When Windows 8 launched, I wrote this scathing review, "Microsoft, have you lost your mind again?"  It was a bloodbath for Microsoft that day. Two years later, I just finished installing/tweaking Windows 8.1 here at the office. (It wasn't my choice.)

 

Windows 8 vs. 8.1

You can read my full review of Windows 8 at the link provided above, and I stand by it. Now let's examine the tweaks Microsoft has made to v8.1:

  • Lo and behold, the Start button/menu is back! (Sorta). Back to the way things were. An improvement, I guess.
    start.png
  • Aero glass effect, which I liked, needed to be installed using a third-party app. Still got it though.
  • Another "improvement:" I can now launch into desktop mode on boot (something previous versions did naturally) bypassing those ugly and useless tiles.
  • Icon spacing. This tweak was available in Windows 7 and earlier through the UI. In 8.1 I had to implement a registry hack, as evidenced by my MRU list in the Start menu above.
  • I'm experiencing a lag when typing versus what I see on the screen from time to time. Annoying but this does not happen too often, although it is happening as I write this.
  • OS seems a little sluggish. Time, and benchmarks, will tell.
  • Compatibility: Surprisingly, everything seems to work fine. Good job!
  • I've also learned that you can mount and unmount ISOs through the OS. No third party app needed. Sweet.
  • The shell graphics are more appealing and informative as well, but I think this may take away from performance. I still need to tinker more just to make sure.

 

Overall, I cannot complain about Windows 8.1. Let's slow down though. I won't praise it either. I still prefer Windows 7 any day of the week and twice on Sunday. (Funny, it's like the VPs over at Microsoft actually read part one of this article and listened! Go figure.) There is still work to be done though. The "working" part of the OS needs to be refined more to perform more like Windows 7 IMHO. At least this is a step in the right direction.

 

Office 2013

Office 2013 was also part of my transition. Just want to say a few words while I'm here:

  • The display is very flat. No appearance of texture. Difficult to distinguish between the "draggable" top portion of the app and the rest of it. And all the apps look the same. Very bland. See the pics below for comparison:
    What my Outlook used to look like - Outlook 2007 (Note: This is a random pic from Google.)
    old.png
    My current version of Outlook 2013 - Flat, no 3-D texture or feel. Looks like paper.
    inbox.png
  • Another observation was that they changed the way VBA understands VB. In other words, I had to re-write some of my code and register some older ActiveX controls to get my apps and macros working again. Took some time but I got it done.

Again, nothing terribly bad here, but I think we could all do without those ribbons. The real estate they chew up is just too valuable.

 

The Verdict.

Overall, not bad, but don't rush to upgrade just yet.

 

My Motto

"If you're happy with your OS, you can keep your OS. If you like your version of Office, you can keep your version of Office, period. End of story." (Wait. Why are you kicking me off of my current OS and Office versions and forcing me to "upgrade"? I was happy and liked what I had. You said over and over that I can keep what I liked! Is this better for me, or better for you?) Hmmm...see what I did there?