Windows 8: The Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde of Operating Systems

| February 23, 2013

Windows 8 is getting a bad rap. It does a lot of really great things, and in may ways is far superior to a beloved Windows 7 that liberated us from a bloated, buggy Vista OS. But it has a darker, more sinister side. Despite its many advantages, Windows does some devious things that have turned off consumers and tainted its image. Just ask anyone walking down the street if they like Windows 8 and most will wrinkle their noses in disgust. Many of these people have not even tried the new Operating System. Word is out: Windows 8 is a bad seed.

Or is it? Below are some highlights of Windows 8’s split personality.

Jeckll

Dr Jekyll: Windows 8 has a fully-functional antivirus built in. But if a user prefers to install antivirus software like McAfee, Symantec, or AVG, Windows 8 will turn off this built in protection and defer to the third-party product. Microsoft’s software will become active if there’s no third-party malware protection at all or if the software is installed but has no up-to-date virus definitions.

Mr. Hyde: Metro. The vast majority of people I talk to do not like the tiles. They’re bulky and irrelevant.

metro2

To make matters worse, many programs, like Internet Explorer and Skype will have two versions–a Metro version and a Desktop version. They will look and act differently, leading to a lot of confusion.

Dr. Jekyll: Ridiculously Fast Boot Times. If you’re tired of watching the Windows load screen for two minutes, Windows 8 boots really fast. On a recent build with a solid state hard drive, Windows 8 boots up in less than ten seconds.

boottime

This graphic from a MSDN blog shows the major differences between the Windows 7 and Windows 8 boot process.

Mr. Hyde: Shutting down and restarting Windows 8 is a chore. Unless you followed our guide on how to add shutdown and sleep tiles to Windows 8, you will spend several minutes hunting for the secret charm section in the right corner of the screen, and then navigating through several menus before finding the option to power down your computer.

Dr. Jekyll: Windows To Go. Imagine fitting a computer in your pocket. With Windows To Go, you can load your entire corporate Windows environment on a flash drive and then run it from another computer–at home for example. The flash drive allows a user to access the Windows 8 environment and apps on a Windows 7 machine, and it is bitlocker encrypted, meaning you don’t have to worry about losing vital company data in a cab. Note: Windows To Go should only be run on flash drives certified for this feature, such as the Kingston Data Traveler Workspace.

Mr. Hyde: Mass confusion. Forget Metro, the Apps section is simply a blob of confusing icons.

apps

Even on a fresh install, Windows 8’s App section is a mess. You will spend most of the day organizing this section to have any hope of finding what you’re looking for in a hurry.

Dr. Jekyll: The Windows Store. This Apple-apps-like section makes it easy to download free and paid apps to your system.

store1

From games to music to movies, the Windows Store is a great way to enhance your Windows 8 machine. The Top Free section in each category will keep you busy for hours.

Mr. Hyde: Extra steps to close an app. Launch a game and try closing it. Good luck. The App will remain running, leeching away your memory until you find the secret corner that opens your running apps so you can then X out of it. If you have enough memory, this may not be an issue for you. Power users, however, like to have all of their system resources at their disposal and this quirk of Windows 8 is a sin.

Dr. Jekyll: Integrated Skydrive. In the past, Skydrive was almost considered a secret because Microsoft did such a poor job promoting this valuable feature. Skydrive is free online cloud storage and it is now integrated right into Windows 8, making it easier for you to sync your data across multiple devices.

Mr. Hyde: Poor discoverability. Hidden in corners are secret charms that–when hovered over–display secret menus. Huh. If you do not know about these secret hotspots, you will be dazed and confused. In the past, Windows always allowed even a novice user the ability to eventually find their way. The poor interface and lack of discoverability in Windows 8 will leave a lot of people frustrated beyond belief.

In conclusion, Windows 8 is a really good Operating System with a lot of great features. If you can get beyond its “flaws” and set the interface up in a way that works best for you, you will probably find you prefer it to Windows 7 over time.  Let us know your impressions of Windows 8.

