Neville
Silverman

Visual Basic Programmer, Sydney
Microsoft Access Database Programmer

Custom Built Software
System Optimisation
Office Automation

The Microsoft World: A foray into the world of Microsoft Windows 8

A foray into the world of Microsoft Windows 8The advent of a new operating system from Microsoft is always an interesting (as in the Chinese curse "May you live in interesting times") event. Will all the hype and hoopla be matched by reality?

There are many that love the new interface – and many who will equally hate it. I would need to approach the Windows 8 "Metro" style with an open mind.

I have a PC which is powerful, but bore the scars of multiple operating system upgrades, an accumulation of much unwanted software and an SQL Server database which I could neither use nor uninstall. The time was ripe for a clean-up and a fresh start.

Windows 8: Screen Resolution problems

The first hint of a problem was when I ran the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant. The screen resolution of the PC was 1280 x 720 – but the minimum height allowable by Windows 8 was 768 pixels. Apparently Microsoft had determined that only a small minority of monitors used 1280 x 720, and thus decided to set a higher minimum.

What they did not take into account, was the countless users who cannot read the small characters when using a high-definition TV monitor of 1920 x 1080, and are forced to change the resolution to 1280 x 720 to produce readable characters.

Windows 8 Apps: Meaningless distractions

The result was that I could not use any of the Apps, around which much of the Windows 8 interface revolved. I could have increased the screen resolution, but as a Visual Basic software developer, I have to support multiple PCs with different operating systems in a remote network. So this option was not feasible.

I next looked into how much I was missing by not being able to use the App features. I came to the conclusion that the Apps were meaningless distractions – and not meant for serious work. And I could not (thankfully) use the App Store for login security.

Perhaps I am being an old fuddy-duddy, but I find the Windows 7 Menu system to be much better at handling selections. With tens of thousands of third-party Menu software downloaded to provide a Menu, I am not in the minority.

With the aid of Menu software, I now enter Windows 8 in Desktop mode directly - bypassing all reference to any trace of an App. With a plain coloured background without distractions and a quick launch toolbar, I have a workable system with all the features of Windows 7. The beast has been tamed!

Windows 8: UAC and Permissions

As a developer, I need full control of the PC. Unfortunately in Windows 8, UAC cannot be completely turned off – and I have yet to find out how to get Administrator capabilities. Then there is also a Trusted Installer to contend with.

I needed higher capabilities when I discovered a folder called Windows.old. Yes, all the garbage that I was so delighted in getting rid of was sitting there on the disk drive! Windows Explorer could not be used due to the security restrictions – but fortunately I found Cleanmgr and managed to delete the folder.

Another glitch that I came across was opening an Image file. I was prevented from so doing because of the screen resolution problem. Grrrrr!

Windows 8: The hassles of a brand-new Operating System

I found that the Hot Corners did not always work. I would occasionally see a glimmer of them, but I was not quick enough to click anything. So for consistency I turned the Hot Corners completely off.

For a new operating system, lightly loaded, response time was a rather slow. But repeated disk defragmentation cured that problem.

Then there is Internet Explorer 10. It is even more interwoven into the operating system. And it is annoyingly protective against all nefarious villains – even though I trust my anti-virus software more than I trust Microsoft's Internet Explorer at preventing foul deeds and misdemeanours. Moving back to a previous Web page on IE10 works slightly better than IE9, but only slightly better. It seems to skip out the previous page, and show the originating page. It needs an update patch.

Windows 8 and the Corporate World

I cannot see that any business can afford to have their employees twittering away their time on Facebook and other Apps, however interesting the 10,000 Apps may be.

When Microsoft provides a Windows 7 Menu, when they allow the Desktop mode to be the default, when they remove the screen resolution restrictions, when they come out with the first service pack – then, and only then, will the corporate world start taking an interest in Windows 8.

Windows 7 is too good an operating system to be replaced with a colourful, but immature version. The requirements of a Smartphone user are very different from that of a PC user. And never the twain shall meet.