I often love the smell of newly installed operation systems, but this is not true for Windows 8. I upgraded from Vista to Win8 together with some extra RAM and a SSD harddisk. For some reason the Upgrade Assistant didn’t allow me to choose which version of Win8 to download. Instead I had to go the unsecured part of the Internet to find a x64 version, and then use my legal product key.
The Good: Fast boot and new Task Manager
The computer boots faster than ever into a working state, where important things like WIFI network and desktop are usable. The new Task Manager makes it easier to discover ill behaving applications (Like Windows Defender). The file overwrite confirmation dialog have been improved back to WinXP standards, and the copying dialog now includes a nice transfer performance graph. But besides that then I have not found any visual improvements.
The Bad: Two user interfaces in conflict
The bad thing is the conflict between the Desktop and the tile interface:
- The integration between the desktop and the tile interface is like seeing the monster of Frankenstein, that has been stitched together involuntarily.
- Opening a new application through the tile interface causes all running desktop applications to be hidden by the tile interface. This gives a lot of screen flickering and disturbance of the task at hand.
- It is not possible to run a tile application in window-mode, so it can shown side-by-side normal desktop applications. Not sure why the operating system is still called Windows.
- The tile interface has revived mouse gestures (that was buried for good reason). Simple tasks like closing a window, or changing to another application are not mouse friendly.
- The rigid limitation of only displaying 2 tile applications at time makes little sense, when I’m used to be switching between 5-6 open applications. Again why can tile application not integrate nicely with the Desktop?
All these weird limitations and lack of integration makes it very clear, that one has to choose between desktop or tile-interface. I chose the old desktop as most applications I use are still there.
Unlike previous versions of windows then there is no classic mode, that makes everything look like Windows 2000. The Desktop is lacking the start menu, as I only have 5-6 favorite applications that I want pinned to the taskbar. A workaround would be to add a Toolbar-folder, and the maintain this folder manually by adding my favorite applications, but it will still be missing the search feature. Weird that the not so powerful “Power Menu” (WIN + X) doesn’t include built-in search (WIN + S) and shutdown shortcut (Win8.1 adds shutdown option).
To get the old Start Menu then one can either buy Start8, or get the Classic Shell.
I chose the Classic Shell (with 8Plus Skin), because it was free and seemed low on the resource usage. I’m quite excited by how it can boot directly into desktop (Win8.1 can now boot directly to desktop), and it can disable the hot corners. It is not as nice as the Windows 7 start menu, but it is very customizable and the search works good.
Thick Window Borders
I quickly noticed that the window border of the Desktop applications had been increased. Probably to cater for the fat fingered touch interfaces. But I hate when my real-estate is used for unnecessary stuff. I first tried to configure it through the Personalize Desktop, but discovered the dialog for configuring the desktop windows was gone. Instead one have to do it through the registry:
[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\ Control Panel\ Desktop\ WindowMetrics]
I also noticed that the normal Windows Games had been removed. I looked in the Programs and Features, but there was nothing to be found. Instead one have to find them in the Windows Store.
Automatic User Login
After a few restarts then I got tired of having to click my own user account and typing password. But there was no buttons to give me ability to automatically sign-in. Instead I had to run the following command to configure it:
Automatic Window Resizing
I started to get annoyed that the Desktop windows was automatically resized when dragged to the corners of the screen. This “Aero Snap” feature was introduced with Windows 7, but it continues to do havoc on Win8. It can still be disabled by opening the Control Panel and search for “Ease of Access Center”, and scroll down to the item “Make the mouse easier to use”. Here you have a checkbox called “Prevent Windows from being automatically arranged when moved to the edge of the screen”
DVD / CDROM drive missing
Tried to use my DVD drive, and then discovered that it wasn’t there. Even though I had just installed Windows 8 from it. Seems that DVD drives are only for computer geeks (just like the desktop), so one have to add the following DWORD registry key to make it appear:
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\ SYSTEM\ CurrentControlSet\ Services\ atapi\ Controller0]
EnumDevice1 = 1
Then I needed to setup my mail again, and I installed Windows Live Essentials 2012. Everything worked out nicely, and it was able to pickup my old mail folders from Vista. I then discovered that MSN Messenger had become a resource hog (Also detected by the new Task Manager), so it was thrown out and replaced with Miranda IM x64 (Plugins: Popup Plus and Keep status). Miranda IM also allows one to connect to Facebook Chat and google talk through the Jabber protocol.
Sleep Mode Finally Working
For the first time in my life, then my custom assembled desktop machine is able to enter deep sleep mode and wake again. This has only worked for me on laptops and other pre-assembled devices. I then tried to update the driver for my AMD HD 7750 card to Catalyst version 13.9, and then it suddenly failed to wake the monitor from sleep. After using system restore back to the default RTM driver, then it was able to wake from sleep again with no issues. (Fixed with Catalyst ver. 13.12 and Win8.1)
Things are now looking good again, and I can now play with the latest applications without getting errors, about not supported by your current version of Windows.