Category: Windows 8

Dave

About the Author ()

Dave has been providing free computer repair and tech support advice online since 2002. Join us on our forums and be sure to subscribe to our newsletter for weekly tips and other helpful computer articles. Connect with me on: Google+

Comments (34)

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  1. Dave says:

    Ok so I had windows 8 once before when it first came out. After a few days I got rid of it. Didn’t like it and went back to windows 7.My wife and I both bought new laptops windows 8 on hers and 7 on mine or so it was supposed to be. After a couple weeks of using it I can honestly say I actually like it. The Start up speed is nice The tiles are big but you can make smaller by right clicking or even remove them .As far as closing programs move your cursor to the left top corner and your program will slide out, Right click on it and hit close. When installing windows 8 it does show where these hidden “secret menus” and how to access them. It is very easy to understand. My 9 yr old has even figured it out. So come on its not that difficult.
    Thank you

    • Dave Dave says:

      Yes, I bet kids will have no problem with Windows 8. It’s those of us who have been using Windows for years that need to “unlearn” what we know. Thanks for the comments!

      • DH Morg says:

        It takes a little time to work out Windows 8 if you are an old windows user like me, but once you do, you’ll love it. Its all there and I love the fast startup and shut down and its so easy to share, its great and I love it. Persevere with it and you’ll like it too. Its the best operating system by far.

  2. Dan says:

    Don’t know where the Dave is coming from at all. I am an older person who has gone from Win 95 through the various versions, i.e. Win 2000, XP, Vista, Win7 and Win 8. Windows 7 is an excellent system and Win 8 carries on from there. Was in a store looking for a wireless adapter where a couple were shopping for a computer for their son. I chipped in that Win 8 was new and I found it fine despite what others have said. The lady said the kids will soon figure out how to use. Have not heard from anyone I know who has installed that it as hard to use.

  3. Joe/Mike Toomey says:

    I’m afraid to install W8 with all the bad stuff being said.
    I’m an older guy very comfortable with W7 and need more assurances
    8 is working ok before I hit the download button.

  4. Terrence Rushton says:

    What about all the stuff that windows 8 will not run like M Y O B for example, What about the fact that it will not install drivers that are not Microsoft (for want of a better term) certified Windows 8 good you reckon? You blokes sure do dribble some something

  5. Ray says:

    like most of us have been computing since I was 52. 13 years on here comes windows 8, fair dinkum at 65 I was lost totally. Then on Techspot I learnt about ” Classic Shell” free program to use. Well Classic Shell has allowed me to function with the older desktop but also I was able to explore windows 8 at my leisure. 6 weeks on and have removed classic shell now and am able to use windows 8 reasonably well for an old f#&T. So my case has shown that we oldies can adapt with a bit of help, mind you I still get a little flustered at times but get better each time I use 8, if you are struggling do try classic shell and when you have the feel for 8 just remoce classic shell, enjoy all, Ray

  6. Ian says:

    If you are on the desktop and want to shut down (or any other option) Alt+F4 works in Windows 8 or seven or vista or XP!!!
    Having two “Apps” that are different on either interface is annoying!

    Apps that run on the tiled interface are not really installed and run “sandboxed” they run on tablets and phones as well.
    I am exploring “Storage spaces” as this is a Virtual environment and perfect for creating a 3-way mirror system (similar to RAID) or for mounting software (games, dvd’s etc).

    Under the belt is where Windows 8 really shines!
    Also “parked up” apps are suspended and will switch off entirely if your system needs it. and do not keep draining your resources.
    Half the Fun of a new operating system is getting to know it and tweaking it to your own preferences.

  7. Justin says:

    Hi Its been good to read both sides of the coins, but for me I installed the beta and for me , I didn’t like it as been used to windows since 95, and I’m not young or old, adverage 41 lol. and I just like the way windows was, unless I am a fan of windows smart phone, which Im not, android all the way. or willing to spend a arm and a leg on a touchscreen on my desktop, which Im not, I don’t see why I need to spend money to help microsoft promote there smartphones, as they said they wanted the windows 8 smartphone and operating system to be similar, now considering that microsoft have only a 7% marketshare in smartphone market, yes they left it very late to try and compete with the hugly succesfull android smartphone…Sorry I getting diverted , to sum it up. I have just formatted my ssd hard drive and reinstalled windows 7, and I am really happy boots up in less than 30 seconds with the help of 8 gig of ddr3 mem ;-). this is the first time since 1995 that I havant bought the latest windows, and I dont feel I am alone in staying where I am, after all look how long the great windows xp lasted and was and is still supported.

