Since I first posted about running Windows 8 I have been working with it on all of my various laptop devices – with the exception of the one that has been running 8.1. In that time I have a few things I would like to update from my original post about Windows 8. In general, my original points are all still valid, though I would like to append and modify a few more to that list. Specifically I would like to talk about search, start menu, and the general functionality of Window 8/8.1.
The search feature has become a necessity for operating in operating systems. No longer is a desktop shortcut, taskbar icon, or even a menu selection enough. Maybe for those people who have one desktop they use every day those are fine options, but for me it is start->search that does the trick. I have icons for common files and applications, but there are just too many that I use day in and day out. So I search.
In Windows 8 the search key is Win-F. That works. You can find what you want. But there is something “wrong” there, or better, some things wrong. The first thing wrong is that when you search you don’t always get an answer. For example, do a Win-F and type in MSTSC. You get “no files are found”. But if you notice, there is a 1 under the Apps indicator, and if you click that then you can run the app you want. Sure – pick on my example, but I use search for many apps that I use often but not often enough to add to my taskbar – apps such as calc, mstsc, tsadmin.msc, services.msc… well, you get the point. Why two clicks? It may sound minor, and it is workable, but it is also annoying! Life has too many annoyances. I want search to find what I am looking for, not for it to ask me to look behind door number 2.
Also with Win-F on windows 8 you get the new screen effect. Most of my time on Windows 8 is spent in desktop mode. Win-F takes me “somewhere else”. Why? I don’t need to go somewhere else, and who knows, maybe I wanted to see my desktop AND search at the same time? Maybe I want to type while reading something off of an image? It happens. Besides, the transition away is just too much change. Not sure I can explain that better, but I am a “window” man, meaning I don’t do full screen. I like lots of overlapping windows. I don’t want everything I see to “go away”. It is annoying. Good news, though, this is better on Windows 8.1. But that isn’t the best solution.
You want a solution to the search woes? Windows 8.1, though it is better, is not the solution. The real solution is to use Classic Shell. You get a REAL start menu, and you also get app search back, just the way you wanted. Combine this with Windows 8.1 and you have both search capabilities. I have been running in this mode for a while. Classic Shell gives you a few other niceties such as boot to desktop for Win 8.0, so definitely worth building it in. In fact, with Classic Shell, I prefer Win 8.0 over Win 7. But that is a bit of a digression. Solve search woes, install Classic Shell, be happy.
Yes Windows 8.1 has a start menu, but it isn’t really a start menu. As I just said, you want a start menu, install Classic Shell. You can even pick your style of start menu. If you are one of those people who still like the XP style menu, it is there for you. I visit a lot of companies, work on a lot of machines, I know there are many of you who still prefer the XP start menu. Solution? Again, install Classic Shell. You can try the Win 8.1 start menu if you like, but I suspect you won’t be satisfied… even if you try it left handed (Princess Bride reference).
In the end Windows 8.x is great! This reminds me of a comedy skit done by Louis C K titled “Everything is amazing and nobody is happy”. If you went from Windows 3.1 to Windows 8.0 you would be blown away. The OS is fantastic. It works great. It is very stable. I have used it for over a year now and it is rock solid. Watch the skit, think of Win 8, and then you will be happy with this great OS.
And, if you haven’t tried it, really taken it home and tried it, you will be surprised to find out just how quickly Windows 8 and touchscreen become addictive.