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Microsoft Windows Christmas Cheer Technology

Windows 8: a 'Christmas Gift For Someone You Hate' 740

zacharye writes "Microsoft is no stranger to criticism these days, and the company's new Windows 8 platform is once again the target of a scathing review from a high-profile user. Well-known Internet entrepreneur and MIT professor Philip Greenspun handed Windows 8 one of its most damning reviews yet earlier this week, calling the new operating system a 'Christmas gift for someone you hate.' Greenspun panned almost every aspect of Microsoft's new software, noting that Microsoft had four years to study Android and more than five to examine iOS, but still couldn't build a usable tablet experience..."
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Windows 8: a 'Christmas Gift For Someone You Hate'

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  • link to the article (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 06, 2012 @11:51AM (#42204177)

  • by mapkinase ( 958129 ) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @11:54AM (#42204219) Homepage Journal

    We do not even pretend to be impartial now?

    The title obviously should be

    > Greenspun: Windows 8: a 'Christmas Gift For Someone You Hate'

  • by elabs ( 2539572 ) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @12:00PM (#42204293)
    At the end of his "review" he said he was using Windows 8 on a desktop, not a tablet. "This article is based on using Windows 8 on what may be the best current hardware: Dell XPS One 27 computer with a quad-core i7 CPU, 16 GB of RAM and a solid state hard drive accelerator ($2600). " Well there you go. We all knew there were usability issues on the desktop.
  • Re:That bad? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Xacid ( 560407 ) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @12:05PM (#42204333) Journal

    I really wanted to like it and bought into their promo deal to put it onto my laptop (like $40 for a legit copy of Win 8 Upgrade).

    But I've run into the same gripes as him regarding the interface. If you were just in the Modern UI 100% of the time on the tablet it wouldn't be a terrible experience. However, it tries to switch back and forth from that interface to the traditional desktop interface and does so very, very poorly. Even on a tablet this transition is godawful. It's worse on a non-touchscreen laptop.

    The new "start menu" just adds more work for me and adds very little value to the experience. This isn't a bad format for a tablet, but when you're on a laptop and not in the Modern UI - forcing the use of that new start menu is just absurd.

    Now, it does seem to be a bit more responsive than Windows 7 and has a couple of neat features - for example the taskbar now extends across multiple screens and you can set its behavior to a couple of different methods. It seems to integrate nicely w/ the xbox environment but I'm waiting to see what its full potential will be for that.

    Overall there are just a lot of things like "are you friggin serious?". In the land of UI the amount of mouse movement, clicks, and typing is how we define "work" and yet for some reason MS has been wanting to add more work to a lot of the user's tasks. This is something I still don't quite understand. (Look at the office ribbon - despite some of its nice features there are quite a few places where it just managed to add more work for the user to accomplish a task).

    So yeah, it's that bad. I don't outright hate it but it's because I've modified a lot of it so far to fit what I'm after. I would absolutely recommend against it for a non geek to upgrade to.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 06, 2012 @12:14PM (#42204437)

    He's not a professor; far from it.
    He's an "MIT affiliate" (search People on the MIT home page), which is the loosest form of connection to the Institute.
    Note also that the blog he's posted on is at Harvard Law, which says:
    "Weblogs at Harvard Law is provided by the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University as a free service to the Harvard community. Anyone with an email address at,, or can sign up instantly and be blogging in minutes."
    If you search his name in the directory at Harvard's home page, there are no hits.

    In other words, he has no significant connection to MIT, doesn't show up at all on Harvard's staff list, and maybe for some reason has a Harvard email address.

    The poster was just quoting the blog, which pointed to the original blog, but hey, is 30 seconds worth of fact checking too much to ask?

    An Actual MIT Professor.

  • by Gr33nJ3ll0 ( 1367543 ) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @12:27PM (#42204599)
    Vista = BAD was largely a result of bad marketing, poor drivers, and large internal changes at the last minute.
    Win7 = Vista + SP2.
  • Return it. (Score:2, Informative)

    by uncoveror ( 570620 ) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @12:51PM (#42204953) Homepage
    I know most of the general public doesn't come here, but I will post the advice I give to them anyway. If you buy a new PC that has Windows 8, and you are lost, or just plain don't like it, return it. Even if it was a gift, what use is something that won't do what you need or is a pain to use? It doesn't make you a bad person to return it. You may have downgrade rights to Windows 7 Professional if it came with 8 Pro, but you need a Windows 7 install disc just to use them. If you try to do it anyway when your system is not covered by downgrade rights, expect no support from the manufacturer so you may have trouble finding all the device drivers.

