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Fixing Windows 8
October 29, 2012 12:06 PM   Subscribe

Classic Shell is an open-source program that fixes two of the biggest problems users perceive with the newly-released Windows 8: it brings back the Start Menu, and it allows users to log-in directly to the Desktop instead of the Start Screen. (8.4 MB WINDOWS DOWNLOAD)
posted by JHarris (154 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

 
Note: this is Windows only. No Mac or Linux version. Of course, one isn't needed.
posted by JHarris at 12:07 PM on October 29, 2012 [15 favorites]


That didn't take long.
posted by infinitywaltz at 12:11 PM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


That logo is kind of stupid, it makes me think of some kind of nightmare crossover between Microsoft and Shell Oil.
posted by Scientist at 12:14 PM on October 29, 2012 [6 favorites]


I might be an outlier, but I've barely used the start menu since XP. Windows key + typing whatever I need just seems quicker.
posted by czytm at 12:14 PM on October 29, 2012 [9 favorites]


(nice tags!)

are there any benefits for upgrading to win8 from win7, though? seems to be derision and anger all across the board, tbh...
posted by raihan_ at 12:16 PM on October 29, 2012


What? You didn't want to turn your PC into a giant Zune? That's crazy talk.
posted by w0mbat at 12:18 PM on October 29, 2012 [22 favorites]


There are other problems with Windows 8 as well. My "favorite" is that Solitaire, the game that has included with Windows since 3.1, that has provided millions of secretaries and grad students with the amiable, if unenlightened, time wasting, is now an "app" you must download from the Microsoft Store. Spider and Freecell have been subsumed into it.

Also, THE DAMN THING NOW HAS COMMERCIALS. The second time you start it there will be a full-screen unskippable video clip advertising something! At the bottom of the screen will be a white subtitle along the lines of "This app is free because of our sponsor." This is in the OFFICIAL, Microsoft Studios-provided app.

I'm imagining Steve Ballmer fuming in his office that for decades people played Solitaire on their computers on the company dime.

Agreed about the logo though. There doesn't appear to be a way to change it. Stardock sells their own Start Menu replacement, Start8, for $5 that provides the Windows 8 logo, but it seems to be less configurable. Also, Stardock sucks.

raihan_, I think so. There are a number of under-the-hood and minor improvements (notably the file copy dialog is much better, and the new Task Manager is great), and if you recently bought a new machine with Windows 7 you can get Windows 8 Pro, regardless of your previous version, for only $15. And with Classic Start, it's almost like Metro doesn't exist.
posted by JHarris at 12:20 PM on October 29, 2012 [9 favorites]


I've been thinking about Windows 8 and our office. I'll be testing tablet versions (not RT) for our laptop users, but assumed that we'd skip it for desktop folks. Then I thought about touch screen monitors and thought, "That might make it better!" Then I realized how close you'd have to sit to a monitor to use it effectively like that...
posted by charred husk at 12:21 PM on October 29, 2012


Also, THE DAMN THING NOW HAS COMMERCIALS. The second time you start it there will be a full-screen unskippable video clip advertising something! At the bottom of the screen will be a white subtitle along the lines of "This app is free because of our sponsor." This is in the OFFICIAL, Microsoft Studios-provided app.

I thought that was only if you wanted to play the new multiplayer mode or whatever? (Why anybody would want to play multiplayer Minesweeper, on the other hand...)
posted by kmz at 12:23 PM on October 29, 2012


I didn't even know multiplayer mode existed and I got the ad. Multiplayer Solitaire?
posted by JHarris at 12:24 PM on October 29, 2012 [9 favorites]


the file copy dialog is much better

TeraCopy has been the file copy addon of choice for years.

In case anyone is wondering: the folks behind Classic Shell has been around for a while and also provide a very handy addon for Windows 7 that brings back the "go up a level" folder navigation in Windows Explorer.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 12:28 PM on October 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


Maybe it's like a time-attack mode? Solitaire Rally Championship?
posted by laconic skeuomorph at 12:29 PM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't like TeraCopy, or feature-locked nagware in general. And the unlock is twenty dollars. I wouldn't have posted Classic Start if it had pulled that shit.
posted by JHarris at 12:31 PM on October 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


Windows 8 is a hot mess of an experience and no amount of community good-will patching will help it. I was open to it after using Visual Studio 2012 and Office 2013, but it's so pop-eyed and gormless in its experience that using Windows 8 on a Real Boy Computer just becomes a turn-off . So, I maintain my initial line: "I can't tell you what Windows 8 will be like, but Windows 9 will surely be amazing."
posted by boo_radley at 12:32 PM on October 29, 2012 [8 favorites]


.... that brings back the "go up a level" folder navigation in Windows Explorer.

FYI, the Alt+UpArrow keyboard shortcut works for that.
posted by benito.strauss at 12:32 PM on October 29, 2012 [9 favorites]


JHarris: "I didn't even know multiplayer mode existed and I got the ad. Multiplayer Solitaire?"

imagine the griefing.
posted by boo_radley at 12:32 PM on October 29, 2012 [5 favorites]


OK, I was apparently misremembering about the games... I guess it's actually some kind of daily challenge thingy in Solitaire that you can participate in. And Minesweeper now has some kind of "adventure" mode.
posted by kmz at 12:34 PM on October 29, 2012


Aaah, that daily challenge thing. I remember I had just clicked on that, exploring what was in the program, when the half-minute commercial began.

Still though, deal breaker. Not while I can still run PySol.
posted by JHarris at 12:36 PM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Multiplayer Solitaire?

Do The Social!™
posted by Thorzdad at 12:40 PM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh shit, PySol! I used to love that damn thing. Haven't played it in a while... Breakout clones are my distracted casual gaming of choice these days.
posted by kmz at 12:42 PM on October 29, 2012


boo_radley:
"I can't tell you what Windows 8 will be like, but Windows 9 will surely be amazing."
That's been my motto, too. We're JUST about phased out of XP into 7 and we were using 98SE before that.

And the thing is, it isn't like every other version is necessarily BAD. Vista was given a lot more flack than it deserved for example. But they change things up every other version to some degree and the first attempt of that change is rarely well received. Add on to that how long businesses hold on to their software and this pattern emerges.
posted by charred husk at 12:43 PM on October 29, 2012


New from Microsoft: EXTREME SOLITARE!
posted by item at 12:47 PM on October 29, 2012


New from Microsoft: EXTREME SOLITARE!

A game for ZERO PLAYERS!
posted by Nomyte at 12:48 PM on October 29, 2012 [16 favorites]


"Oh - give Windows 8 a miss."
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:51 PM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


charred husk, that is true to some degree. But this is horrendous, the Metro interface makes nearly everything I do on a computer more frustrating. You have to move your cursor to a secret screen location to get to Metro, its apps are full-screen damn all else often meaning stupid oversized UI elements, it makes it a challenge just to shut down your system, and it relies on the stupid Microsoft Store which copies all the worst things about the App Store without providing anything good to make up for it. No one's going to convince me with the usual bullshit lines about how I'm just not used to it, that could be said about anything. This, I don't want to get used to it, it is an objectively bad thing to have to use on desktop systems.

It shows more plainly than anything in a long time how creatively bankrupt Microsoft is, someone in management got a bee in their bonnet about trying to ape Apple damn any rhyme or reason. They copy without even knowing what it is they copy, like a parrot imitating human language without comprehending it.
posted by JHarris at 12:51 PM on October 29, 2012 [12 favorites]


GUI? Phooey!
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot at 12:56 PM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


And the thing is, it isn't like every other version is necessarily BAD. Vista was given a lot more flack than it deserved for example.

Yes! Finally! I've been saying this for ages! Vista really wasn't that bad. It was no fucking WindowME, that's for sure. I used it on a variety of computers for years, and didn't notice anything beyond the normal background level of Microsoft annoyance, but now everyone is all "LOL Vista RIGHT?". I've come to assume everyone's just saying that to lend support the "one good version, one bad version" narrative.

What, exactly, was so wrong about it?
posted by Jimbob at 12:56 PM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, there's the thing where you have to SUDO everything...
posted by Artw at 12:57 PM on October 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


Jimbob: "What, exactly, was so wrong about it?"

I think a lot of people hated it because they didn't understand UAC and just perceived it as Microsoft taking over their PCs.
posted by boo_radley at 12:58 PM on October 29, 2012


caaalled it.
posted by boo_radley at 12:59 PM on October 29, 2012


I can't imagine the appearance of a program that undoes the biggest change to your OS is a good sign, but then again it's never easy to make changes at all to something like Windows.
posted by tommasz at 1:00 PM on October 29, 2012


I think those people hated it because they had to interact with UAC so much. It's a fine idea, but (I hear) the prompts got to be maddening.
posted by JHarris at 1:00 PM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Been using Win8 for a few months now, and I don't mind it. The great thing is that if you don't like Metro, you don't have to use it. The OS is completely usable without any metro apps.
posted by blue_beetle at 1:00 PM on October 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Heh, also from the that-didn't-take-long department, I was just thinking about a Win 7 desktop gadget thingy I wanted to install...

"Because we want to focus on the exciting possibilities of the newest version of Windows, the Windows website no longer hosts the gadget gallery."
posted by laconic skeuomorph at 1:02 PM on October 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh we UNDERSTOOD UAC. We just hated it. Win 7 struck the right balance between security and insanity.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 1:03 PM on October 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


(by doing it pretty much the way Apple already did)
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 1:03 PM on October 29, 2012


I can't imagine the appearance of a program that undoes the biggest change to your OS is a good sign

"restore start menu windows 8" : About 4,040,000 results
posted by Egg Shen at 1:04 PM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


blue_beetle: "Been using Win8 for a few months now, and I don't mind it. The great thing is that if you don't like Metro, you don't have to use it. The OS is completely usable without any metro apps."

