Posted by TechAdvisor 30 January 2014
5 things we hate about Windows 8
Pouring vitriol on the bits of Microsoft's latest OS that really wind us up.
It's easy to be dismissive of Windows 8 – or Windows 8.1 as it is now. It's dual intefaces seem ridiculous at first, leading many people – especially those hardcore nerds who rage across the Internet – to stick with Windows 7. But after a while you kinda see the point of the Metro interface – whether as a quick way to launch the 5-10 apps you use everyday or as a faster way to use Windows with a touchscreen.
But there are some parts that are more poorly designed than the Carelman teapot (though hopefully not on purpose). Here the TechAdvisor team take aim at the things we want fixed in Windows 8.2 or Windows 9.
Too much control
Windows 8 is confusing enough thanks to its two different interfaces. I’ve learned to live with this; the biggest annoyance is that there are two separate control panels which have different options.
For example, one actually really useful new feature in Windows 8 is Refresh and Reset but you won’t find them in the traditional Control Panel. Nope: they’re only in the PC Settings which are accessible from the new Charms bar.
IE11’s split personality
Along the same lines – and a blatant admission that this is two operating systems in one - Windows 8 ships with not one, but two versions of Internet Explorer. There’s the traditional desktop browser and a new one for the Metro UI. Depending on whether the desktop version is set as your default browser, you may get either version when you click the blue ‘e’ button from the Start screen (and if you remove the icon it’s incredibly hard to figure out how to get it back).
The most despicable thing? The address bar has been moved to the bottom of the screen in the modern UI version. There is absolutely no reason nor benefit in doing this: it’s a change for change’s sake. To make things even worse, the address bar and all other controls are hidden by default so first-time users struggle to work out how to search, enter a URL and switch between tabs.
Out of touch
In general I am a fan of Windows 8, although some of the odd features make me look forward to them being ironed out in Windows 9. One of these is the way in which the Modern UI 'Metro' half of the OS interacts with the traditional Desktop mode. My main work PC is a desktop, and almost everything I do takes place within the Desktop on traditional Windows programs such as Word, Excel and Thunderbird.
When I want to view or preview an image file or a PDF, however, by default Windows 8 takes me away from the Desktop and in to Photos, a Windows 8 app. Nothing wrong with that. Photos is as good an image preview program as any. But it irritates me that to get back from Photos to the desktop program from which I clicked the image file, or indeed back to the Desktop itself, I have to go through three redundant clicks. First hit the Windows key to go to the Modern UI, then click the Desktop, then select the Window in which I was operating.
I know that I can hover the cursor in the top lefthand corner of the screen and see all open Windows. On the touchscreen laptop I use at home that is exactly what I do, but it just doesn't feel intuitive when using a desktop PC with mouse and keyboard.
A little thing, I know. But it's one of the many little irritants that add up to a poor popular view of Windows 8.
Dragged-out shut down
Why is it so much of a ball-ache to shut down a Windows 8 PC from the interface? I have to go back to the Metro interface, click on my face, log out, click on someone in Microsoft’s marketing department’s idea of a nice inoffensive picture that means ‘the future’ (unless you’re offended by the mediocre and boring), wait while it slides away, find the little red button, then click on Shut Down.
On Windows 7, I clicked on Start, then on a little tab, then Shut Down. Job done.
I know we’re sposed to be in the era of PCs that you don’t shut down – laptops that snooze when you close their lids but still helpfully download your email for you in their dreams, and tablets that turn invisible when you don’t touch them for five minutes – but there are still some of us that have hulking desktops for things like playing Bioshock Infinite at a decent framerate at full HD. And don’t like fan noise when we’re trying to sleep.
(And yes, I am aware that I could use the power button to turn the computer off, but so could my 3-year-old daughter Alice as she runs past and sees a big blue-lit button that beckons so invitingly to be pushed – so I’ve had to disable this.)
Yes, these are circumstances particular to me – your mileage will vary – but it’s one of many examples of Windows 8 changing our workflow without delivering actual benefits. I’m all in favour of change if it improves our user experience – but much of what Windows 8 does just frustrates.
I want my videos, not your ads
If I open up the Video app from the Metro interface, I want to see my videos – not some lame-arsed attempt to sell me a crap film with Jeff Bridges as an undead policeman. Building a store into the player can be done inoffensively – even the much-maligned iTunes manages this.
This doesn't sell me movies, it frustrates me – and frustration is likely the final straw the thing that makes many of us go "screw this, I'm buying a Mac".
Actually, while I'm here. Why is it called Xbox Video? I'm on my PC, not an Xbox? And why has it just told me that "Your Xbox account region doesn't match your Microsoft account region? And then crash? Aaaaaaaaaaargh.