 3.5 releases (before 4.0 made us choose between a sensible menu and a search function…)

      I seriously don’t get why they* do this.

      *they: Everyone from Microsoft to any of the larger Linux desktop environment teams. Android is crappy that way, too, and I do not remember MacOS or iOS being any better, though my experience with either was only a few minutes, a year or two ago.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      So you didnt know that you can use the exact same thing on windows 7(press windows key,type the start of what you want to run and hit enter and bam! the search function does its magic),and you are bashing on it.Congratulations,you are a smug ignoramus.

      Yet on windows 7,besides the search function,you can also use your mouse from the start,without having to:
      a)get used to wading through the horrible,horrible adds and other crap
      b)install a bunch of customization crap and tweak everything so that it looks less horrible for when you want to use your mouse.
      So it not only satisfies those that only require keyboard,but those that prefer using their mouse as well.Hence 7 trumps 8.

      • Leonardo Herrera says:

        So, you call me ignoramus yet you think the Windows 7 search feature is anywhere near the same vicinity as the Windows 8 search feature… hm.

        I did use the Windows 7 search, thank you. No, it’s not the same. Not in speed, not in features.

        Ads? I see no ads in my Windows 8 install. I’m sure there were some, but not anymore. By the way, that was the same in Windows 7 – it also had a lot of garbage preloaded, but I made sure to get rid of it.

        Really? Are you saying that using a mouse in Windows 8 is more difficult than in Windows 7? Why? Did it make it heavier?

  24. Timelady says:

    Oh, and this could just be unique to my mother’s computer since I’ve never had to troubleshoot any other Windows 8 machines, but just in case, it’s worth warning you for:

    IN WINDOWS 8, REBOOTING DOES NOT RESTART THE MACHINE.

    IT JUST RESTARTS WINDOWS.

    I tried a quick google search just to make sure it wasn’t just me, and found this, which is even more annoying, come to think of it.

  25. Thomas says:

    Hah wait! I’ve just thought of the thing that will drive you insane. I’ve never seen a operating system more stupid than this:

    Windows 8 can’t play DVDs.

    You have to download a third-party app (probably full of ads) to watch a film on a Windows 8 computer.

    • Alex says:

      I was already using a third party app to watch DVDs (Media Player Classic, and VLC for the one DVD that is stupid and refuses to for some reason) so that didn’t affect me. What annoys me is that I needed a third party app to see animated gifs (IrfanView, by the way).

    • Shamus says:

      RAAAAGE!

      Man, I just calmed down. This is asinine. There is no excuse for this. What complete horseshit.

      • Shamus says:

        On the upside, Windows Media Player was always horrible. It felt like RealPlayer. (If anyone remembers that.) And it looks like VLC does that job.

        Still, for $100+ USD, it’s outrageous that they wouldn’t include something so fundamental.

        • Henson says:

          Whatever happened to RealPlayer, anyway? Gone the way of Lotus 123, I gather?

          • ehlijen says:

            I think when the internet became fast enough for youtube and mp4 and mkv made good quality videos small enough, rm compression finally became so unnecessary that everyone immediately uninstalled the thing.

            But what I want to know is why playing blurays on a PC is still this difficult :(
            They’ve got to know that artificially walling themselves off with licences isn’t going to work in the age of video streaming.

            • SKD says:

              I avoided everything RealMedia like the plague it was from a pretty early point in its life. Once VLC came onto the scene it became my primary media player and I can only think of a handful of files it has ever failed to play for me.

              I guess I never noticed the issue with playing bluray discs as I only ever attempted to view them with VLC and had no problems. More commonly I just rip them to my media server to be viewed on either my HTPC or one of the GoogleTV boxes.

              • Zak McKracken says:

                Oh, VLC does Blurays, too? And here I thought I was stuck with the silly program that came with my bluray drive…

                This whole Bluray business is extremely silly. They were supposed to become the new DVD but they never will because of all the licencing and DRM crap. Even if a user does not mind DRM, they’ll need to spend significant money on compliant devices (which could be a lot cheaper of it wasn’t for the DRM), people watching movied on PCs have a hard time, and if you want to do what everyone is doing with music CDs these days (rip and store where you can play it whenever you like) … well, DRM :(

                • Oh, VLC does Blurays, too?

                  Well, maybe. That DRM you mention makes it difficult. VLC doesn’t come with the crypto key built in, so you’ve got to install and configure one yourself. I never got it to work for me. Also, it’s not particularly legal to do…

                  • Richard says:

                    !? Under what jurisdiction could it possibly be illegal to play the video you’ve just bought in a shop?

                    How can anyone complain that you just used a thing for the precise purpose for which it was made?

                    If that’s actually true, then a studio trying to sue would be committing hari-kiri in public and so it’s irrelevant.

