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Windows GUI Operating Systems

Ars Technica Reviews Leaked Windows 8.1 Update 194

Posted by timothy
from the you-take-what-you-can-get dept.
SternisheFan writes to note that ArsTechnica's Peter Bright has reviewed the leaked Windows 8.1 update that was temporarily available from Microsoft's own servers. Here's how the article starts: "Leaks of upcoming versions of Microsoft's software are nothing new, but it's a little surprising when the source is Microsoft itself. The Spring update to Windows 8.1, known as Update 1, was briefly available from Windows Update earlier this week. The update wasn't a free-for-all. To get Windows Update to install it, you had to create a special (undocumented, secret) registry key to indicate that you were in a particular testing group; only then were the updates displayed and downloadable. After news of this spread, Microsoft removed the hefty—700MB—update from its servers, but not before it had spread across all manner of file-sharing sites... Just because it was distributed by Windows Update doesn't mean that this is, necessarily, the final build, but it does present a good opportunity to see what Microsoft is actually planning to deliver."
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Ars Technica Reviews Leaked Windows 8.1 Update

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  • by JoeyRox (2711699) on Saturday March 08, 2014 @05:14PM (#46436461)
    Microsoft could give Windows 8 away for free and tie a $100 bill to every DVD and people would use the DVD as a beer coaster and the $100 to buy an Android tablet.
    • One of my customers says Windows 8 is for people dumb enough to put their "stuff" in the cloud. I'd say that's about right. Lower the intelligence level required and get more data from the consumer. Kind of like dumbing down the curriculum and tests in school, because certain kids don't score well.
  • Power button. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 08, 2014 @05:26PM (#46436503)

    As someone who DID spend time looking for how to shut down the first time (alt+f4 to the rescue) I'd booted Win 8, thank you MS for making it more obvious.

    The writers idea that you'd just hit the power button is idiotic. I would NOT expect to get an orderly shutdown from that (possibly because that's how I have my "BIOS" configured). If I don't know for sure, I won't do it. I'm going to gamble with my filesystem, am I?

    • Re:Power button. (Score:5, Informative)

      by cbhacking (979169) <been_out_cruisin ... nOSPam.yahoo.com> on Saturday March 08, 2014 @05:34PM (#46436537) Homepage Journal

      Windows Control Panel - Power Options (reachable directly by Start search since Vista, of course) - "Choose what the power buttons do" - "When I press the power button:" [Do Nothing | Sleep | Turn Off]. This is on my desktop which boots from an SSD, so I disabled Hibernate, but normally that would be there too. The default option is Turn Off.

      This has been there since *at least* Windows 2000. Congratulations, you're almost 1.5 decades behind the times...

      • Re:Power button. (Score:4, Informative)

        by cbhacking (979169) <been_out_cruisin ... nOSPam.yahoo.com> on Saturday March 08, 2014 @05:40PM (#46436577) Homepage Journal

        Sorry to self-reply, but a bit more info:
        You can also configure the Sleep button (if you have one in hardware, or have one on your keyboard as many users will) and the lid-close action (if you have a laptop). So for example, you can make closing the lid just go quickly to sleep, but taking the time to press a button first cause a full hibernate. It's also very handy to have the power button configured for a (reasonably safe) shutdown; it can be used to get the machine out of various states where the UI is hung so you can't use a normal software shut down, but don't want to hard-kill the machine (which is pretty much never a good idea).

        Oh, and every single computer I've seen since I first found this feature also supports press-and-hold on Power to do a hard shutoff anyhow, in case the system is *so* frozen that it can't even turn itself off (or in case there's some process which is continually aborting the shutdown).

      • Well, this might come as a surprise, but not everyone is like you. I very rarely shut down my computer, and I don't want it to go to sleep every time I close the lid to move to a meeting, so I always map my power button to sleep. On the rarer occasions that I do want to shut down or reboot, I hit the Windows key, and the shutdown/reboot options are right there. Just like they have been for almost 1.5 decades, until Microsoft decided to hide it.
        • by cbhacking (979169)

          Cool, good for you. I don't know why the hell you'd map Power to Sleep when I guarantee that your laptop's keyboard already has a Sleep key, but hey, whatever. I wasn't talking to you, though, I was talking to the AC who was complaining that they don't know what happens when they hit the Power button. You obviously do know, so why the fuck talk back at me like I'm trying to tell you how to do things?

