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Windows 8.1 RTM Trickling Out, With Start Menu and Boot-to-Desktop 496

Posted by timothy
from the year-of-the-windows-desktop dept.
poofmeisterp writes "It's about time. Windows 8.1 will be released to end users in October, and RTM is being released now: 'Windows 8.1, codenamed "Blue," is introducing a number of changes designed to make the new operating system more palatable to current Windows users. Windows 8.1 is adding a Start Button, a boot-straight-to-desktop option; the ability to unpin all Metro apps; built-in tutorials; an improved Windows Store and a host of other consumer- and business-focused features. Microsoft launched its one and only Windows 8.1 consumer preview test build in late June.'"
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Windows 8.1 RTM Trickling Out, With Start Menu and Boot-to-Desktop

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  • Too little too late (Score:5, Informative)

    by Teresita (982888) <badinage1.netzero dot net> on Sunday August 25, 2013 @10:37AM (#44669183) Homepage
    The start button takes you from the Desktop right back to the Metro screen, which is what pisses everyone off in the first place.
    • by Cinder6 (894572)

      Not everyone. I've found at least one person aside from myself who prefers the new start screen over the old menu. More icons + better grouping options means a better system, IMO. Sure, it could look nicer, but that's not really the point. At least 8.1 lets you use your desktop wallpaper for the start screen background, so the transition isn't as jarring.

      • by bryanbrunton (262081) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @11:31AM (#44669467)

        The old menu allows quick access to the majority of system functions. It did this with a minimum of clicks, mouse movement and extraneous information.

        If I am working, I don't want to see weather information, stock quotes and baseball scores. Sure, you can remove those tiles from the start screen, but then that defeats the purpose of having that information available when I am not working.

        I actually might enjoy the start screen when I am not working, but that goes back to the core malfunction of the start screen: it is mixing core functional areas:

        (1) Program/System/Settings Launcher
        (2) Information Provider

        Why is so freaking difficult for the so-called User Interface experts at Microsoft to understand that this is a colossal fuck up to jam these two key functional areas onto the Start Screen?

        • by EdZ (755139) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @12:22PM (#44669797)
          The 'minimum effort' way to access programs, control panel snap-ins, etc hasn't changed since Vista: press the start key on your keyboard, type the first, occasionally second (and possibly third, for lesser-used programs) characters of the name, then hit enter. If you using the hunt-around-some-menus technique you might experience a slight speed-up or slow-down when going from start menu to start screen, depending on how organised you are (or how resistant to change you are), but for anyone using windows in a sane manner the difference is nonexistant.
          • by bryanbrunton (262081) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @01:17PM (#44670183)

            No, the 'minimum effort' way to access programs is to put a Quick Launch Bar into the Windows task bar. One mouse flick, one click. I have 20 programs with icons there that I launch without the back-assward, 20th century methodology of typing in program names.

          • by mcgrew (92797) *

            press the start key on your keyboard, type the first, occasionally second (and possibly third, for lesser-used programs) characters of the name, then hit enter.

            Yet you Windows enthusiasts have been ragging the Linux community for years about needing to use a command line (which you don't unless you're running a server).

            My main tower runs kubuntu using the TV as a monitor and an infrared keyboard and mouse. I seldom touch the keyboard on it, it's almost always on a shelf across the room.

          • by Man On Pink Corner (1089867) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @01:44PM (#44670395)

            The 'minimum effort' way to access programs, control panel snap-ins, etc hasn't changed since Vista: press the start key on your keyboard, type the first, occasionally second (and possibly third, for lesser-used programs) characters of the name, then hit enter

            I liked this feature better when it was called "MS-DOS."

        • by SScorpio (595836) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @12:33PM (#44669879)

          If you want to modify system settings windows key+x or right clicking the bottom left or start button if you are on 8.1 will give you a menu that blows away at 7 let you immediately access.

          Someone clicking the start menu or using the windows key may have pinned favorites they access all the time. The start screen allows you to pin a lot more on it. And 8.1 gives you a small item size so you can fit even more.

          The way I used to use the Vista/7 start menu was just pressing the windows key and then typing the name of the program I want. The start screen works the same way without you needing to bring up the search charm. Just press open the start screen and start typing.

