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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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  • 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.
  • 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 onyxruby (118189) <onyxruby@[ ]cast.net ['com' in gap]> 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 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.

  • by roc97007 (608802) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @11:21AM (#44669421) Journal

    > If you know, I don't sit on my ass and whine like a spoiled brat who can't take any initiative.

    You don't get it. (1) Yes I can fix it. But why should I buy something that I need to beat into submission, when what I have works fine? (2) Yes I can fix it, but the 10,000+ users in my company, most of whom have other jobs than being a computer geek, would struggle with it, and I'd lose my job if I foisted that off on them.

  • by tuppe666 (904118) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @11:30AM (#44669455)

    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 taxes I have a charity) exit.

  • 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 AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo AT world3 DOT net> on Sunday August 25, 2013 @11:42AM (#44669539) Homepage

    Name one OS that is just right out of the box and needs no tweaks. Linux always needs fiddling with (that's why you love it) and MacOS's two-finger scroll scrolls the wrong way by default.

    At least with Windows 8 you can use AD to roll out suitable settings for everyone in one hit. I'm sure you can do the same thing with Linux/MacOS somehow too.

  • 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 @11:52AM (#44669595)

    Maybe with Ballmer on his way out, there's hope for MS to actually start producing decent products again. Win 7 was pretty mediocre, but after XP and Vista that was a serious step in the right direction. Then they came out with Win 8 which through all of that progress in the trash because they wanted the same interface to work on tablets, forgetting that few desktops have a touch interface.

    OTOH, Ballmer deserves an award from Linus for doing more than anybody else to popularize Linux. Without his dedication to incompetent software design, many people wouldn't have known that Linux existed and that it's actually a viable desktop for most purposes.

  • 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 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.

  • by PCM2 (4486) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @12:14PM (#44669741) Homepage

    Actually, the Start Button does include one benefit: you can right click it to get the system administrator's menu, which has a bunch of useful stuff on it. The same menu was available in Windows 8, but you had to know it was there because there was no icon to let you know about it, and there was no way to activate it on a touchscreen.

  • by GrumpySteen (1250194) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @12:22PM (#44669789)

    I'd like you to replace your computer with this laptop. The case is an ugly mix of blocky colors and they keyboard is a 5x4 array of keys the size of business cards, but there's a pair of left right buttons that lets you scroll through the list of keys you're used to having. Trust me... it's a much better way of accessing the keys on the keyboard than the previous way which put them all in front of you at once.

    If you aren't happy with it not working quite the way your old one worked, you can always go find a new keyboard and install it to make it work the way you want it to.

    And if you're complain about paying for product that doesn't do what you want it to do and is demonstrably worse than the one it replaced until you spend the time and effort to fix the problems we designed into it, it's purely because you're sitting on your ass and whining about it like a spoiled brat who can't take any initiative, RIGHT?

  • by roc97007 (608802) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @12:23PM (#44669803) Journal

    Name one OS that is just right out of the box and needs no tweaks. Linux always needs fiddling with (that's why you love it) and MacOS's two-finger scroll scrolls the wrong way by default.

    At least with Windows 8 you can use AD to roll out suitable settings for everyone in one hit. I'm sure you can do the same thing with Linux/MacOS somehow too.

    This is more than tweaks. You don't understand what "lack of control, conveyance, continuity, and context" [youtube.com] means to people who are not computer geeks, don't have a job even remotely close to the computer industry, and only need computers to do certain business related tasks. When you're not a computer geek or Microsoft employee, you don't necessarily touch computers every day, and trying to remember which hot corner to touch or where your application is, or how to get out of a full screen Metro app, is not something they're going to remember or even want to try to figure out. This can't be fixed by using A/D to roll out settings.

    However, there is a solution. And that is, to stick with Windows 7 until Microsoft abandons this crap. (Actually, we're still largely on XP, but are starting to roll out 7 on new hardware.)

  • by roc97007 (608802) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @12:24PM (#44669813) Journal

    Downloading and double clicking the installer for Classic Shell hardly constitutes beating into submission. Yes, it really is that easy.

    There has never been a single operating system that I didn't have to spend some amount of time configuring to my liking. This is no different.

    No, it really isn't. This still leaves you with charms, hot corners, and sliding icons. We'll stick with 7, thanks.

  • by GrumpySteen (1250194) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @12:27PM (#44669839)

    This actually isn't redundant. Windows 2.0 introduced overlapping windows as a part of the OS and those have been present in every version up until Windows 8 and Metro. Microsoft has quite literally brought back a limitation of Windows 1.0 and is new calling it a feature.

  • 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.
  • 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.