  8. Mirek T says:

    You can’t close app !? Alt+F4 or move your mouse to the left, right click on the app thumbnail and just close it. That’s simple.

    • Dave Dave says:

      I know Mirek. But remember the good ole days of closing something just by clicking the X in the Window :)

      • Jeannind says:

        Ummm… simply grab the app at the top of the screen and pull it down. To say, you can’t close an app is a complete falsehood. Click the X or pull it down – one takes a split second and the other takes two split seconds.

        • Dave Dave says:

          It’s an extra step one shouldn’t have to take. When you exit out of an app it should close. I shouldn’t have said it was impossible. You can unplug the computer and throw it out the window–that will also exit out of the app. Why does an app have to remain running when you exit out of it? Why should you have to search around for a way to shut it down? I don’t have two split seconds–I’m a busy guy and, quite frankly, I’d forget to do it.

          • Chris says:

            Moving your cursor to the top of the screen, clicking/holding and dragging to the bottom of the screen is not an extra step. It’s the same amount of steps (1) as clicking an X in the upper-right corner. You’re blowing this way out or proportion.

  9. As a tech, windows 8 for my users have been disastrous. It is driving people to just send them back and get a mac. The classic menu add on, has saved many a machine from going back to the store. My clients need to have it work NOW, and reliably NOW, without having to take hours or days to learn what is making it work, its business, it needs to be turned in now, sent now, not “when i figure it out”.

    Not being able to import address into windows live mail, not being able to have two SAME SIZE windows up at once (stupid metro), trying to go through page after page of icons, having to learn and remember the secret keyboard handshake to make things work, and the names – Charms? Really? – Metro/Modern – Really?

    Comment after comment on why are the colors so flat and ugly, what happened to the grace and beauty of 7? What was wrong with 7? – These are the responses I am getting, what I have to deal with, and this NEVER was this bad since winME (uggg awful) – believe me my clients DO NOT like it, businesses DO NOT Like it.

    Its a great TOY, message on it, play on it, take time (hours, days, months) to learn it, touch and move, kiddie stuff, the adult world wants something that will work, import contacts from a cvs file, import messages from old files, printing not hidden but in plain sight, switching from ‘desktop’ to ‘metro’ and back – having programs that they opened slide over and take over the program that they are in, transfer in PLAIN sight, being able to use older scanners, printers, and devices NOT having to buy new everything, multiple monitors (hard to make work !! try running remote support with ONE monitor – gesh)

    Those that say its easy, never heard that is hard to use, or just “get over it and get with the program” – are NOT in the know with MANY real PC clients that have had their work stopped in its tracks by trying/adapting to the new windows 8.

    Hollyecho Montgomery
    Women’s Computer Consulting
    DBA since 1994
    A+, Network+, IBM,Dell,HP,2.x, 3.x, Win9x, XP, Win7, and Win8 Certified

    • Adam says:

      Quite right. The continual changing of programs, applications, etc., just for the sake of change or important technological change, shouldn’t be at the expense of familiarity and to make the transition to knew as an expensive and/or time wasting effort.
      To learn another way to do the same thing is often mere timewasting and expensive (at times).
      For the people that use an OS as a tool, not a toy, 8 is doubly expensive, the initial purchase plus all the learning and upgrading necessary.
      Or, put another way, 8 – a means to increase/continue revenue.
      If 8 is an end in itself, people will be happy. If 8 is a means to an end and were food, it would be more like food poisoning!

