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Microsoft, have you lost your mind again? - part 2.

Level 15

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.
  • 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.)
    My current version of Outlook 2013 - Flat, no 3-D texture or feel. Looks like paper.
  • 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?

Level 9

A very thorough assessment Bronx and we ALL know you really know your stuff!

IF you ask me (and I realize you did not), I would retort with this disposition:

Dear W8,

I get type lag really bad on certain days or if I have too much going on (visually only) without pushing the motor on this baby to hard. W8 is survivable to an extent although I feel like WHY should I have to make tweaks and add on hacks to get the look and feel I already had BEFORE! I do understand the desire to incorporate and embrace the flat screen tablet realm but "C'mon"!....I do not think that this warrants an across the board I right? I use a PC at work and a laptop at home and a tablet ..never! Why have tablet specific software on my everything but tablet? If you hack it hard enough and spend time tweaking it, talking to it softly, buying it dinner, and paying your VIG money to it you can avoid this bully and have some relative peace. For the first time in my life I want a retro fit, I long for days gone by, yearn for the days yore, want to thank heaven for W7 etc..etc...! (I also had type to appear lag the whole time I wrote this) images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRDkPF3E8Y49MpVy1NYDZ9ZINqZkuVzrzc6zvw3dC4x7Jmd-Pdl

Level 15

And from a co-worker who just read this, we get his take:

One thing I like to do after upgrading or performing a clean install is to back up my system to DVD. This has saved me many headaches over the years when unrecoverable system crashes occurred. Instead of re installing the entire OS from scratch, which could take hours, I can have it up and running in 20 minutes or less with the DVDs. Performing a restore is easy with Windows 7. When Windows 8 came out, they hid this option and with the release of 8.1, Mickeysoft removed it all together.

I am pretty sure that most people are not even aware of this feature.

Level 15

And from another coworker who wishes to remain anonymous, we have this bit of insight:

Obviously, the previous comment is from someone who has learned to trust Microsoft with all the trust that Microsoft is due. All thinking individuals should reach for the first *nix OS they can find. Prior to installing Windows 8, I was a rock of stability, as dependable as the morning sun. Now that I have been forced to use that monolithically flawed operating system, I question my own judgement, my own sanity. I even applied the upgrade to SPOS 8.1! What was I thinking!? I am no psychiatrist, but my move to Windows 8 must surely fit the diagnostic algorithm for being absolutely coo-coo.

Level 9


Level 11

Thank you very much Bronx for this post. Though we sell Microsoft and I am very passionate about my job, Microsoft makes it very frustrating for me everyday with Windows 8.1 and the "so-called improved Office 2013 applications". Outlook which has always been my favorite application is making me change my mind about Microsoft generally. It's like they become worse after each update. I wonder who they get their advice from. Seriously, if they got it from their end-users, there would be a positive improvement I tell you. When I started using the Windows 8.1 and saw the start button, I got excited only to find out that it's the same start pages filled with tiles as Windows 8. Microsoft needs an innovative idea not just some lame name they gave to their products.

Level 15

I feel your pain. If you've read part one of this, Microsoft, have you lost your mind again? you would have noticed a number of things:

  1. Microsoft's ad campaign centered on letting the user decide what Windows 7 was to become. We do this all the time here at SolarWinds and with every product and version, unlike Microsoft! Why? Um, because the people who are using our products, USE OUR PRODUCTS AND PAY US MONEY. I know it sounds astonishingly obvious, but would you rather have what you want, or what someone else tells you you want? Duh. (Refer to part 1, linked above, second to last section.) If you want to help improve our products, email - Kellie Mecham She's great, energetic, and dare I say perky. Features requested do get in...sooner or later. Here's another example, It's Election Time and your Vote Counts. Really, it does.
  2. Based on the comments of part one, a great deal of people seemed to agree with us that Microsoft is dropping the ball. Unless they have a lot of stock in Linux companies, they're in trouble.
  3. Fortunately for you, I have a say as to what goes into SAM, and I'm very passionate and vocal about it. Heck, if it weren't for me losing my mind every now and again, AppInsight would have been called, Embedded Expert. Or even worse, Deep Dive Dashboard. Yikes! (You're welcome.) Alluring alliterations may work well in the world of mystical marketing, but not so much in the world I like to call, real.
Level 15

Apparently, Microsoft in its infinite idiocy to be "hip" and "cool," has created Windows 8, but not yet released the Start button "upgrade." If you want it back (like I do) you can get it from here: Classic Shell - Start menu and other Windows enhancements

Another company thriving because Microsoft is clueless, like the rest of the hipsters/coolerati. Ugh. One day they'll figure out that there are still a few of us who do this thing called "work" with our computers and not sit around pretentious coffee shops reading entertainment news on free wifi while twirling our lumberjack beards.

Level 11

Oh really, the real start button, I just can't wait to see what's been improved. I heard Windows 9 is coming out next year April. Why can't they improve on the current software they have before jumping to something new they call an improvement which I'd rather term a mistake.

Level 11

Hehe, I get your point Bronx. Many people have written welcome letters to the new Microsoft CEO to advise him(I hope the letters got to him). He really needs to change a lot of things if they say that they have the users' convenience in mind. I guess the only improvement I can say is glaring is OS performance, searching is now made easier and faster compared to Windows 8. I will get to read part one and come back to tell you my views. Thanks again.

Level 15

Figured out the sluggish performance/typing lag issue. Apparently I have the minimum requirements for hardware and that's not enough! I5 quad core and 4 gigs of DDR3 RAM - sigh. Windows 8 cannot even handle simple colors anymore. Look at this screen grab I took AS I'M WRITING THIS.


Level 11

Oh my, that's so poor. Unfortunately, when I have my customers complain to me about things like this, I just look for a way to convince them that it's not the software they're using. Many of them tell me they don't want a Windows OS without a start button and I tell them you have to purchase the Windows OS without a start button to get the one with the start button. Oh silly Microsoft.

Level 7
Level 15

Perhaps one day. But tiles in the Start menu? Pass. See my Classic Shell start menu above. Much better.

Level 15

In all fairness to Microsoft, I have to say the sluggish performance was caused by either A) a messed up rig, or B) a bad image of Windows 8. I corrected the problem by installing a new image on a new rig and everything seems to be working very well.

Level 11

Good for you Bronx.

Level 13

Windows 8.1 on HP 8570W i7 16GB ram. Very happy. Makes it less of a contrast when I switch to work on a server 2012 box.

Level 15

I'll be getting more RAM soon, and hopefully an SSD!

Level 12

miseri  did you say windows 9.....

Level 15

Up to 8 gigs of RAM now - Woo-hoo.

Level 15


About the Author
Who am I? • I met Robert Frost at the end of the road less traveled, and then pointed him in the right direction. • Einstein asked me to define "Up," and I did. • I cliff dive from airplanes. • On Christmas, Santa comes to me for gifts. • I play three-cushion billiards with one hand. • Lions ask for my protection (I speak Lion). • Bobby Fischer and I came to a stalemate while playing chess. • I have literally given a woman the shirt off of my back. • I have also helped an old lady cross the street. • I know what a dangling participle is. • Mozart bequeathed his Requiem to me, and I corrected it. • I was thrown out of an Eric Clapton concert twice in the same night for drawing too much attention to myself. • I am a verbose minimalist. • I am Bronx. Who are you?