Thursday, September 22, 2011

Features compromised in Windows 8

Last Updated: June 2012 – Updated for Release Preview. For RTM, Microsoft made some last minute removals such as Aero glass transparency and Desktop Gadgets. As I am no longer concerned about Windows 8, I have no plans to maintain an updated list of removed features of Windows 8 RTM.
I wrote the Wikipedia lists of features removed in Windows 7 and Vista articles for the most part. Because each point on Wikipedia requires a reliable source and I don’t feel the need to cite a source for what is the truth, I am focusing on writing this article on my blog instead.

Microsoft Windows has always been a platform that been has been the most backward compatible. We now have about 20-25 years of backward compatibility in Windows. This is what made Windows truly unique and special compared to Apple products or any other vendor for that matter. Apple continually removes features from their products to keep it simple – they don’t want to cater to power users who can effortlessly deal with the complexity – suddenly in some ‘upgrade’ of an Apple product, you lose far more than you gain. This very cruel and unacceptable idea of losing features must be stopped and as a consumer, it is your duty to just say no to removing features. For many many years, Microsoft did not remove much from Windows. This was true backward compatibility, not just of your programs, but also the features that ship with the OS. Most features were all intact up to Windows XP. Starting with Windows Vista, and again in Windows 7, MS has unnecessarily removed many features which they could just have left alone, beginning the tradition that Apple is infamous for. Now with Windows 8, this has taken a turn for the extreme worse.

There are many blogs that talk about what's new in Windows 8 without any objectivity on whether the system has actually improved or regressed, so here's a list of intentional or careless damages in Windows 8 (or features "simplified"). Apparently, Microsoft is not done secretly degrading Explorer, shell features and other parts of Windows in Windows Vista and in Windows 7. Expect Windows 9 to be even more dumbed down. Remember you can put a stop to this if you just say no to Windows 8. We don’t want Microsoft becoming like Apple.

I am not a luddite who likes sticking to old versions of software forever. In fact, I was an early adopter of Windows when migrations used to be smooth and all you had to do was to learn the new stuff. I have done a migration to Windows 7 realizing the importance of a more secure OS, even if none of my feature or usability issues were resolved by Microsoft, only some of them were fixed with great efforts from third parties. Microsoft never fixed them, they just blackmail you continually about XP support ending. Why should I just abandon the features that are there only on XP if they’re useful to me? XP was my idea because carelessly dropping features in this manner causes users a great deal of stress and pain, especially for businesses and power users. This is not just change and refusal to adapt to change. This is regressive change which causes loss of function due to poor quality control of User Experience at Microsoft.
Not many people know about what's gone in Windows 8 because Microsoft does all the damage silently, so please try to spread more awareness about this and let as many people know as you can about how dumbed down (“simplified”) Windows 8 is.

1. Degraded shell and user interface features:

●  Start Menu has been removed. Here's how the Start Menu was superior to the Start Screen:
- No full-screen requirement, it doesn't disturb your workflow and gets out of the way quickly
- Search does not return folder locations
- Search does not return Outlook content like emails etc
- Had quick access to shutdown commands
- Special folders 1 click away and expandable
- Expandable Recent documents
- Start Menu jump lists for pinning recent documents associated with that program
- Frequently used programs list
- Neatly organized All Programs list by folders
- Does not cover the Taskbar and the notification area
- Search results are in a single unified list of Programs, Files and Settings for easy up/down keyboard navigation but still neatly categorized
- Context menu options of our choice not present in Start screen. Whatever limited context menu actions Start Screen has are at the bottom of the screen which means more movement between the tile and the bottom actions
- No context menu options available at all for settings and files on the Start screen
- Launch multiple apps quickly by holding down Shift (Classic Start Menu in Windows XP and Vista had this ability)
- Less items fit on the screen at a time due to the large size which means more scrolling unnecessarily for keyboard and mouse users
- The hot corner has poor discoverability
Classic Shell’s Start Menu is the best replacement (I say this because it is fully customizable, not because I am involved in the project).

