Windows 8 Redux: I’m deferring using it in production mode

win8screenOk, I gave it my best shot. I don’t think Microsoft Windows 8 is ready for me to use either as a primary computer or in a ‘production mode’. In many ways it is better than Windows 7, but it still carries many of the same problems of stability and reliability that I have with Windows 7, plus I see new, Windows 8-only bugs.

Most recently, a disk usage problem cropped up where Windows would use 100% of disk usage for no good reason for long stretches of time. This would slow down everything to the point of total frustration. Searching online found several possible solutions, none of which worked. And I looked long and hard, both on various expert computer forums and within Microsoft’s support site. Microsoft’s help is, as has been my previous experience, nearly useless. The solutions they propose online were stock stuff that had nothing to do with this problem. I think this is a bug in Windows 8, and Microsoft appears mum about either fessing up to it, or what they are doing (or going to do) about it.

I pride myself on being able to dig in and find solutions even when other computer professionals give up, but this problem is just too nasty, even for me. So I’m giving up for now. I’ve already read reams of discussion about this, and heard from lots of folks who had a solution for their particular situation, but none of that works reliably for all situations, and none of it worked for me. I have to move on and get back to work.

To give Windows 8 a fair shake, I did try to be objective in testing the new operating system. As a computer professional, I have three ‘production’ computers that I use regularly. I took one of these and upgraded to Windows 8 with a new, blank hard drive and a clean install, and set it up from scratch with all my usual programs, such as MS Office 2010, Adobe CS6 (subscription model), the five major web browsers (IE, Chrome, Firefox, Opera and Safari) and various other tools of my trade. On this computer, I only installed commercial software, nothing that any other consumer would’nt use. The computer I chose happens to have a touch-screen, and in part I chose that so that I could test out the new Metro interface and various touch options of Windows 8 – to see if and how that might help my productivity. But I found that I spent 99.9% of my time on the standard desktop in Windows 7-style programs where touch isn’t very useful. In fact, touch was an annoyance often, and anytime someone was physically pointing something out to me on-screen.

The first few months it seemed the system was flakey, as Windows 8 really didn’t settle down till there’d been a number of updates applied. I found lots of times in the early days where restarts would hang forever, where apps would stop responding for minutes at a time (even Microsoft’s own), and where performance would be abysmal. I kept charging on, and along about February of 2013, Microsoft must have issued an update that fixed most of those horrible problems. So I chalked it up to early release issues.

From March to April, the computer ran more or less ok. Not stellar, but reasonably well. Then in early May, this disk usage problem started cropping up. I dealt with it as long as I could. But just last week I gave up and reverted back to Windows 7.


Windows-8-1Microsoft announced that Windows 8.1 will start beta testing in a few weeks, and hopefully be released as a free update to Windows 8 in the fall of 2013. Normally, I’d be in the mix of testing it out, but I think I’ll wait a bit. Windows 8.1 should be akin to Microsoft’s usual Service Pack 1, but I don’t know anymore. Microsoft seems desperate to keep from losing more ground to others, notably Apple and Google. So rather than fix things, they may be pushing to simply add more ‘features’ whether we want them or not. I find the Metro interface nearly useless for productive work, and a real hinderance to normal desktop use. Perhaps one day there will be productivity programs I’ll use that are well-designed for the touch-screen, but I don’t see them yet, nor expect to see them anytime soon.

If you already have a computer with Windows 8, you’re going to want Windows 8.1 regardless, simply because they have to fix some things that are broken (like the aforementioned 100% disk usage problem). And the days are nearly over where you can still buy a PC with Windows 7, although some retailers are still offering a ‘downgrade’ option. If I were in the market for a new PC between now and the fall, I’d opt for that. Or put off buying a new computer till at least a few months after Windows 8.1 has been out after again surveying the reaction from other users.

mac_osx8Perhaps when I get over my frustration factor, I’ll set up another PC with Windows 8 and beta test the 8.1 update. But never again any PC which I’m using for any real work where I can’t afford for it to be marginally functional. In my opinion, Microsoft’s strategy has backfired for me, pushing me towards the Mac OS X world. And my understanding of the normal computer use for most people, they would/should either go with a tablet or go to a Mac. I haven’t given any Windows 8 tablets a fair shake yet, so I’ll withhold judgement on them versus the excellent but expensive Apple iPad – which I use every day for general web surfing and casual email.

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