What does your start menu look like? I thought that big-ass pin-board looking thing was it, no options at all.
posted by boo_radley at 1:04 PM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Jimbob: What, exactly, was so wrong about it?

For me, the big thing was the performance. It was much slower than XP (of course), but it also somehow managed to be slower than Windows 7. There were some elements of graphical acceleration, etc. that just weren't part of the engine in Vista; they were brought back for Windows 7, which is why it was obviously faster on decent computers.

Vista was also pretty buggy, particularly at first. XP was buggy, too, but XP brought a lot to the table to justify it. Vista wasn't enough of an improvement to make up for all of the early problems.
posted by Mitrovarr at 1:04 PM on October 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


TBH outside of UAC occasionaly being annoying I never had any trouble with it, but I got it on a fresh set of hardware and avoided a lot of the driver problems, which is always a pain point.
posted by Artw at 1:05 PM on October 29, 2012


My main issue with Vista was that it hogged resources pretty badly - games that ran fine under XP became unplayable under Vista. It was somewhat better under Windows 7, but only marginally. Otherwise Vista was perfectly serviceable.
posted by charred husk at 1:09 PM on October 29, 2012


Running Win8 for a couple of days now, and I'm starting to get used to it. There's some problems with the new UI, but nothing I'd install a start button and get rid of the Start Menu for.

Start Menu is your start button. Wish more people would realise this.
posted by zoo at 1:16 PM on October 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ugh. I just want to code* people. Why do you have to put kruft all over my screen?

*and post to metafilter
posted by shothotbot at 1:16 PM on October 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


It's OK for coders really. The emphasis on keyboard use & full screen chromeless applications is great for developers. As far as I can tell, they're taking the kruft away.

Of course - I'm pretty much a Windows apologist, so take all that with a pinch of salt. :-)

Anyway - as soon as I figure out how to pop things on and off the start menu from vbScript or Powershell, I'm going to be off.
posted by zoo at 1:22 PM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Note: this is Windows only. No Mac or Linux version. Of course, one isn't needed.

If only, *they* fucked up Gnome too... there seems to be some sort of global conspiracy of desktop UX/UI designers to make everything suck.

And then there's the creeping iOSX....
posted by ennui.bz at 1:25 PM on October 29, 2012 [11 favorites]


I'm skipping upgrading current hardware. However, I'm looking forward to the eventually VM-ing of the desktop and desktop apps (rather than side by side as in Win8) and a transition to WinRT as the next step in Windows' evolution.

But I did buy a Surface RT. Though the HP Touchpad is an excellent living room device (and at $100 it was the steal of the year), having Office and RDC plus that slim, quiet Touch Cover pretty much nailed my MS-centric work needs in one go (I hate clacking keyboards in meetings).
posted by linux at 1:28 PM on October 29, 2012


I'm suprised Office isn't fullscreen, especially in the RT version.
posted by Artw at 1:30 PM on October 29, 2012


I'm still using Vista (well, when I'm using Windows at all) on my laptop at home. I've gotten used to it, and it doesn't bug me too much.

I actually find 7 on our boxes at work a bit more irritating.
posted by trip and a half at 1:30 PM on October 29, 2012


The thing with Unix GUIs is people will argue about them but at the end of the day they're mainly used to open terminal windows that all work the same. That said after a month or so of using an Ubuntu box as my primary work machine I'm beginning to build a stronf dislike for some of Unity's quirks.
posted by Artw at 1:33 PM on October 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


ennui.bz: there seems to be some sort of global conspiracy of desktop UX/UI designers to make everything suck.

I call it the 'tablet plague'. It's the idea that "TABLETS ARE THE FUTURE!1!11!1 that seems to have infected all the major OS players. The problem is, efforts to make tablets into desktops have failed over and over (see: every tablet before the iPad) so now they're trying to make desktops into tablets. Which is of course, equally stupid; developers need to get it through their skulls that desktops/laptops and tablets are fundamentally different devices that shouldn't share a common UI, and Apple's realization of that is what make tablets actually work. But they won't realize it (even Apple seems to have forgotten), not until at least one revision of every major OS crashes and burns.

So, reject Windows 8. Fight the tablet plague. Or get used to using a computer with an operating system designed for a 9" touchscreen, with any actual productive use included as an afterthought at best.
posted by Mitrovarr at 1:34 PM on October 29, 2012 [13 favorites]


I'm suprised Office isn't fullscreen, especially in the RT version.

MS cheats a bit with Office. It's still a Win32 app. It's Windows RT because it's running on an ARM device but it is not a WinRT app, so it still drops to the classic desktop environment.

I did notice that RDC and OneNote now have actual RT apps in the store, so I no longer have to see it drop to desktop for those two.
posted by linux at 1:36 PM on October 29, 2012


Artw: "I'm suprised Office isn't fullscreen, especially in the RT version."

Hello.
posted by boo_radley at 1:36 PM on October 29, 2012


>I'm suprised Office isn't fullscreen, especially in the RT version.

Office 2013 has a fullscreen distraction free mode. It's essentially a white screen with words on it.
posted by zoo at 1:37 PM on October 29, 2012


Start Menu is your start button. Wish more people would realise this.

I do. I hate it. The Windows 7 Start Button was just about the optimal implementation of the idea, I think. Major programs of various types appeared at the top, along with anything you've pinned, for quick access. The rest fills up with programs Windows determines you use frequently. Everything else goes under Programs. One of the few UI advances Microsoft could legitimately call their own, and they threw it away. Could we expect anything less from them?
posted by JHarris at 1:37 PM on October 29, 2012 [9 favorites]


>The Windows 7 Start Button was just about the optimal implementation of the idea, I think.
People have been saying this on and off since Windows 3.1.

Though the Win7 start menu was an awesome piece of work.
posted by zoo at 1:41 PM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Bad timing in new computers meant I ran both ME and Vista for ages. Maybe this time it really is great innovation and everyone really will get used to it. But I think this time I'm going to leave it to others to find out.

Upgraded to 7 on Saturday.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 1:43 PM on October 29, 2012


>I'm suprised Office isn't fullscreen, especially in the RT version.

Office 2013 has a fullscreen distraction free mode. It's essentially a white screen with words on it.


It's a desktop app running full screen though, isn't it? Which is a different thing from a Metro fullscreen app.
posted by Artw at 1:49 PM on October 29, 2012


Pokki looks way nicer as a Windows 8 Start Menu / Manager
posted by banished at 1:59 PM on October 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


I've been thinking about Windows 8 and our office.

Is anyone here seriously considering a rollout? I personally know several huge shops who are still vetting Windows 7 for deployment, after what Microsoft did to GPO management in 7 creating nightmares for large-scale deployments.

If you have more than 10 workstations and you're going to deploy Windows 8, I'd sincerely like to hear how you planned it, what resources from Microsoft you have referred to, and your target deployment date.
posted by odinsdream at 2:05 PM on October 29, 2012


I call it the 'tablet plague'. It's the idea that "TABLETS ARE THE FUTURE!1!11!1 that seems to have infected all the major OS players.

Apple gets nearly two-thirds of its revenue from touchscreen systems. Its desktop and laptop revenues are dwarfed by iPads, iPhones and iPod touches. From the numbers angle, it makes sense to make desktops and laptops more like the devices that make the company most of its money. I suspect that Microsoft is finding relatively fewer desktop and laptop sales relative to smartphones only (i.e. excluding tablets) are giving the CEO the motivation to move the company in a similar direction.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:19 PM on October 29, 2012


It's an even-numbered version of Windows. You don't install those.
posted by clarknova at 2:19 PM on October 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


>The Windows 7 Start Button was just about the optimal implementation of the idea, I think.
People have been saying this on and off since Windows 3.1.


That says nothing about whether it's true this time, though. Anyway, it might not really be optimal, but it might be the best we ever get.

It's an even-numbered version of Windows. You don't install those.

This is almost more painful than the general lack of useability of Windows 8, the sustenance of another of these silly urban legend things. I'm sure around the time the next version of Windows comes out this will progress to the threshold of mainstream consciousness, juuust enough so that tech columnists will latch onto it and it'll become absolutely inescapable around that time. The prospect is enough to make one want to switch to Mac or Linux just to avoid it.
posted by JHarris at 2:24 PM on October 29, 2012


Apple gets nearly two-thirds of its revenue from touchscreen systems.

That's odd.

Ballmer just said of the tablet market: I don’t think anybody has done a product that is the product that I see customers wanting.
posted by Egg Shen at 2:32 PM on October 29, 2012


I suspect that Microsoft is finding relatively fewer desktop and laptop sales relative to smartphones only (i.e. excluding tablets) are giving the CEO the motivation to move the company in a similar direction.


This is your future (you might want to hit it with one of those disposable wipes; it looks like someone's gotten gross smeared fingerprints all over it).
posted by infinitywaltz at 2:34 PM on October 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


That's odd.

Actually, it's not 2/3rds, but more like 4/5ths. Crazy to think where they were five years ago, isn't it?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:35 PM on October 29, 2012


Actually, it would probably make more sense at this point for Apple to drop all non-iOS devices altogether.
posted by adamdschneider at 2:47 PM on October 29, 2012


Apple is kind-of sort-of integrating the iOS UX experience info OSX with recent versions, with mixed results - I'm not a fan, but I wasn't a fan of OSX to begin with.
posted by Artw at 2:50 PM on October 29, 2012


Actually, it would probably make more sense at this point for Apple to drop all non-iOS devices altogether.