●  The menu bar and contextual command bar (toolbar) in Windows Explorer have been removed and replaced by the Ribbon. Here's how the Ribbon is far more inferior:
- Wastes vertical screen estate due to increased height
- Wastes horizontal screen estate by leaving empty space to the right of the commands on each Ribbon tab
- The earlier 'Command bar' (toolbar) of Explorer was contextual, it wasn't static, so all the commands were on a single row, yet had 1-click access, now the commands are at least 1 more click away, hidden in Ribbon tabs and more than 1-click away if you can't remember which Ribbon tab
- The File menu also showed context menu (right click) commands of shell extensions but the File button or the Ribbon tabs do not show these
- The Quick Access Toolbar's usability is poor because it uses 16 x 16 sized icons! (So much for a touch-friendly OS).
- The Ribbon requires a click to activate each tab unlike a menu which activates by 1 click and then you can move through all menus by hover. Thus, the mouse usability of the Ribbon is slower.
- Keyboard usability of the Ribbon is poor because in a menu, the first letter of any menu command or Alt+keyboard combination key is underlined and placed sequentially making it easier to read. On the Ribbon, the keyboard shortcuts aren't shown in a sequential row making them harder to read

Thankfully, the Ribbon can be disabled using Ribbon Disabler but before using it, note that it modifies ExplorerFrame.dll so it can cause untested behavior but so far it appears to work well.

●  The file copy conflict dialog removes one glance access to important file details like size and date which are necessary for the user to make a decision about whether to overwrite or skip. They are now hidden unnecessarily behind 1 additional click or keystroke. Even more additional clicks or keystrokes are required than Windows 7/Vista for UAC protected locations when copying multiple files. The “Snap To” mouse control panel feature is also broken for the new copy dialog.

●  File operations like Rename, Delete can no longer be undone for UAC-protected locations

●  Application installers or apps themselves can no longer programmatically configure, change or query file associations or set themselves during installation as the default for a file type or protocol! File type associations have to be and can only be configured manually by the user from Default Programs Control Panel! The Windows 7 Open With dialog already respected user choice. If a program was associated with a file type from the Open With dialog’s 'Always use the selected program to open this kind of file' option, there was no issue of programs taking over the user's file associations.

●  The Explorer metadata/property handler for some media file types is broken for network shares which means the Details pane won't show or edit those nice properties on network paths.

●  Some commands are missing on the Ribbon which were there on Explorer command bar like Compatibility Files, View Remote Printers etc and others for special folders and namespace extensions. They just forgot to add these to these commands!

●  The ability to boot directly to the desktop and not load the Metro components in memory is not there unless you use the solution by KNARZ (note that it resets the activation status). Items in various startup locations (Registry, startup folder etc) are all loaded with a delay of few seconds with no way to load them instantly.

●  The Lock screen is the place where you can now display custom background instead of the Logon screen, but unlike the Logon screen, there is no way to programmatically change or cycle through a group of images for the Lock screen background so you automatically see a different Lock screen image every time. It must be set manually by the user from PC settings on the Start screen.

●  Explorer status bar removes the ability to show important details. It is now a private undocumented control (DirectUI) so it also doesn't allow Explorer add-ons like Classic Shell to show information like free disk space, total size of items without selection, computer zone, infotip information as it could on a standard status bar control. Status bar being able to show important info just a glance away was a standard long-standing feature of Windows from Windows 95 to Windows 7.

●  Explorer: Ability to enable both Details pane and Preview pane simultaneously in Explorer for display of file metadata as well as preview, or, Details pane to be always shown and only the Preview pane toggled is gone.

●  Flip 3D (Win+Tab) is gone. Win+Tab includes a Metro-style switcher that is just like Alt+Tab, only places the thumbnails vertically. Also, it does not work when only desktop apps are running.

●  The "Compatibility" tab for an application's properties no longer includes 'Windows 2000' and 'Windows NT 4.0' modes. You will be forced to use Application Compatibility Toolkit to set these OS modes if you want to use a GUI. Otherwise, registry editing will now be required just to set compatibility mode for older OS!

●  The AutoPlay dialog removes the checkbox option to always open a particular program based on the file type.

●  The Open With dialog breaks the NoInternetOpenWith and NoFileAssociate Group Policies and is horribly designed. It is a Metro-style floating dialog that looks out of place on the desktop. Browsing for a program not listed in it with the redesigned Open With dialog is cumbersome.

2. Removed appearance and personalization features:

●  The location of the currently applied original wallpaper in a slideshow in no longer stored in a straightforward easily readable value in the registry. It is stored in a hex encoded value at HKCU\Control Panel\Desktop\TranscodedImageCache.

