Pearl's Paradise

"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled teams yearning to breath free…"

Windows 8.1 – Proof that Microsoft Still Doesn’t “Get It”


Announcement for Microsoft Build 2013

You can call me obsessive if you like.  I prefer to call myself a stickler.  Certain microscopic pieces of grit get into my shoes and I just can’t walk another step until I remove them.

Such is the case with the Windows 8 “Modern” interface (the artist formerly known as “Metro”) and Microsoft’s stubborn insistence to reject user community outcry.

Ohhh…  Not true, you say, you who have just witnessed Microsoft’s keynote speech at Build 2013.  You had the distinct pleasure of watching – either in person or streaming live – Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and his merry band of lackeys tell you that Microsoft “gets it.”  Microsoft understands your pain.  

Microsoft is about to make everything that is wrong about Windows 8 right with a wave of a magic wand.

  • We heard you!  We are giving you two new tile sizes for the front screen!  Now you have FOUR tile sizes to choose from!  Teeny weeny square, not-so-teeny weeny square, rectangle and BIG square.  YAY!  I’m all gushy inside!
  • We heard you!  We are deepening the cloud integration with SkyDrive app updates!  It still won’t give you drag and drop capability, but it will LOOK COOL not doing what you want it to do!
  • We heard you!  We added a new swipe gesture to let you pop the “All Programs” panel onto the screen!  GREAT!  Just what I needed!  Another inefficient way to look at programs in a non-categorized menuing structure!  Oops, that’s not true.  They are also adding new categories to the “All Programs list, so now it’s an even more confusing mess.
  • We heard you!  We added the ability to resize side-by-side windows on the screen!  (Hmmm…  Seems that’s been a feature of “Windows” since “Windows” became “Windows” so I’m not entirely certain why adding back resizable windows into a system called “Windows” is a huge hoop-dee-doo, but who am I to quibble.)
  • We heard you!  We are improving multitasking!  (So silly little things like continuing to stream music in the back of a Modern UI program continue work when they are no longer the focal window.  Again, I seem to think I’ve had this capability since FOREVER but somehow it got overlooked in the rush to get Windows 8 out the door.)
  • We heard you!  We are going to let you personalize your desktop with your own colors and photos!  (And another Hmmm…  Been doing that on every previous iteration of Windows SINCE FOREVER!)

We heard you, oh pathetic denizens of the Windows Multiverse!  We are…

(Drum roll, please…)


(In your mind, imagine the song “God Save the Queen” playing in the background.)


(Now, in your mind, please imagine the sound effect here of a record scratch.)

You…  You’re what?

You’re giving us back the Start Button, you say?

YES!  We are giving you back the Start Button!  We heard you!  Bow down and worship king Ballmer the Magnificent for giving back to the masses their pathetic little Start Button!

Uhhh…  ‘Scuse me, Mr. Ballmer sir…  But…  Uh…  That Windows 8.1 Start Button you just talked about…  It only takes us back to the tiled Windows 8 “Modern” interface.  It doesn’t actually do what a Start Button used to do.  It still means that…  You know…  If I’m on my dorky old desktop PC with the non-touch screen…  I need to click all over the place and scroll sideways and wade through that mess of an “All Programs” screen to get any work done.

YES!  But it’s a START BUTTON!


But it LOOKS like a START BUTTON!  We HEARD YOU!  You wanted a START BUTTON, so we gave you a  #*()&@#40U%  START BUTTON you irritating little gnat!  NOW SHUT UP AND BUZZ OFF, LITTLE BOY!

To paraphrase that immortal bard, Keanu Reeves…

Pop Quiz Hot Shot:  When is a “Start Button” NOT a “Start Button”


(Steve Ballmer, that is.  Not you.  You’re not an enormous bald goober.  You’re probably a handsome devil with a thick, luxuriant head of hair.  Unless you’re me.  In which case you probably are an enormous bald goober.  Pitty you.)

You see, my dear friend, Microsoft STILL DOESN’T GET IT!  The outcry over the loss of the Start Button in Windows 8 was never about mindlessly clinging to an old, outdated interface.

