Why I hate Windows 8 (airing of grievances)

A Microsoft Surface 2 running the Windows RT variant of Windows 8.1 (photo via Microsoft)

On Friday, Mozilla announced that it is axing the modern UI version of Firefox for Windows 8 even before it was officially released. Part of the reason was no doubt the number of users. Johnathan Nightingale, Firefox’s Vice President said the company hasn’t seen more than 1,000 regular daily users for that particular version, that’s compared to the millions that test the prerelease desktop versions of Firefox.

Even though it is a competitor to Microsoft’s own Internet Explorer, Mozilla’s abandonment of the modern UI must be a big blow to Microsoft considering the sheer magnitude of the Firefox brand. Mozilla isn’t the only one shunning the modern environment; Apple hasn’t bothered to port its ubiquitous iTunes software to it either. Actually, now that I think about it, I can’t recall Apple even addressing the Windows 8 modern UI at all.

I think Mozilla and Apple (and pretty much everyone else) have good reason to avoid the modern environment. It’s unintuitive, jarring and an all around pain to deal with. Today, I’m going to pretend that it is Festivus and air my grievances with Windows 8. I’ve compiled my beef with the operating system below, and here’s hoping the next major version of Windows gets rid of the modern environment or at least fundamentally rethinks it.

Start screen issues:
  • Going back and forth from the Start screen and the desktop is jarring (This is mostly because of the radical UI differences between the modern environment and the desktop.)

    The Windows 8 Start screen (Image via Microsoft)

  • The Start screen takes up the entire screen for no good reason (In Windows 7 the Start menu was much more functional using much less screen real estate.)
  • When the Start screen’s live tile notifications take off, they’re gone until they choose to show up again (The user has no way of manually controlling them.)
  • Since Windows 8 did away with the Start menu, Control Panel and Run are particularly hard to find (In Windows 8, a right-click in the bottom left corner of the desktop brings up a menu with the option to run both Control Panel and Run.)
  • When you click your user name and account picture in the top right corner of the Start menu, you find the absolutely random options to lock the computer and switch users

    The Start screen with the Semantic Zoom feature enabled (Image via Microsoft)

  • Apps on the Start screen don’t all have live tiles or even the same options for tile sizes, leaving the Start screen looking like an awkward mismatch at times
  • The desktop apps look particularly out of place on the Start screen (almost as if they were not installed properly)
  • Windows 8 hides the option to view all applications [It’s the arrow pointing down in the bottom left corner on the Start screen, however this was kinda addressed in Windows 8.1.]
  • The Start screen does not bring the most recent programs to the forefront as the Start menu did (Windows 8.1 kinda solved this problem. If you go to the all applications view on the Start screen, you can select variations on how to sort through the programs on your computer.)
The modern apps debacle:
  • Modern apps have very limited options when it comes to multitasking, they take up the full screen, 1/3 or 2/3 of the screen (you were given a few more options in Windows 8.1), there’s also no windowed option for modern apps (without third-party software)

    The Wikipedia modern UI app snapped next to the desktop (Image via Wikimedia)

  • Modern apps often hide many of their functions (some require an unintuitive right-click/swipe up to see them or some functions are hidden in the Charms Bar’s Settings)
  • The right-click has two different functions depending if you’re in desktop or modern mode
  • The selection and quality of Windows Store apps are mediocre compared to iOS and Android

    Humm which one is legit? I'm thinking none considering all the hullabaloo after the developer pulled the app

    Humm which one is legit? I’m thinking none considering all the hullabaloo after the developer pulled the app

  • Windows Store is filled with deceptive apps that look like they’re official games, or apps for companies, channels or websites but are actually made by some random guy
  • The taskbar can’t house modern UI apps without third-party software (Apparently that feature is coming soon in an update.)
  • Many developers can’t seem to get the hang of the modern UI leading to barren looking, unintuitive apps
  • The modern UI doesn’t even have a name (Microsoft called it Metro but abandoned that name.)
  • The modern UI versions of Dropbox, Evernote and even most of own Microsoft’s apps have lost a lot of their functionality to the point that they’re unusable compared to their desktop versions
The Charms Bar nightmare:

The infamous Charms Bar

The  Charms Bar

  • The Charms Bar is useless and for simplicity’s sake most of the commands it houses should be integrated into specific applications or elsewhere in the OS
  • The options to turn off your computer and restart it are randomly hidden in the Charm Bar’s Settings
  • The Charms Bar’s Search and Settings control both the app you’re using and the OS at the same time making it somewhat unclear what you’re getting when you select them
  • There’s another random Start button for seemingly no good reason in the Charms Bar despite there being several other far easier ways to access the Start screen
  • Sharing is next to useless in modern UI apps and it’s even more useless on the desktop
  • Devices is another next to useless option
Random catastrophes:
  • Windows 8 did not boot to the desktop (Thankfully that was fixed in Windows 8.1.)
  • Despite that Xbox was synonymous with video games, Windows 8 randomly uses the brand for things like music and videos

    The virtual keyboard in Windows 8 (Image via Microsoft)

  • The virtual keyboard takes time getting used to and doesn’t appear to work that well (I used it through my iPad but it may work a bit better natively.)
  • The lock screen and the user accounts screen that follows it could be merged to save the user time
  • The Calendar app lost the ability to sync with Google Calendar
  • The gestures are rather hard to get used to, particularly the unintuitive one for closing an app
  • Windows 8 treats trackpads like touch screens which is problematic when your finger is on the side of the trackpadand it accidentally activates the Charm Bar or takes you to another full screen app (This is especially jarring if you’re on the desktop.)

    The bulky Microsoft Surface (Image via Kārlis Dambrāns/Flickr)

    The bulky Microsoft Surface (Image via Kārlis Dambrāns/Flickr)

  • Many Windows 8 computers seem bulkier and heavier than iOS and Android tablets
  • The Windows RT variety of Windows 8 can’t run many traditional desktop apps and relies on the Windows Store which still leaves much to be desired in the app department
  • Windows 8 computers are often more expensive than iOS and Android tablets (for the most part, but at least they’re usually cheaper than Macs)
  • The modern UI treats the desktop as an app (It appears as a tile on the Start screen and prior to Windows 8.1 you could drag it from the top of the screen to quit it, but what were we quitting exactly?)