●  Aero Glass transparency is gone and the rich, glossy Aero look has been replaced with a flattened and ugly look. It appears the shader which was used for blur effect in Aero has been replaced by a solid color shader.

●  Advanced Appearance settings which let you adjust colors, sizes and fonts are removed. Although Windows themes and UI elements based on visual styles such as the Aero-based themes ignored some of these settings, some aspects of the visual style-based themes were still customizable with this dialog. To compensate the loss of all of these settings, the Display Control Panel allows changing about 10% of these such as the font sizes of some UI elements.

●  The Windows Basic and Classic themes have been removed. These were the only themes that fully respected the system colors and window metrics (which have also been removed as stated above). All themes are now based on Visual Styles.

●  Due to inability of Desktop Window Manager to be turned off, desktop themes that worked only with the legacy window manager (compositing=off) cannot be used.

●  Sound events for 'Exit Windows', 'Windows Logon' and 'Windows Logoff' are removed.

●  All sound schemes except Windows Default have been removed.

3. Dumbed down/removed Control Panel settings:

●  Windows Update settings for showing notifications and allowing all users to install updates have been removed. Windows Update no longer notifies with a balloon notification that there are new updates available.

●  Running Internet Explorer purely in 64-bit mode is not possible unless Enhanced Protected Mode is enabled which disables all addons. Otherwise, 64-bit IE10 opens 32-bit tabs.

●  Search option to use natural language search has been removed from Folder Options.

●  Global search option to not perform a recursive search initially and search only in the current folder without searching its subfolders has been removed. Search is always performed recursively and the Ribbon has an option to search only the current folder which must be activated each time.

●  Mouse control panel option to allow or disallow themes to change mouse pointers is removed from the GUI.

●  The ''Snap To'' mouse pointer option to move the pointer automatically to the ''default button'' in a dialog is broken on many re-designed system and application dialog boxes and windows in Windows 8 (e.g. the new file copy conflict dialog). The mouse pointer does not move or ''snap to'' the default button in several dialogs which are re-designed.

4. Dumbed down system behavior and administrative tools:

●  You thought the Task Manager is “improved” right? It is improved in certain aspects but it’s also missing far too many features of the old one. The old Task Manager has been completely removed! The new Task Manager is really the a good example of something which Microsoft claims to be “improved” but isn’t really 100% improved. It only looks nicer and attractive but it has serious issues and the old one should either have been kept or the new Task Manager’s design should have been backward compatible.

●  In a dual boot scenario, the ability to directly boot from a cold boot into another OS besides Windows 8 is slowed down because the new Windows 8 boot shell/loader reboots to load the other operating system.

●  Chkdsk when run at startup hides any information about file system repairs besides % complete. This screen with scanning and correction details is gone when Chkdsk runs at startup and replaced by just a “Scanning and repairing errors” message with % complete indicator.

●  Device Manager no longer shows Non-Plug and Play Drivers or non-present devices (devices for which drivers are installed but the device itself does not show until it’s connected/on). The "Devmgr_Show_NonPresent_Devices=1' environment variable has no effect.

●  Security Essentials settings for configuring default actions or real-time protection have been removed. (Security Essentials is now built-in as Windows Defender)

●  MSConfig's Startup tab has been killed and replaced by the Task Manager's Startup tab that doesn't have the 'Location' column which was useful for example to know if the process started from HKCU or HKLM.

●  Many useful tools have been removed from the Windows 8 SDK under the pretext of "obsolescence".

5. Removed and degraded Windows features and components:

●  Built-in (Microsoft provided) DVD playback in Windows Media Player will not be available on the Windows 8 platform even with addition of the Media Center Pack

●  Previous Versions for Shadow Copies is removed. The half-baked replacement is the File History feature which is only for certain file types (documents, music, videos and pictures) in Libraries, desktop and browser favorites. Previous Versions worked for any generic file type in any folder. File History does not even support EFS-encrypted files! File History is supposed to replace both "Previous Versions for Shadow Copies" as well as "Windows Backup and Restore" and it doesn't do 100% of either of the features it replaces! Typical Microsoft style "improvement".