Except that nearly all iOS development takes place on Macs, and there are still several important functions iOS depends on computers for, like backups. And there's some things that iOS does poorly, but Apple doesn't have to worry about supporting, because they can point to their computer line and say go there, young coder.
posted by JHarris at 2:54 PM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


So has anyone tried the multiplayer Office yet? I hear it's extreme to the max.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 3:04 PM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've been using Classic Shell on Windows 7 for ages now, and it's great.
posted by cosmic.osmo at 3:05 PM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


because they can point to their computer line and say go there, young coder.

..Or scientist. Or engineer. Or designer. Or statistician. Or accountant. Or publisher. Or photographer...
posted by Jimbob at 3:14 PM on October 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


Speaking of fixing things, it sounds like Forstall got the chop, perhaps over Maps and Siri. Now that Ive will be taking over software UI responsibilities, the next couple years should be very interesting.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:17 PM on October 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


WINDOWS 8 IS NOT AN UPGRADE, AS SHOWN BY THE SIGNIFICANTLY LOWER PRICE.

They would be giving it away if doing so wasn't completely bloody obvious. Microsoft is trying to lock down the Windows platform and monetize as much as they can get away with.

Consider:

-The requirement for a 'trusted platform', making alternatives more difficult to install
-The requirement for all Metro software apps to be bought through the rent-seeking Microsoft Store
-The needless deprecation of the Desktop, meaning that desktop software users have to click back to the clunky, touch-based Metro to launch programs (therefore trying to make the Desktop as much of an inconvenience as possible)

Microsoft isn't satisfied with making money off Windows and Office, and wants to skim money off all Windows software purchases. In order to do so, they have to fundamentally change how Windows works. They have to come up with a new kind of software that can only be bought through the Microsoft Store, and they have to redesign Windows so that old software is artificially difficult to use.
posted by dunkadunc at 3:28 PM on October 29, 2012 [17 favorites]


Interesting. Ives is very much NOT a fan of skeumorphic nonsense.

The problems with maps are data problems though (and corporate arrogance problems too) and is Siri considered to be problematic at all?
posted by Artw at 3:30 PM on October 29, 2012


"And then there's the creeping iOSX...."

I've always maintained this was a strange, irrational fear. Apple puts iOS-style scrollbars and a nondescript app store icon into OS X, encourages use of an abstracted file system*, stands back and says "No, we're not planning to turn OS X into iOS or force you to buy apps from our store" - and nerd-raged anti-fanboys run around foaming at the mouth screaming "Look! Apple is turning OS X into iOS! Walled garden! Company store!"

Yet it's Microsoft that slaps a full-blown tablet GUI right out front as the default, hides all cues on how to get back to the long-familiar Windows GUI, heavily hints that the only way to install software is through their app store (and on some versions it is the only way), and comes right out and says "we're planning to consolidate UIs between mobile and desktop versions - this is just the first, large step; get used to it!".

And the response? Not much more than the usual "meh - this sucks!" that accompanies a new version of Windows…

(* I'm a little torn by this. It's basically a good idea; despite the office-organisational-like metaphors used by tree-like filesystems, many users have trouble with the concept. Apple's implementation of filesystem abstraction is clunky and will bring you to tears if you ever look under the hood, which you still occasionally need to do. But how then to deal with people - and there's a lot of them out there - who, because it's too complicated to go searching or remember where you saved things, consider files to be 'lost' if they've dropped off the end of the "Recently Opened" file list?)
posted by Pinback at 3:30 PM on October 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


I personally know several huge shops who are still vetting Windows 7

Where I work just gotten upgraded to this; me and my cow-orkers still have to make do with XP because one particular bit of kit can't work under Win7.

Vista was buggy, had a couple of obnoxious and highly visible "features" but most importantly, did everything slightly less well or more annoying than WinXP did it.

Win7 took everything Vista did well and made it better, while getting rid of most of the nuisance factors.

UI wise I still find XP to be the best of the modern Windows, the end evolution of everything that had gotten started with '95 and NT.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:39 PM on October 29, 2012


And to the Linux Gods:

All I want is
-A standard, unified Linux desktop
-A real desktop, no Unity or GNOME Shell crap
-Backwards compatibility. Software for Linux 7 should install and run on Linux 9 without complaining
-All software should be designed to work closely with the shell
-Desktop software should install in drag-and-drop app bundles, drag to trash to uninstall
-UI with no glaring bugs. UI elements will respond to the settings in the desktop appearance applet, settings should store when "OK is pressed, etc
-Only one control panel, no duplicated functionality between applets
-Self-explanatory system app names. File browser should be "File Browser". What the hell is "Caja"?
posted by dunkadunc at 3:42 PM on October 29, 2012 [7 favorites]


encourages use of an abstracted file system*

I admit, I'm not sure what you mean by this, and I have the latest release. Do you mean the shortcuts to predefined home subdirectories? The default iCloud browser thing?
posted by odinsdream at 3:42 PM on October 29, 2012


Also, THE DAMN THING NOW HAS COMMERCIALS. The second time you start it there will be a full-screen unskippable video clip advertising something! At the bottom of the screen will be a white subtitle along the lines of "This app is free because of our sponsor." This is in the OFFICIAL, Microsoft Studios-provided app.
pfffft ahahahahaha
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 4:08 PM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Meh, Windows 8 is fine, frankly I continue to be stunned that people used and liked the start menu. I've been using Launchy for ages, and when I used the start menu it was by hitting the win key and starting to type, which works in exactly the same way in win 8.

My main computer is a Lenovo ultrabook which gets plugged in to two 24" monitors when at work and this set up works really well. The laptop screen gets all the metro apps for mail/skype/calendar/twitter, the monitors sit there showing the same desktop they used to show. I'm actually quite interested to grab a touchscreen ultrabook to use in the same way. Touchscreen metro stuff when sitting on the couch surfing the web, plugged in to a monitor or two when I'm at work using the traditional desktop.

Wouldn't mac users think it was kind of cool if they could buy a mac book air and it could run iOS apps with full touch screen if they wanted it to?
posted by markr at 4:08 PM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wouldn't mac users think it was kind of cool if they could buy a mac book air and it could run iOS apps with full touch screen if they wanted it to?

This is what I think gives WinRT an interesting chance. That all WinRT apps can run on any device running Windows 8 or Windows RT means those apps are there for all folks who upgrade to Win8, buy a new PC or just go get a tablet. That getting a tablet is not required to be introduced to the new UI and the new paradigm means an immediate audience for developers.

It may mean MS isn't completely insane about their desired goal of 100k apps in three months (still a bit of a long shot, but the acceleration curve for apps over time may still be crazy steep).
posted by linux at 4:18 PM on October 29, 2012


Though the Win7 start menu was an awesome piece of work.

I think a lot of people miss one of the best features in Windows 7; the replacement for QuickLaunch. I used to use Quicklaunch constantly, and was very angry at first that it had been removed, but then I realized that they'd given me something that was better in every way: taskbar pinning.

Run a program. Right click it, choose Pin This Program To Taskbar. Nothing immediately changes, but when you close the program, a small icon remains behind, letting you relaunch it again. It's just like QuickLaunch, except the small icons morph into the actual taskbar entries; when the program is running, you manipulate it via the taskbar like normal, and when it's not running, it's a small, unobtrusive icon. Your pinned programs always stay in the same order on the taskbar, though of course you can rearrange them. On my machine, Firefox is the first pinned program, so it's always on the left, running or not. My mail client is next, and then a simple editor, Calculator, and a command prompt. These things are always 1 click away, and I always know exactly where to look to find them. I like this much better than the Macintosh Dock, because it's tiny in comparison, but offers most of the same features. (it doesn't seem to have a 'run in taskbar' mode, but the taskbar is awfully small; it'd be hard to get much useful info in a window that tiny.) And then basically everything else in the computer is a few clicks away on the Start menu, or I can type, if I prefer.

In terms of UI advances, taskbar pinning is the best feature they've come up with in many years, maybe ever. But it seems like people barely even realize it's there. And this butchered bastard Metro abomination, which is purely for Microsoft's benefit, not mine, gets seriously in the way of using it comfortably. I don't want fullscreen ANYTHING but the desktop, and programs. I want my launcher(s) to be unobtrusive, and Metro is hugely wasteful of screen real estate, to be comfortable for people with fingers. I don't use my goddamn computer with fingers, and I furiously resent having my computer interface hijacked for a use that I will never have for it. This change is not for my benefit. Like all other UI changes in Windows 8, it is for Microsoft's benefit. Hell, as others point out upthread, they've even monetized Solitaire!

You'd have to be brain damaged to install this thing voluntarily. Even on a tablet, where the touch UI might be interesting, all the new features are totally locked down so that nobody can use them without paying Microsoft a toll.

This is a lousy deal, one that's stupid to accept. It's only $40 for the upgrade because they're trying to trick you into doing it. Don't! You're signing up to be monetized, and they actually have the cojones to charge you so that they can charge you!

re: Vista....UAC has been discussed. The market didn't like it, but I personally thought it was a great idea, and that Microosft should have stuck to its guns. Beyond that, its big problem, as far as I could see, was the 64-bit transition, and the extremely poor quality of the 64-bit NVidia and Creative drivers. They were a disaster.

Further, there wasn't much for actual users in Vista. When Microsoft finally decided, more or less, 'screw it, we've got to get this thing out the door', they cut all the features for users, but kept all the features that benefited themselves. All the infrastructure and architectural work that had been done was to make their lives easier; essentially nothing in Vista, as it shipped, was an improvement for users.

Only a monopoly could be that abusive and survive, and Vista's failure scared them bad enough that they actually did something genuinely good in Win7.

