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Windows 8 Tiles

My Run-In With Windows 8

Yes. Finally. My findings? Short version: it was horrible. Longer version: it was absolutely horrible. Never have I sat so defeated behind a keyboard. Let's start from the beginning, shall we?

Walk In The Park

A friend of mine asked me to delete her Microsoft Office 2013 trial version as that was no longer needed and prompted her to buy it. "It's Windows 8," she said, "I hope you don't mind.". Well, I consider myself quite a capable user — how hard could handling a new Windows version be? In a few, you'll see why I wish I had swallowed those words.

It boots insanely fast. We're off to a good start. Right, familiar desktop, recycle bin, a few icons that had me worried, but I was reassured it was all default Asus software (note: all other suppliers do this too.. enough material for another blog post). Now, she wanted Microsoft Office gone, so who am I to disappoint her? Right. First step: open the control panel. I'll just go to the start menu and--oh yeah, no start button. Damn. Ten seconds in and I'm already missing one of the most crucial parts of all Windows versions before this one.

Okay. So, how to open the control panel then? I'll just right click the Computer icon on the desktop, hit up 'Properties', and return to the Control Panel from there. Seems easy enough. No. There's no Computer icon present on the desktop by default, ever since Windows 7. Two methods down. That leaves me with.. what, exactly? Sure, I can run ' control ' from the command line (one of the first things I tried: Windows Key + R still works!), but surely that's not what Microsoft wants me to do. On to other methods.

All But A Free Man

I am already starting to feel sweat forming on my forehead. No start menu, no computer icon. How the hell do I achieve anything!? I see a desktop, there are some pinned items on the task bar, but nothing that gets me anywhere. I asked her: "How do you do stuff? How do you browse the internet?". She replied, seemingly understanding my frustration, with "Just press the Windows key once.". That's it? That's it. Can't hurt to try.

Windows key pressed. Wham, a bitch slap in the face with a full screen overlay having all kinds of tiles filled with silly colours. I see the Internet Explorer icon she mentioned, but not what I was looking for. Control Panel, Control Panel.. no. Further to the right? Scrolling.. no. What the hell is going on? I'm five minutes in and throwing coins in the swear jar like there's no end. I like to cuss and yell at things if they don't work, but in company you can't. It's rude. I don't like being rude. So, keeping everything bundled up inside of me, on to the next step.

"What if I.. type something? Surely that would work?" — and it did! After a delay, it showed applications matching the characters I typed. Great, but now the Control Panel. So, I typed, Control. No joy. Why? Right, because it's not an application, it's part of the settings. It's the master of settings. The big chief. The boss. Would it be so simple as "Settings"? No. I jokingly typed "help" and, as if it was mocking me, showed the result where I could get help. Not the help I wanted, but, just throw something at the user, right? Haven't done that so far, so see if that works out. It doesn't, thank you very much.

Summarizing: so far I've tried to access the Control Panel with these methods (that sure as hell worked in Win7):

  1. Start Menu -> Control Panel. No joy.
  2. Right-clicking the Computer icon -> Properties -> Control Panel Home. No joy.
  3. Opening the tiles (Metro interface, it's called?) -> Typing "Control". No joy.

I'm behind the laptop, in rage. She thinks it's funny, I think I'm about to throw a fit and wish her luck and get out of there. I study IT, I work with computers over eight hours a day, with technology in general possibly even up to twelve. How. Can. I. Not. Know. This!? I finally cave and go with Windows Key + R, ' control ', and hit enter. Control. Panel. YES. We're getting somewhere! Programs and Features was quickly found, and in an instant it showed the installed applications and programs. Scrolling.. A.. D.. G.. M.. Microsoft.. Microsoft Offic--what? No Microsoft Office?

Windows 8? No thanks.

Bad Choices

ARE YOU F!@#ING KIDDING ME!? I WORK MY BUTT OFF TO GET THIS FAR ONLY TO FIND I REALLY AM NOWHERE!? Ahem. Right. No Microsoft Office. Okay. That's possible. Why? Perhaps she uninstalled it already, and forgot to mention it! Windows Key, hit up the keyboard, "Word". A result. Damn. It's still there. Now what!? Pressing Escape, I hit the Internet Explorer tile. Shivering with both fear and anger.

Default search engine is Bing? Not for me. But, let's use Bing to go to Google. Not that Google is something you should have deep feelings for, but I'd rather sleep next to Google than Bing. Even though Google is a lot like that crazy ex you had. You know, the one who stalked you? Story for another time, back to the topic at hand. Googling "Windows 8 uninstall Microsoft Office 2013 trial". The official Microsoft support site! Surely they have some information there laid out for me, right? They did!

Only not what I was expecting. They're prompting me to download a tool from their Fix it-sub site. Are. You. Shitting. Me. Right. Now!? To delete a stupid trial version of some stupid program I didn't even want in the first place, I need to download a stupid tool that stupidly deletes it for me? It's like.. Certainly looks like.. I DON'T EVEN HAVE A METAPHORE FOR THIS. Whatever, at this point, I've stopped resisting and just went with the flow. I've given up. Your move, Microsoft. Carry me. Please do. I am but your humble servant. I now realize that, my precious overlords.

Tool downloaded, tool in hand, tool running. "This may take a few minutes", it said. I timed. A little over 18 minutes.

Felt Like An Eternity

Whatever, almost twenty minutes have passed, and it's gone. It is finally gone. But why does it have to be such a hassle? Why can't Windows 8, by default, have the start menu? Why do I have to rely on a third party to do this for me? Windows 8.1 doesn't fix this. It adds a button, yes, but that only opens the tile screen. Sometimes change is good, sometimes change is bad. Twitter's changes? Good. YouTube's tiny changes? Bad. Steam's changes? Very good. Microsoft's changes? Very bad.

If this is the future of how desktop operating systems are going to be, I'm not interested. I'm afraid of what has come, and I'm afraid of what is going to come. The Windows formula (a task bar, start menu, tray bar, quick launch, desktop with icons) has worked well for over fifteen years. It is what everyone has gotten used to, and with a reason. Innovation is great, but in the spirit of "don't fix it if it isn't broken": think twice.

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