                    • Nimas says:

                      I assume its would be due to the Anti-circumvention clause in the DMCA (not sure where they’re from). This is the clause that states it’s illegal to circumvent DRM *even if* the reason you do it is completely legal (for example, backing up dvd’s you legally purchased or unlocking your phone).

                      In the US the Library of Congress has certain stated exceptions but as with the phone example, they can be revoked at pretty much any time.

                      With regards to suing, most likely if they found out (highly unlikely) they would probably just send a demand letter telling you to stop. You’d have to be fairly unlucky to be one of the people they try and make an *example* of.

            • Muspel says:

              I would guess that it’s one of those situations where the people making the decision don’t know enough about the internet to understand that. (Either that, or they have to answer to supervisors/shareholders who don’t know enough, which is more or less the same thing.)

        • That might make a good article, Shamus, since I assume this comes into play:

          Blu-Ray is owned and licensed by Sony. Sony is a direct competitor to Microsoft for gaming consoles. Could Sony be making licensing Blu-Ray codecs overly expensive for MS? Can Blu-Ray drive manufacturers cover the codec costs with included players for their drives (I don’t know if they do)? Can Windows incorporate that codec legally if it detects the hardware and you have the install disc?

          I recall this being kind of a problem back in the HD/Blu-Ray wars, where you were often reduced to rather unethical means to find the codec for the disc you (for the sake of this example) owned/rented and wanted to play on your computer.

        • Bropocalypse says:

          If you’ve never used VLC before… Welcome to the cool kids’ club. You’ll never look back.

      • Benjamin Hilton says:

        That’s how I felt when some stupid update to the 360 made it so you could no longer just plug in an USB hard drive and watch movies from it.

        It was literally as simple as plug n play, but then someone decided that needed to stop, and that in the future you needed to waste an entire drive formatting it specifically for the 360.

        Why would anyone think taking something that was simple and easy and making it difficult and obtuse would be a good idea?

        I’m still sore over this years later.

    • I have to say, Windows not being able to play DVDs is a feature, not a bug. I never liked WMP. I didn’t like any media player that starts to get too friendly with other file formats, wants to go out and find album art, show me visualizations when playing music, suggest other crap I don’t want, etc.

      It’s why I steer clear of Quicktime as well.

      At the moment I use VLC. It’s nice and light, and my only real complaint is that it doesn’t remember where I was if I have to close it (other players did this before going the route of crapware) and any requests for such seem to hit the ol’ Open Source wall of “if you want this feature, why don’t you code it yourself?”

    • MadTinkerer says:

      No. No, no, no, no, no.

      I can’t believe you actually found another reason for me to swear to never use Win 8 that I didn’t already know about.

      Huh.

      Well I guess Microsoft is somehow even less competent than I gave them credit for, and I’ll be adding that to the ever-growing pile of reasons not to ever own or use Win 8.

      • MichaelGC says:

        I’m not sure if absence of competence is the explanation! Windows Media Center plays DVDs:

        Add features to Windows 8.1
        If your PC is running Windows 8.1, you can get Windows 8.1 Pro Pack and enjoy all the features of Windows 8.1 Pro as well as Windows Media Center for £99.99.

        So if I already have Windows 8.1 Pro, I should be all set, right?

        Oh, the naïveté …

        Add features to Windows 8.1 Pro
        If your PC is running Windows 8.1 Pro and you’d like to [watch DVDs] with Windows Media Center, you can get Windows 8.1 Media Center Pack for £6.99.

        Essentially, even if you splash out on the Collector’s Edition you still need to pay extra for additional Day One DLC…

        • I think the idea is that Microsoft is assuming most people getting new computers are getting laptops. The vast majority of laptops the average user buys no longer has a dvd player, therefore dvd player functionality is an extra rather than a normal feature. (I say this as the goto geek amongst friends and family- you know, the one everyone asks before they buy a computer and then disregard all advice and buy at BestBuy/Walmart/Staples instead and then call up and ask why said laptop doesn’t ______ and how do we use ____ on it. Sigh.)

          • Richard says:

            Personally, I think the Microsoft Surface Pro is the explanation.

            As far as I can tell, Windows 8 was designed specifically for that hardware:
            Clip-on keyboard, small, high-dpi multitouch screen and one USB peripheral.

  26. Alex says:

    Re: Default Metro Apps

    The weather app is handy. The news app would be handy, if it wasn’t shit (If the headline says “Joe Bloggs cures cancer” then clicking on the app should take me to the “Joe Bloggs cures cancer” article). The others, you can just right-click and uninstall them.

  27. Does Windows 8 (or 8.1 for that sake) always stay in Aero mode?

    I know that Windows 7 has a bad tendancy to go “plonk” and tear you out of a game then take you to the desktop and ask if you wish to change the whatever theme settings due to bad performance.
    And for some reason “do not ask me again” seems to be reset now and again.
    And if you are really unlucky the game has crashed by the time you are able to TAB back into it.