    There are off-lease refurbished computers that have Windows 7, or maybe Vista, or even XP that are a better buy. Dell even has an Ebay store to sell them. Nearly all of these are business computers which are of higher quality than home computers, as big business has the power to punish vendors who push manufactured garbage, unlike individual consumers.

    If a few individuals send Microsoft nastygrams about Windows 8, it will not matter. "We got your money, sucker!" is their attitude, but if manufacturers complain that all their Windows 8 PCs are being returned, Microsoft will have to respond eventually.

    Hate Windows 8? You don't have to take it, you can take it back.
  • by concealment ( 2447304 ) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @01:18PM (#42205351) Homepage Journal

    Innovation is generally incremental. The iPod was not the first MP3 player; they just perfected it. The same is true of many MSFT products.

    Microsoft just made the first FULL desktop OS capable of running on all devices including touch based tablets, and you find that to be a bad move?

    Microsoft also unified the computer market with Windows back in the 1990s. Before that, it was sheer chaos and incompatibility. Windows and FAT32 gave the world a standard.

    While many people dislike it, Microsoft Office was the first complete and integrated office suite to include all the functions needed in an average office. It took it some years to get good, but now it's the standard.

    Windows 95 gave us real multitasking at a time when you could freeze a Macintosh by holding down the mouse button.

    Come to think of it, the 'softies have done a lot of good things.

    And then there's Microsoft Research [] and Microsoft Press [].

  • Re:lol (Score:3, Informative)

    by McGuirk ( 1189283 ) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @01:29PM (#42205511) Homepage

    Linux Mint impressed me. It's Ubuntu-based, so it still has the training wheels, but it has a sane interface (I prefer Mate to Cinnamon). It's still a little sluggish though.

    Personally, I just use Debian. It's grouchy at first and takes a little time to get it how you want it, but after that it stays out of your way.

  • Re:lol (Score:2, Informative)

    by HaZardman27 ( 1521119 ) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @01:37PM (#42205565)
    Have you looked at Xubuntu or Kubuntu? If you like the Ubuntu distribution other than its use of gnome, one of those might do the trick, and it's easy to switch to one of them if you already have Ubuntu installed.
  • by Jackie_Chan_Fan ( 730745 ) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @02:18PM (#42205979)

    Wow, where did you ever come up with this brilliant observation?

    windows 8 is not awful.

  • Ummm.... yeah, you're full of shit. Very aggressive shit, by the look of it, but still shit.

    Right-Click in the lower left corner (where Start appears), select Control Panel. Behold, the control panel appears (you can do this from anywhere, but it's typically something you'd do on the desktop since it's a right-click). There's a ton of other stuff on this menu too, including some that are harder to reach in Win7, such as an Admin command prompt or the Programs and Features (add/remove programs) control panel. It can also be used to jump straight to the desktop from any app, incidentally.

    There are so many ways to shut down the computer it's crazy. Alt+F4 on the desktop. The Ctrl+Alt+Del screen shows the Power button. Lock screen shows the Power button. If you are an "expert user" like this idiot in the article is ranting about, you'd know how to use the Shutdown[.exe] command; you can call it from the Run dialog or add shortcuts to it (on either the Start screen or the desktop, of both if you want). In fact, you can even add a shortcut key chord (Win+Ctrl+S, perhaps) to trigger those shortcuts. If you can tolerate the presence of the Charms bar and just don't like the ever-so-offensive concept of a tablet-like gesture to display it, try Win+I to display Setting immediately, at which point Shutdown or Restart are two clicks away.

    Seriously, did your brain calcify or something, resulting in frothing at the mouth without even *trying* to look for the things you claim "ARE NO LONGER" present?

    Other things that your so-called "absolutely correct" review got, in fact, completely bone-headedly wrong:

    The closest thing to a full-time Home button in Windows 8 is the “windows” key on the keyboard (but the whole idea is that the keyboard is not always available/required).

    Let's start with this beauty, from near the top. First of all, Microsoft requires the presence of a hardware Start button on RT devices. Call it a "Home" button if it makes you happier; I've heard even a few Microsofties do so (I live in Seattle; there's a lot of them here; I'm not one myself). Second, you can always access Start from anywhere with at worst a small gesture. If you're using Touch, swipe in from the right side of the screen and tap the Start button that probably appeared right under your thumb. If you're using the mouse, move down to the lower-left corner (where the Start button would be on the desktop) and lo and behold, a Start button appears!

