Not a Windows 8 Fan

Author: Steve Martin

Those of you that know me know that I am a big Microsoft Windows fan. Windows 95 is where I started with computers and since then I have developed a love of computers and everything they can do. Because of this love of computers, that is now my profession. I work with small to medium sized businesses to help setup and maintain their computer networks. I love what I do.

I have always maintained that Windows is the better operating system for business because of how well it runs business apps and how nicely it plays with other computers on a network and with sharing files, etc. I have a couple of clients who have chosen to go purely Mac and I will tell you , it just enhanced my feelings that Windows is better in the workplace. If you want to have compatibility problems, use a Mac. If you want to use drivers that don’t have as many features, use a Mac. If you want your computer to be incompatible with certain software, use a Mac. If you want to pay at least twice as much money for your computer, use a Mac.

Anyway, this article is not about my favoritism of Windows over Mac in the workplace, it is about Windows 8. I installed it for the first time yesterday and I have to say that so far, I do NOT like it. I don’t play around with the betas or release candidates when Microsoft is working on a new OS. I wait for the final and then try to learn the differences and changes that it has so I can help my clients when they have problems. So, my install was the official release of Windows 8. I look at an OS for productivity mostly. The more productive an OS is, the better for my clients’ bottom line. And if they are making money, they keep paying me to take care of their computer network. It’s the circle of my income

I like choices. I like when I can choose how to use my computer even though thousands of people will do things differently on their computers, I can make my computer mine and use it the way that works best for me and my productivity. Well, with Windows 8, Microsoft decided that they wanted EVERYONE to use their new metro start page whether they liked it or not. And, to make sure of that, they removed the regular start button. Yes, they completely removed it. It is gone. Every time you want to get to a new app, you must open the metro start “page”. Everything you open from this metro page opens in full screen with no taskbar. The taskbar is what makes switching between applications and “windows” so quick. One click and I can be in Word, another click takes me to Internet Exporer so I can copy a URL or text. One click back for me to paste it. I like to do things in as few clicks as possible. With Windows 8, you must take your arrow to the top left corner for the list of open programs to show, then find the program you need and then click it. I know it sounds like no big deal, but bottom line is that it takes longer and taking longer means getting less done in the same amount of time. I even ungroup my programs in Windows 7 so that switching between different windows of the same app take only one click instead of 2. Productivity should be what motivates changes to the desktop, not whatever else is on Microsoft’s agenda.

I have found a little workaround that lets it play a little nicer but I shouldn’t have to find third party workarounds for something that I know Windows already knows (or knew) how to do. The workaround is called Classic Shell. It is a free open source project that lets you bring back a start button. You can find it by going to http://classicshell.sourceforge.net. If you want to be more productive on your Windows 8 computer, download and install it now. I have set it to bring back the start button and to bypass the new metro page completely on startup. Unless Microsoft wakes up and decides to allow users the choice to use the classic desktop, I will recommend that my clients keep buying Windows 7 machines. But if they do get a Windows 8 machine, I’ll now know how to fix Microsoft’s stupidity.

In one saving grace for Microsoft and the new metro start page, it should be awesome on a tablet or phone where touch is your main interaction. But most of my clients actually do their work on a traditional desktop machine and the new metro design is a step backward in productivity when using a typical keyboard and mouse.

Microsoft, give us back our freedom to choose.

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