    I heard that Win 8 always use Aero so that issue should no longer exist, is this true?

    • Trix2000 says:

      “Now and again” is an understatement. Sometimes I feel like I see it every other day. I feel like the option not to show it again is just a placebo, and it doesn’t actually do anything.

      • Soylent Dave says:

        It’s “do not ask me again for this program”

        Although of course it isn’t actually labelled that. Because Windows.

        • Ah right, keywords “this program”.

          I think way back I actually found a hack on the net to go into the registry and turn that nag screen thing off, but I forgot what/where I found it.

          Maybe it didn’t work since I don’t use that hack today. *shrug*

          • Richard says:

            The registry hack doesn’t work.

            Also the “never for this program” doesn’t work either. I’ve got one game that does it about half the time – despite the PC never actually struggling.

            I think it’s tripped by using more than X MB of video memory – regardless of how much video memory you actually have.

  28. Rick says:

    My first experience with Linux was Red Hat installing over top of all my previous files. The installer could see the extra space on my drive which was invisible to Windows back in the days of the 120gb limit… But it installed over the whole thing.

    Glad you’re up and running again, I hope your development suite sets up easily.

    Don’t forget you get a free one-year trial of Windows 10 :p

    I’ve noticed your sorting and comments on these posts are a lot more negative than your usual, hope you’re ok :)

  29. Dev Chand says:

    So someone listened and picked a Hitman game for the next Spoiler Warning! Not the Hitman game I asked for, but it’ll do.

  30. Merzendi says:

    Well I suppose I must now pardon Rutskarn for not streaming Absolution. Unless he’s going to stream the recording sessions, like that one time, in which case I will cackle maniacally.
    Now, is this going to be a blind/semi-blind run for anyone on the cast? I can’t imagine anyone on the cast hasn’t seen any Hitman gameplay, but has anyone not seen Absolution specifically? (Though having someone who hadn’t ever played Hitman – and so could talk about the game entirely in isolation – would be interesting.)

    However, Shamus, my sincerest condolences to you for having to move to Windows 8. My partner is still struggling to fully get used to it vs. 7, and it’s now been almost 8 months. I wish you the best of luck in adapting to its… difficulties, or being able to revert to Windows 7 through some other means.

  31. Disc says:

    This made me seriously want to consider getting SteamOS whenever my copy of Windows 7 becomes obsolete. Unless the next new Windows actually goes back and actually tries to improve on 7, there’s just no way I’m supporting this kind of shit ever again.

    • Trix2000 says:

      The hope is that Win10 will do this. Whether it will, of course, remains to be seen.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      I don’t even need them to improve on Windows 7. I just need them to make Win 7 available for purchase again.

    • bucaneer says:

      Don’t. SteamOS is not and in all likelihood will never be a good choice for a desktop OS. Valve themselves say that “users should not consider SteamOS as a replacement for their desktop operating system.” Instead you should choose any desktop-oriented Linux distro and install Steam there. Linux games released on Steam are not tweaked for compatibility with any particular distro, but with the Steam Runtime, a set of libraries that comes with every installation of Steam.

    • Zak McKracken says:

      I’m sort-of hoping that the existence of SteamOS will mean that more games will run on regular Linuxes with reasonable performance by the time Windows 7 doesn’t do it for me anymore…

      I do want to keep playing games but I do not want to be tied to either Steam nor Windows (especially after all the funny stories I keep hearing about W8)

  32. Eric says:

    Shamus, I am seriously concerned about your computer’s health.

    1. The red streak on your monitor indicates a hardware problem – either the monitor or the video card. I’m not sure which is worse.

    2. The extremely slow install times you are reporting, random hangups and restarts, etc. are highly indicative of a hard disk about to explode. In fact, it was very likely a failing hard disk that caused Windows 7 to die on you when you updated, rather than anything else.

    You probably just installed Windows 8 and caused yourself all that grief and trouble, only to end up with a system waiting to explode and fail due to the exact same problems. If you have a dying hard disk then no operating system will help you, and all you’ve done is bought time as you’ve played the bad sector lottery and scrambled whatever ones you’re using.

    chkdsk and HD Tune are your friends. I do a lot of tech support in my line of work and I’ve dealt with enough “random computer not working right” nonsense to know that a dying HDD is almost always the culprit for weird behavior like this.

    3. Smartphones are really, really awesome when you are troubleshooting computer issues and need to quickly look up how to get around a problem. Think about it!

    • I think he just inherited a smartphone, and I have to agree 100%. A wifi enabled smartphone, tablet, netbook, etc. is an invaluable troubleshooting tool.

      If it helps, imagine it’s the tricorder you’re using to diagnose your starship’s failing computer core. :)

      • Smart phones are small and hard for his large hands to manage. We have 4 other computers in the house, a tablet, aside from the 5 smart phones. Also in the house are 4 nearly adults who are very able and willing to help research and solve problem (including 2 people with much smaller hands who are willing to climb under the desk and reseat/unplug/whatever needs done hardware wise.)

