Monday, 1 July 2013

Windows: Love or h8?

Windows 8 or Windows HATE?


Windows 8.1 or Windows 8 POINTLESS 1?


What's your opinion of the latest version of Microsoft's operating system?  Love it or hate it?


Now, change anything, and there's a whole load of people who won't agree.  When Microsoft put the 'Ribbon' into Office, I, myself, didn't like it.  I couldn't find half of the stuff I regularly used.  Now, of course, I'm used to it - though I do customize the Quick Access toolbar to put my favourite tools there.  It's fine.  I accept it.  I actually think it works quite well, though it often still takes me a bit of searching to find stuff.




I remember, when Windows 3.1 came out, and we had it installed on our company computers, that my boss complained.  It'd never catch on.  What was wrong with Dos?  But, we complied.  And adapted.  Windows progressed and evolved, with 95, 98, XP and so on.  Each version had its slaters.  I'm sure, also, that some of those that slated the new version in favour of the previous had also done the same with the last incarnation.


At work, we had Windows 2000 for what seemed like EVER.  At home, I always had the latest version, preferring to keep up with trends, functions and my innate desire to know new STUFF.  Eventually, in the office (as opposed to the Office), we had Vista.


Hmmm...  Now, throughout the various versions I'd tried, I wanted to like Vista.  It looked the part, but I found it, like so many others, clunky and hungry.  As such, Windows 7 was a breath of fresh air.  It took a little getting used to, but I got there.  And I quite liked it.


But then...


It happened...


They dared...  TO CHANGE IT.


No, really?  SO many people seem to have a problem with the Windows 8 Start screen.  The Modern UI.  I don't know why.  Sure, the app store needs work, but then, so did the Android Store to begin with.  One of the reasons iPhone users laughed at Android (I was an Android user myself) was because of the plethora of apps with Apple and a lack (comparatively) with Google.  But, the iStore had been around for so much longer.  And now, Android has a huge amount itself.


In some cases, better ones.  Look at Twitter.  Why, oh why, does the iPhone app not have LIST functionality?


Windows has a long way to go.  No official Facebook.  No Google Plus.  No many more, too.  But, that's ok, for now.  Of course, these gaps must be filled for the Windows Store to be taken seriously.  They will be, though.  When those apps do come out, they do, in lots of cases, look wonderful.  The Windows interface gives apps the opportunity to really shine.  Bold, colourful and swipetastic.


I have a Windows 8 tablet.  I did own an Asus Transformer Android tablet, which was excellent.  However I found it limited when I wanted to properly work on my website or writing.  As such, I went for the Asus Vivotab Smart (ME400).  It'd not super powered, with an i7 processor and such, but it more than does the job for me.  Great screen and decent specification for the price.


Granted getting hold of the official cover and keyboard was SUCH a nightmare - delays and stock problems - that I ended up buying a cheap bluetooth keyboard, mouse and a small stand.  The keyboard was from Maplin and the mouse and stand from eBay.  All in, it cost me less than the price of one of the official items and works very well.


Anywho.  I love my tablet.  It's nippy, very functional and has an astounding screen.  I have Office for my writing, can update my website (something that was a struggle with the Android web browsers, though they're excellent) and can happily stream video through my home network.


I also like, shockhorrorscream - the Windows 8 interface.  The live tiles and the layout and so on.  Yes.  I like it.




Apparently, there's many who don't.  At all.  They go straight to the Desktop.  Well, sometimes, I do.  I have desktop only applications - Office included.  I use Audacity and others which just don't work as 'apps'.  Though that's the case, of course, I still have them pinned to the Start screen as a tile.  I prefer it.  I like to swipe through to the apps, which I have in relevant sections (internet shortcuts, games, media etc.) rather than through menus.  Sure, they could be - and are - shortcuts on my desktop, but the world is changing.


I have plenty of Store apps installed.  These include games for me, games for my two year old - touch games are perfect for her - and things like TV on demand, such as the BBC iPlayer and 4OD and so on.


I remember the first time I watched Minority Report, with its screens that Tom Cruise could pull items onto and move about.  How cool did that look?  And how close are we to that now?


I haven't used a physical keyboard on my phone in years.  For ages, it's all been touch screen.  Apps.  Swiping.  Apple dumped their interface designer bloke (I forget his name) because Android, with its live widgets and active screens, was getting all the glory.  People wanted more information at their fingertips, without have to press anything.  The time.  The weather.  How many messages and emails they have.  Snippets from those messages and emails.  Android gave you that.  Apple did not.


Soon, the iOS 7 will be released.  It's already been unveiled.  It's already been hailed and derided.  No surprise there.  It'll try and recover from some of the wounds inflicted by the advancing behemoth that is Google (are they attempting world domination?  Just wondering).  It may well go a long way to doing that.  I shall wait and see.  I'll take it on board and find out.  I may regret that, but that's how it goes.


So, when Microsoft do exactly the same thing - bring in an era of touches and swipes and live updates and more - there's an outcry?  Many from the same people who so love the way their smartphones become an extension of themselves?


Well.  I, personally, have welcomed it.  I can see, on one screen, a flowing update of news, Twitter, email and photo updates.  I use it all the time, happily.  I like the gestures.  I find it comfortable whether I'm using my fingers or a mouse.  I, yes, I will say it again, like it!


Now then.


Microsoft are bringing out the 8.1 update, codenamed Blue.


Nice of them.  It's got plenty of things that will be welcomed - the return of the Start button for one (I didn't agree with THAT particular omission).


Microsoft have released a preview version of this update.  Again, nice of them.


OK.  Unfortunately, they limited this preview to 13 languages.  Not countries or cities or states.  Languages.  Fair enough.  Unfortunately (again) one of those languages was NOT English UK.  I'm from the UK, so my base language is English UK.  No offence to my American friends (of which I have many), but we have a few keys in different places to yours, and you spell things funny.


This meant the preview (I had to test it out) wouldn't work here in England.  It didn't take much hunting (PC Advisor website) to find a workaround for this problem - surely an oversight.  The workaround was fiddly and meant a little work in Dos (it's still there) but I managed to get it done so the preview update appeared in the Windows Store.




Except it now just says that the update 'isn't available right now - please try later'.  And my Store has a habit of hanging occasionally.



No doubt this will all be sorted soon, but I spent a fair amount of time trying to get this working.  Thanks Microsoft.  Should I bill you?


Oh well.  I find it funny, actually, that I'm writing a blog post to say how much I like Windows 8, just to complain about it.  But, it's about the corporation and they're update procedures.  It's not about the software itself.




Like it or h8 it, it's here.  For me, it's bringing all my devices together with a more common way of using.


I just need to stop touching my work PC monitor to change something.

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