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First two weeks with Windows 8


It’s been a couple of weeks with the new Windows 8 computer, and while the relationship between us remains a bit tense, at least we aren’t fighting with each other quite as frequently anymore.

Let’s just say I do sympathize with people complaining about Windows 8. Admittedly, day to day, you don’t have to poke around in the bowels of the OS that much, and otherwise it’s not that much different than Windows 7—at least in desktop mode. And it does seem to start more quickly, which is nice.

But when you first setting up a computer, all you’re doing is poking around in the bowels of the OS, and the fact that everything has changed there just makes all those non-fun tasks that much more frustrating. So you do develop this initial, and growing, hatred for Windows 8 as you run through a series of Google searches such as:

  • How do I map a network drive in Windows 8?

  • Where is the Control Panel in Windows 8? (Actually, I didn’t figure that one out! I just installed the Star 8 app to put it back in its Windows 7 place on the new computer!)

  • How do you select which speaker to use in Windows 8?

  • How do you shut down a Windows 8 computer?

Yes, shut down. I mean, seriously. Microsoft put the Shut down command in the Settings menu, three clicks deep. I’ve now realized that my PC manufacturer added a one-click taskbar menu with Shut Down and Restart options. Yay! But they shouldn’t have had to. That’s just terrible UI design for a super-basic, very frequently used feature.

Windows 8 Shut down menu

Put the pointer in the bottom-right corner of the screen to get the side menu displayed, click Settings [and, oh look, there‘s the Control Panel], click Power, and there is Shut down! Nice and inconvenient.

And why the heck doesn’t the ESC key let you out of those “app” windows? That’s exactly what that key is supposed to be for!

Esc = Savior

This cartoon Copyright © 2013 Matthew Inman, The Oatmeal, Click the image to get the full comic.

Instead, you have to click the right Windows key to get out. This is not a usability improvement!

Mind you, I do make things tough on myself because—I’ve realized—I don’t seem to like the default settings on anything, which means I have a lot of tweaking to do on new computers—something normal people (with lives?) don’t bother with.

And, I now have things mostly working, except for ongoing troubles with my display settings. They’re pretty much set as want them. I’ve made peace with the opaque title bars. I still think they’re kind of ugly, but I do find myself entertained by the fact they change colors with my desktop background to match it better. I also like that you can display different desktop background images on each monitor.

So my only issue now, really, is that the computer keeps losing these settings. Whenever it goes to sleep, I “awaken” it to find, for example, that the resolution is all out of whack, and all the desktop shortcuts are a weird size—or have all moved on to my big-screen TV! Rebooting usually fixes things, but not always completely. To be fair, I’m not sure if this really a Windows 8 issue, or more of a hardware problem. All I know is, my old computer never did that…

I’m managing, for now, by greatly extending how long the computer waits before going to sleep. Longer term, we have a much better display driver from an older computer that we’ll probably install in this one (because, as mentioned, I’m not a fan of the defaults), to see if that helps.

3 thoughts on “First two weeks with Windows 8

  1. That display issue sounds more like a hardware issue. Do you have the latest drivers installed for the graphics card? I’m assuming you have a bog-standard graphics card (e.g. the one that came with the computer) and not a top of the line card that one would get if one was seriously into gaming or computer animation, etc., but still, worth checking if the drivers are up to date. I have my computer connected to the TV via an HDMI cable so that we can watch downloaded stuff on the big screen. Very, very occasionally the settings get screwed – never the resolution, mind you. It just forgets to mirror the computer desktop onto the TV and instead considers the TV and desktop one HUGE screen so most of my icons end up on the TV. If that problem mostly seems to happen after the computer’s been in sleep mode, you could turn off the power-saving thing so that it doesn’t go to sleep (I hate that option so much – it’s the first thing I turn off, so my computer is always either ON or OFF, never in some sleep mode). If I’m away from the computer for a bit I just either turn off the monitor, or turn the computer off completely. I find it boots up just as fast as coming back to life from “sleep”. That would be one way to test things – if it’s the going to “sleep” that causes the loss of settings, or something else entirely.

  2. Yes, I checked the drivers; it says they’re fine and up to date. It is currently using the graphics card that came with the computer, but we didn’t have the right connector for that right to the monitor, so we had to use a conversion cable in between. Maybe that’s part of the issue; it also has this “wave” that rides up through the monitor constantly, more noticeable on dark background. And I had to really adjust the monitors colors and brightness, etc.

    But as mentioned, we do own this really good display driver (we bought it for video quality, not for gaming), and we’re not using it anywhere now. Seems it would be well worth installing that in the new box. Just have to get around to it.

    In the meantime, turning off sleep mode completely is probably a good idea. Computer is off a lot of the time, anyway; shouldn’t be a major power user.

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