Up to this point, after some initial bad impressions trying Windows 8 briefly, I have avoided it like the plague. However, my son needed a new laptop and the only ones that really met our requirements only came in Windows 8 flavors, so we bought one.
What an awful mess. The system boots up into a tiled mess that looks like some cheesy website covered in moving gifs and viagra ads. To make matters worse, nothing on this tablet-based interface is organized at all logically. The interface is like the room of an ADD child that dropped all of his toys and books in random spots. I am sure these tiles have some sort of navigation paradigm, but it is completely different from any used in past windows versions. I could not, for example, figure out how to easily exit the store except to alt-tab out (there is no exit or quit option and right-click context menus which are one of the great advantages of windows over mac don't seem to work a lot of the time). Again, I am sure there is some way to do it, but I have no idea what it is and no desire to learn new navigation commands. Perhaps Microsoft intends that one use a gamepad instead of a mouse -- I would not be surprised at this point.
Unlike older versions of windows, windows update did not run automatically at first bootup. I knew from past experience there were likely dozens of security patches I needed to install right away. I hunted for quite a while just to find the windows control panel (so I could run windows update). It was buried in a sub-menu of a toolbar on the right side of the screen that only pops up if you find a tiny (unmarked) spot in the corner of the screen with your mouse. It amazes me that anyone thought replacing the start button with an unmarked spot on the screen was a good idea.
Of course, the control panel is called something entirely different now, but I did eventually find windows update and there were, as expected, over 70 security patches that needed to be installed. But for some reason they would not download immediately, but kept giving me a message that they would be downloaded at some future indeterminate date. I finally found a way to force them to download.
My next step was to get rid of the stupid application tile interface and get the computer to boot directly to desktop and get the old start button back. This requires a free upgrade to windows 8.1, but there is no obvious way to do this, even through windows update. I finally had to search the internet to find the link. This sent me into the windows 8 app store. What a total mess that is! If anything, it is more poorly organized than the Apple app store. Like the Apple store, it seems aimed at people who want to browse applications virtually at random rather than find something specific. Incredibly, there is no search function. Yes, I know, I have to be wrong about that, but I scrolled all over that damn storefront and cannot find a search box.
So I cannot actually find the Windows 8.1 upgrade. The web site tells me that I should be presented with a prominent option to download it in the store, but I am not. It is nowhere to be found. I found an FAQ somewhere that suggested that I would not be offered the 8.1 upgrade if my 8.0 installation is missing certain patches, so I am going back to windows update to see if there is something I am still missing.
I was wrong about windows 8 -- I once wrote it was bad but perhaps not as bad as Vista or ME. But it is. This is the worst thing I have ever seen come out of Microsoft. It is inexplicable that this company with such a strong market share in the business world could saddle its flagship OS with an interface more appropriate to an XBOX.
In the past, I have said that I would not want a desktop with a tablet interface. But at the end of the day, I would not want a tablet with this interface. Perhaps with hours of work, I will make this computer usable. Who would have ever thought I would have longed for the day when I had to spend an hour with a new computer removing bloatware. Now I have to spend a day trying to emulate the windows 7 experience on windows 8.
People have developed many hypotheses for the lingering recession. Some say it was too small a stimulus. Some blame the sequester. I blame the Windows 8 launch, which I think has a lot to do with suppressing PC sales and thus much of the electronics and retailing sector.