  10. Dan says:

    I’ve been using Win-8 since December on a new Dell XPS all-in-one (imac take-off) with the biggest power/memory they had. This was a big jump for me because I was an XP die-hard, but my old machine was showing all those little sclerotic signs that crashland was coming and I figured I’d go ahead and dive in and spend more on a computer than I have since the early days when…well, I go back to pre-net days folks. ANYHOW…for me, 8 is a winner. Frankly, I had many more adaptation issues dealing with the Win-7 file system and libraries and such than I did with Metro or tiles or apps. I do find some of the tile/app versions of things astoundingly feature-bereft compared to their full-blown incarnations and that’s frustrating. I also get a bit po’d that the system presumes a lot about what programs I want to open files with–particularly pictures and videos–but I’m making my peace with those quirks. Of course, I’m using this on a big touchscreen, and while I still use the mouse for about 60% of my work, I think having Win-8 without a touch screen interface would be unfortunate and encourage anyone who decides to go for it to go ahead and splurge on the touch screen too. I’ve only found a few programs from the “old days” that have issues, and they’re work-around-able if not totally fixable. IF I were a conspiratorial type, I’d think that the massive anti-Win-8 hype and fury that welcomed it to the world was an Apple plot, and I find some of the anti-8 video screeds you can find on YouTube and elsewhere the epitome of young-apple-punk-idiot hissyfitting. Meanwhile, they keep selling licenses and Win-8 is becoming the standard. Will some refuse to move up? Heck, I did that with XP avoiding Vista and even Win-7. But is there a major evil REASON to avoid 8? I don’t think so,and btw, as a marketing point–I’m about to upgrade my cellphones and I’m seriously considering the Win-8 phones because of the synch-ability factor. So there may be a slow-but-steady residual positive result for Microsoft in all this, too. We’ll see. But my advice to people is to go ahead and try it WITHOUT all of the online controversy and basically by ignoring the screaming on both sides of the issue (which, happily, this article was NOT a part of–congrats on the self-restraint!–smile) and see what you think? If you’re using 7 now, and move to a touchscreen 8 machine I think you’ll have enough familiar comforts to fall back on to adapt gradually and successfully. That’s my view.

    • Alistair says:

      I can endorse most of what Dan says. My experience of Windows 8 follows along the same lines. I struggled with it initially because Microsoft left us to plunge in at the deep end with no real assistance and I relied on web sites and reviews to find out how to do things. I installed Classic Shell, which turned Windows 8, for me, into Windows 7 with wings and gave me time to understand Metro and get myself organised. Suffice it to say I set my Classic Shell to bypass Metro and I seldom use it. My Android smartphone and tablet meet my needs and offer the essential portability that the modern age demands. At £24.99 upgrades to the latest operating system, always a desirable policy, for my PC and laptop was a no-brainer. Windows 8 on my desktop PC works so well I invested in new, more powerful hardware, including an SSD C: drive, and a 23″ touchscreen monitor. The last was an expensive indulgence, not essential, but, if you can afford it, I’d recommend it.
      A good article and excellent comments.

  11. Hollis Rich says:

    Having used Windows over 30 years and helping other people fix problems with their computers, I felt obligated to give Win 8 a try. I had Win 7 on my notebook and purchased an upgrade to Win 8 Pro. The installation went smoothly. The look was different, for sure. It took a few days to learn how to bring up the various functions hidden in the corners.
    Then things started going down hill. My Norton 360 program started to not update properly, leading me to “refresh” the system. This took me back to square one. Then I had problems with Skype. After “refreshing” again, I had had enough of Win 8.
    The operating system might work better with a new computer and a fresh install, but my success with an upgrade was anything but a pleasant experience. The compatibility with other existing software left much to be desired. I tried Win 8 upgrade and certainly didn’t like the experience.
    Fortunately I still had Win 7 on a partition on the hard drive, so I was able to remove Win 8 and restore to my previous version of Windows. I would not have gone through so much trouble if I had saved the old Win 7 system files, but I really believed I would stay with the “new and improved” Win 8. Since going back to Win 7 I realized how great it was to have everything work like it is supposed to work.
    Like so many of Windows new releases, Win 8 tries to change only for the sake of change. I may try Win 8 somewhere down the line, but for now I will use the version that works for me without all the aggravation.