          • "Guarantee" is a strong word. A smaller laptop, such as my Dell Inspiron mini 1012, might have no dedicated sleep key. So I configured my laptop's OS to make the power button ask whether I want to suspend, log out, restart, or shut down.
            • by cbhacking (979169)

              Huh... every device I've seen with a dedicated keyboard either had an actual key or (more often) a simple key chord (Fn+F3 or similar) for sleep. Odd.

        • "almost 1.5 decades"? Almost 2. August next year will be 20 years since Windows 95 was released.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Here's the issue: Everyone can configure it differently.

        And for many geeks, we end up being tech-support for friends so we can't risk learning a muscle-memory default that might be wrong elsewhere.

        So as a result, if it's customizable we tend to disable everything we can on our own hardware and only learn the one sure-fire way to do something elsewhere.

        And for 1.5 decades, yes, it was "start menu... power buttons right there" as the safe way to guarantee something would shut down cleanly. So that became our

        • The sleep you describe sounds a lot like hibernate. Sleep shouldn't need time to load crap into memory because it never unloaded memory - it should use the minimum power necessary to maintain state.

          What maybe should happen is that after sleeping due to, say, lid closure, if the lid has been closed for a specified interval (say, 20 minutes), the state is also saved to the hibernate file, and after some further interval (say, an hour), the power to maintain sleep is also cut.

          There seems to have been a mixin

      • Personally I think that if you need to search for a way out of an application that doesn't give you a manual to read before you go near it then it is broken.
    • by Jamu (852752)
      I've probably got mine set up for an orderly shutdown, but it's easier for me to use my keyboard and mouse, instead of reaching under my desk for my system's power button. I'm thinking that turning it on from the computer case is kinda daft too. I should really just use the keyboard.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I couldn't get through the article. The reviewer seemed positively baffled about changes that would give more control to the user. Why would anyone want that? He kept asking. Yeah that's how Microsoft used to think throughout the past 2 decades, it's time for them and you to get past that ridiculous mindset. Give MORE control to the users, not less. And make MORE information available to the users; stop hiding things behind registry keys, obscure log files, and generic and highly misleading error messages.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 08, 2014 @06:14PM (#46436717)

    Does anyone with a desktop machine actually _want_ to use the power button to turn off the machine? Personally, mine is tucked away under my desk well out of convenient reach.

    Keypress turns the damn thing on, start-> shutdown turns the damn thing off.

    Only time the power button gets used is if the machine freezes and need a kick.

  • Oh my god (Score:5, Funny)

    by Undead Waffle (1447615) on Saturday March 08, 2014 @06:33PM (#46436815)
    A Peter Bright article that is actually critical of a Microsoft product without trying to downplay all of its flaws? What is this world coming to?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Atomic Fro (150394)

      It didn't seem to me that he was critical of Microsoft as much as he was desktop users. I could barely get through the article due to rage, but this is how I parsed it:

      "Look at all these redundant features Microsoft felt they had to add to appease stupid desktop users who haven't learned anything from Vista's UI 7 years ago. These users need to go away, they are forcing Microsoft to clutter up my Metro!

      Look, a power button! A power button for Ballmer's sake! Who the hell needs that? If you are a laptop us

      • Admittedly I mostly skimmed it the first time and read the conclusions at the end. In a second read through you are right there is a lot of that "it was fine, the users are dumb" attitude. But it does say that Microsoft is making an already inconsistent UI even more inconsistent without trying to justify or downplay it at the end like he typically does. Overall the article doesn't feel like a big sales pitch like most of his other articles.
      • Peter Bright has been sucking the MS cock since he first started posting on Ars Technica's forum back in the late 90s. His posts were always full of vemon and hate towards anyone who dared criticize MS (and therefore extension, himself) When AT was making new positions for editors, he whined and screamed for one, and if he didn't get it, threatened to leave AT. I am so glad AT implemented the "ignore" function. Now him, and Evil_Merlin are never seen by me. If only I could filter out his stories as well...
  • by Teunis (678244) <teunis@noSpAM.wintersgift.com> on Saturday March 08, 2014 @06:55PM (#46436917) Homepage Journal
    observations:
    - install a start menu replacement to get application menus back. Application menus are handy when one has a number of applications with similar names.
    - disable search and system speed jumps. Don't use it anyway, and it's pointless for a programmer like me.
    - constant delays in performing tasks
    - chrome can open 1/10 the tabs of linux on same hardware. That's perhaps a bad sign.