        • Henson says:

          God, I have the same problem with my boss’s phone, and I’m not even a very big person. The number of times I end up typing ‘h’ instead of ‘g’…my fingers were not designed for these very small, precise motions. The ipad is an infinitely better platform for touchscreen typing.

        • That’s why I included those other devices in the list.

          I also don’t know which version of Android started offering it, but most browsers I’ve encountered for the past few years use a speech-to-text feature that works pretty well. It’s especially accurate if you’re ticked off about a computer problem and you start doing that parental enunciation thing that even the dimmest voice recognition app knows it should pay attention to.

          As for your use of child labor, I shall neither condemn nor condone your practices of sending waifs into places commonly filled with electricity and often inhabited by middle-aged feet. :)

          Edit: One other thing the phones do pretty well: Getting into tight spaces to take pictures that show serial and model numbers. That’s saved me a ton of hardware surgery so I can look up forums and drivers for older bits of tech.

    • MichaelG says:

      Right click on “The Computer”, look for “Manage” menu item. Open that up, find “Event Viewer” at left, open the tab, select “Windows Logs”. The right side will show a list, one of which will be “System”. Double click on that and wait a bit for it to pull all the logged events.

      Now scroll down looking for red exclamation points. If you get any “atapi” ones, your disk is failing.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Unless you have an access to another computer.Which he does.Several of them.And smartphones cannot burn you a disc when you need it,like another computer can.

      • They’re being promoted as an easily portable device to look up “how do I fix this stupid problem” articles with, not something to use in place of an optical drive (if needed) or anything like that.

      • And actually… my ancient Samsung asks how I want to use my phone when I plug it into a USB port, and one of them is as a USB drive. Not that I’d have any desire to try it, but I don’t see why that couldn’t hold a bootable ISO or some other similar tool on a large enough memory card. :P

  33. James Schend says:

    I love ya, Shamus, but you’re really crotchety when talking about new technology.

    I agree with Eric, you got some hardware problems on that computer. You should resolve those before you get too invested with this new OS install, if it’s a dying HD you might find yourself having to start over again in just a few days.

  34. Smejki says:

    My Computer icon:
    desktop context menu -> Personalize -> Change desktop icons
    and there you have them checkboxes
    moreover this doesn’t give you just a standard shortcut file but the proper My Comp icon with the proper context menu (and without the ugly shortcut arrow indetificator)

  35. Kyte says:

    Yo have you considered it might be your hardware at fault? All those problems with installs and files point straight to a dying disk or at the very least some bad sectors.

    (Win7 and 8 both install blazingly fast in healthy computers, btw. They’ve measured this stuff)

    Also, some shortcuts:
    Win-E: Open My Computer
    Win-F: Open Find (in files)
    Win-L: Lock Workstation
    Win-P: Choose Projector options (if applicable)
    Win-I: Metro-style Settings
    Right click bottom left corner: menu with shortcuts to everything you care about.
    Win-Space: Switch keyboard layout (I guess you don’t need this one)

  36. Samyo says:

    Hell to the yes, I’m sure Ruts is going to have a lot to say in this season of Spoiler Warning, his streams of Blood Money were wonderful.

  37. Tuck says:

    Shamus, buy ($3?) and install StartIsBack! It comes with a ton of options to make Windows 8/8.1 function way more like Windows 7.

  38. Galad says:

    As someone who’s going to switch from Vista to Windows 7 in just a few days, as well as seriously upgrading his hardware this whole tale is making me worry. What should I do once I have it installed? What should I look out for? Any advice is appreciated.

    • Kyte says:

      In my case the upgrade to 7 (and to 8 and 8.1, later on) was so painless the installer was done by the time I was back from making a snack, so your mileage may vary. From what I’ve seen more people have positive reports than the opposite.

    • When I went from Vista to Win7, I actually didn’t notice a whole ton of difference other than cosmetic ones, but then again, I wasn’t expecting a whole ton of change. I tend to be a “set it and forget it” sort of user, so if there are any settings I had to monkey with when I installed, I never had to go back and alter them. It’s something I do with every OS I use, so there’s pretty much always the “re-arrange the furniture” stage that I’ve come to expect.

      I think my biggest concern is legacy stuff. I’ve got some old apps I run that have (so far) managed to run under Win7 all the way from my old XP machines with a few exceptions (one of them is Cool Edit Pro 2, which I know is now Adobe Audition, but they removed a few stupidly simple functionalities that CEP2 did very well). The kludge-iest thing I’ve got is an old SCSI card I use to run a blueprint-sized scanner that requires tracking down a 32 bit Vista driver and altering a few lines of the DLL file to trick it into working (the alternative being spending a few hundred dollars on a non-PCI card or SCSI-to-USB dongle and praying that actually works).