          Where I thing Microsoft messed up was forcing all of the metro apps on desktop users. The default PDF and image handlers are horrible. Thankfully the desktop version for the picture viewer is still included. A simple option to allow a user to use all of the new metro or fall back to the desktop mode of apps would have kept away a lot of confusion. Especially when the metro apps act as a walled garden and don't give you easy access to your files.

          • by bryanbrunton (262081) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @01:21PM (#44670207)

            No, no and no.

            To all the Microsoft Shills who insist on listing 100 different windows key combinations to replicate what was available from the old start menu, or if you are going to advise me to start typing in program names to launch programs on my mouse operated graphical user interface:

            YOU ARE FUCKING WRONG, AND STUPID IN THE HEAD.

            • by bored (40072)

              Discoverability, 20 years of UI/GUI research out the window. It started around the XP timeframe when someone decided it was a good idea to hide the keyboard shortcut hints if the alt key wasn't pressed. 8 is just the latest version of that, where even a computer literate person has to get out the manual (???) to discover how to close a metro app, or 3/4 of the tasks a user is going to have to do in the first 5 minutes of using the OS. Plus, tons of functionality is buried behind a really poor "search" featu

      • by roc97007 (608802) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @11:46AM (#44669571) Journal

        Whatever products Microsoft craps out, there are always a handful of people somewhere who against all reason like it. There were a handful of people who liked Microsoft Bob. A company I used to work for actually started rolling out Windows ME, based on user trials, although they realized their mistake and pulled it back a month later. I have a friend who still has a laptop running Vista, and she's fine with it, although whenever something goes wrong or needs to change, (which is annoyingly often) she always brings it to me.

        So yes, I'm sure there are one or two people out there who like the retro-8bit-arcade look-and-feel that is the Metro interface. Maybe it reminds them of when they were playing Space Invaders on the cocktail table machine while sipping their wine spritzers and listening to a bad cover of "Shadow Dancing". People like a lot of things, for a lot of reasons. But to have a successful business, you need a large enough number of people liking the product to meet investor expectations. Doesn't seem likely.

        • by hedwards (940851) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @12:02PM (#44669649)

          Vista wasn't particularly bad. It mostly had serious bugs on launch and poor driver support. But, the system itself mainly suffered from the way the UAC worked.

          That being said, it wasn't a particularly good OS, Win 7 is quite a bit better, and it wasn't particularly competitive with what *BSD and Linux were doing at the same time, apart from having better vendor support. In terms of the merits though, like all other MS OSes of the last decade, it's markedly behind the competition without any compelling reason for existing other than people target it for their software development.

          • by roc97007 (608802) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @12:36PM (#44669909) Journal

            > Vista wasn't particularly bad. It mostly had serious bugs on launch and poor driver support. But, the system itself mainly suffered from the way the UAC worked.

            Like they say, you don't get a second chance to make a first impression. By the time the initial problems were fixed, we had already decided not to deploy it. I suspect the same thing will be true of Windows 8 -- even if they fix it now, the damage has already been done.

    • by rsilvergun (571051) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @03:22PM (#44671141)
      I do a lot of remote IT support, and it's a nightmare getting that damn thing to pop up in an RDP or logmein session.
  • Its dead Jim! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sinij (911942) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @10:37AM (#44669189) Journal
    Start working on Windows 9, you won't redeem this one so late in the game.
    • Yeah I agree.

      I'll keep using windows 7 in the meantime.

      • Re:Its dead Jim! (Score:4, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 25, 2013 @10:51AM (#44669269)

        When you're done GNU/Linux is here for you to upgrade to.

        • When you're done GNU/Linux is here for you to upgrade to.

          It has been marked flamebait, which is kind of strange considering users are migrating on the Desktop to GNU/Linux(For want of a name) Chrome and Android (seriously!?), the trend is small, but noticeable. Apple is having its own problem on the Desktop.

          The bottom line is this version Metro is going to be Microsoft's OS offering those hostages of XP, end of Line only months away. I have to say the timing of Balmers departure looks almost as convenient as Bill (Fuck your charity) Gates (I don't need to pay tax

          • by mcgrew (92797) * on Sunday August 25, 2013 @01:46PM (#44670417) Homepage Journal

            It has been marked flamebait, which is kind of strange considering users are migrating on the Desktop to GNU/Linux(For want of a name) Chrome and Android (seriously!?), the trend is small, but noticeable.