The outcry over losing the old Start Button – and the old windowing methods with infinitely resizable panes, and the old multitasking methods, and the old control panel, and the old ANYTHING – is that the NEW stuff is LESS EFFICIENT!

As someone who lives  in BOTH worlds each day – the OLD world of everything Pre-Windows 8 and the NEW world of the Modern UI – I find myself SLOWING DOWN and ADDING CLICKS every time I need to get anything done with Windows 8.

Look…  I’m a Microsoft uber-geek.  I’ve been tinkering with the innards of this system since 1990, since before Windows 3.1 popped its head out of Gates and company’s womb.

After eight months of using Windows 8, I STILL find myself slowing down when I pop over to use the “Modern UI” (the Live Tile-based interface, for the uninitiated).

The ONLY work efficiency improvement in the Windows 8 interface is this.


That’s right.  The way Windows 8 handles searching is akin to the way Apple has done Spotlight for years with one exception.  You type, it searches.  No clicking involved.

But beyond that…  It takes MORE clicks to accomplish the same work in a PURE Windows 8 environment!

Hey…  Stevie Boy…  I didn’t ask for a hyperlink to take me back to the desktop.  I asked for a “Start MENU” with REAL Start MENU functionality so I could get back to working more EFFICIENTLY than is now possible using your insipid new operating system.

Look, friends, you know me.  (Well, maybe you don’t, but that’s beside the point.  Just go with me here.)

You know that I actually LIKE the new look and feel of  the NEW Windows 8 desktop.  I use it every day.

I like it most when I use my Lenovo Yoga 13 as a TABLET, NOT as a LAPTOP.

As a desktop/laptop OS, the Windows 8 interface (and it’s 8.1 follow-on) = EPIC FAIL!

I’ll say it again…  Whoever thought SIDE TO SIDE SCROLLING was an improvement for a desktop/laptop OS should be carted off to a facility for the criminally insane.  The only person who could come up with user interface torture this insidious is Davros.  Or perhaps “The Master.”  Either way, it feels very Who-vian in the pantheon of villainy.

But I digress.

Sad to say…  For as much as I love touching my display to get stuff done – and I do – I do even more work with a roller ball and scroll mouse.  When I am producing content my hands rarely  touch the screen.  They are on the keyboard and mouse.

This is not to say that the Windows 8 interface is a horrible dud.  In as much as it represents an ENORMOUS leap forward for TOUCH-DRIVEN interfaces, it is actually quite good.  The live tiles are cool, the stylistic elements are generally appealing to the eye, and even Apple now admits that flatter is better when it comes to UI design.

What frustrates the Windows faithful is that the Windows 8 interface FAILS for the MILLIONS of business users and desktop users and laptop users who can get their work done more efficiently by pointing and clicking, NOT touching and swiping.  There is a reason why business users are yawning about Windows 8.  It is less efficient than the OLD Windows 7 OS.

What Microsoft seems to have missed is that there are two computing worlds and the two rarely overlap.  With good reason.

  1. Mobile world / Desktop world.
  2. Touch world / Non-touch world.
  3. Content consumers / Content creators

The touch-driven world of mobile content consumption does not fit the same paradigm of the desktop/laptop-bound world of content creation.

There is also no grand sense of urgency in the marketplace demanding that the two worlds become one!

I can’t tell you why Microsoft has dug in its heals on this issue.  I can only surmise.  I suspect it has to do more with driving people back to the Modern UI and into the Microsoft Store for app purchases than it does with actually making the OS more efficient for the billions of content creators around the world.

So I will continue to LOVE:

  • Windows 8 fast-boot to the desktop (three seconds flat!)
  • Improved Windows 8 Bitlocker functionality
  • Windows 8 touch screen additions
  • Built-in Hyper-V Virtual Machine support
  • And all the other nifty new stuff Windows 8 actually does reasonably well (like freaking awesome search).

And I will continue to BYPASS Microsoft and use my darling, little “Classic Shell” Start Button rather than their insipid “Start Screen Hyperlink.”

I’m done ranting.  Time to breathe.

Peace out, homeys.

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