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Nothing actually.7 is the easiest one to get used to.Even its design isnt radically changed from the previous versions like 8s.Youll sink into it comfortably.

  39. MichaelGC says:

    Wrong, wrong, wrong! OMG the wrongness! I must a-right this post with righteous rectitude!

    Lavender is not the best colour!! It’s not even the best shade of purple!! Boysenberry. Boysenberry is objectively best. Fact.

    Or byzantium. Boysenberry or byzantium are, er, both objectively the best. Fact! (Just steer clear of byzantine which is a cheap off-brand knock-off.)

    Although actually, amethyst is also the acme of awesome… and aubergine absolutely the apogee…

    Anyway, I’m glad I could straighten all this out.

    • Humourous that your current comment box is…duh, duh, duh. Lavender. :P

    • The very definition of a color is also rather vague in and of itself unless you take white balance into account.

      http://xkcd.com/1492/ (I’m sure other shave seen this comic by now?)

      If you still do not believe that the dress and the trims on the dress are the same color in the left and right drawings, they are. A simple test is to hold your fingers together and form a pinhole and hold it against the screen. Alternatively make a hole in a piece of paper.

      The dress is both blue and gold and white and gold and if the white balance is dark enough it will look dark blue and black.

      If I where to state the colors of that dress it would be off-white and gold, I’m well aware how white balance can mess things up.

      What I was not so aware of is how the eyes/mind is so able to re-calibrate itself (a natural auto white balance I guess), and especially not that it was so extreme (It’s possible that off-white and gold are in a threshold area of the spectrum).

      Anyway my point is, you can not even be sure that Lavender “is” Lavender :P
      For all you know Boysenberry is Lavender with a different white balance :P

  40. Decius says:

    How does Windows install require your Microsoft credentials unless it has ‘net access? Who thought that mandatory ‘net access to install an OS was acceptable?

    • Smejki says:

      I guess it doesn’t work that way if you unplug the net.

    • CJ Kerr says:

      If you don’t have internet access when you install, it creates an offline user account.

      (You can also do this if you have net access and pick the right options, but it’s a bit hidden).

      However, an offline account disables a bunch of stuff, like the Windows Store (which you need to install Windows 8.1 if you’re installing from an 8.0 disk). It’s pretty clear you’re not “supposed” to do it that way.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        However, an offline account disables a bunch of stuff, like the Windows Store

        That doesnt sound like a bad thing.In fact,it sounds like another positive on top of not having to log in with the microsoft account.

  41. poiumty says:

    That guy on the ventrilo forum is called Jonaleth Irenicus. I am amused by this for reasons Shamus cannot begin to fathom.

    Can I have your desktop wallpaper, Shamus? It’s kinda pretty.

  42. ClearWater says:

    The thing that annoys me most about Win8 is that it’ll happily download windows updates, but if you want to install them there is no option to shut down and have them install at the next reboot. It’s either install and reboot right now when I want to go to bed, or shut down and do nothing. The latter just postpones the updates to the next time you’re going to bed, when you are presented with the same dilemma again.

    • Blake says:

      Yeah I find this behaviour incredibly bizarre.

      Somewhat related to this: The other day I opened up Paint.NET and it said an update was available, one of the options was to update when I close the application.
      Everything should do this forever, just like in the Windows update case, I want to install the updates after I’m done with my immediate work, not before.

  43. kdansky says:

    Install Classic Start for Win8.1. While I think it goes way too far in its defaults (it switches settings back to XP style which is way worse), it has a ton of useful features to make 8.1 more bearable, for example completely removing touch-crap in favour of more 7-ish behaviour.

    Also Microsoft is actually offering ISOs for download since last week, though they are pretty well hidden.

  44. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Whenever someone says “windows 8 is not that bad once you get used to it”,I immediately think of this:
    http://www.cad-comic.com/cad/20070331

    Some things simply arent worth “getting used to”.

  45. Isaac says:

    The perfect Hitman game would be one that has Absolution’s controls and UI with level design similar to what’s found in Blood Money. Honestly the only classic Hitman game I’ve ever been able to play was Blood Money and thats only because the controls in the older games were terrible. 47 felt sluggish, I could barely fiber wire anyone (which was a bit surprising considering how easy it is to do in BM) and cycling through your inventory was clunky as all get out. Maybe it would have gotten more comfortable if I stuck with it but the controls from the get go were so bad that I didn’t want to bother.

    Thankfully, BM had much better but only decent controls otherwise I wouldn’t have tried playing what is considered to be the best game in the series. However even then the controls were a bit clunky especially when you tried to take people hostage and knock them out.

    For all of Absolution’s faults one definite good thing should be said about it: it had the tightest and best controls in the series.