●  Pen, Ink and Touch Input Desktop features which Windows 7 had, including the The Tablet Input Panel (TIP) are no longer included. Some buttons ('num', 'sym' and 'web) are removed from the Handwriting input panel and UI changes to it require more clicks for example to switch from handwriting to keyboard, or access the editing commands (join, split, delete). It is now touch-friendly but no longer stylus-friendly. Desktop tablet features are replaced by a dumbed down touch keyboard.

●  The dumbing down that comes with Internet Explorer 9 and later versions: no dedicated search box with proper search provider functionality, no page title, no progress bar, no privacy/cookie blocked icon, no indicator of Protected Mode and security zone, no status of page rendering errors, no free moving of toolbars, no completed MB for downloads (only %).

●  The "Always keep Windows Media Center on top" and "Start Windows Media Center when Windows starts" options have been removed from Media Center Settings.

●  Windows CardSpace is not installed even after installing .NET 3.0/3.5

●  People Near Me P2P API is removed

●  The good old Desktop games are gone (Can be restored if you know how - just hack the licensing mechanism and they will run)
  •  Chess Titans
  •  FreeCell
  •  Hearts
  •  Solitaire
  •  Spider Solitaire
  •  Minesweeper
  •  Mahjong Titans
  •  Purble Place

●  Windows Gadget Platform is removed because Microsoft wants you to use Windows Store Apps. The online Gadget Gallery hosting the gadgets has also been killed without any warning, even for Windows 7 and Windows Vista users.

●  Windows DVD Maker is removed

●  Windows Briefcase creation ability is gone from ‘New’ menu (Shell templates) - Can be restored with a simple registry edit

6. Removed and dumbed down networking features and options:

●  The ‘Manage Wireless Networks’ folder (shell:::{1fa9085f-25a2-489b-85d4-86326eedcd87}) that allowed users to set the preferred order of connections or change the wireless adapter for the wireless profile has been removed.

●  The 'Set Up a Connection or Network' wizard removes the options to create a wireless ad hoc connection or a Bluetooth PAN network.

●  Network Map feature and some network profile management UI (setting a network as Private, Public, customizing the network name and icon etc) from Network and Sharing Center is missing

●  Redialing options (redial attempts, time between attempts, idle threshold) for VPN, PPPoE, DSL and dial-up connections are removed. For PPPoE connections, the option to display progress while connecting and whether to include Windows logon domain are also removed.

●  View Available Networks (VAN) UI has been crippled with access to the most important dialog: the Network's Status dialog removed. The VAN UI now covers the notification area icons unnecessarily and the Metro look is out of place on the Aero desktop

●  The VAN UI in Windows 8 also does not display Virtual Wi-Fi (hosted wireless) connections when they are started.

●  The ability to create an ad-hoc wireless network connection has been removed.

●  The Wi-Fi toggle tile is removed from Windows Mobility Center.

7. Legacy features:

●  Protected Storage (PStore) which was the legacy read-only credential store is gone

●  Some Audio Compression Manager (ACM) components are broken resulting in the legacy ACM-based Sound Recorder being unable to do format conversion.

9. Features discontinued but present in Windows 8:

●  Windows 7’s File Backup and Restore and System Image Backup are deprecated. They are present in Windows 8 but may disappear in Windows 9. Again, the half-baked replacement is “File History”. Shell integration of Backup features is removed.

●  Media Center is being made available for this release “as is”. It will also be discontinued in future versions of Windows as Microsoft’s TV strategy moves to the next-generation Xbox console.

●  The command line tools, DiskPart.exe, DiskRAID.exe, and the Disk Management GUI are being deprecated and replaced by the WMIv2-based Windows Storage Management API with the Storage PowerShell command line utility. Dynamic Disks are being deprecated as part of this transition. (GUI for Disk Management deprecated and replaced by command line? - way to go!)
What do Windows XP users moving to Windows 8 lose?
They lose the above features plus all of these:
If you take lots of efforts and third party tools, almost all of the lost functionality from XP to Windows 7 can be restored.
Enough of it already, what else is gone? The trust about Microsoft that they will not remove what you use from the OS is gone. The faith that Microsoft understood GUIs and the importance of UI and feature compatibility is gone. This is not an exhaustive list. You never know what else may be missing. In the new Microsoft operating systems, features only last for few years and then disappear. You can never know what else is going to be killed off and when. They state the Start menu was removed because telemetry told them that people used the Start menu less!! I call it bullshit!! Their telemetry is wrong and cannot be relied upon!!
 
