Windows 8 (ugh!)

I know, I know!

Yes, I know that I CAN download this, this, this, this, this and that, and get rid of this, this, this, this, and that, and change over this, this, this, and that, and then, pretty much, I can replicate the past Windows experience. The question is, why should I have to?

Change is neither good nor bad, in the abstract. It can be either. However, when you change the way people do things, you have to consider, in that analysis, whether the gains outweigh the costs of folks having to learn that new way. And, of course, before you even get there, you have to make sure that the changes are really improvements, not the opposite.

OK, with that in mind, Windows, from the beginning, was a “desktop” thing. You set the thing up and you put everything you wanted, a lot or a little, on the desktop. Including your internet entry button. Because the desktop icons were small, you could literally fit dozens of icons on a laptop and hundreds on a desktop computer. Now, with Windows 8, your computer wants to open to a horrific “Tiles” page. The “tiles” are huge, and even though there are really not that many of them, they take up more than one screen’s worth. Which means you have to slide the screen (we’ll get to that!) to see them all. And most of them are total crap! Who the hell wants pre loaded apps/ads for EBay, Amazon and so on!?! Do folks who want to use these for profit web sites find it hard to get to them, in the regular web surfing way? Can’t you just put them in Favorites, if you are such a big fan/customer? We don’t actually need “apps” when we are at home and on the web anyway. Moreover, why not have it as a voluntary feature, like the old desktop icons? Here are a list of apps that you CAN put on your “tile” page, if you so choose, rather than pre loading them.

The desktop, which used to be the initial page, is now just another option, another “tile.” Why? Did folks demand that Microsoft make it harder to get to their desktop, which is what 99 out of a hundred users want and are familiar with? W8 defenders say that the tiles are just like what you get on a smart phone or tablet. Maybe they are, I wouldn’t know. Because I don’t have a smartphone or tablet, and don’t want one. I want a laptop, which is what I bought. Why, per se, is what is considered good on a tablet or fancy phone considered to be good on my laptop (or desktop), that mostly sits on a desk and is used at home? With a mobile tablet or phone, you have to hold the damn thing with one hand, so maybe the “swipe” technology is better. Maybe (we’ll get to it, I promise!). And, maybe, because you use the thing as phone and text messager, the internet is not the main deal. Again, maybe. But not on my home computer!

And the IE that is loaded on the tile page? Oh My Friggin’ God in Heaven! The thing comes on and takes up the whole screen! No menus, no frame, no nothing. A “back” button that seems to come and go at its own caprice. Otherwise, nothing, no “forward” button, no controls at all. And a big, black bar at the bottom that has the web address in large, stupid letters…plus some pictures of web pages that I don’t know where they came from or where they go, or why. Who in the name of hell would want to use the internet this way? Some tiny group of “Techies,” perhaps? Fine, then why not make this an option, and leave the rest of us alone? Techies don’t mind, indeed they seem to like, messing around, adding things, making changes, etc. So, why not let the stuff designed for them be optional, not built in?

Somehow, I managed to get an IE onto the desktop. But I am still not sure how. Moreover, it is only “pinned” to the bottom left of the screen (not a real icon), and, if you unpin it by mistake, you are back to square one! And opening up more than one IE window is still a pain in the neck. Before, you could open as many as you liked. Now, the thing seems to want to redirect you to previous pages you looked at. If I wanted to go to those pages, I would have minimized them rather than killed them, TYVM! Why not just let me open us as many windows in the internet as I want, starting at my homepage (which I chose, after all) each time?

And, before the most recent versions, the Windows menu (File, Edit, View, Favorites, Tools, Help) always came pre loaded. And that’s how folks learned to compute. Most folks use their home computer to surf the web….that is its main function. And with just a little fiddling, ie changing the homepage from the dreadful MSN to Google, it was easy to get that going….plug in the computer, hook up the modem, and change the homepage, and you were done, more or less. And, when surfing the web, the Windows menu was not some kind of bell or whistle, it was, and is, an integral part of manipulating the web to one’s convenience (at least for non techies, for folks who don’t know a lot “F” this or that functions). To find a certain term or word on a website, to add a website to Favorites so as to make it easy to get back to it, to print, to clear history, etc, etc. Folks learned to use those Menu items and they make web use better. So, why in the name of God would Mr. Softy get rid of them? Were customers barraging Microsoft, begging them to dump the menu? Please. Yes, you can put it back now, by why take it out in the first place?

And the Adobe Acrobat Reader, the Gold Standard when it comes to dealing with PDFs, has now been replaced with a pre loaded, impossible to get rid of POS MS “house” brand “Reader.” Like the new IE (and the “new” Math, for those of you old enough to remember it!) it is definitely NOT an improvement over the old version. Also like the new IE, it has no frames, no tools, no nothing. It is like one big “picture” of the document, with the only way to manipulate it being to “swipe” up and down. Besides the problems with “swipe” generally (and, to repeat again, we will get to them, I promise!), why would I not want to have a search function? And clickable pagination? And be able to change the size, and so on? Yes, yes, you can load Adobe, both the latest general version and the new “touch” version built to get along with W8, but despite what some might tell you, you can’t really make it the default setting for PDFs on IE. Changing the default to Adobe only results in Adobe (both of them or either) being the default where it “can” be. And, apparently, it can’t be on IE. Again, supposedly, you could download a PDF to the desktop, and then open it with Adobe, but that doesn’t work either, as the Adobe says it can’t read the document as formatted. So, you are stuck with the garbage MS “Reader.” Strangely, though, I am now able to get SOME of the Adobe features on a PDF in IE, if I say yes to a question box asking me if I want them (ummm, yeah, stupid, I do want them, duh!). But it is still some kind of Adobe/MS “Reader” hybrid.