  46. Phantos says:

    I’d almost think the people at Microsoft are in a kind of Brewster’s Millions situation, where they have to fail as hard and fast as they can to get a huge inheritance.

    But that would imply that they knew what they were doing, and I’m pretty sure Richard Pryor could write a better operating system.

  47. Tobias says:

    I get why people are upset about a lot of things in Windows 8 – but why does anybody miss the Start Menu? Using the Windows key to search for whatever it is you want is so incredibly faster, and it’s been around since Vista. I don’t even know when I’ve used either Control Panel or the Start Menu for the last time.

    Or is Microsoft so horrible at teaching and incentivising new UI paradigms that nobody knows this feature exists (and how well it works)?

    • guy says:

      Because some people prefer GUIs to command-line interfaces.

      • Tobias says:

        I get your point, but I strongly disagree here. Because Search, when it works, is the best of both worlds: It’s as fast as a command line interface, but you don’t have to memorize specific commands. It also gives you direct access to whatever it is you wanna do, like starting some program, but you don’t have to go hunting for it in a torrent of other stuff you really don’t need right now. (And Windows is really smart about things like control panel items: If, say, I want to change my IP address, I just type “IP” in the search bar, and it already gives me network interfaces as the first result. Which is exactly the place I’d change my IP address. There’s no way I could be clicking my way through there in just 4 keystrokes and 2 seconds. Let alone think of a CLI command to to do it.)

        Yes, I’m evangelising, and I’m sorry ;)

        • Richard says:

          Nope. It’s exactly the same as a command-line interface with auto-complete – which is what Linux has had for decades.

          The fundamental problem with search is that it requires you to know what your target is called, with some precision.

          This is a serious UI problem whenever you want to open something you don’t use very often, and creates a further problem if a product is ever rebranded as you have to learn the new name again.

          Even worse, it’s a support nightmare.
          It makes it completely impossible to talk someone through finding and running a particular thing, because the results you get for “IP” and the results they get for “IP” are not the same.

          • Blake says:

            Just throwing it out there, the Windows 8 search is very very good.
            Like Tobias mentioned I hit Win, type IP and the only result I get (and it shows up immediately) is “Change Ethernet Settings”.
            Typing Network gives a bunch of options including VPN options, proxy options, network settings and so on.

            All of the Windows settings seem to be somehow tagged with a lot of keywords to make them searchable, which makes it far better than an auto-completing command line where you do in fact need to know what something is called.

            As for searching for any other application well yes you probably will need to know the name of the thing you’re looking for but that is also true for a start menu (which might require you to remember a publisher name or something if it’s buried in some sub-folder).

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      You are basically using the same reasoning that opera developers used to get rid of their bookmarks(and a bunch of other advanced functions they had)in favor of the admittedly useful,but not even half as useful,speed dial.Which was a terrible move.

      Also,the windows key shortcuts are faster only if:
      1)Your keyboard and mouse are working equally well,which isnt always the case
      2)You are familiar with both your keyboard and mouse controls equally well,which isnt always the case
      3)You know the windows key shortcuts and dont need a visual reminder,which isnt always the case

      • Zak McKracken says:

        4) you remember the name of the program you are looking for

      • Tobias says:

        I’m not talking about shortcuts, but search – and this works extremely well without needing to memorize anything. And search in windows vista and up is nothing like in xp and before. More like Google for your PC and all its functions.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          You have to memorize the name,or at least part of the name,of what you want to start.Also,the search has another problem:You have to type at the same rate or faster than using your mouse,which isnt always the case.

          • CJ Kerr says:

            You have to type at the same rate or faster than using your mouse,which isnt always the case.

            Fair argument, but for a proficient mouse user the Windows 8 Start screen is BETTER than the old menu, since you can memorise the placement of tiles (and better again in 8.1, because tiles don’t get added without your permission).

          • Blake says:

            “You have to memorize the name,or at least part of the name,of what you want to start.”

            Actually you don’t for most Windows settings features in 8. I posted more above, but basically typing something like “IP” will give results like “Change Ethernet Settings” because everything is keyworded or something.

    • Jabrwock says:

      Sometimes I don’t know what the app is called (especially if I’m using a friend’s computer and don’t know what all they have installed), so I have to browse around a bit. Maybe if the apps had keywords so typing in “image” would bring up all the apps that handle images, but if they don’t, I’m left guessing the app name and spelling.

  48. MechaCrash says:

    As per the cycle, Windows alternates between really good and really bad. If 8 was this bad, just think how great 10 will be! :D

  49. Mariusz says:

    Classic Shell has been mentioned – and it works. Another option of getting normal Start Menu back is Start8 by Stardock, which costs an astonishing sum of… 5 bucks.