7's big problem is its DRM layer, but as it turns out, you can just avoid activating it by completely avoiding DRM-encumbered crap. As long as it stays in 'serves the user' mode, it's very good.

Windows 8 does not have a 'serves the user' mode. It is in 'serves Microsoft' mode, all the time. You cannot turn Metro off, and Metro is a totally closed ecosystem, where everyone has to pay Microsoft toll, and Microsoft gets to tell anyone it wants that they're simply not allowed to sell their programs. You can't run a Metro program unless you get it from the Microsoft store. There is no way to escape paying Redmond, and having to get permission for anything you want to do in Metro mode.

If you have to ask permission, you don't own the hardware. If you install Windows 8, you are paying Microsoft $40 to take ownership of your computer away from you. You still have all the downsides of ownership, in that you have to fix anything that breaks; Microsoft is in no way responsible for anything. But you're also a tenant, and you have to ask permission to do anything in Metro mode. If you think a program idea would be really great, but Microsoft doesn't, too bad, so sad. Drop dead, loser. It's the end of innovation that disrupts Microsoft in any way. It's central planning for computing, and it will work as well as central planning always does. (ie, it looks okay at first, and then the corruption sets in.)

You still have the deprecated Win7 desktop mode, but Microsoft is clearly trying to get rid of it as soon as they possibly can. They don't have to actually do anything for the desktop to die; that will happen on its own, through simple bitrot. That will take a number of years, but the end of the era of open computing under Windows is now clearly visible.
posted by Malor at 4:20 PM on October 29, 2012 [27 favorites]


And then there's the creeping iOSX....

No kidding - my new work machine came with Mountain Lion, and it took a whole lot of digging around and some judicious application of Lion Tweaks to get it to work like an actual Mac and not like something that was trying to be an iPhone.

This is your future (you might want to hit it with one of those disposable wipes; it looks like someone's gotten gross smeared fingerprints all over it).

Yes. This. Good god this. Oh god. I clean my phone several times a day and it still looks dirty most of the time. I don't understand how people don't notice this. Sometimes someone will hand me a phone and I just - oh god, I don't even want to look at it, it's smudged to death like a preschooler has been fingerpainting on it, and somehow this is normal and okay. Oh ughch.

This is a serious problem for the touchscreen future.
posted by Mars Saxman at 4:23 PM on October 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


odinsdream: "I'm not sure what you mean by [abstracted file system]"

Mostly the iCloud "Document Library" approach, although it's evident elsewhere (and I think linking it so intimately with iCloud is a mistake).

Take an Apple app like Pages, or even Textedit - when using iCloud, the default save action is to just save stuff 'somewhere'. The idea is that, beyond a minimal bit of organisation you don't care where that is. When you open the app you get the Document Library displaying the files associated with that app - again, you don't care where they are.

Don't need to remember where stuff is, it's just "there". Like using Windows search or Spotlight, except integrated as part of the normal file save/open process & it doesn't suck ;-)

As I said, it's clunky. I was going to contrast it with BeOS's SQL-like capabilities - which still haven't been matched for straight-out awesomeness or utility, 15 or so years later - but that was getting a bit too O/T…

markr: "Wouldn't mac users think it was kind of cool if they could buy a mac book air and it could run iOS apps with full touch screen if they wanted it to?"

As a secondary capability, yes. It'd suck as the main UI though…
posted by Pinback at 4:24 PM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


As a secondary capability, yes. It'd suck as the main UI though…

If you click on the desktop icon (or hit Win+D) when you log in you don't need to look at Metro again. Or install the topic of this post or Start 8 if you really feel that strongly about it.
posted by markr at 4:30 PM on October 29, 2012


You should not have to install special software to have your computer boot to desktop.
posted by dunkadunc at 4:33 PM on October 29, 2012 [7 favorites]


"What, exactly, was so wrong about it?"

A few things, at least in my experience with a 2007 Toshiba laptop, 2gb memory:
It was slow as fuck.
It would not hold onto wireless settings and the network wizards were slow and worse than useless.
UAC annoyances all the time. except when you needed them, and an install would just silently fail.
Pointless gratuitous rearrangement of things, settings, etc from where they were in XP.

These kinds of problems are usually dismissed as 'driver issues'. But this was just a mainstream toshiba laptop, no exotic hardware. Vista had been out for 6 or 8 months at that point so it wasn't a matter of some initial release bugginess. After a few months of Vista I gave up on it and downgraded it to XP, since I had a spare license available. It was fine that way.

So, slow as fuck and full of annoyances. That was my experience of Vista anyway.

That same laptop is now running Windows 8 Release Preview. I actually like it a lot. It is fast and is running smoothly, even on old hardware. I really don't give a crap about the metro interface or the lack of a start menu. Both are just lolz as far as I am concerned. I just want it to fucking work without snags. The Win 8 Release Preview seemed to do that, even better than XP. I just installed Win 8 Pro on my main machine today. I've got my fingers crossed that it will continue to work well.
posted by DarkForest at 4:36 PM on October 29, 2012


markr: "If you click on the desktop icon (or hit Win+D) when you log in you don't need to look at Metro again."

And, having clicked on the desktop icon or hit Win-D to get to the traditional Windows desktop, what happen next time you boot up?

Honestly, I don't care what people use - I'm not BP, and if you like Win8 & the default Interface Formerly Known As Metro, that's fine. But, despite the advantages - and I consider things like Live Tiles to be a real advance & improvement for the way that many people currently use computers - I still think setting such a restricted and limiting UI as the default front end is a dumb thing to do.
posted by Pinback at 4:43 PM on October 29, 2012


Pinback: I was going to contrast it with BeOS's SQL-like capabilities - which still haven't been matched for straight-out awesomeness or utility, 15 or so years later - but that was getting a bit too O/T…

I posted the thread. As far as I'm concerned, go ahead, BeOS is awesome.

Malor: You can't run a Metro program unless you get it from the Microsoft store. There is no way to escape paying Redmond, and having to get permission for anything you want to do in Metro mode.

THIS. It sucks when Apple does it, and it sucks when Microsoft does it. And I noticed that the Gatekeeper thing that everyone, including myself, has complained about Apple doing? Windows 8 does something very very much like it if you dare run a program it doesn't know of, except it's even a little more obtuse about how to overcome it.
posted by JHarris at 4:52 PM on October 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


I just don't get why it is a big deal to install something like start 8 if you utterly hate metro. I set up every computer to work how I want it, including win 7, yet win 8 comes along and advanced users are suddenly unable to install programs?

It took me a few weeks to start to like metro and in that time I never saw metro except when I rebooted every week or so. I use launchy and apps pinned to the task bar to start programs, and when you bring your computer out of sleep it comes straight back to the desktop. The full windows 7 ui is still there apart from the start menu and it has been improved in numerous ways.

As you say, I don't care if people upgrade, I was on XP at home for ages just because I couldn't be bothered rebuilding my computer, but the hate on for win 8 is a little misguided I think.
posted by markr at 4:52 PM on October 29, 2012


Dear Microsoft: My desktop is not a phone. Neither is my laptop. Thanks!

Also, powershell rocks!
posted by Monkey0nCrack at 4:53 PM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I do hate the locked app store, unfortunately I think average consumers have spoken on that one.
posted by markr at 4:54 PM on October 29, 2012


Let them speak all they want, I'll still hate it. The only thing keeping me from jumping to Linux as it is software support.
posted by JHarris at 4:59 PM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, and:
but the hate on for win 8 is a little misguided I think.

Well you're a little misguided I think. (STICKS OUT TONGUE, SAYS 'NYAAH')
posted by JHarris at 5:01 PM on October 29, 2012


Oh, I also notice: they've gone back to centering window titles in Desktop. Just like back in the 3.1 days! I'm getting misty-eyed.
posted by JHarris at 5:05 PM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


JHarris: My switch to linux started with a dual-boot setup, and ended when I realized that reduced software support on the Linux side was far less of a problem than the continual maintenance to keep the windows side alive and virus-free. To this day when I work on windows machines I'm amazed that people put up with the kind of software failures that seem to come up so constantly, with such a paucity of error messages to help correct them. (Or, for that matter, actual routes to fix things. I can understand the logic: Why bother putting in robust error reporting if there's no way to actually get under the hood? and random registry-editing, et al, is a lame excuse for under the hood.) I just shake my head and think, 'you actually live like this?'

Ahem, um, sorry, I think my neckbeard is showing.
posted by kaibutsu at 5:09 PM on October 29, 2012


Speaking of fixing things, it sounds like Forstall got the chop


!!! Oh, I hope so!

Speaking of chops... why is Ballmer still CEO? He has been the head of a fucked-up series of disasters. Why is he never, ever accountable?
posted by five fresh fish at 5:13 PM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nobody knows.

Of course the most likely replacement is Steven Sinofsky, and Win8 is very much his baby (as was 7).
posted by Artw at 5:31 PM on October 29, 2012


What, exactly, was so wrong about it? [vista]

1) UAC. Seriously annoying in all the wrong ways, while actually reducing security because it just trained users to click 'go ahead, do whatever' without reading whenever they wanted to do well, anything. Yes, it eventually trained developers to write less software that required to run as admin, but it was a seriously botched implementation.

2) Buggy drivers. It took at least a year to get reasonable working video and audio drivers for most things, and a lot longer than that to get decent performance out of them - I ran an XP partition for a good couple of years for gaming because of it. This was not all hardware makers fault - microsoft changed the APIs a lot in development, and were still screwing around with protected video path and audio right up to RTM. All to keep windows in the DRM game for hddvd/bluray playback. Wow, that really worked out, huh.

