Monthly Archives: November 2012

Dear Microsoft: Give me my Start Menu back!

So I recently posted that I was afraid of the latest version of Microsoft’s ubiquitous operating system, Windows 8.  Believe it or not, this post is coming from a laptop now running Windows 8.  You see the best way to overcome fear is to jump right in.  And jump I did.

My initial feelings – as I’ve only been playing with it for a couple of days – it’s not bad.  I get it – it’s a uniform OS design that will be on phones, tablets, laptops, and PCs.  But my testing has a twist than most reviewers of Windows 8 – I’m not using touch.  However, I am running this on a MacBook Air, which has a very generous trackpad which may give me an unfair advantage.

What I like:

Apps.  Who doesn’t like apps? And Windows 8 apps have some nifty features like being able to be docked to the side while you do other things, like work on the Desktop or open other apps.  Not bad.

The Desktop.  I was very concerned about the prospect of losing some productivity, but the Desktop is there in all its glory. If you’ve used Windows 7, moving to 8 isn’t all that bad.

Compatibility. Everything I was using in my Windows 7 life is working on Windows 8. When migrating operating systems, that’s always a crap-shoot, but so far I have yet to run in to a program or driver I had on Windows 7 that isn’t working on Windows 8.

The bad:

The App Store. Or whatever Microsoft calls it, is a little useless. There just ain’t much there.  You get the hits, Netflix, Angry Birds, and the like.  But you just get the feelings that developers aren’t flocking to build Win Apps.  That could really hurt the whole “unified OS” experience a lot.

Half Baked. I just get this feeling when using this that there are features or options that just haven’t been completely thought out.  For example, I want to turn off my device.  Yeah, I get it that laptops can just be closed or tablets have that nifty sleep button.  But I want to restart or shut down.  How… do I do… that…

The Start Menu. Give it back.  Now.  I’m not kidding Microsoft.  I’m going to take hostages pretty soon.  I get it, you have a new start screen with the tiles and it’s cool and all.  But I’ve already explained that I can’t even figure out how to reboot my laptop (I did eventually – you have to bring your mouse to the top right corner to open up the charms, then click on settings and in there is a power button that you can click to bring up a menu to reboot.  Really Microsoft?  REALLY???).  I also found out that when I install apps, I have to dig around in the Programs folder to find them after they’ve installed so I can then add a shortcut to the Desktop or Taskbar.  I later found out that they are available on the Tiles UI Start screen…. all the way at the end where I didn’t look…. and you have to right click on it in order to have windows pin it to the Taskbar.  One last final thought in my futile attempt to get my native Start menu back. In my job, I use a ton of programs.  I pin the most frequently used things to my Taskbar for easy access, but then there’s the program I use once every other month, like the Snip tool.  I’m not going to pin that, but how do I open it up without an “All Programs” menu?  Oh, here we go with the charms again.  Bring my mouse to the top right, click Search, jump in to the Tiles UI, start typing in Snip, see the program listed, jump back to the Desktop where I can now use the Snip Tool… Not a fan…

Disjointed. I don’t mind the Start Menu Tiles UI, and I get the new interface with the Apps.  I also assume that over time more and more things will be Apps and fewer and fewer things will open in the Desktop window.  Unless it’s really just work related.  But if I’m doing work related stuff, I don’t like the idea of having to jump out in to the Tiles UI to open up a work related program, which just brings me back to the Desktop mode.  This ties in with my desire to bring the Start menu back. But I just feel like there’s a lot of back and forth.  I don’t think it’s healthy.


And there you have it.  My long winded and overly complex and utterly confusing review of Windows 8.  To sum it up in one word: “meh.”

Who is that up there?

Just as an aside, if you are looking at that big photo across the top, that’s Pyper.  I’m one of her slaves; she’s in charge.  If you’ve ever had a cat, you know what it’s like.  And chances are, you’ve grown to be okay with that fact.

Windows 8 Scares Me

It’s an odd feeling – being scared by an operating system.  I come from a world where productivity means using a keyboard and a mouse.  Sure I have a Droid Phone and an iPad and I understand and can appreciate what touch does to an experience.  I mean, Angry Birds isn’t the same when you’re using a mouse.

But those environments were built with touch in mind from the ground up.  Now Microsoft is adding touch on top of Windows 7, and the result is Windows 8.  They did a very nice job, so don’t think I’m knocking them there.  The interface is elegant, informative, and customizable.  The tiles are essentially easy to navigate. And the concept is sound.

But now I think about my desktop that I have.  A computer in my office which started it’s life running Windows XP, then upgraded to Vista, and now 7.  It’s a Pentium D machine with a total of 4 GB of RAM.  And for what I do, it suits my need.  I love being on the cutting edge of what’s out there, even if it means dealing with a few bugs here and there.  But now I have the opportunity to upgrade to Windows 8… and I don’t wanna.

Without touch, Windows 8 seems ineffective.  Here’s a User Interface with controls designed to be touched, and here I am with my little itty bitty mouse clicking on them.  Options? Oh, I need to bring the mouse to the top right or lower right corners to bring up the Charms bar.  The what?? That’s right, the Charms bar.  What the heck is that?

Okay, well, let me just go in to Desktop mode.  And now when I go to open up this program and…. wait, now I’m back in the touch interface?  Okay, back in to Desktop, and lets go to My Computer and… hey!  Where’s my start menu??

Now listen, I’m the kind of guy who will work with a new UI just because I understand this is the future and I must conform or else it’s going to leave me behind.  When IE 9 came by default without any menu bars or command bars by default, I left it and worked with it.  Mostly everyone else I know has added their menu bar back and at the very least a printer icon.  But I want to learn to work the way it was designed to.

And that’s why I’m scared of Windows 8, because I don’t think I can work that way.  To consume content, sure touch works great – a la iThings and Android devices.  But when I’m going to develop a program or create content of some kind, I think touch will get in the way.

Hello world!

Most people delete the first post WordPress creates by default.  I think that’s rude.

Hello world! Gosh, every programmer in the world probably started by learning how to get that to pop up when they ran their program.  I suppose it’s dull, but it was so exciting to think you can control the 1’s and 0’s.

Well, anywho, Hello!  What is this place? You see, I don’t have Facebook.  I don’t like Facebook.  No, I’m not the kind of person who believes Facebook is out to get me. What company is trying to learn everything about me and and use it for evil purposes?  Google? Facebook? Microsoft? Answer: D) All of the above.  But I’m okay with that. Really. I’ve grown to live with the fact that privacy means nothing as soon as you connect to the Internet.

I just don’t like Facebook because I see what it has done to my Wife.  Seriously, I watch her get sucked in to it, and get so enthralled in other people’s business.  That can’t be healthy, I figure.

So here’s where I’ll post my musings.  Things I’m in to, things that catch me as funny, and it won’t be lumped in to “walls” or “news feeds” or able to be “liked.”  It’s just here. You can read it if you like, or you can leave and never come back.  There’s no obligation to be my friend here. And I won’t be posting pictures of food either.

Welcome to my personal corner of the web.

Oh, and so it’s understood: On the sidewalk of life, you’re going to step in some poop.  You just have to ignore the smell and keep on walking. ~ Me, circa 1999