    It has fewer options, but as Stardock guys have been busy with Windows interface mods for years (WinXP’s new look and themes support was their work), it may be a safer bet from the compatibility point of view. Having said that, I use both and they never give me any trouble. :)

  50. Groo says:

    Hey Shamus

    Not sure if this was posted yet or not but the ONLY thing, and I really mean the ONLY thing that kept me from slamming my fist through the computer case housing Windows 8.1 was this tip.

    Hit the start button and start typing in the program you want. I usually only need the first 3 letters or so and it will display a lit of matching programs.

    For example I can hit windows type in wor and hit enter and it launches MS Word.

    To be fair this was possible in Windows 7 as well (and probably sooner for all I know) but I never needed to do it. With Windows 8.1 it’s the only thing that has kept me sane.

    Good luck.

    • Zak McKracken says:

      This text is completely true for me and Windows 7. That start menu is already so degraded that I’d go insance if it wasn’t for the search function

      • CJ Kerr says:

        This is true, but at least once you get used to it, the search bar is a better way to work.

        It’s also a boon to tech support – instead of saying “Click Start, Control Panel, now find the….” you can say “hit the windows key, then type add user”.

  51. Jabrwock says:

    Looks like they found the solution: “Never mind, I fixed it.” You bastard.I can’t keep track of the amount of time wasted reading through forum after forum where the last post detailing a problem ends in this.

  52. Penetty says:

    We bought a computer with Win 8 and it wiped out our bandwidth cap. It guzzled down 12 gb in 2 days, just sitting there doing nothing. Those tiles are constantly pulling info from the internet. You can set your wireless ethernet to throttle it by not the Cat-5. It doesn’t tell you what it’s doing and makes it hard to turn it off.

    • CJ Kerr says:

      I realise this is a trap for first-time Win 8 users, but is it really a big deal? The first thing any sensible person is going to do is remove all that crap (and, where possible, the apps behind them)

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Yes its a big deal.Especially if you have limited internet bandwidth instead of flat rate one.

        Also,you shouldnt be forced to deal with a bunch of crap from the very start.It was a major annoyance to have to do it with drivers back in the day before windows 7,so why bring that annoyance back in another form?

        • Galad says:

          While I completely agree with this post, I feel like, in a civilized part of the world, one should at least be able to choose to have internet with no traffic cap, vs an internet with a traffic cap and higher speed or something.

  53. Mr Compassionate says:

    Oh gods, please say it’s not Hitman Absolution. That game is a f**king abomination.

    I actually tried to like it. I thought, “Oh it’s a bit linear here at the start because the story is trying to get going but I’m sure it’ll let me loose soon enough”. Guess what?
    It never does.
    ‘Oh but Mr C it *does* let you free sometimes for certain assassination missions!’
    NO the game shouldn’t occasionally “let” me do a fun assassination mission like it’s doing me a f**king favor that should be the ENTIRE GAME rather than watching the designers wa*k about with linear story based nonsense even Splinter Cell would think is washed up and brutally modernised.

    And while we’re at it I can’t believe they killed off the one strong female character and replaced her with a helpless little damsel for agent murderkill to care for. I didn’t buy a game called Hitman because I want to look after a small child. This game is to Hitman Blood Money what the second and third Matrix movies were to the first.

    Actually on second thoughts I hope they do play Absolution, if only for Shamus to analise the amazing “Hotel Scene”.

    • Absolution is not that bad, it does have some nice highlights.
      But I have to admit the older games (like Bloodmoney) felt better, you also had multiple ways to kill a target.

      With Absolution they basically did a Max Payne.
      As a game it’s not bad, but as a Hitman game it’s not really a hitman game any longer.

      There should have been more focus on the Silent Assassin parts and less on the run’n’gun stuff.

      I hope the next Hitman game will go back to it’s Silent Assassin roots,
      and take it further, allow you to pick and choose your missions and maybe notice that there is a pattern between some of them.

      It would also be nice to have situations where you could choose not to kill a target (maybe you are unsure if the target is a innocent or not, or maybe you think the target does not deserve to die, although letting them live could come back and bite you in the ass).

      The stuff about the hitman series that are cool are things like sneaking into a area and take out a target in a way that makes it look like an accident.
      That party in the snowy mansion. The hotel. The suburbian house, and so on.

      Nothing felt better than seeing the other people react to some smuck with a crate dropped on them, and Hitman just walk calmly away looking all badass.

      I’d love to see chain reaction triggers and the planning and setting them up.

      “Cop 1: Wow, so the apple fell out of the bag on the chair, rolled towards the table leg and caused a plate to fall down and hit the tail of the dog which then ran in a panic and pushed past the man walking down the stairs which then fell and broke his neck on the stairs?”
      “Cop 2: Yep!”
      “Cop 3: *walks past them*”
      “Cop 1: Hmm, did that other cop have a tattoo on his neck of a barcode?”
      “Cop 2: You must be seeing things, who the hell would have that on their neck?”

      The “Console Generation” has given us a lot of cool games, but I feel like it has taken something away too, which makes me a tad ambivalent.