3) partly as a result of 2, performance sucked. On anything less than 2GB RAM, vista was a pig. There were also a bunch of new XP-designed machines that were rebadged as 'vista capable', especially with el-crappo onboard intel graphics chipsets that really, really weren't able to run it very well at all. IIRC, there was even a lawsuit over it, that found that microsoft deliberately lowered the spec on 'vista capable' in order to allow intel to make their sales numbers. So people bought new laptops etc that were 'vista capable' that were anything but - they should have bought 'vista ready' machines that had proper video card support, but seriously, that caused a massive amount of confusion.

4) UI changes. Personally, I didn't have a problem with the changes to explorer and start menu, but I know some people hated the tweaks and found them a step backwards. Even now though, does any-one REALLY use 'libraries' for their documents folders etc, as opposed to just having one folder?

5) battery life. Because of the higher hardware requirements, battery life for vista laptops dropped like a stone compared to running XP on the same hardware. For laptop users, that was often a Big Deal. They were also the most likely the ones getting stiffed with crap graphics performance, so it was a power hog AND slow.

6) cpu-only audio, aka protected user mode audio, aka DRM enforcement on the audio path to stop 'pirates' just lifting music streams straight out of the OS. If you used integrated audio, it made little difference, but it overnight made a bunch of expensive quality sound cards obsolete. If you could even get drivers. And it meant you lost EAX, post-processing, screwed up dolby digital input, toslink... If you cared about your pc audio at all, vista and sequels really, really sucked. I still have a decent sound card in mine, a xonar dx because the better DACs do make an audible difference on headphones, but drivers for it are a right pain.

7) HDCP enforcement making reliable HDMI video connections a crapshoot. I had to swap out a display that only had HDMI because vista would cause the display to go black every few minutes because, AFAICT, the HDCP handshake would fail. Not that this was unique to vista, I think the PS3 had this problem too with a number of TVs. Needless pain in the ass to keep the media companies happy with their pointless DRM to try and protected bluray.

So to sum up - for many people, vista was a buggy, dog slow, battery draining monster that ran like crap on hardware that ran XP just fine. If you only ran it on PCs that were
a) monster enough to handle the requirements
b) were lucky enough to have functional drivers that didn't crap out, or run at half the speed they did under XP
c) turned UAC off
d) were mains powered

Sure, vista was fiiiine.

Windows 7 didn't actually change that much about vista, but it's lauded as so great because they turned down UAC some, and by that time the driver kinks had mostly been worked out. (though seriously, having to have two installs because one set of old drivers works for an older game like say, one of the total wars, while newer drivers break it, and you need newer drivers for current stuff really really sucks). Also, by not changing the requirements, as windows 8 hasn't either, moore's law means we've mostly now got machines capable of actually running it.

Well, that, and windows 7 was tuned a hell of a lot better than vista, and benchmarks better on the same hardware.
posted by ArkhanJG at 5:35 PM on October 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


I've been using Windows 8 for about a week, and I am really surprised at the vitriol in this thread. I dislike change as much as the next person—I've been using computers forever, and have low tolerance for re-learning things. In Windows 8, I have had to do very little of that.

In Windows 7, I used Launchy to launch my apps, because it was damn fast, and my hands were usually on the keyboard. It also made moving between Mac OS and Windows simple as it was the same keystroke on both machines.

On Windows 8, I press the Windows key, and start typing. I usually get what I want. Sometimes I have to select what context I want to search, but for the most part it has been seamless and very fast.

On top of that, for the first time ever with Windows, and I have been using it since v2.x, I did an in-place upgrade, and everything came over properly. I'm talking my somewhat involved IIS config, my scheduled tasks, my firewall settings, SQL Server configs, Plex installation, not to mention smaller stuff like my command window fonts, colors, and sizes.

The Metro stuff (Apps) to me is like an extension of widgets. They're there if you want them, but for the most part you can ignore them if you wish. I wanted to integrate Google with search in addition to Bing, so I downloaded an App and it worked. The Netflix app works fine. I set up my mail App to access 3 different accounts and now they are searchable too, through the same Windows key search interface. This faceted search is really nice, and the fact that it can be tailored (with some restrictions) to show the content you want is a welcome improvement.

I started using Apps a bit more today - I set up MetroTwit, a decent out of the gate Twitter client, and pinned it to the right side of my desktop so I could keep up with #sandy news. It was a nice thing to have.

But if you want to live in old-skool mode, that's fine, and you can do that. Sure, you will see the Metro apps when you want to use Start, but if you type what you are looking for fast enough, you won't even see them then. So learn to type faster.
posted by SNACKeR at 5:52 PM on October 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


SNACKeR, you admit you're trained to use Launchy. I tried using that for a while, but really it's just a command line in a fancy format. And I didn't have everything come over with an inplace upgrade, I had to reinstall WiFi drivers.
posted by JHarris at 5:55 PM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


And now, let's hear how awesome Windows 8 will be for PC gaming!! (hint: it's not)
posted by Vindaloo at 5:59 PM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


@JHarris - Launchy was just a faster and better version of what you could do in previous versions of Windows. I also clicked the Start Menu before, and now I'll click the Start tile in bottom left of the screen when I need to...

Re: install, maybe I was lucky. I have a long habit of buying robust, well-supported hardware even if a little pricier, to be sure I get good drivers. Maybe this is from years of being a server admin. So I think that decision paid off for me. I certainly can't promise everyone will have an easy install, maybe I was just lucky. But I think it is as important to hear some success stories as it is negative ones. I have less incentive to write than others, because I am not angry, but really, I don't see what the fuss is, and can and do recommend to anyone that they upgrade unless they are really change-averse.
posted by SNACKeR at 6:00 PM on October 29, 2012


While I'm on the topic, classic shell has been around a while - it was originally written to roll back the start menu changes in vista, so you could run xp-style start on vista. It supported 7 too, and now of course it's on 8 to put back a start menu that isn't even there.

For me, the biggest problem with windows 8 is the way it metrofies everything. You can't just install a start menu replacer to get rid of it. It pops up when you plug in something to USB. You try and open a photo album, and instead of photo viewer it dumps you in the metro photo viewer app - but because metro apps only get permissions to data when specifically granted by the user interactively, you can't go forward/back to view other images, you have to go BACK to the desktop, select the next photo in explorer, open it in the metro photo viewer... It's insane.

Try and change a file handler? It gives you a nice link to the metro store to find one to open this extension with...

Try and send an email from the browser? You can't just click and use the metro mail client because you have to go to the metro share widget thingie instead - which only works between metro apps, not between metro and desktop apps.

Running it in an RDP window still sucks mightily, as you can't hit the hot corners without exiting the window borders. Yay, for metro in server 2012 on virtual servers. Not.

And that's not even touching on the whole win32 api is going to be deprecated, so in some future windows version winRT - i.e. metro apps - will be the only way to write new windows software. They already tried to make the free version of visual studio (i.e. the only way to get the compiler without spending money) metro-only, but the backlash was so high that they had to agree to also do a version that would support desktop apps on windows 8 still. I doubt they will do that with windows 9.

I am using windows 8 on one pc, and have been doing so at least since the dev preview. I am using start8, and I have removed absolutely every single metro app I can, so I don't get dumped back into restricted metro-apps on my desktop - photos open in photo viewer, videos in vlc, text files in sublime text etc. It is faster to boot than windows 7. Task manager is better. File copying is better than teracopy. Overall, I can live with it, especially as I didn't have to pay for it (work did via our software assurance agreement).

My preferred desktop now though is OSX, and that's a direct result of metro. Though with the way things are going with mountain lion (sure, lets tie your files into one specific app in the cloud and make it so no other app can access them, lets slap skeuomorphic crap on everything, but heaven forbid we fix the fracking finder instead of slapping in more iOS-style app store stuff that means your development apps run in some half-assed locked down sandbox), I don't know how long that will last.

I just tried ubuntu and mint again; gnome3 seems to have removed virtually all configuration. Unity has come a long way in 12.10, but is still sluggish and buggy on my nvidia 210 in my silent rig. XDE? Too stripped down. Cinnamon - seriously small taskbar man, that you can't make any bigger. KDE? Best of the bunch, but still buggy as f*** and the UI is too busy and lacks contrast even with some fiddling.

It's getting to the point that I'm getting seriously worried, that as a sysadmin and part-time sofware dev, the desktop OS is going to become some forgotten backwater; because there's more growth and profit in tablets and smartphones, and the hundreds of millions of desktops in business, education, engineering etc etc etc just don't matter to these guys any more.
posted by ArkhanJG at 6:01 PM on October 29, 2012 [5 favorites]


In terms of UI advances, taskbar pinning is the best feature they've come up with in many years,

Keyboard shortcut #2: In Win7, you can launch any pinned program with WinKey+<position number>. For example, I too have Firefox as my left-most pinned program. "WinKey+1" is what I use to launch it. Very nice if you prefer the keyboard to the mouse/trackpad.
posted by benito.strauss at 6:07 PM on October 29, 2012 [5 favorites]


(sorry, for xde read xfce)
posted by ArkhanJG at 6:07 PM on October 29, 2012


And now, let's hear how awesome Windows 8 will be for PC gaming!! (hint: it's not)

That just looks like publishers complaining about app certification and the app store. Valve obviously don't like it because they make all their money from Steam and the Windows app store eats in to that.
posted by markr at 6:21 PM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's about Microsoft sticking out its greedy, greedy hands to take some of the money in Windows gaming by abusing their monopoly, not because they're actually providing value.
posted by Malor at 6:56 PM on October 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


benito.strauss: "Keyboard shortcut #2: In Win7, you can launch any pinned program with WinKey+<position number>. "

what the shit is this fuckin' sorcery right here
posted by boo_radley at 7:04 PM on October 29, 2012 [6 favorites]


It's about Microsoft sticking out its greedy, greedy hands to take some of the money in Windows gaming by abusing their monopoly, not because they're actually providing value.

