Saturday, January 19, 2013

Windows 8 thoughts

Well yesterday, I bit the bullet and updated my main computer to Windows 8 Pro. Even though I had played with Windows 8 as guest virtual machines, I never became overly enamored with it. But Microsoft's deal on upgrading for $40 was coming to a rapid end (January 31, 2013) so I decided to go ahead and try.
Boy, I've been using computers since the late 1970s, used Windows 1.0 all the way through to Windows 7 (never used Windows ME though) and I have to say Windows 8 definitely takes some getting used to.
I'm a tinkerer and like to know what my computer, more the operating system's function, is doing so one of my favorites for tinkering was the old old Windows with all those .INI files you could mess around with to change how your system behaved, or not behaved. As time went on I got tinkering less and less, after all it takes a lot of time, so Windows XP and Windows 7 have been my most recent favorites. They still let you know what was going on so you could make and educated decision on what you were going to let your system do.
Well Windows 8 isn't much for tinkering. Microsoft has made an operating system that tries to serve people by just letting them run their apps and not having to worry about what goes on behind the scenes. Which, I have to admit is probably what 99% of the people want to be able to do with their computers, just like their phones. They want to turn it on, look up that recipe, or find that store someone mentioned, or see the pictures of their 3rd cousins and Windows 8 does deliver that.

Give Me Many Windows or Give Me Death! (ok, a little over the top, but you'll get my point)
For me it has been a frustration as I want to run multiple windows on my screen at the same time. I even tried to force myself to run everything full screen before the upgrade just to get used to the concept but it drove me crazy not being able to have a ton of windows open. I'm not talking two windows side by side but many. Right now on my computer I have 7 different apps running, each in a window. So for me, if all my apps go the "metro" way and not allow me to resize the windows to how I want them, it will greatly reduce my productivity and enjoyment of my system. But that's just me.
Also, Windows 8 seems to want to do things without letting you know what the details are. For example, I went into the App Store and it told me there were a bunch of apps needing to be updated. So, ok, I wanted more information as the icons just gave me the most basic of information and as I was new to Windows 8 I just wanted to know what it was going to do to MY system. Well, no information at all. So I just had to blindly trust that the apps were ok and went ahead and updated them.
I do miss the Start button, heck it's been there since Windows 95, so it's a friend that contained most of what I needed to have access to. And the button was a good size so you had plenty of area from which to click on. Not in Windows 8, you have to get your mouse way down in the corner before you can make the selection to see the Start screen.
I'm so tempted to get a Start button replacement app but I'm trying really hard to hold off to see if I can just get used to the way Windows 8 operates.

Photo App Craziness
One app that drove me to frustration last night is the Photo app. One it shows the pictures way to big, and I wish I could see thumbnails. Though it may be an option somewhere, I just haven't found it yet. Anyway the frustration was that I use a Windows Home Server 2011 to store all our pictures and on any of my computers I map a drive to it for easy access. Ok, easy enough, mapped the P: drive in Windows 8. So far so good. Then I thought, ok, I'll add that to my Pictures Library. Did that, working. However, then go to the Picture app and though it shows empty boxes for the photos that are stored in the root of P:, it shows nothing else. Nada. Zip.
How crazy is that? I'm using a function built into Windows for a long time (networking) and it doesn't work. Ok, look on-line for answers. Someone suggests setting up a HomeGroup. I've never liked HomeGroup as setting up networking was always easy for me. Well, OK, I'll try anyway. Go to my WHS2011 server and attempt to setup a HomeGroup. BIZZ . . . error, error. No luck there!
Ok, next try. I go into my user's folders and remap the My Pictures from being on the C:\ drive, to be the P: drive. SUCCESS! Now the Picture App finally sees all my pictures and shows me what is in the picture other than a blank.
To me, it's just a crazy road block that Microsoft has put in the way between the Picture App and the folder where I keep my photos. It shouldn't matter to Windows 8 that my photos are on my local computer, a home server, a linux server, or even in the cloud. If I can map a drive letter to it then Windows 8 should see it and not care about the particular "hardware" setup. The whole separating the user from the details just doesn't always work!

More and More Tinkering
Oh, and though I have mail setup, it still doesn't pop up notifications, so more tinkering to figure that out. For trying to separate the user from the details, it sometimes fails so that a user can only scratch their heads wondering why something is working.

All I can hope for, with the multitude of feed back and issues that crop up during real world usage that Microsoft will get these things fixed, even for us "tinkerers." But I wouldn't hold our collective breaths.

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