  12. James says:

    I tried windows 8 on a laptop (not touch-screen), and absolutely HATED it. None of that Metro crap interests me. I don’t want live updates of pictures, social sites, news, and all that other crap. I launched IE from the metro screen, and promptly said HUH?? It came up with the default home page, and it was NOT intuitive at all how to go to a specific URL, only to search for something. Everything else I tried from the metro screen wanted me to sign up for a microsoft account. What’s with that? I finally removed all the automatic updating tiles from the metro screen, as well as everything that wanted a microsoft account. The more tiles I removed, the more tiles showed up. The ones that showed up were all from settings and control panel options.
    I installed Classic Shell, bypass that ridiculous metro screen, and run it solely as a “desktop” environment. That makes it tolerable. In my opinion, the bad features of Windows 8 FAR OUTWEIGH any good points it (may) have.
    I cannot see a real business ever adopting the metro screen with all it’s automatic social updating. Employees waste enough time on their computers, without making it even easier for them to do so.
    I definitely can see kids liking it though, because it makes it work more like their smart phones and iphones.

  13. Craig says:

    I absolutely love windows 8, was completely bored with the old format. Why does hardly anyone take about how it boots up so quickly??????

    • Don says:

      Win 8 boot and shut-down times are the two most over-hyped issues on the planet right now! Yes, I’m sure 8 will boot somewhat faster than 7, but is that a reason to dump everything else I know about computers, which is a lot? I think not.
      I made the decision a year ago that I would never buy Win 8 and I’m happier about it now than I was then. I bought two new custom-built Win 7 machines and they’re sceamers! They both have SSD C-drives and 1 TB data drives. And both cold boot in 34 seconds and shut down in less than 10. Am I really going to go through the grief of learning a whole new OS from scratch to beat that? I think not!
      As to being bored with the “old” Windows, that couldn’t happen to me. I know it so thoroughly that I no longer realize it is even there. I simply do what I want when I want.
      And this business of all the work-arounds to make 8 “as good as” 7 is absolute baloney! I’m going to go out and buy a brand new system that I have to rebuild before I can even use it? Really?
      I have an old Vista system (six years old plus) that still runs fine, despite what is so often said about it. I will agree that boot time stinks, but that’s it. I now use the new 7 machines for almost everything, but there are old programs and data files on the Vista machine that I expect to use from time to time for many years to come.
      My one hope is that Win 8 will fail so miserably that MS will be forced to make Win 9 either an upgrade to Win 7 or something that can be switched to a 7-like environment with little or no effort. And that includes a start button!

    • Dave says:

      If that’s the only good thing you have to say about it, then you’ve already lost.
      Business will not tolerate the “days to figure out the basics” of the system crap, they want productivity out of the box and W8 will certainly NOT give that to them.
      I have zero use for all the social jibber-jabber crap so 90% of the tiles are useless to me and in a business environment they are employee productivity killers. We fired a girl a few months ago because she refused to put down her smart phone with Facebook, Twit-er and her other social sites she simply could not live without. W8 would have been a complete disaster installed on her workstation…I wonder if she can live without a paycheck…at least she has her smart phone, that is if she can afford the bill.
      MS should have kept the smart phone environment off of the desktop environment, then they might have had a winner with both OS’s.

  14. KRSattler says:

    Windows 8 on a new high powered laptop… Wifi is unbelieveably unstable.. Three other computers, 4 smart phones, two iPads all had uninterrupted internet service. Only the Windows 8 computer had consant problems. And yes, all the drivers were updated. Forums showed many complaints the same as mine.

    Will have my IT guys dump 8 and install a clean Windows 7 for me.

  15. Karine says:

    No doubt Win 98 SE was the most stable OS Microsoft eer came out with … I still have one of those 2″ thick laptop which I keep as a back up just in case. It runs on WIN 98SE. There is nothing that can mess it up ! I call it my Iron Horse . There is nothing I download right away ANYTHING Microsoft tells ius its better than blah blah blah – only to find out that it is convoluted and will drive me batty! I run currently WIN7 Ultimate after running Vista which made me want to use my Laptop as a frisbee. Well, there you have it … That’s my story and I’m sticking to it …

  16. Lee Price says:

    My first Windows environment was 3.0. I find Windows 8 to be phenomenal in the way that it takes advantage of upscale hardware, i.e., solid state drives, etc. However, take a minute to truly use the Windows 8 File Explorer. Quite frankly, Microsoft cheated its long-time users. Others, like myself, depend upon the ability to do so many things with their files strictly from the explorer. My Windows 8 experience with the File Explorer has been a total nightmare. Searches are not reliable, and take forever; there is no way to view the information of Windows 7 below the menu, rather there is a big, unattractive box on the side of the explorer which will take up very nearly half of your screen. Now, with that being a given, try using side-to-side explorer boxes for file management. A NIGHTMARE.

