My first impressions of Windows 8.1

 

(Note: This was written 2 hours after completely updating and using Windows 8.1 so hype may or may not have to be considered as a factor. These opinions may or may not be represented into the final review. )desktop

I was wrong. Let’s start from there. I was one of those people who initially bashed Windows 8 for being only for tablets just like the rest of you. Then I heard it decreased boot times and the desktop mode was faster, plus Windows 9 was probably going to come out in a couple of years and I might get a discount , so why not. I immediately pegged off Metr…. I mean, Modern ui (that name is still awful), as a tablet only interface and avoided it like the plague. Right now my main Windows 8 device is a gaming pc and I am currently using a 27inch monitor, “pro stuff”. To my horror, my favorite little buddy, the Windows start button, was missing. Replaced by it was a little tab that put me back into the modern ui not a start menu. This felt completely foreign and I regretted buying Windows 8 and wanted Windows 7 back. But I stuck it out, “For the discount, For the Discount, you can do it HYDRO”. The “start menu” in the desktop was replaced with some gray bars that did something but looked ugly. It seemed like Microsoft was ignoring the desktop, the legacy users, and instead was catering toward tablets. Clearly, Windows 8 was nothing more than an attempt to gain market share in the tablet world as pc’s were declining, right? However, the more I used it, the more I liked using the desktop mode. It ate far less system resources then Windows 7 and the modern ui made Windows 7 look stale and old , like what Windows 7 did to Windows xp. But it was missing something; something made it feel like 2 different OS rather than one cohesive whole.stug

Enter Windows 8.1

The much hyped about Windows “blue” update was supposedly nearing its release date. It was supposed to fix the modern ui by adding more sizes to metro and just making windows 8 smoother and more refined. More apps started popping into the Windows store and I was finally starting to have hope. Windows 8.1, while being a small update, refined the modern. It allowed me to actually use it on my desktop. Even now, I barely use the desktop because I feel like the modern looks more refined. The more I got used to metro, the faster my multi-tasking was ,MediaMonkey on the left, internet explorer in the middle and metrotwit on the right. It is now easier to multitask in modern then in desktop because Windows 8.1 allows for up to 4 apps to be pinned together in modern (though I only use 3). The main problem with modern is that you can’t use desktop apps in modern. You need to rely on the developer to make a Windows store application. While there are alternatives, they definitely aren’t great.multitasking

Microsofts own apps that are bundled with the update have improved but they still need a lot of work. Xbox Music still doesn’t support flac yet which is a major disappointment. Internet Explorer 11 has improved greatly and I use it more than chrome on windows 8.1. It is faster and more fluid then chrome. The interface, while not geared for desktop users (in modern mode) it is intuitive and simple. As a long time IE hater, I can finally say that IE is now a competitor in the long running race between Chrome and FireFox. What it lacks in extensions it makes up with for its pure speed. Bing search looks better than Google but Google is still the king of search results.  Bing is also more integrated within the OS; for example, when you search a bands name at the start screen you get some pretty results from Bing. It works quite well but I can only see it as Bing trying to flex its muscles.

bing

My main problem with Windows 8 was that modern felt like a completely different interface compared to the desktop. Windows 8.1 made some minor changes that changed this. 8.1 allows you to make your desktop background and your start screen background the same and also introduced our good buddy the start button back. This made modern more of an extension, an actual start screen of the desktop not just in name. This is what Windows 8 should have been. Microsoft lost many people in its vision because it replaced a start button (which has been there for years) with a tab. Moving from the desktop to the start screen is now more cohesive because of the desktop background being the same as the start screen background , in fact , this option should be default. What Windows 8 failed to deliver was a consistent message of what it actually was or what it was trying to be.

desktopNew

While the modern ui is now better, the desktop mode needs a change. The desktop mode looks completely outdated compared to the sleek interface. While the desktop mode completely retains its functionality it needs to look a bit more like the modern ui in order to maintain consistency. This, hopefully, will be the main focus of Windows 8.2 , which should be coming out next Spring. Many desktop users were annoyed by the fact that 8.1 mainly focused on modern. Clearly, Windows 8.1 still has many, many inconstancies and faults (especially those gray bars that appear when you right click the Windows start button) plague the OS but Windows 8.1 is a great improvement, especially if you didn’t like the modern ui previously.(though if you are less open to the modern ui then you still won’t like it because it is still ever present.)

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Hydro Ninja

Hey, I am Hydroninja9. I have been in the tech writing biz for 2 years now and I joined TeckComesFirst in February of 2013. I am a gamer , technophile and audiophile. Of course some info about me isn’t known; blame mind control chips for that. I also make YouTube videos on a regular basis.

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  • Andrew Okwuosah

    I feel that Windows 8.1 was released really to fix the gaping holes that Windows 8 had, which 8.1 does well. While it was focused on the ‘Modern’ UI, that was where many of the problems were and caused the most frustration among users. I think that your comments are similar to those seen by many other users that have made the update as well. I also feel that the article didn’t necessarily cover all of the new features in Windows 8.1 and focused more on what’s on the surface.