If you notice more features missing, removed, broken or degraded in Windows 8, you are welcome to notify me. Haven't discovered all the ways in which Microsoft has secretly damaged the OS yet. I am not against changes but notice how Microsoft tries to spin any change they make as “improved” when it’s not. The average user is clueless about what is a productive UI, what changes actually improve the workflow, what changes are regressive. The thinking is that any changes Microsoft has made must be for the better and if you complain about the changes made objectively, the idiots cannot see it.

The OS is severely degraded in many places and newer "replacements" are half-baked or completely absent. And of course the crimes Microsoft committed against power users in Vista and Windows 7 have yet to be officially fixed. It's like a cancer which started with Vista after the people who were proponents of backward compatible design left Microsoft. Their software just gets less and less configurable. They should be sued for not disclosing or documenting these anywhere and selling the OS as an "upgrade" to Windows 7. What is an "upgrade" if it randomly removes options and features from here and there? An upgrade does not mean significant loss of functionality. I wonder if there is a potential legal case against Microsoft for undisclosed removal of features. They are advertising Windows 8 as an "upgrade", not documenting these removed features anywhere and silently removing them, misleading the customer into buying a "downgraded" product.

Why did Microsoft remove so many features in Windows 8, you may ask. If you are a Windows 7 user, you are to blame for this. You upgraded to Windows 7 happily and didn't realize or bother to tell Microsoft not to remove features. Microsoft also removed a ton of features from Windows 7 and from Windows Vista and yet you ignored them or failed to realize that many Windows XP features were missing in Windows 7 and gave them your hard-earned cash. Abominations like these are yet not fixed in Windows 7 even after complaints by hundreds of thousands of users: a deterrent to anyone trying their best to upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7.

One possible explanation for going on such a huge feature removal spree once again like Vista might be that Microsoft now has to maintain codebases with similar feature-sets across x86 and ARM, so whatever they don't consider porting to ARM is chopped off from x86 too. Other stupid reasons are security, performance, less usage as shown by their stupid telemetry, time and resource constraints on maintaining the feature, to “simplify” it, for battery life reasons on mobile devices, or just because they lost interest in the feature even if people used it and decided not to invest any more into it. Whatever the reason, it results in an experience where the user has to make all sorts of compromises, which is just unacceptable. The decisions behind what feature to cut, what is extremely important and should remain are all being taken incorrectly since Vista.


Windows 8 is not a smooth Windows 7+added value product, it's a disruptive OS causing you to lose features in an "upgrade" all over again. They could have neatly added Metro and the whole WinRT API. Instead, they chose to severely and carelessly degrade many parts of the desktop yet again . It is another attempt at taking over your computer and Microsoft deciding everything about what's best for you. A powerful computer operating system is being reduced to an appliance-like toy OS. Sure you can adjust to the new half-baked Start screen, Ribbon or the new copy dialog, but if all of the UI changes in the OS are for the worse, because the UX team itself has no idea of what interface backward compatibility, usability and productivity means, why bother with the "upgrade"? They are just making changes for the sake of it and will continue to do so in the next release as well.

Maybe the US supreme court can issue an injunction to Microsoft to not secretly reduce the value of its software by sly methods like secretly removing features and then sell it as an "upgrade", especially because Microsoft is a monopoly and its partner ecosystem of planned obsolescence forces you to upgrade Windows operating systems eventually. So if you are a Microsoft customer in the US, sue them for removing essential features from an "upgrade" version because eventually you will be forced to abandon Windows 7 one day because of lack of drivers, security updates and general support from Microsoft.

One thing is for sure. The backward compatibility of Windows features no longer exists under the current management. It's thrown into the Recycle Bin. You can't tell really if a feature you invest in is going to disappear in the next version. Why invest at all in such a changing platform? If they can remove the Start Menu and deprecate Win32, they can do just about anything horrible merely to compete with and copy Apple.

I understand Microsoft's point of view. They want to simplify things for the average user, but how can engineering for the lowest common denominator be the right approach? Every single Windows customer does not want the "simplified" approach, businesses and power users certainly do not want a more dumbed down OS. Why not use the Windows editions to differentiate and make the Professional edition live up to its name?