            Microsoft fans (or are they all shills? Doubtful...) get mod points, too. More honest moderators have fixed it, he's sitting at 2 as I write this.

            Oh, and to keep the MS fans/shills/stockholders/employees with mod points from modding other insightful comments down I'll get them to waste them on me.

            Micro$oft SuXXorz!!!"

            Shouldn't take long to hit -1.

        • by roc97007 (608802)

          When you're done GNU/Linux is here for you to upgrade to.

          The only reason I'm still on Windows is that the Adobe suite runs on it. Adobe, port to Linux!

    • Sometimes, the doctor turned the words around and with Windows, adding a start button that turns the desktop around back to the Metro zombie screen isn't going to help.
      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        There is a real start menu available as an option too now. It's exactly the same as the Windows 7 one as far as I can tell.

  • TPM (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 25, 2013 @10:46AM (#44669235)

    Ahh... Windows 8.1. The one requiring a "Trusted Computing" TPM in the PC to get a Window certification.

    Thanks Microsoft - I really want a hardware dongle in the machine to enforce DRM and ensure that I never really own the machine as I don't have the keys to it. Cheers.

    P.S. How's that arrangement with the NSA coming BTW?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Ahh... Windows 8.1. The one requiring a "Trusted Computing" TPM in the PC to get a Window certification.

      Thanks Microsoft - I really want a hardware dongle in the machine to enforce DRM and ensure that I never really own the machine as I don't have the keys to it. Cheers.

      P.S. How's that arrangement with the NSA coming BTW?

      Windows 8.1 does not in any way require a TPM chip. You can verify this yourself by downloading the leaked RTM build (or think about all the PCs out there it wouldn't work on).

      Microsoft has announced that 18 months from now, new systems that want to advertise being certified should have TPM2.0. It isn't really related to Windows 8.1 at all (and at the time there is likely Windows 8.2 that is the current version).

      We can criticize Microsoft for announcing such a certification requirement coming up in the

  • Propaganda (Score:5, Informative)

    by tuppe666 (904118) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @10:47AM (#44669237)

    That is not a start menu. That is a start screen. Who do they think is falling for this nonsense. The reality is, it was never about the start button. It was about taking a usable productive and powerful desktop environment using precision pointing and fast text input, and swapping it out for the weakest of the tablet OS's. In the hope in creating what they call an ecosystem, and moving the computer into an locked down electronic device running Micro$oft Store (The $ stands for money grabbing Monopolist), Rather than compete on price that 70% gross margins still too thin.

    The real question is is it iOS, Android, Chrome or GNU/Linux

  • by gestalt_n_pepper (991155) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @10:51AM (#44669271)

    Bottom line? Don't make me learn new interface stuff. I hate it. If it takes a non-zero amount of time for me to think about it, it's not a value, add; it's a value-subtract.

    FYI, this goes for ALL software AND programming languages. Adding a few things incrementally to use new features is fine. Changing interfaces or behaviors wholesale isn't.

    This should fall into the "common sense" category - something the software industry isn't exactly famous for being able to perceive or implement.

    Disclaimer: I write software for a living. Please don't hate me.

    • by MpVpRb (1423381)

      Bottom line? Don't make me learn new interface stuff. I hate it

      So does my wife, and my brother

      They are both smart people, but don't have the time or passion to devote hours to learning all the details about their computers. They have a job to do, and want to do it quickly

      I am somewhat in the middle. I like the Office Ribbon. It seems like a real improvement

      But, changes based on "fashion" suck. I don't want my UI to look "fresh and new", I want it to work well, and be efficient to use for a power user

  • by onyxruby (118189) <onyxrubyNO@SPAMcomcast.net> on Sunday August 25, 2013 @10:53AM (#44669275)

    Please rewrite headline, it is misleading. There is a world of difference between the Start "Menu" and the Start "Button". 8.1 forces you back into metro through the Start Button and doesn't resolve people issues in the slightest. Metro is still forced on you and it is still wholly unsuitable to the enterprise. While Microsoft at least listened to people about boot to desktop, they showed continued contempt for their customer base by refusing to replace the Start Menu.

