Fighting with Windows 8

, posted: 25-Nov-2012 11:43

Getting used to Windows 8 means learning new ways of doing familiar things. This is fine, provided there's a benefit to be had but unfortunately, Microsoft has made some mystifying choices in Windows 8 that add complexity and effort to completing tasks, instead of the opposite.

For instance, I like the ability to use keyboard shortcuts and the ability to start typing a program or file name in Windows 8 to locate it instead of playing the find-the-tile horizontal scroll-o-rama game.

The search function in Windows 8 is fast and comprehensive, but defaults to looking in the Apps section. If you look for Windows tools like Device Manager or Windows Update, the search function should have enough smarts to show them in the left-hand side pane, instead of saying "No apps match your search".

Search has in fact found Device Manager but as it's in Settings it won't show up to the left unless you select that area instead of Apps. I have no idea why this is considered the right way to display search results in Windows 8.

Strangely enough, if you search for Control Panel, it shows up all right, but not the applets in it.

While in Control Panel let's say you want to add an Admin user like you would in Windows 7.

That's not how it's done Windows 8: you have to use the Metro-style PC Settings to add users instead.

OK, so you add the user and then discover there's no way to promote the account to Administrator. This is done in the stripped-down Control Panel applet mentioned above which also has other user management functions. I imagine the change is done to discourage the creation of Admin users, for security reasons. Nevertheless, could user management not be done in one single place?

Oh, and futzing around with settings reveals that Windows 8 only seems half-aware of hardware keyboards. You notice this as you get password and other input fields that bring up the large on-screen keyboard even though the hardware one is active at the moment.

Next, I wanted to play the horrendously addictive Wordament game, available from the App store for free. Don't install it, as you won't be able to stop playing it.

Even though I was logged in with my Microsoft account which is tied in with my Xbox one, Wordament said it had to log into the Xbox service. Fine, do that. Except it timed out after a minute or so with a "we're not sure what went wrong" error message and I was told to sign on via the website.

Right, click and the Win8 style version of Internet Explorer starts up and you go to

Wait. "The site uses add-ons that require Internet Explorer on the desktop."

Screenshot Win8

At this stage, any normal person would get a bit hot under the collar and mutter some nasty words in Redmond's general direction. Not me though. I fired up Internet Explorer on the desktop and logged in to and finally, I could play Wordament. Having to jump through multiple hoops just to play a game didn't try my patience at all.

The reason this is happening is due to Microsoft being on a mission to make the web a plug-in free zone. Not all parts of the company read the memo though. Microsoft's Office 365 site pops up the same message.

Now, this isn't Microsoft's fault (I think) but Google Chrome on Windows 8 touch-enabled PC doesn't work very well. The device I'm using has a hi-res, 1,920 by 1,080 pixel 11.6" screen so in Desktop mode, things are really small and hard to hit with big fingers. Using the default 125 per cent scaling helps but some things need to be even bigger to work for touch. Unfortunately, scaling to 150 per cent puts screen elements out of whack - and Windows 8 warns you this will happen.

Not being able to scale screen element on hi-res displays isn't as bad as it seems because in IE10 I can pinch-zoom to make things bigger and smaller.

Chrome however doesn't understand that gesture in Desktop or Windows 8 modes yet. Voice chats and hangouts don't seem to work either but Google says it's working on those issues. Muh.

One thing I miss while in Desktop mode is the ability to start typing to search the computer, as you can while in Windows 8/Metro mode. I'd happily trade the Win8 swipe from top of the screen to the bottom method of closing programs, which works badly on big, vertical touch displays, to be able to search by typing in Desktop mode.

Other related posts:
The Windows Phone 7.5 bouncing tiles bug
Windows Live Essentials betas seem good, but oh so flaky
Today’s incomprehensible Windows security warning

comments powered by Disqus


Google News search
IT News
PC World New Zealand
Computerworld NZ
PC World and Computerworld Australia
PC World US
Computerworld US
NZ Herald
Virus Bulletin

Content copyright © Juha Saarinen. If you wish to use the content of my blog on your site, please contact me for details. I'm usually happy to share my material as long as it's not for spamblogs and content farms. Please attribute with a link back to this blog. If you wish to advertise on my blog, please drop me an email to discuss the details.
Comments policy All comments posted on this blog are the copyright and responsibility of the submitters in question. Comments commercial and promotional in nature are not allowed. Please ensure that your comments are on topic and refrain from making personal remarks.