If these removed features upset you as much as they upset me, and you agree that they are a deal breaker putting a halt to your upgrade plans, then it is time to start telling Microsoft actively to not remove features for whatsoever reason, and develop Windows like they used to before with total backward compatibility as the topmost priority. You should also encourage your friends to send this feedback to Microsoft and make them aware of how this is show-stopper.
Beginning with Windows Vista, Microsoft started including less functionality in some areas than previous versions of Windows, breaking a long held Microsoft tradition valid up to Windows XP. That trend has continued with Windows 7 and Windows 8 (worsened in fact). The Microsoft developers themselves have no clue how an advanced user may be using their OS, while they carelessly delete functionality.
Despite my issues with Windows, I will remain loyal to Microsoft, Windows XP for now, (and Windows 7 for some nice features), as their products have always given incredible value for money. It’s so sad that I can’t get all those features in one single release of Windows. I do not like products from Apple and I will never buy them - they have too short life cycles and remove features as well. Microsoft just needs to realize that they can deliver more bang for the buck, as they always did up to Windows XP, without any compromises in performance or intuitiveness.

I hope there are huge legal ramifications of what Microsoft did with Windows 8 for monopoly abuse as soon as the antitrust oversight ended. Some government, enterprise or their partners or anyone in authority legally forces Microsoft to stop removing features from Windows and forces the abusive monopoly to restore them - there should be an oversight over them so that features that a certain percentage of customers demand are not dropped, ignoring all feedback. Some day, users will forced to upgrade to Windows 8 or its derivatives. If not in the US, the EU has always seen through Microsoft's ways and I sincerely hope it teaches them a lesson. I hope there is some class action lawsuit against Microsoft for selling software with less features as an upgrade and then abusing the power of their monopoly to force us to use it by working with partners to cut off ecosystem support for the older version.

In what might be the last straw for tolerance, Microsoft has also added to its Windows 8 End User License Agreement (EULA), a clause that will prevent you and others from filing a class action lawsuit against them. They know they are committing evil acts by removing features and forcing the upgrade on you by obsoleting the older OS but the US law will now protect this abusive monopoly. For what Microsoft did to your PC with Windows 8, you should boycott Windows 8 and other Microsoft products on tablets and phones as well. Don't choose Microsoft. Given that Windows is so ubiquitous, maybe Microsoft should no longer be its sole developer. Governments should be involved and appoint technical experts who audit and mandate what feature absolutely stays.

With Windows 8, Microsoft has stopped caring about enthusiasts and power users. They only develop products for the masses, who will, I think, happily upgrade and find nothing wrong with the product as long as it gets the job done. Most people don't care about advanced features, or about the product being perfect, or usability, productivity, backward compatible design or any of the issues I complain about. Although you should, if you happen to be reading this and vote with your wallet and not upgrade.

Instead of just getting along with Windows 8, if you refuse to accept Windows 8 as it is, not upgrade to it and tell Microsoft clearly that you will not tolerate any loss of features, that is the only way to let the evil monopoly know that customer is king. The “no compromise” marketing is a big, fat lie.

Now, think for a moment of Windows 8 as an operating system only for fun and games, and not a serious work environment. It suddenly has value. It’s exciting, the Apps are going to be fun. But they could have designed it without harming the desktop. You should resist the temptation to enjoy “Apps” if you want your un-crippled work environment back. If you must have Apps, go for Apple or Android. Just say no to removing features.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great posting. I have been a sysadmin for over 15 years and I am just now getting into W7. We have been "forced" into W7 since MS makes XP virtually impossible to get on a new system. Ihave spent countless hours hunting fixes for all the broken or missing items in W7 that were in XP.

Too bad too many think W7 is better, XP is far superior to W7 for admin purposes. I can easily do many things on an XP system that are virtually impossible with a similar W7 box.

I like the list of possible fixes, as I have already incorporated many into my W7 work folder. I spend almost a day "patching" each W7 box just to get it to the same point our XP systems are.

Keep up the good work and hopefully more will realize W7, and it looks like W8, are junk. You pay more and gete less.

Noel Carboni said...

Great list, xpclient. Well done.

Unfortunately, far too few people realize the extent of the feature backsliding, and even when it is pointed out to them they seem to shrug it off. I mean Backup & Restore deprecated? Really?

