You may have read my previous post outlining my Windows 8 concerns and it’s unflattering comparison to Microsoft Bob.  Now I have spent some personal time with Windows 8 and here’s my hands on take!

  1. The actual interface is ugly; I miss Aero!  Sans Metro aka the Start Craplets, the interface looks like it came from a circa mid-nineties desktop:  flat, ugly and uninspired.
  2. Getting about the new OS is a clunky mess and more work for a desktop user as you switch between Metro and the desktop. Worse, the Charm menu now pops open at the most inopportune moments. The whole interface looks and feels awkward and worse it feels almost tacked on to Windows 7.
  3. Metro is not a replacement for the Start Menu.  It’s not hierarchical and as far as I can tell does not support the loading of specific documents with an application. Definitely a step back unless you like using the Search function to load programs. Now the display of active information by the craplets could be useful and considered attractive but it’s at best eye candy.
  4. Windows 8 appears quick but that might be a function of not having Aero; however to be fair, Aero is also eye candy. That said; the new task flip function sucks.
  5. Task Manager is much improved with more granular information.
  6. As to system performance Windows 8 does has dramatically faster boot times if that is a big issue to you.  As to other benchmarks it’s a bit of a toss-up between Windows 8 and Windows 7 with the edge going to Windows 8.

The solution to fixing this mess is simple; recognize that desktop users have different demands form tablet users and give desktop user a separate or customizable environment to meet their needs but Microsoft had a very different agenda in mind with the release of Windows 8.  They wanted to force users to use the Metro interface so that the Microsoft store doors were always opened on the user’s desktop.  The old Start menu was never going to accommodate such blatant merchandising plus Microsoft also assumed that the early adopters were mostly consumer. They know full well corporate America’s reluctance to jump on any new Windows OS release particularly after the disastrous Vista release. Sinofsky and Microsoft assumed they could placate corporate America with the next iteration of Windows and were free to shove this mess down consumer’s throats.

Alright, most agree it’s a mess but how do you deal with a new computer loaded with Windows 8? So I set about Getting Windows 8 back to normal by undoing Sinofsky’s twisted user interface:

  1. I want my damn Start Menu back! Rather than go free like you can with Classic Menu I opted to spend $4.99 with Stardock which is a program that also includes an option to boot directly to the desktop.  They have a great desktop program I already use called Fences and the reviews have been positive on Stardock so I figured I would support them by buying this product.
  2. Getting rid of that annoying lock screen tablet swipe is as simple as by opening the Local Group Policy Editor by pressing the Win + R key combination to bring up a run box, then type gpedit.msc and hit enter. Now you will need to drill down into:

Computer Configuration -> Administrative Templates -> Control Panel -> Personalization
On the right-hand side, you will need to double click on the “Do not display the lock screen” setting. Change the radio button from “Not Configured” to “Enabled”, click apply and you’re good to go.

  1. Adding god mode by creating a folder and renaming it “GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}” – note: don’t paste the quotes.
  2. Add a movies video player because Microsoft decided to save money on licensing and dropped the player.  Try the free .VLC Media Player and there are others.
  3. You can bring back Aero with Aero8Tuner but I may not bother with a slower laptop.

I just bought a computer to function as a low-cost video graphics workstation with an I5 processor and discrete graphics and I chose deliberately not to wait for Windows 8 instead opting for a Windows 7 64-bit installation. I figured if Windows 8 was a hit I could upgrade for $14.99 and deal with the pain associated with upgrading an almost new computer.  As of now, the computer runs fine with Windows 7 and it’s not worth the pain to upgrade to Windows 8!