  17. Lynn says:

    I hate Windows 8!!! Who needs two desktops? Installing my beloved programs becomes confusing if I want a standard task bar icon. Trying to pull up that stupid Charm bar can drive one nuts, sometimes it will come out and sometimes it won’t. Fortunately I only have it on a laptop and I have my desktops built for me, so I will stick with win 7 as long as it takes.
    I love win 7, Start/Shut down, it’s that simple, FINALLY. Why make it that much harder?

  18. I don’t know much about nothing but to me, It seems that microsoft has always been copying or following apple in some way or other. For instance, all of this touch screen stuff is just a second hand imitation of what apple did.

  19. Linda says:

    When looking at new PCs I asked the tech at the store how long it “really” took him to get relatively comfortable with the W/8 Interface. He said well really, it took about a month. He was not kidding one bit.

    The Very First thing I noticed was where ta’ heck is the shut down button? I could not believe how convoluted that simple process was so I created a shortcut command prompt on the task bar for shutdown and restart Immediately. The very second thing I did was look for apps for WIN7 Interface and found one that worked for me.

    I don’t have a lot of positives but I can say I do like File Explorer. I use that quite a bit. It is faster and once you acclimate to the settings it’s not bad.

    I’m a month now using W/8 and would I do it again? Probably NOT.

    • Dave Dave says:

      These are all great points. Personally, I think I still prefer Windows 7. I think we’ll have to see how this all plays out in Windows 9. I suspect Microsoft will take the best of Windows 8 and then tone the interface down a little. Under the hood, I’m generally happy with Windows 8.

  20. Cork says:

    I like Win 8 so much that I am now exploring BSD Unix and Linux for my computers. It’s time to dive off this merry-go-round.

  21. Ghiarex says:

    Win 8 is NOT user friendly. With no Start Button, menu, tabs, taskbar, menu bar, back arrows/buttons, home buttons, multiple screens Visible – navigating around Win 8 is miserable! Gone is simple mouse-over to see what windows are open Forcing users to remember or click away in trial-and-error fashion. Too many clicks is stepping back in progress – will Microsoft adopt MS-DOS typed prompts next for new, updated OS? With nothing to click on, was forced to use keyboard which Was reduced with previous versions of Windows which were Windows, Not Keyboard entries for every action.

    Microsoft just lost a whole lot of sales to businesses – imagine Customer Service everywhere telling everyone to wait while they click many times to get around their OS because just one Window at a time is open witout highlights or tabs of other open windows – a reference nightmare! Hard to imagine business-World succeeding with Win 8 at all. Most businesses will Not switch keeping all records, files, transactions, taxes, receipts, Customer Service, networks, etc. on Tablets.

    Win 8 is mostly pushed by those benefitting somehow through it’s sales and being paid to comment about it, but real use stinks and Win 8 should fail – it is NOT easy/user-friendly. Open some pages in Win 8 and be stuck until you research and learn the More steps And More clicks And now forced keyboard keys just to get around as easily as you used to with All other Windows OSs. PCs – Desktops and Laptops Are NOT Touchscreen Tablets.

  22. Ghiarex says:

    What’s with the ugly, flat, simple icons – stepping backward. Images advanced in appearance since Intellivision/Atari 2600 until now where Win 8 dusted them off for major use and websites like Yahoo are following maybe to help sales. All the great work on eye-pleasing icons and menus and windows used better graphics capabilities, but even Intellivision/Atari can handle Win 8 icons/appearance.

    How can we choose nice family or business or other nice images as backgrounds for our computers and on display in businesses and buildings with Win 8? All other OSs still allow customization which most people and businesses take pride in and spend good time making everything look the way they want – Not just the basic, out-of-the-box way which Win 8 Forces everyone to use.

    No DVD-play without 3rd party software users must pay extra for – seems Microsoft is taking more away and reverting backwards.

  23. …Any CHANGE/NOVELTY which is NOT an IMPROVEMENT, is STUPID… Apparently it applies (in some extent, at least) to Windows 8 as well…