Some folks even seem to be starry-eyed by all the colored boxes of the new Start screen - I still haven't figured that out completely. Maybe they're just imagining being able to play games over on the Metro side all day instead of getting work done.

Will we be able, with the help of guides such as my book and great 3rd party tools like ClassicShell, to bring Windows 8 into a state where it can be useful for getting things done? Probably - this one last time.

It's just so darned disturbing to see Microsoft now being so attracted, as a moth to the candle light of toys (portable electronic devices), that they are actively decommissioning Windows as a serious computer OS. What's in the future? Will Windows 9 be better? Time will tell.

I'm glad you took on the creation of this list. Keep up the good work.

-Noel

James Eadon said...

With Linux you do not get this downgrading effect. Even if they screw up a window manager there are distros that will fix it. e.g. Ubuntu vs Linux Mint.
Thanks for a great article, v impressive, if a bit worrying that anyone would be that deeply into windows, a flawed OS (yes even XP).

xpclient said...

@James Eadon, In my own experience, I have found Linux desktop environments to have very poor usability, far worse than any version of Windows. And the experience keeps changing for most distros every 6 months. Certainly not something I want to deal with. Note that I am not denying the fact that Windows 8 or Windows 7 (or even Vista for that matter) bring a host of improvements to Windows. In many areas, they are far superior, the improvements outweigh the regressions. But because of innumerable bad decisions by the User Experience team, the usability is simply horrible. I personally wouldn't want to upgrade to an OS with inferior usability, unless I am absolutely forced to.

Xavier Flix said...

Great article.
I'm looking forward to your comments on the upcoming Win8/beta release.

Mark said...

Thanks for the post! It was disconcerting looking at all the changes like that. I disagree that all of them are bad things, and my guess is that newer apps will replace many lost features like backup - however I wish that Microsoft would issue a recommended solution for features that no longer are available. I currently use MS Backup and Restore for my home computers - what is their recommended solution for me?

I hope you continue to enhance this page with the new info from CP as well as domain-attached items.

@Markiz - while the user experience is indeed of primary importance to most people, supportability is also important and Windows7 introduced many challenges that did not exist in XP. Try modifying the default user profile in Win7. Try fully locking down Win7 using a Server2003 domain. Try forcibly preventing Win7 wireless networking from connecting to non-corporate networks. Try using multicast AIK for rollouts rather than simple host and Ghostwalk-like tools. Etc.

Anonymous said...

One word says it all: "Ribbon" Worst MS idea in history, and testimony to MS's dumbing down of the useful features for power-users.

Chris Anderson said...

Good article! Very comprehensive list. Some of these I noticed - other ones are 'meh' but one man's pedantic note is another man's critical feature. Jumped the shark a bit with 'Supreme Court issuing an injunction'... I wonder how it will end up. I worked with people for a few years after Office 2007 came out who insisting on having some add-in installed that would disable the ribbon for the the old 'menu' system... But now we can't imagine doing what we do in Word or Excel without the ribbon.

Anonymous said...

One thing I didn't see on this list is the constant communication with Microsoft in the name of Security and hardware compatibility.Installing updates and installing drivers automatically.Big Brother is here.Windows defender doesn't like a program you install can remove it and deem it as malware.I know that your blog was about whats missing but i think something needs to be said about the control W8 now has.

Luis E Valencia said...

Windows 8 is amazing I love it, but yes, the start button on the deskop??

It should be there.

So the user can be free to open applications via the start screen or the start button.

Mark said...

Another small (but important to me) item in explorer, the ability to select custom size tiles is gone. Want a display size between "large" and "extra large"? not any longer

Mark said...

Although it is app oriented rather than OS-only, I think it is important to note that the built-in backup feature (file history) will ONLY backup libraries - if you store a file in a different location it will not be backed up unless you create a new library. (also, it only backs up the logged in users libraries. if you attach remotely and copy files in - no backups until you log in)

Note also that the built-in mail app assumes that all mail is stored in the cloud and caches the local copy of mail in a non-backed up location.

Android and Tech Talk said...

Great list. That's a big list of things dumbed down for the more simple minded audience, with no regards to the power user. But that's how it is now. Everyone is moving to please the majority and hence ruining things. iOS, Windows Phone, now Windows 8, great examples of dumbing down things for the public and in turn down dumbing down functionality and choice as well.
Unless Windows 8 provides some noticeable performance gains over Windows 7, I will keep using Windows 7.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing, I will bookmark and be back again

Paul Coddington said...