Now, you might say, “big deal,” but it actually is a big deal. I use PDFs a lot. So do many people. Most sophisticated documents and high data documents are in PDF. Government and international organizations and academic websites all use PDFs. Moreover, the point is why change? Why go away from Adobe, when Adobe has been the first, last and best word on using PDFs for well over a decade or more? Again, did someone call up MS, ask for Gates, and say, “Please, Bill, take away my Adobe reader, because, (1) it is so good and easy to use, and (2) I am familiar with it. Replace it with a POS Reader of your own making that is unintuitive, totally different, and just plain not as good. Oh, and make sure it is hard/impossible for me to switch back too.”?

And now for the famous “swipe” BS. Yes, as I mentioned, on a device primarily meant to be used on the road, swiping might make sense. You need one hand to hold the thing, so you can’t really type (not touch type anyway, which is the only efficient way to type). In that case, the more you can do with one hand, with one finger, really, the better. Buuuuuuuuut, my laptop is not really a “mobile” device. I use it almost exclusively at home, and almost always in a traditional desk type setting. And I am hardly unusual in that respect. Even folks who take their laptops with them on the go don’t hold it with one hand and manipulate it with the other.

I want to keep my machine clean. Especially the screen. I want a clean screen, clean machine. But my fingers have natural oils on them. Also, I have dry skin, so occasionally I use lotion. Then too, I have been known, as have most human beings, to ingest food now and again. In other words, and without being overly graphic, my hands are NOT always ninety nine and forty four hundredths per cent clean. Is that, um, OK, Mr. Gates? Or are we now back in 1986, when there was no eating or drinking allowed at the “computer station?” Should I have to wear gloves, like Sheldon looking at his comic books on The Big Bang Theory, when I use the computer? I don’t want to touch the computer screen with my fingers……EVER! At most, I want to use a “chammy” cloth to clean the screen, very occasionally.

Mouse or touchpad, plus a few function keys, are all that is necessary. Not swiping, not touching, or “tapping,” as they put it.

More beefs…as with most new Windows, everything seems unstable. A touch, one light touch, on the down arrow, sends the thing plummeting down to the bottom of a long web page. Try opening the internet and you find that you opened it AND closed it again. Try again, with same results. Or, you have opened fifteen internet windows, just by holding your finger down on the click button for one second. Or, you go to make a video full screen and it toggles back and forth for five minutes between full screen and regular size. One press of the “back” arrow and the thing goes right back, past half a dozen previous pages, to the homepage. One press on the “forward” arrow and it goes all the way back to where you started!

And this “toggling” crap! I don’t need the computer to go back to somewhere I left because I happened to do something (not even sure what!) that the MS genius boys have determined means I must want to! If I play a game of chess, and then leave it to go surf the net, I can go back to my game if I feel like it. I don’t need some little picture of the game to show up in the upper left corner, which takes me back to the game against my will when I am just trying to use the “back” button on the internet or the recycling bin on the desktop. And it seems to toggle under other circumstances too, which I can’t figure out.

OK, I will admit that the complaints about the games in general are overdone. There are plenty of games to choose from, many of which are free. And it is easy to download and uninstall them. Much easier than it used to be.

Buuuut, when I am done with playing chess for the time being, why, for the love of all that is holy, is there not a simple box in the upper right corner? Ya’ know, a red box with a white “X” in it, that kills the chess function, for now, and until opened again? Again, did folks call up MS and say, “Gee Mr. Gates, when I am done playing Chess Titans, it is just too damn easy, too intuitive, and too simple, for me to just click the ‘X’ button that I am already familiar with, so that I can get rid of it and move on to the next thing. No, please, I beseech, beg and implore you, make it more complicated, make it new for no reason at all but change for change for change’s sake, and make it obscure, difficult and unfamiliar!”

I have no idea how to get rid of it right away, but when I then go to the desktop, it (the chess thing, as I left it) appears in the upper left corner as a little picture, and I can right click on it and close it that way. Sometimes. Other times, I can only get the recycling bin to open, when in pure desktop, or the back button on the internet. Great location for the toggle and close thingy, MS genius boy!

Same with the “Start” button. Sometimes it comes up in the lower left corner of the desktop, sometimes not. It seems to decide on its own whether to appear or not! And other times I end up clicking whatever icon is in that corner instead. Another great job of locating an important function button, MS!

And, no way, I am not going to “upgrade” to Windows 8.1, because I am afraid that I will again be sent back to square one, with no IE but the dreadful “tiles” version, no Menu, no nothing.

I could go on, but you get the picture.

The only real improvement, besides, as I mentioned, that it is easier to add and dump stuff, is the quality of the sound and video. Not sure if that is a Windows thing or a manufacturer thing, though.

The cost of a laptop has now gone up a little bit, after going down, down, down for years. It seems that a lot of bells and whistles, like pre loaded “apps” for commercial sites, “swipe” technology and “tiles,” are responsible for this. I can’t help but feel as if I am being played. Make something better, if you want to charge more for it. Give me more “CPU,” so that my antivirus doesn’t use it all up. Give me MS “Office” included. Give me something. But don’t charge me more on the basis of a new Windows that sucks.

That is all, for now.

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