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Windows 8? No Thanks!

Posted on 23rd July 2014

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My girlfriend bought a new laptop about a year ago: an Asus, running Windows 8. The hardware is quite nice, but the operating system is a nightmare.

Having started out with Windows 8, she upgraded to 8.1. The upgrade failed, and she took it to the shop, where they rolled it back to the original 8.0 version, and told her to try the upgrade again. Eventually she succeeded in upgrading to 8.1, but nevertheless needed another trip to the shop to fix another problem.

If you want to use OneDrive (the Microsoft cloud drive) and Office 360, you basically need to set up your user account to be connected to a Microsoft email account. Now she has a problem with that connection: she gets a message that she needs to verify her (local) account, but the verification process doesn't work, and neither does the work-around that we found on the Internet.

On top of that, the system seems to spend about half its time doing updates, which often lock the machine up, and take hours (sometimes even days). This means that the PC is only usable about half the time, and she can never rely on it working when she needs it. This experience is not unique to our machine.

Based on this experience, I could not even consider using Windows 8 for my work. I need a machine that works whenever I need it, with no hassle.

For my work I use a Windows 7 laptop, which is pretty reliable. Most of the major bugs have been fixed (although there are still some bugs with MS-Office 2010). The only reason that I use Windows at all is because I need full document compatibility with the people that I work with (customers and colleagues), otherwise I would use Ubuntu Linux.

By way of comparison, we have an old laptop (bought in 2006), which is broken: the camera, the WiFi, the SD Card Reader, the battery and even the keyboard are broken. It will no longer run Windows (you can't install Windows because you cannot type in the licence key, due to the keyboard fault; the Windows that it used to run stopped working, also due to the keyboard errors), but it runs Ubuntu Linux just fine (connected to mains power and with a network cable, of course), and is fast (booting, logging in, shutting down, opening documents for editing, or opening media files are all faster than the Windows 8 machine). I used to use this machine when I travelled for work: I used Linux when I could, and when I needed Windows I would start a Windows-XP virtual machine on the Linux laptop, and even that was faster than the new Windows 8 laptop!

I remember when Windows was new, and the concept of WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) was its unique selling proposition. Now, Microsoft seems to be focussed on WYGIWYD (What You Get Is What You Deserve) or WYGIWIGFY (What You Get Is What Is Good For You - at least what Microsoft thinks is good for you), and when you get it is when the machine, and Microsoft, gets around to it.