      • Mr Compassionate says:

        One nice thing I will say about Absolution is that the animations and movement were far, Far better which is exactly what the series needed. So thats a positive thing about it.

        What I would love to see in the next Hitman is an expanded newpaper system. I always loved reading the forensics reports and seeing how close their sketch was to my actual appearance. Ideally a good use of all those big budget cutscenes would be an adaptive “CSI Forensics” scene at the end of every mission where two detectives hot on agent 47’s trail discuss how the target died, how many witnesses there are and how many people bought it.

        You could have it all chopped together depending on what the player did. So a detective might ask
        ‘Do we have any witness?’ and the other officer might say
        ‘None so far’ or ‘it looks like our man killed any possible witnesses’ or ‘yes we have a witness who claimed to see suspicious behavior’ or ‘yes we have multiple witnesses who claim to have seen the killer’ and so on. The only difficulty would be making voice acting for all the possibilities but considering how much dialogue games like Skyrim have it wouldn’t be too bad, especially if you recycled animations for the scenes and just superimposed dialogue and lip-flapping over them, made use of generalizations and so on.

        It would be a great way to work the players actions into the story cutscenes so the player has a reason to stay alert during all the exposition, interaction by proxy.

  54. A. Ellery Breland says:

    Shamus, I know you had a crummy week. I wanted you to know that MASH is on Netflix now.

  55. RTBones says:

    Before I start – I am catching up on posts, so if this has been discussed to death and I missed it, I apologize in advance. Anyway….

    Creating a Microsoft account…when you really dont need to.

    When you install Windows 8.1 for the first time, you really DONT have to create a Microsoft account. See, Microsoft WANTS you to send anything and EVERYTHING you do through Microsoft servers and make you use all of their online features- so they make it as unintuitive as possible to create a local account when you install.

    In 8.1, when you see the Sign In to your Microsoft account, at the bottom, there is a link to Create New Account. Nowhere is there a link that says sign in locally, or to sign in without a Microsoft account. There is simply a place for an email address if you have an account already, or a link that says ‘create new account’ at the bottom left. To the average (and above average) user, since you cannot progress any further in the install without getting by this stage, it is implied you need a Microsoft account.

    But no, you really dont.

    See, when you click the ‘Create a new account’ link mentioned above, you’ll be taken to a screen that says ‘Create a Microsoft account’. Lots of text boxes to fill in to create your new account. Except, at the very bottom, and nearly blended in to the background to make it as unobtrusive as possible is another link that says ‘Sign in without a Microsoft account’. At this point, you can create a local account and proceed with the installation.

    This is a deliberate change from the way Windows 8 used to do it – which gave you a link to sign in without a Microsoft account from the beginning.

    I could rant further, but will stop here. I will, however, show you this article.

    My opinion – Microsoft is trying to out-Google Google in their data collection.

  56. Steve C says:

    The kickstarter for the card game “Exploding Kittens” raised $8,782,571. Just saying if anyone saw those kittens at the top and Windows anger gave you a desire to hurt kittens…

  57. Akhetseh says:

    A bit more than a month ago, I got a new comp. I’m not knowledgeable about them, fair warning. So I went to my usual tech store, talked to them about what I wanted, budget and all that stuff, and I said: “Ok. And I’ll bring my copy of Windows 7 so you can install it”. The guy at the store said: “You can get Windows 8. It’s faster, and I can configure it so you feel like it’s Windows 7.” I replied I already had Windows 7, and it didn’t need to be configured like Windows 7. So I have a new comp with Windows 7 and I’m honestly happy. On the good side, I learnt that Windows 8 can be modified to look like Windows 7, so there’s always this option, even if it’s essentially nonsensical (why not let people keep using Windows 7 instead, Microsoft?).

    I have tried Windows 8.1 when my uncle, who has a knack for utterly destroying comps and pressing the red button labelled “Self-destruct”, got his most recent one, and he wanted me to configure it. And I remember wrestling with it for a while but finally managing to configure it without a Microsoft account. But to this day I haven’t been able to make it show the screensaver I picked for it. Sometimes does, others not. I’m guessing it went to the same limbo where Shamus’ lavender theme is…

  58. SteveDJ says:

    TL;DR all the comments…

    I know it is too late this time, but *next* time you have to install Windows 8(.1), after choosing the color preference, DO NOT select a Wi-Fi… just pause for a couple seconds and a “Skip This” will appear in the lower-left… (and if you are plugged into Ethernet/Internet, UNPLUG it before choosing the color). This will FORCE Windows to let you create a LOCAL machine account. Any user name you want, and NO PASSWORD REQUIRED!

  59. N/A says:

    Seriously, next time you are installing windows 8, please for god’s sake remove that network cable until you can actually see your desktop.

    That is when you can remove all the crap that you don’t need.

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