    The Windows 8 tablet interface lacks this [context-sensitive] interface standard.

    Perhaps it slipped this... enlightened gentleman's notice, but the App Bar (that thing that appears on the bottom of the screen when you swipe from either the top or the bottom) is context sensitive. It's intended to be a more graphical and touch-friendly replacement for context menus. I don't think it's as good an implementation of a context-based interface, personally, but it's not missing.

    Some functions, such as “start an application” or “restart the computer” are available only from the tablet interface.

    We've mostly been over this ground already, but I wanted to point out that starting a program totally doesn't require using a tablet interface. If you like icons, put some on the desktop or put them on the taskbar (exactly like in Win7). If you prefer the keyboard, tap the Start key and type the first few letters of the program name, then hit Enter; you can be launching the program (and back on the desktop) before that oh-so-offensive tablet interface finishes its half-second fade-in animation. You can also use Run from the desktop, via Win+R (as before) or right-clicking the Start button or hitting Ctrl+X to bring up the menu, then selecting Run. You can certainly use the command line interfaces too.

    Conversely, when one is comfortably ensconced in a touch/tablet application, an additional cli

  • Grrrr.... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 06, 2012 @03:43PM (#42207105)

    Much to my surprise, I am furious every time I read a scathing review about Windows 8. I rarely get emotional about these things because opinions are opinions. But, I'm becoming overwhelmed with the misrepresentation of Windows 8. I know it won't matter to most people that read this comment, but I've been working on the Windows platform as a systems engineer for over 15 years - since Windows 3.1. Windows 8 is absolutely amazing. It is fast, powerful, and has so many optimization and configuration options, one might think you could turn your home PC into a nuclear reactor once you get into the guts of the OS. I'll keep this rant as short as possible by focusing on what seems to be the single biggest gripe amongst the critics: the Start Menu.

    Pretend for a second that you log on to your Windows 7 machine and press your Windows key. Visualize it, please (or do it). You'll see the little menu pop up with a vertical list of pinned shortcuts and "first tier" applications. To browse this menu, you must drill down and/or across to locate applications. It's a functional, familiar, yet messy way of accessing your applications. In Windows 8, the Start menu is still there! Only you are transported "into" the Start Menu when you hit the Windows key. It is simply a revisualization of the clunky-old Windows Start Menu of yore. The Windows 8 Start menu is fully customizable, just like before. The Windows 8 Start menu is fully scalable, just like before. The Windows 8 Start menu contains all of your applications, just like before. Only now with Windows 8, you can gracefully and quickly swipe across menus and access your applications extremely quickly and efficiently. With the Live Tiles, instead of seeing stagnant shortcut icons, you have up-to-the-second information. News, weather, mail notifications, system information all being updated within the Live Tiles to provide the user with at-a-glance information about the things important to us. Press the Windows key again and the Start Menu closes and you're presented with your Desktop, which is the same way it's always been. It's brilliant and incredibly simplistic. The more you use it, the more the powers of the split screen functionality and on-demand access to your apps become apparent.

    Critics make the mistake of visualizing Windows 8 as some sort of "dual operating system" monstrosity. It's not. The Start Screen isn't an alternate universe. It isn't segregated. They talk like the user is forced to operate two disconnected operating systems at the same time. It isn't at all, unless you would argue that the Start Menu prior to Windows 8 suffered from this same problem. Please listen, folks: from a User standpoint, Windows 8 is simply Windows 7 with an updated Start Menu. That's it. And once you see it and begin to use it as such, you'll find that not only is the new Start Menu incredibly powerful and intuitive, but Windows 8 is absolutely the best version of Windows yet. My one gripe is that IE10 within the Start Menu could use some love. I’m using Chrome instead because accessing the bottom panel to get to my shortcuts is a pain.

  • Re:The guys is wrong (Score:4, Informative)

    by atlasdropperofworlds ( 888683 ) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @04:13PM (#42207561)


    Really? Alt-F4 on the desktop, Winkey+X, right clicking the lower left corner (instead of left clicking which brings up Start). Since I actually have Win8 installed, AKA I've used it, which means I can actually say something about it with authority, every single desktop control panel item is there. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. There are some new Win8 features that you access via the metro system settings link from the charms bar on the left, the main one being the system reset function.

    I know it's a new /. thing to just hate on windows 8, and being critical is certainly your right, but at least please know wtf you are talking about so you don't look like another loud-mouthed buffoon.

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