The CHKDSK one is really scary. In previous versions of Windows, CHKDSK reports a successful repair when disaster strikes, even when the progress report reveals files are being trashed by the thousand. Is this new policy of displaying only % progress going to result in lost data?

And given that there are pretty well no 3rd party backup programs which cope with all scenarios (many can't even handle Unicode file names let alone junctions and hard links!), the loss of proper backup features is inexcusable (XP was the last Windows to have a fully featured backup program).

Anonymous said...

hmm..perhaps this is why win 8 become faster.... (''removing'' at once) :D

Anonymous said...

The crazy "Microsoft Account" for login credential breaks Windows File Sharing authentication.

Previously, you duplicate your local accounts and passwords on all the PCs on your LAN (workgroup network), and then you do not need to type in your username & password to share your files.

Switch to a Microsoft Account on Windows 8, and you will not see the other PCs in the Network folder.

Try it for yourselves: create an account "MeTest" on all your PCs. On the Win8 PC when MeTest is a local account, MeTest can see other PCs on the LAN. Switch MeTest to a MS account and it cannot.

Joe said...

Windows 8 is GARBAGE! I just bought a laptop, and ALL computers (desktops included) were all loaded with Windows 8...Luckily I still have licenses for Vista, 7, and XP...I'll be wiping the drive on my BRAND NEW laptop, and doing a fresh install on it.....JUNK!

Srećko said...

Installation of Stardock’s Start8 and ModernMix (each: 5 bucks) significantly, if not dramatically improves this shameful operating system, its usability and user interface.

Gaurav Kale said...

As does my Classic Shell project which is far more customizable than Start8. :)

Gufo della Notte said...

Another big issue is that Microsoft forced BIOS vendors to remove all info from startup screens (under threat of withholding Win 8 certification). This means 'modern' BIOSes boot to a completely black screen without any information whatsoever, not even "" or something like that. To find out which key opens the setup you have to hunt down the printed documentation for the computer, and then you have to boot five to ten times hammering that key constantly until you manage to hit the tiny window of time where the BIOS listens for the key (simply holding the key doesn't work because it makes the BIOS, (sorry, UEFI) think that the keyboard is stuck).

There are other options for that (like booting into the recovery console and using the BIOS setup option there) but nothing on the screen tells you about those options either.

Last but not least, there must be a way to activate the boot manager instead of booting straight into Windows but there is nothing on screen (nor in the printed documentation) to tell what the hotkey for the boot manager might be...

Harv and Nancy said...

How long before "patching" a new, dumbed down windows OS with 3rd party products is more trouble than using a different OS? Which non-windows OS do you think will step into that role?

Sherlock Wesker said...

Thanks for your posts, I've been reading your ALL blog posts for weeks and I'm shocked for the features we lost since XP, that's absolutely INCREDIBLE! Without your invaluable help I cannot see the EVIL within M$... OMG! I WAS blind but not now, but clearly M$ WAS and still IS, intentionally or unintentionally. (just look at the latest Windows 8.1 update 1)

And I'm a Windows lover as you are, using Windows for nearly two decades, but I've never been such angry about M$ when I read your blog cuz the deterioration is so severe! The experience of the whole NT 6 is incomparable when compared to XP, which is the outstanding example of NT 5 you know.

Now that XP has been retired in the end, where should we power user go? 3rd party software is more or less a compromise, but sometimes it's a must. I do not into Apple's either, and I use Linux distros for writing code, but not for everyday or non-dev use for some reason, even if IMHO Ubuntu Unity is cool, kinda at least :)

Thanks again for revealing some truth about M$ and new Windows.

Gaurav Kale said...

Unfortunately, I don't have an answer to your question as to what OS to use since I am myself struggling to adapt to Microsoft's "improved" systems. I will keep Windows XP around for eternity on at least one of my main PCs. I use a standard user account and install SuRun (http://sourceforge.net/projects/surun/) on XP computers to elevate to admin to install something. Also, install a good anti-malware and firewall and use Microsoft EMET to enable memory protections for more processes. If you don't run as admin most of the risks of continuing to use XP get eliminated. Don't download and run unknown EXEs and use an actively maintained, secure browser like Firefox or Chrome. Avoid IE8 on XP.