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8 days with Windows 8

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So its been a full 8 days that I’ve wholeheartedly moved over to Windows 8, the Mac barely gets booted, the only thing on there now is my business documents and calendar entries. I’ll have to see about migrating iCal to the built-in Windows calendar which I’m guessing is live.com’s calendar app. So far its, well its a little bit of a disappointment compared to what I thought it would be, just a little though.  I was expecting Windows 8 to be something fantastic, whereas its just quite good with a few really annoying features/oversights/craziness.

Windows 8 – the bad parts

I think its going to take me a few months to get used to all the new Windows 8 keyboard shortcuts.  Some of which are just plain crazy. Why on earth Win+Q is the shortcut for search which also appears to have the shortcut Win+F.  Win+Q should be quit rather than relying on ALT+F4. Win+S, which is isn’t mapped (or maybe its just mapped to “produce the error noise”), would be a much better choice for search.  I’m guessing the keyboard mapping was decided with an office-wide “pin the tail on the donkey”-style competition. Once in the search, if you’re looking for apps you have to now switch between which type of search – why?  Why can’t the default be to search all?  I didn’t really piece together until today that the Windows Update required me to use the Settings search rather than the Apps.  Windows Defender on the other hand comes up in the Apps, but they both live in the control panel? Its just a little bit rubbish. The onscreen keyboard toolbar icon keeps re-appearing even though I remove it, I’ve just given up and it can now sit in on the toolbar not getting used. Then there’s the split screen for the new interface apps. Formerly known as Metro before “ze Germans” decided people would get confused between a wholesale company and the Windows 8 operating system so threatened legal action. I often make the mistake of claiming that I’m off to Fedora to get some milk as we’re running low only to realise I meant ASDA. Don’t tell Wall-mart though or they’ll try to sue the Fedora people.  Anyway, back from my crazy ramblings, where were we, split screen.  I understand (well, guessed) the small area means a shared resolution between desktop and mobile platforms, but why can’t the split also grow to be half and half? Again, annoying.

The rest of Windows 8

So I’ve only listed the bad parts.  The thing is, they’re the only negatives, the rest of the OS feels quite nice. Everyone else is reviewing the good bits and making videos which are a far better way to judge the OS than reading my incoherent babbling. Its well thought out and so far pretty stable.  I’ve made a little powershell script to show me reliability statistics and so far so good.  The only failures are Apache and Netbeans, Apache failed due to a known bug which I’ve fixed by upgrading it and I unceremoniously dumped Netbeans half way through doing something CPU intensive. I’m really liking powershell, I’ve embraced it this last week over the regular command prompt and wish I’d done so back when I played with Windows 7.  So much more powerful and access to .net objects is pretty fantastic for a .net programmer, even if I am one of those evil corporate programmers (mwah ha haa).

On the whole I’d suggest an upgrade to Windows 8 Pro now while its still £24.99.  You can even do a clean install. Hell, I managed to install with a dual boot for ASDA, Fedora, I mean Fedora… and the crazy way I went about it worked. By crazy I mean I wiped the previous Windows install by formatting it before trying the upgrade/install to give me a truly clean start. Not only did it work but it spared my MBR (first time ever) so I kept my dual boot. Happy days! (cue the song and picture Fonzie combing his back hair while surrounded by college girls). I did need to let grub update itself before I could actually boot into Windows 8 without modifying the boot parameters from the edit screen. I was tempted to keep this manual override as it was a little bit “techie cool” but got to be annoying after the 3rd start. I’m really not sure why I didn’t have to patch the registry before the install completed? With a blank disk, I thought I’d have to frig the install (cough MediaBootInstall cough).  Just in case you are wondering, I have a proper windows license so the upgrade wasn’t “dodgy”, I just wanted a pure, clean install. One last thing, I’d quite like to see the date/time panel appear in the big blank space above the apps on the start screen.  Windows 8 Service Pack 1 can sort all that stuff out though (please Captain Ballmer, make it so) 🙂

Quick update – Calendar import

I imported my calendars over from the Mac and everything seemed to be fine on the live.com website, over in the calendar app on Windows 8 though everything was anything but.  The built-in calendar can’t cope with weekly or bi-weekly recurring entries.  You can add your own weekly entries but try to import them via the live.com website and it doesn’t play ball. You have no hope what so ever of adding an entry every other Wednesday though.  How am I supposed to know which week is recycling week – is someone from Microsoft going to call me on Wednesday evening to tell me “don’t forget, put out the recycling this week”.

Seriously, 2012 and this is the calendar app that ships with Windows 8 Pro, what a huge disappointment! The only positive aspect of it is that I’m considering writing my own calendar app to replace it, that’ll look nice on my CV. Its like delivering a Porsche with steel wheels on, what were you thinking Microsoft? What the ffffffiddle?