    Fix the headline and stop propagating Microsoft's spin, this is a band-aid on sucking chest wound and nothing more.

  • by roc97007 (608802) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @11:05AM (#44669343) Journal

    Let's not confuse the two -- an icon in the lower left corner that takes one to the "start screen" was not what was asked for. What was asked for was an actual start menu, not a button that takes you to a page full of icons. It's extremely annoying that Microsoft would deliberately choose to misunderstand this. (They couldn't be stupid enough to think that's what we really wanted.)

  • by jkrise (535370) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @11:11AM (#44669373) Journal

    "Boot straight to XP" mode.... with the memory and disk requirements of Windows 8; better thing would've been to bundle an XP inside of Windows 8; and provide an option to Boot Straight To XP mode; there's still metric tons worth software that will run only on XP; not even Vista nor 7.

    People who truly need or want the Metro stuff can boot to that junk if they want to; and they'd probably get what they deserve.

    That way MS can keep legacy code and legacy depending customers happy; and still provide them a path to run so-called modern apps which are a pain in the desktop.

  • by hsa (598343) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @11:19AM (#44669407)

    Once you get used to it, the new Start menu is ok. You don't spend much time in there anyway.

    The real pain in the ass are the stupid full screen Metro apps. Yeah, they just pop up with brightly colored interface that is optimized for touch. They completely disrupt your workflow, there is no visible Exit-button, and they do that for one screen only (if you have multimonitor system, you will totally hate this).

    This happens more every now and then and I have to go through some trouble to replace them with better OSS alternatives. If you are watching a video, default app might pop up, and maybe nag about codec or not being up to date - when you really just want to see the video now, with clear controls. PDF reader pops up with no clear navigation and ofcourse fullscreen, and these ofcourse always go to the same monitor, even if you would like to read the PDF on screen #2, while coding. Shit like this happens also with images and music, and the interface is just .. horrible.

    I don't even care anymore, if they fixed this. I've been downloading OSS replacements for just about every program and I am curretly ok with my Windows. But instead of fixing the Start menu, which is only a minor nuisance, they could make WINDOWED and USABLE default apps.

    They should also shoot the guy, who designed all their new software (Office, Visual Studio..) USING ONLY CAPS FOR TITLES, patch them back to normal and make my eyes hurt less.

  • Personally, I think this stuff with the Start Button is a side show. Even if they reverted it back completely to the Win7 behavior, it wouldn't remedy the underlying problems with the OS and the MS software ecosystem in general. In particular: the persistent development of their own "standards" for the purposes of locking out competition, general dumbing down of the OS, poor CLI integration (please just build-in Bash), no multiple desktops, and why sometimes when I drag many large files into a new director
    • by jader3rd (2222716)

      and why sometimes when I drag many large files into a new directory does Win 7 spend ages doing a copy then delete?

      If it's on the same disk a move is a just a path rename and takes no time at all. If the data is changing hard drives a move is a copy and a delete.

    • by PCM2 (4486)

      poor CLI integration (please just build-in Bash)

      Windows PowerShell is arguably a superior CLI to Bash.

  • by istartedi (132515) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @12:09PM (#44669699) Journal

    Patch XP past its EOL, and charge $30/yr for the patch subscriptions. I'll buy it.

    What I will NEVER do is use a locked-down phone platform as my primary device.

  • Microsoft Account (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jones_supa (887896) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @12:28PM (#44669847)
    One of the crappy features of Win8 is that they try their best to shove a Microsoft Account down your throat and use it to log into your OWN computer. I'm betting that their intentions include using that account to increasingly more datamine various things about your and your computer usage. That's not cool at all.
    • Re:Microsoft Account (Score:5, Informative)

      by TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @01:28PM (#44670269)

      I'll call out FUD whenever I see it.

      You can happily use Windows 8 without being tied to a windows account. But how is having a windows account different from your iTunes or Google or Yahoo or Facebook or Slashdot, or countless other social services, or how about that fact that any phone and tablet these days are tied to a walled garden and your credit card? A Windows account just sets up 5gb of free skydrive services and an outlook email, both which you never have to use.

      I don't love Windows 8 for a lot of reasons, but I mean if you are going to say ignorant things then expect to be called out for it.

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