Subscriber Discussion

Windows 8.1

From the New Yorker (Gates Spends Entire First Day Back in Office Trying to Install Windows 8.1)

"REDMOND, WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Bill Gates’s first day at work in the newly created role of technology adviser got off to a rocky start yesterday as the Microsoft founder struggled for hours to install the Windows 8.1 upgrade.

The installation hit a snag early on, sources said, when Mr. Gates repeatedly received an error message informing him that his PC ran into a problem that it could not handle and needed to restart.

After failing to install the upgrade by lunchtime, Mr. Gates summoned the new Microsoft C.E.O. Satya Nadella, who attempted to help him with the installation, but with no success.

While the two men worked behind closed doors, one source described the situation as “tense.”

“Bill is usually a pretty calm guy, so it was weird to hear some of that language coming out of his mouth,” the source said.

A Microsoft spokesman said only that Mr. Gates’s first day in his new job had been “a learning experience” and that, for the immediate future, he would go back to running Windows 7."

Is anyone actually using Windows 8.1?

Yes, and it's been the most stable Windows release I've used since XP SP2. I've had literally zero issues running any VMS software on it so far, and I've been through Exacq, Axxon, Milestone, DW Spectrum, Genetec, Video Insight, and VideoIQ.

The upgrade took forever, but mostly because it was a 2-3GB download, I think, and the internet was a little slow, not because it stalled in any way.

I used a factory fresh Lenovo install of 8.0 and downloaded the 8.1 update which seemed to go fine. It's been "fairly" stable except for the Explorer process hanging up frequently, almost daily. The symptom being I try to open a Window and it hangs trying to show content. Sometimes double clicking stops working and I have to use Right Click -> Open. The fix for this is I kill the Explorer.exe process and run it again and everything goes back to normal.

The interface, of course, for desktop usage is horrible and very inefficient. However, the Heaven's opened up and God showed his mercy on me when I came across StartIsBack on the Internet, a utility that gave me back the Windows 7 style Start button and menu listing.

I've installed and run several VMS softwares and a couple access control softwares and it seems to work fine- no imcompatibility messages.

The only reason I'm running it is from a pragmatic IT view, we're going to run into it and have to support it, so we have to use and know it. But I have a feeling it's going to go the way of Vista and Millennium. I guess MS has gone the way of Star Trek movies where only every other one is good. Hopefully if more execs at MS get frustarted with the way their software has gone, someone will finally ask the question "why with all the memory and processing power of today's computers, can't the system support using a choice of interfaces, including the tradintional menu bar instead of the ribbon menu in Office programs...?"

I'm running it as a development platform inside a VMWare VM on my mac pro and it's been flawless so far. Touch wood.

We've mostly reached steady state acceptance of Windows 8. The initial angst of relearning the user interface still crops up at regular intervals and costs us time we can ill afford. The new big change is that we haven't a Microsoft account, nor do we care for one. This occasionally becomes a challenge to work around. We may have to bite the bullet because the latest Office appears to have no work around. After returning our newly purchased Office to Costco, we've dusted off our many fully owned legacy Offices and made do, so far with no disadvantage.

I feel that Microsoft's new insistence on cataloging every user through a mandatory Microsoft account is an attempt by yet another corporation to collect scads of irrelevant (to us, not to them) personal information that is really none of their concern. They see the success of Google and Facebook and want a piece of that action. Personally, I find this objectionable.

I've begun playing with Fedora and WINE to see if my few Windows-only needs can be accomodated without reference to Microsoft. In the end, it will come down to pain points -- which support infrastructure costs more time.

Around 2010, I spent about a year using Open Office, but ultimately it was too costly. Not everything translates faithfully to and from Microsoft Office, and some of our professional interfaces demand Microsoft Office products. It doesn't require a critical failure to appreciate the high cost of translation errors. For example, some public presentations require PowerPoint, and some proposals require Word formats. Mistranslated elements imply a carelessness and lack of professionalism which can be seen as sufficient cause to avoid such vendors.

I've not seen the value proposition of Microsoft Office upgrades from 2003 to 2007, nor of quite a few Windows upgrades, for some time. The mandatory re-learning of the user interface is costly and entails a worldwide productivity hit. In Office, the change from menus to ribbons was especially costly because even after using it for 5 years we cannot ever be as fast nor productive in the new Office as we were in the older, more hotkey friendly Office. For Windows, our productivity appears to suffer only a temporary productivity hit. We seem to struggle with it for about a month with varying degrees of angst, then except for the odd occasion, we no longer recall what our user issues were.

Call me old fashioned, but I'd prefer that they continually upgrade the underlying engine but preserve the user interface. It would be different if they fixed only the klunky parts and users could clearly see an advantage. Particularly for seldom used functions, completely changing the way things are accessed makes many man-hours of learning obsolete and irrelevant. Imagine if new automobile models worked the same way: "Where's the steering wheel? Woah, how do you stop this thing!"

Bottom line: if they're the market leader, your customers demand their format, and your business depends upon it, you may be forced to stomach whatever they dish up and surrender whatever they require, regardless of its true value proposition.

Horace, don't get me started on MS Office. I love how Microsloth wants to put the whole thing in the cloud. While that may be fine for some users, it is totally disruptive for isolated systems like ours.

Then there's Windows Server 2012. It also has a Windows 8-type interface with no Start menu. Although many utilities are listed in "Tools", many of the ones that aren't don't have any easy way to locate - you have to type the first characters of the program and a list of programs starting with those letters will pop up. Of course, that assumes you know the name of the program. :-(

Of course, that assumes you know the name of the program.

And with Microsoft's habit of changing it's software terminology with each upgrade just to confuse things, that's not so obvious.

But it does keep the manual writers, the trainingware providers and the certification centers in business. ;)

I just spent more than 30 minutes trying to change a local user password on 8.1. I started in control panel/users, messed around there for 15 minutes or so before going to Google, then another 15 minutes to find the right link and make it happen.

This is what I mean by "except for the odd occasion." By tomorrow I'll have forgotton the details of this problem because I will have internalized the newer, obviously better way. But that 1/2 hour that should have cost 10 mintues -- it's gone forever.

"But that 1/2 hour that should have cost 10 mintues..." Actually, it should have taken no more than 60 seconds. That's not a commentary on your abilities, but a commentary on the interface.