    I've actually found my ability to work effectively on this platform has degraded to the point I just don't anymore.
    I now use windows as a game platform and occasional (and frustrating) web browsing.
    With Steam (etc), the issue with not being able to find my applications anymore stopped being relevant - I stopped using them under windows at all.

    so when I want to do real browsing, real programming, or pretty much anything other than playing games, it's back to Mint for me. (because I similarly find unity and other "tablet" interfaces - interfaces less useful and intuitive than either IOS or Android - pointless)
  • by VanGarrett (1269030) on Saturday March 08, 2014 @10:03PM (#46437543) Homepage

    Perhaps this is speculation too far, but this pair of changes almost suggests that many Windows users haven't changed the way they use the operating system—or their computers—since the mid 1990s. The Windows Vista-era mechanism of "Start and then type," now seven-years-old, apparently hasn't caught on and quite plausibly isn't even known by many Windows users.

    Am I missing something important, or does this idea where you're expected to type the thing you want to do kind of abandon the whole point of using a GUI instead of a command line?

    I'm not exactly opposed to having the feature there, but if you automatically have to resort to it, then your GUI needs to be reconsidered.

    • by cbhacking (979169) <been_out_cruisin ... nOSPam.yahoo.com> on Sunday March 09, 2014 @01:11AM (#46438069) Homepage Journal

      When you find a command line that lets me launch programs by typing the first few letters of any word in their name (in the case of multiple results it defaults to the one you run most often), let me know, OK? Oh, and by name I don't mean just the binary name, but the program's full name and any description you've given it in the Start menu/screen.

      I mean, I use command line stuff a fair bit. I've got two windows of cmd and one of bash open right now, and I'm surprised I've only got one session of the latter running. But, that's mostly developer stuff (Visual Studio Tools in the one, manpages in the other; yes I write portable code in VS). Aside from programs that are inherently CLI-based though (like man), I rarely launch programs from the CLI. It's much faster to hit the WinKey and type "not" [ENTER] than to switch to a command line and type "notepad++" (even with command completion, which will get stuck on other expansions) and that assumes Notepad++ is in my path.

  • Still crap (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mysidia (191772) on Saturday March 08, 2014 @11:04PM (#46437751)

    Wake me up, when they concede to bring the Windows 7 start MENU back.

  • I read the article on Ars the other day. 8.1 has not really improved, it has just made some small, and ultimately meaningless, concessions to address a small number of complaints. The result is an awkward juxtaposition of UI paradigms that just makes things worse.

    I see a lot of harping on here about how geeks should just accept it. Why? Why should I accept this inferior bullshit that malevolently decides to randomly screw with me when I'm trying to actually get things done?

    I can accept change when it is

  • I'm running Windows 8.1 now, with StartIsBack to make desktop mode behave like a real computer. I was willing to give metro/modern a chance, until I tried to use Calculator. The "Modern" version opens fullscreen, with a small calculator window in the center. So much for being able to use it to add the numbers in another window! (The desktop version behaves correctly) Windows 8.1 changed a decently powerful desktop into a crappy tablet. Using _any_ of the utilities to return the start menu/desktop function
  • My wife has Windows 8.1 which installed itself last night without asking on her new ultrabook with Windows 8. It's a pretty unusable OS. The tiled front screen is full of spam with no obvious way to remove anything. No obvious way to shut it down. I gave up working out how to uninstall software. The new added Start button is a help but the whole UI experience is awful. Also Chrome is messed up out of the box, everything looks blurred compared to IE, but fixable through some options. They have a LONG way to

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