Love it or hate it, Windows 8 is here to stay...
Well, the new operating system from Microsoft, Windows 8, is out in full swing. New computers are coming preloaded with Windows 8, and it's getting more difficult to get a new computer with Windows 7. In November I purchased a laptop and upgraded my main desktop machine, and in the process made the decision to dive head first into Windows 8. I would like to review my experience with you to give you an idea what is in store for you if you find yourself in front of a Windows 8 machine.
Yes, "The Onset" is an appropriate header for this section From the get go my initial reaction was that of a plague sweeping through the Windows environment. If you have ever seen a Windows Mobile device you are familiar with the big block icons, no taskbar at the bottom of the screen, the stark absence of a start menu and absolutely no familiar background with cute little icons on it. As I fumbled through the new interface, desperately seeking a way to return to the "normal" Windows environment, I was vehemently cursing Microsoft every step of the way.
Finally I discovered the desktop "icon." It was in plain sight the whole time, but since I had worked myself into a dither I neglected to notice it. After clicking it, I felt the blood rushing back into my face, and a wave of calm set over me. The desktop was back, taskbar and all; however, I quickly realized that my beloved start menu was still missing. Frustrated I fired up a Google search only to find a whole host of other people with the similar reaction. To make matters worse, I found out that there was no way to simply enable it; Microsoft had completely removed the start menu feature! There were third party addons, but I didn't want to hack my brand new operating system, as tempting as it sounded at the time. I figured, for my client's benefit, I needed to learn how to use the new Windows 8 as Microsoft intended.
One Bite At A Time
How does one eat an elephant...? One bite at a time. I continued playing, experimenting and dabbling with the new Windows 8 and was beginning to like certain features. For example, my network printers in the office automatically installed themselves on both my desktop and my laptop - awesome! Windows 8 also has the option to sync settings between the two computers via a Microsoft account - sweet! New devices are super easy to install and manage - great!
Although I kept finding great new features, there were still things that frustrated me to no end. The missing start menu was severely interfering with my day to day operations. The simple action of opening a new Explorer windows involved right clicking the open group of Explorer windows and opening a new window that way. Not the end of the world, but since the conception of Windows 3.1 there has been a nifty little button at the bottom right part of the screen that gave the user a whole host of places to go. Now I'm stuck with a gimpy way of having to fumble my way through the computer.
- The Good
- Easy device install and management.
- Syncing of customizations and setting to other PC's.
- Auto-install of network printers.
- Powerful features in Windows Explorer (Like those of the new MS Office 2007 and up).
- The Bad
- No start menu.
- No start menu.
- No start menu.
- The Ugly
- The new startup screen.
Having given myself three solid months to become intimately familiar with Windows 8, I felt it was time to tweak the operating system to my liking. I had given Microsoft long enough to win me over to their new way of thinking. Microsoft has failed; I want my cake and I want to eat it to... I love the new features of Windows 8, but I want my damn start menu back! I can't continue limping through the operating system, it's simply too inefficient.
Enter Classic Shell. There are a few different options available to add the start menu back to Windows 8, but, as my clients know, I hate paying for things unless the free options simply won't cut it. Classic Shell is free and is packed with options, and I would highly recommend those of you with Windows 8 check it out.
I have a confession to make - after installing Classic Shell and making a couple very minor changes I'm beginning to enjoy Windows 8, maybe even more than Windows 7. It's simply amazing what a difference the addition of such a tiny, simple little feature like the start menu can make. Take note of this fact Microsoft. I completely understand trying to revolutionize your operating system and guide people to a new, more modern path; however, please do not completely remove such pivotal features from your operating system. Feel free to disable them by default and nudge people in the direction you want, but not having the option to revert to what I'm use to made me strongly consider Mac and Linux and viable alternates.
For those of you considering migrating to Windows 8, either as an upgrade or through the purchase of a new PC, feel free to get in touch with me. I can greatly reduce the learning curve of this drastically different operating system.
Thank you for reading. I hope this article was helpful, interesting, or at the very least entertaining.