Desktop apps and games are still sold in exactly the same way as they were in win 7. Steam still works and Valve can still take their cut from every game sold.
posted by markr at 7:09 PM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


what the shit is this fuckin' sorcery right here

Should I also tell you about using WinKey+Tab instead of Alt+Tab to switch between windows? (unless you've de-activated Aero)
posted by benito.strauss at 7:12 PM on October 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've liked windows 8 so far. I like the metro UI, my girlfriend doesn't, and she gets along without it very easily in Win8. The universal search is awesome, and a ton better than ANY search function included in Win7. And for a new release, it's remarkably stable. I haven't been burned like I have on recent MSFT or Apple upgrades.

At best, it brings some of the simplicity of a tablet UI to a laptop. At worst, it's about the same as Windows 7. To me, 'Start' has been replaced by 'Start+C' and I'm ok with that.
posted by Vhanudux at 7:22 PM on October 29, 2012


And as for 'boot to desktop' - what's wrong with Windows+D?
posted by Vhanudux at 7:25 PM on October 29, 2012


In Win7, you can launch any pinned program with WinKey+<position number>

Neat! But I don't have a Windows key. :(

(this is because I love buckling springs more than I love the Windows key. I'd like to have both, plus N-key rollover, but nobody makes that. )
posted by Malor at 7:27 PM on October 29, 2012


Desktop apps and games are still sold in exactly the same way as they were in win 7. Steam still works and Valve can still take their cut from every game sold.

Yes, markr. And the the desktop is deprecated. If you want to use the new stuff, as a developer, you must obey Microsoft's whims, and you have to pay toll.
posted by Malor at 7:31 PM on October 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


There is nothing stopping you from writing desktop apps and games just as you have done and they will run perfectly fine in windows 8. I'm writing one right now and it works just fine. It's only if you want to do metro stuff that you have to go through the store and everything, But everyone here hates metro, so they shouldn't care about that.
posted by markr at 7:33 PM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


this is because I love buckling springs more than I love the Windows key. I'd like to have both, plus N-key rollover, but nobody makes that.

Yes, they do. Expensive, but I'm not aware of any other viable choice of keyboard.
posted by sfenders at 7:52 PM on October 29, 2012


I didn't think Cherry MX switches were technically buckling spring.
posted by Pyry at 8:03 PM on October 29, 2012


Yes! Finally! I've been saying this for ages! Vista really wasn't that bad. It was no fucking WindowME, that's for sure. I used it on a variety of computers for years, and didn't notice anything beyond the normal background level of Microsoft annoyance, but now everyone is all "LOL Vista RIGHT?". I've come to assume everyone's just saying that to lend support the "one good version, one bad version" narrative.
Yeah, I never got it at all. Security on XP was completely ridiculous by default (It was really only secure if you went out of your way to run as a non-admin user all the time, which would have made things much more of a pain then UAC)
I think those people hated it because they had to interact with UAC so much. It's a fine idea, but (I hear) the prompts got to be maddening. --JHarris

Oh we UNDERSTOOD UAC. We just hated it. Win 7 struck the right balance between security and insanity.
-- John Kenneth Fisher
Okay, this is by far one of the most annoying criticisms of Vista, mainly because it was mostly fixed with a few months. The updates to Vista made the UAC thing much, much less common.

I built a pretty beefy system in 2008, running a copy of Vista I got for free as a CS student. UAC showed up a lot before any updates, but after a few patches, it was mostly gone. I doubt you would notice much of a difference between vista now and Win7 in terms of how often the UAC shows up. So it seems weird to say "OMG Vista sucks but Win7 is awesome" when in reality Win7 doesn't work any different than Vista did when it was released in terms of the UAC, which was the major source of complaints.

Performance wasn't a problem a problem for me, nor were drivers. It was a brand new system with absolutely top of the line hardware – dual Xeon CPUs with 8 cores total running on a small form factor Supermicro server board.
JHarris: My switch to linux started with a dual-boot setup, and ended when I realized that reduced software support on the Linux side was far less of a problem than the continual maintenance to keep the windows side alive and virus-free. To this day when I work on windows machines I'm amazed that people put up with the kind of software failures that seem to come up so constantly, with such a paucity of error messages to help correct them. (Or, for that matter, actual routes to fix things. I can understand the logic: Why bother putting in robust error reporting if there's no way to actually get under the hood? and random registry-editing, et al, is a lame excuse for under the hood.) I just shake my head and think, 'you actually live like this?'
Do I actually live like that? Um… no I have no idea what you're doing with your machine, but since setting up my system in 2008 I've barely had to do any maintenance at all. I don't install very much software at all, and I run Microsoft Security Essentials anti-virus (which is free).

At one point in all that time I restored from a backup, which wasn't much of a pain at all except for some Adobe software that had some crap DRM somehow tied to the hard drive and required running some tool from the Adobe website to fix. And that's basically the only "work" I've had to do since building the system. I've never had a virus, and I don't think I've had to edit the registry once. Other than the time I had to restore from backup, I can't think of any other "software failures" I've encountered.

Are you maybe using really cheap hardware with crappy drivers? Are you running pirated software of random apps from all over the web?
---
Anyway, I've always meant to switch to using Linux at some point. If Microsoft keeps this stupid UI in windows it may finally be a reason to so. I have played around with Ubuntu 11, and I thought it was really nice, even with the unity UI that lots of people seem to think is 'dumbed down' too much. But, it mostly just needs to look good while launching Firefox and terminal windows.
-The requirement for a 'trusted platform', making alternatives more difficult to install
-The requirement for all Metro software apps to be bought through the rent-seeking Microsoft Store
The trusted platform thing is only on Arm, not Intel. Still, this seems like a great time to ditch windows. My current PC can pretty much crunch through anything you'd throw at a top of the line consumer system today. At this point though I could conceivably get a single CPU AMD system with more than 8 CPU cores at a higher clock speed, and DD3 memory. If I do I'll probably try switching to Linux as my main OS, then perhaps run windows only apps in a virtual machine.
posted by delmoi at 8:19 PM on October 29, 2012


I didn't think Cherry MX switches were technically buckling spring.

Yeah, seems you're right. No doubt they'd mention that phrase all over their web site if they were. It's been a while since I had one of those "buckling spring" ones, and this seemed close enough when I tried out all the keyboards in the local shops.

What I wish for though is a laptop with a decent keyboard. Maybe once all the people who don't care for typing use tablets instead, they'll start making them.
posted by sfenders at 8:30 PM on October 29, 2012


this is because I love buckling springs more than I love the Windows key.

Unicomp makes several buckling spring keyboards with Windows keys. Some Googling indicates that they only have guaranteed two-key rollover though (it's higher depending on which keys are used).
posted by grouse at 8:38 PM on October 29, 2012


Yeah, I find the weeping and wailing for XP each time MS announces it's some gradient more depricated preposterous - sure, it was fine for its time, and that was a decade ago. Now it's a heaping great security nightmare. Move on! Move on!
posted by Artw at 8:47 PM on October 29, 2012


I just wanted to say: good luck, we're all counting on you.
posted by slogger at 8:52 PM on October 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


in some future windows version winRT - i.e. metro apps - will be the only way to write new windows software.

I sort of have mixed feelings about that. It would suck for Windows users, obviously. But on the other hand, that could mean more people switching to Linux. Now that it's going to have games, why not?

However, it won't happen. Or if it does, the requirement that metro apps be approved and signed by Microsoft will quietly go away. There's just no way people will put up with having to "jailbreak" their Windows PC before they can run whatever weird bit of software they want to. There's big stuff that will never be sold on the Microsoft App Store, such as Steam. There's small stuff, such as little custom apps in businesses small enough that they aren't going to be keen on negotiating whatever deal with Microsoft would otherwise be required to keep them running. And of course many developers will resist. Personally I would not want to be distributing my stuff through the MS store so long as there's some other option, and I expect a large fraction will feel the same way. I like to think that users will resist too, because it's hard to imagine anyone willingly putting up with the metro UI, but if everyone thought like I did there wouldn't be any iPads.

It's an experiment from Microsoft, to see what they can get away with. If everyone loves their new locked-down app ecosystem and it takes over the world, they win. If nobody likes it, they abandon it or make the next version look a lot more like good old Windows, and they haven't lost much. Embarrassing failure, even if it's not the most likely outcome, is probable enough we can reasonably hope for it.
posted by sfenders at 9:26 PM on October 29, 2012


JHarris: My switch to linux started with a dual-boot setup[...]

Wasn't me. I was switched for a while some time back, but I needed to use some programs on Windows.
posted by JHarris at 9:26 PM on October 29, 2012


Yes, they do. Expensive, but I'm not aware of any other viable choice of keyboard.

I've owned two Das Keyboards, and they both fell to shit. I'm back on a Model M.

They felt all right. Not as good as the Model M, but okay. They just didn't last.

Unicomp's offerings are buckling spring, but only have 2KRO, which is what I already have. I'd end up with the same thing plus a Windows key, and that's not worth $90. If they did NKRO, and had both PS2 and USB, I'd buy two.
posted by Malor at 9:44 PM on October 29, 2012


Wasn't me. I was switched for a while some time back, but I needed to use some programs on Windows.