  • Counting the cash (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tuppe666 (904118) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @12:37PM (#44669911)

    I bet Micro$oft is tired of supporting XP

    Bless them maybe they should spend a little of that 70% Gross Margin. Customers measure support from time of purchase as does consumer law. The bottom line is XP users had no viable upgrade option till Windows 7, and then that is unlikely to support XP machines and peripherals.

  • 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 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 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 jones_supa (887896) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @01:44PM (#44670401)

    But how is having a windows account different from your iTunes or Google or Yahoo or Facebook or Slashdot, or countless other social services

    Because it's my personal computer that I'm logging into!

  • by roc97007 (608802) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @01:51PM (#44670451) Journal

    > Correct, there's no reason to downgrade to Windows 7 if you install Windows 8 plus ClassicShell.

    There are many reasons. Win8 starts out ugly, and then the more you dig into it the more annoying it becomes.

    Rather, there is no reason to "upgrade" to Windows 8 plus any free (and not corporate supported) addon, if you're already using Windows 7.

  • by jones_supa (887896) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @01:52PM (#44670455)
    It is a big deal if you have to replace a core component of an OS with a third party solution to make it usable.
  • by roc97007 (608802) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @01:54PM (#44670471) Journal

    Windows 7 was mediocre? Sure, its not as good as Linux, but its by far the best OS Microsoft has ever made

    I think what he means is that 7 was only an incremental improvement over XP. I upgraded to 7 for the superior memory management (and went to 64 bit at the same time so I could install more than 4 gigs) but in day to day usage, it's not much different from XP, and some of the differences (like going full screen if your pointer gets near the top, and the pointless rearrangement of the control panel) are annoying.

  • by J. J. Ramsey (658) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @01:55PM (#44670477) Homepage

    Why are you so adamantly frenetic over something you could fix easily yourself, when that's torn down, the response is about an administratively locked down machine ...

    Guess where I use Windows? At work, on an administratively locked down machine.

  • by icebike (68054) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @02:07PM (#44670553)

    It is a big deal if you have to replace a core component of an OS with a third party solution to make it usable.

    For some of us, that is the normal course of events.
    Linux without some form of X based desktop is fine for servers, but really less than appealing in user land. We are use to trying out several totally different UIs before settling on one.

    The problem is in the windows world, people are so use to the "take it or leave it" approach they never understood you could replace key parts or even the entire UI if you wanted to.

    Microsoft did a good job at suppressing information about replacements or add-ons that virtually nobody knew they existed. But if you go looking for them you will find them [online-tech-tips.com].

    This release signals the great experiment is finally OVER, and both methods will again be available. Windows 8.1 may actually survive for a while with this feature if they can Just Fix The Security Flaws [investmentwatchblog.com] they designed into it.

  • by roc97007 (608802) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @02:16PM (#44670625) Journal

    > I think a lot of corporations will simply slipstream classic shell into their custom win8 installs, and save a small fortune on retraining costs and endless support calls.

    I think a lot of corporations will simply reimage new hardware with Windows 7 and save a small fortune on retraining costs and endless support calls.

  • by icebike (68054) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @02:20PM (#44670657)

    Compared to Microsoft's other OSes it's the best they've done.

    Agreed, Win7 is pretty darned good, in fact its probably the first version that is better than Windows 2000.

    I suspect it will be hard for Windows 8 to dislodge win 7 from the work place, even with the 8.1 changes. Microsoft has this habit of one horrible version followed by one reasonably good version.

    Unfortunately, unlike the Linux world where you can totally step away from a botched UI, windows pretty much locks you into the struggle till a totally new version comes out, or you get so fed up you nuke it and install Linux, (which gets you fired from most companies).

  • by hedwards (940851) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @02:44PM (#44670849)

    Because, unlike Linux, Windows costs me money.

    Why on Earth should I buy a copy of Windows if I have to waste hours of my time trying to figure out how to make it work appropriately? They had a UI that worked well, and they threw it in the trash to give us this garbage. Same goes for that Ribbon monstrosity. Sure, it does make the most commonly used functions easily accessible, but it makes the things I also use extremely hard to find as they're hidden because they're not used every day.

    And BTW, I'm not paid for this criticism. Usability is usability, there are some variations, and that's why users should be able to make minor tweaks to their set up.

  • Re:Stickers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dbIII (701233) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @09:05PM (#44672937)
    Mod this up to five guys as actually a pretty good idea and then link it every time somebody complains about a linux, mac, gimp or whatever interface being unintuitive (eg. yes it sucks, but not like win8).

    Take note interface designers of the future - if the interface is so broken that putting stickers on the screen to tell people how to use it is a good idea it's time to improve it or put someone else in charge of setting it up.

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