If they're serious applications, you can most likely run them very nicely in VMWare, though they've raised their prices lately; they're not nearly the slam dunk they were. The Linux kernel's built-in KVM is supposedly getting pretty good now for hosting Windows, and if you use RDP to 'remote' into the machine you're hosting, the response speed is outstanding. That's also true of VMWare, but it does a better job with the video emulation in the first place, so you don't need RDP nearly as much. A VMWare image feels pretty fast, just out of the box.

I've seen reports that KVM can actually be faster than real hardware, for some workloads, if you get the newest virtio Windows drivers installed. But the video emulation is just old VNC, and it's terrible, so you really want RDP to avoid that.

I've never used it, but VirtualBox is reputed to be pretty crappy. VMWare or KVM is probably what you'd want. It'll take much longer to get KVM working, but it doesn't cost anything, and it's arguably technically better in many areas.
posted by Malor at 9:52 PM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm really worried about what Windows 8 will mean for ESRI's ArcMap software. I haven't been able to find anything about this out there, but I just cannot for the life of me look at the work I'm doing right this very minute (half dozen windows across multiple monitors, with MS Office Suite, ArcMap, Firefox, Chrome, vim, file explorer, etc. also going) and see how it would fit into the Windows 8 workflow.

Should I suggest to the office managers that they stock up on Win 7 machines?
posted by barnacles at 9:54 PM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Maybe some licenses, anyway. If you get official retail licenses, they can be transferred as many times as you want, but you can only use them on one computer at a time. OEM licenses are a fair bit cheaper, but are locked to a specific motherboard. Historically, Microsoft has been forgiving about this if you tell them that the old motherboard broke, but I think it's very possible that they might refuse to give you a new Win7 unlock on an OEM license going forward, perhaps offering you a 'free upgrade' to 8 instead.

AFAIK, with retail licenses, you can keep using them forever, across as many machines as you can still get drivers for, as long as each license is installed on only one machine at a time.
posted by Malor at 10:14 PM on October 29, 2012


I dunno, I've never had a problem with VirtualBox. I've not tried RDP though. I should look into that.
posted by JHarris at 10:28 PM on October 29, 2012


(this is because I love buckling springs more than I love the Windows key. I'd like to have both, plus N-key rollover, but nobody makes that. )

ctrl-esc is the equivalent of the windows key, but doesn't accept modifier keys in windows 8 (i.e. win-c); not that they'd work with 2key rollover anyway. But if you want to do winkey, type name of program ctrl-esc will work.

topre switches are often the recommended alternative to buckling spring users; they're only 45g or 55g weighted, so a bit lighter than buckling spring which is about 70g; but if can you adjust your typing style to be less 'hulk smash' then they can be a good fit (they also use a big spring based contact). They are quite expensive though, but are considered less 'bland' than cherry mx switches for people coming from BS, and are considerably more robust than the plasticy cherry. The Das uses the 'clicky' cherry blues, which are 50g weighted - so if you got on OK with the typing on that (robustness aside) then topre would be worth checking out.

The main advantage of cherry MX switches, is they're relatively cheap mechanicals that come in clicky, non clicky and smooth variants; and because the activation point is above bottom-out, they encourage a lighter, more gliding typing style. If you pound a MX to bottom-out point (because you're coming from rubber dome, or are used to the higher activation force of BS) then you're Doing It Wrong. I've had my cherry brown filco for over a year now, but I still find I hit them too hard - but I wouldn't go back. I'd love a topre realforce, but can't justify the price.
posted by ArkhanJG at 2:37 AM on October 30, 2012


If you're after a variety of mechanical keyboards btw, elitekeyboards in the US, and the keyboard company in the UK are the standard go-to places.
posted by ArkhanJG at 2:46 AM on October 30, 2012


Threads like this always bring out the apologists. I have no idea how any of you guys who claim to love Metro on their desktop and laptop systems can say that, can find it in yourself to love this over-large, dumbed-down, obtrusive, unintuitive piece of crap of an interface. Thanks to the Store I can add the adjective "rent-seeking" to that list. To me it looks like it'd be terrible even on a tablet, but if it weren't for Classic Shell I'd be looking to restore my system to Windows 7, regardless of prior installed software, as soon as I could.
posted by JHarris at 5:40 AM on October 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Mostly the iCloud "Document Library" approach, although it's evident elsewhere (and I think linking it so intimately with iCloud is a mistake).

Gotcha. I didn't really notice this after the first time I saved a document and chose my local drive instead, which is still of course organized in folders.

While I agree the iOS crossovers are sometimes problematic, in this case I don't see any evidence that there's an attempt to depart from the folder metaphor with the local filesystem. In fact, tying the no-folders approach directly to iCloud seems to be appropriate here, since it makes a clear distinction between the two places.
posted by odinsdream at 5:45 AM on October 30, 2012


I've never used it, but VirtualBox is reputed to be pretty crappy. VMWare or KVM is probably what you'd want. It'll take much longer to get KVM working, but it doesn't cost anything, and it's arguably technically better in many areas.

I've been pleasantly surprised by VirtualBox on OSX with a Windows guest. Perhaps the Linux version is worse, but I've had zero problems, and it's saved me a chunk of cash that would have gone to Parallels otherwise.
posted by odinsdream at 5:55 AM on October 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've been pleasantly surprised by VirtualBox on OSX

It's very good on OSX. The performance on Windows is substantially reduced.

VM Ware really is the magics on Windows. Ideally you'd use Workstation and ThinApp to make a portable install of it that maintains compatibility on any MS machine. This is an enterprise solution with an enterprise price, however. The performance will impress you, and will cost you as much as ARC did in the first place.
There's an enterprise solution for that, too.
posted by clarknova at 7:08 AM on October 30, 2012


Also, Stardock sucks.

What's wrong with Stardock? Their space 4x game was decent. Crazy technology tree (if I'm thinking of the right game.)

Start8
RetroUI
ViStart

Also, yeah, that's what the Windows button is for. Windows+R still gets you a run menu, I think.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:35 AM on October 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


mrgrimm: "What's wrong with Stardock?"

Brad Wardell is a shitheap of humanity: (cached for Sandy outage)
"I am an inappropriate, sexist, vulgar, and embarrassing person and I'm not inclined to change my behavior. If this is a problem, you will need to find another job," he said.
posted by boo_radley at 8:44 AM on October 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


are there any benefits for upgrading to win8 from win7
Desktop:
- Boot time
- Uses significantly less resources so it is noticably faster
- Has less "mystery processes"
Metro:
- Facebook/Twitter/Skype etc is integrated in Metro apps nicely if you want to use it
- Emphasis on keyboard shortcuts and Metro start screen responsiveness vs start menu, slightly better search makes it faster to use than Win 7

Apparently security is better and smarter, but I've never had a security problem since Vista
posted by niccolo at 9:19 AM on October 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


I should clarify, my problems with Windows 8 are entirely to do with Metro, the removal of the Start Menu, and the Microsoft Store (and the things that those enable, like commercials in Solitaire) The OS improvements themselves are quite nice. The new Desktop theme is very good. I notice that apps in the Microsoft store get Android-style fine-grained system permissions that you're told about before you install. That at least is great, although it only appears to apply to Metro apps.

My problem with Stardock relate mostly to how they built their business off of fixing Microsoft feature exclusions for a fee. I rebel whenever someone tries to sell something that should have been provided in the OS. Yet when I did manage to use their software it always seemed vaguely clunky to me; I never found myself all that enthusiastic with their solutions for some reason I can't express cleanly in words. Did not know about the behavior of Wardell, that downgrades my opinion of them from "sucks" to "evil."
posted by JHarris at 9:39 AM on October 30, 2012


niccolo: "Desktop:
- Boot time
- Uses significantly less resources so it is noticably faster
- Has less "mystery processes"
"

Reduce your desktop boot time using this one old weird mystery process.
posted by boo_radley at 9:49 AM on October 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Because my netbook (a relatively respectable one with a 1.6GHz AMD processor and 4 GB of RAM) is so new, I got Windows 8 Pro for $15, and thought why the hell not, I'll give it a go. The Upgrade Assistant from Microsoft gave me the green light, and so last night I tried installing it. And it goes through the installation and comes to a "Getting Ready" screen and then just when I think it's about to load... "Unable to install Windows 8. Your previous version of Windows is being restored." Bah. The most frustrating part is it didn't give me any error code or any indication of why the installation failed. Maybe I'll try again later.
posted by IndigoRain at 9:56 AM on October 30, 2012


delmoi: At this point though I could conceivably get a single CPU AMD system with more than 8 CPU cores at a higher clock speed, and DD3 memory. If I do I'll probably try switching to Linux as my main OS, then perhaps run windows only apps in a virtual machine.

I'd avoid AMD with Linux -- all performance issues aside (and AMD is freaking TERRIBLE; Bulldozer is a huge pile of steaming crap), the Intel chipsets are so much more stable that I don't like running Linux on anything else.

That said, AMD's Pacifica virtualization can apparently do 16-bit code in native mode, where Intel's virtualization can't, requiring software emulation. If you're a retrogamer, that might be of interest.
posted by Malor at 10:04 AM on October 30, 2012


My problem with Stardock relate mostly to how they built their business off of fixing Microsoft feature exclusions for a fee. I rebel whenever someone tries to sell something that should have been provided in the OS. Yet when I did manage to use their software it always seemed vaguely clunky to me; I never found myself all that enthusiastic with their solutions for some reason I can't express cleanly in words.

I think the first part of that criticism isn't fair; Stardock saw things that Microsoft was not providing, and stepped up to provide them. They identified a need, and filled it. Even if the missing feature is stupid, that's hardly Stardock's fault.

That said, I agree with you that their stuff usually lacks polish. Their desktop UI enhancement stuff had a tendency to screw up the Windows XP environment, even across users, and even if you uninstalled it. After the second or third time I reinstalled XP because Stardock had fouled up the font sizes beyond usability, I stopped using their stuff.

I think Stardock is still stuck in the mid- to late-90s in terms of coding practice, languages, and discipline, and the world has changed a very great deal around them. And they were never that good to begin with; they've never been more than competent programmers, a very long way from brilliant, and all their software reflected that. It was inelegant, intrusive, and, yes, clunky.

On top of that, Wardell himself seems to have morphed from a relatively standup guy in the gaming industry into a rather scary, unbalanced fellow.
posted by Malor at 10:14 AM on October 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


The big problem with Vista IMHO was that its release coincided with the commodity $500 laptop explosion. Those laptops shipped with Vista and often had less than 1GB of RAM and Vista was a pig with anything less than 2GB. These laptops were suited for XP and completely sucked out of the box with Vista installed. I had a pretty decent Sony during the Vista era and it was slow as shit too.
posted by lordaych at 10:56 AM on October 30, 2012


I agree, on that first thing, it's not their fault, and that it's largely irrational. But injustice inspires irrationality, as do people who profit from it.

It's been a long time since I tried using a Stardock product, but the uninstall problem hits some distant twinge of memory. Maybe I was affected once.
posted by JHarris at 10:58 AM on October 30, 2012


I'm not too interested in using Windows 8 on my current laptop. But it's setting up a (potential) future of computing devices with Windows 9 or 10 that I'm excited about.

The new Nexus 4 quad-core phone (just typing 'quad-core phone' gives me slight chills) already benchmarks faster than the Nexus 7. The Nexus 7 is probably fast enough for most people to do productive work on it. So, it stands to reason that the Nexus 4 hardware would already support productive work if it had a keyboard and a bigger screen and an operating system designed for productive work, which Android isn't.

So this is what I'm excited about: the prospect of carrying a phone as my only computer. Get to the office - plug it into a slot on my desk and rock out with two monitors and a buckling spring keyboard. Working from the coffee shop - slip the phone into a slot on a laptop-shaped dock. Keep a tablet-shaped dock on my coffee table that also powers my home theater. The actual processing power, in this vision, comes from a device that goes everywhere and fits in my pocket.

The Motorola Atrix was an exciting step in this direction, but the hardware wasn't there yet, and the operating system definitely wasn't there. Android is terrible for this, as it exists now. But if Microsoft can unify Windows Phone and plain old Windows in the next iteration... things could get exciting.
posted by zjacreman at 11:46 AM on October 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


zjacreman: So this is what I'm excited about: the prospect of carrying a phone as my only computer. Get to the office - plug it into a slot on my desk and rock out with two monitors and a buckling spring keyboard. Working from the coffee shop - slip the phone into a slot on a laptop-shaped dock. Keep a tablet-shaped dock on my coffee table that also powers my home theater. The actual processing power, in this vision, comes from a device that goes everywhere and fits in my pocket.

It seems like cloud computing does a better job of this sort of thing. The phone, desktop, and tablet can all include the hardware appropriate for their function, and you can have specific UIs appropriate to the form factor and interface of the individual devices.
posted by Mitrovarr at 11:53 AM on October 30, 2012




Mitrovarr: "It seems like cloud computing does a better job of this sort of thing. The phone, desktop, and tablet can all include the hardware appropriate for their function, and you can have specific UIs appropriate to the form factor and interface of the individual devices."

I think the attraction here (at least for myself) is that you have one "engine" that fits into many chassis. So you've got your -- let's call it a core computing unit -- that's essentially a smartphone. quad core proc, a couple two gigs of memory and 16-32 gigs of storage (but think of that storage as cloud cache, ala google drive), wireless connectivity (wifi, bluetooth, nfc, cellular).

Your CCU has some key life apps -- email, phone, contacts, words with whoever. Stuff that you want and can be run anywhere. Your desktop dock might have a more powerful graphics unit, plus additional storage, monitors, whatever. Maybe it also has a coprocessor that'll slave itself to your CCU's processor, and nvram so that when you insert your CCU it "just wakes up" wherever you were and puts your phone apps to sleep. When you need to head out, you pull it out and just go.
posted by boo_radley at 12:32 PM on October 30, 2012


Which is all fair enough - but the CCU itself is the cheap part already, it's the screen and touchscreen element which is expensive in the phone. You could just as easily have an ARM CCU built into your desktop monitor at home synced via the internet for fairly minimal cost, or as a separate unit so it's upgradable.

There are three problems that have to be solved to make that sort of thing a reality.

Heat, battery capacity, and OS.

Heat is the ultimate limiter of what you can achieve in a mobile form factor. Yes, ever improving lithography+lower voltages means you can get more cpu grunt out of the same heat load, but my home cpu and gpus have heatsinks bigger than my fist, and so they'll always be a big step further forward than a mobile cpu can achieve - the same lithography improvements apply to them too.
Yes, you can theoretically slave some of that to the mobile CCU via a PCIE bus, but it's complicated and messy.

If there's one thing apple have demonstrated, it's the average user doesn't want messy and complicated - they want a seemless experience in a locked down device.

Battery capacity is another problem. If you rely entirely on one device, then if your battery runs flat then you're boned if you're away from a mains power point. I have a galaxy note AND a nexus 7 for that exact reason, and when I'm going on holiday the DS and netbook get dusted off too. As the devices get more powerful, they also eat up more battery life. One device to rule them all also means one battery to drive it all. And if we're going for consumer attractive, that's going to be one ultra-slim, sleek, small battery glued into the case.

Finally, OS. Windows 8 demonstrates the problem exactly. You've one OS trying to serve three jobs - no touch desktop/laptop, pure tablet and hybrid tablet/keyboard.

Arguably, it doesn't serve any of them well, due to the compromises. On the tablet side, it's fine (except a drastic lack of apps), until you want to fire up, say, office or the control panel and end up in a very non touch friendly environment. On the desktop, metro apps waste space, are clunky with a mouse trying to emulate touch, and lose most of the benefit of a 'windowed' OS.

Small, portable devices need a different UI than a 26"+ desktop with mouse and keyboard. Even if they're the same device.

Here's my biggest problem seeing such a future though. Geeks don't matter. Tablets and smartphones are proving hugely attractive. Locked down, limited devices with limited power, features and entirely aimed at being attractive, sleek, and easy to use as content consumption devices. It's what the non-heavy IT crowd want. Hell, it's want the IT crowd want when they're slumped on the sofa as opposed to their ninja desktop.

Every OS maker is chasing that lucrative market - which is not surprising, because it's a big growth market. Desktops really aren't, and laptops are struggling too. (the most successful laptops? super thin ones with no ethernet, one usb, and small fast storage)

Which is fine. Consumers love a shiny device which isn't designed around creativity, but consumption. Hell, I love my home nexus 7 which is mostly used for the browser and gaming, so I can hardly complain. My office nexus 7 is also handy for google docs on the move, evernote and the browser, so it's not like they can't be used for work, and the ipad is pretty nifty for sketching.

But backing that up is a different set of needs altogether. You can't really write software on an ipad, even if you plug it into a 60" TV and a bluetooth keyboard. You can't manage your accounting package with your thumbs. You can't number crunch weather simulations on an ARM that fits in your pocket etc etc.

The hardware, UI and physical interface needs for that kind of heavy duty computing are radically different from the user-friendly rounded corners pocket computing revolution.

Trying to address them all in one device, in one system means you end up with an awkward hybrid that serves none of them well, ala windows 8. Even if the hardware integration/plugin system could be made to work - and I'm not convinced it can, in a mainstream friendly way - why go to all that effort when you can make buckets of money ONLY catering to the consumer crowd who never wanted a full computer in the first place?

For apple, the mac pro is next on the chopping block. The small percentage of their profit they make from non-ipad/iphone/ipod is almost all laptops. I wouldn't be terribly surprised if they dropped everything in the OSX line except the laptops.

Microsoft have clearly bet the farm on hybrid tablets as their future.

Desktop linux was always a minnow, and is scattering into a dozen buggy directions as gnome lose the plot.

I guess I see the future as a sea of tablets, smartphones, maybe even such a CCU device that can plug into a big screen and a keyboard.

But devices and an OS UI that's designed for power users, for desktop users, for people doing complex, intricate work that needs hefty grunt (CAD/engineering, software, science, simulation, finance etc)?
That doesn't seem to have a future.
posted by ArkhanJG at 3:49 AM on October 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


So... I suppose this is not going to work on my 3 XP machines, right?
posted by 3mendo at 4:56 AM on October 31, 2012


One might note that these little pocket devices have the heavy-duty grunt of last decade's desktop machines. Which were used for accounting, CAD, simulations, etc.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:32 AM on October 31, 2012


That's pretty much literally true - I just checked, the P4 3Ghz in 2002 was able to do 12 GFLOPS. A tegra 3? 12 GFLOPS. That's including the integrated GPU though, which is kinda cheating.

Ivy bridge 3770k, bog standard desktop CPU? 90 GFLOPS. My pretty cheap 6970 GPU? 2700 GFLOPS.

Yes, you can do stuff like we used to do a decade ago; well, more like 12-15 years for non-gpu offloaded tasks. We also used to do word processing in DOS, do design work with pen, paper and slide rule, wait an hour for code to compile (literally for me in '99), and schedule rendering jobs for overnight (also '99).

I'll keep the decade of advances in CPUs and GPUs with the big heatsinks that let me do far more, much faster, if its all the same.
posted by ArkhanJG at 9:07 AM on October 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


Security firm VUPEN claims to have hacked Windows 8 and IE10
posted by homunculus at 11:28 AM on November 2, 2012


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