Why Windows 8 is going to be rubbish: Lowry’s Law.
But “Why?”, I hear you cry. It’s nothing to do with the software itself, but due to Lowry’s law, an immutable law of Windows releases.
In with the new
Before I carry on, a little explanation for those of you not addicted to tech blogs. Windows 8 is the latest release of the Windows operating system. Microsoft have just released the “Consumer Preview” version, which is a free to download, draft version of the software.
The result of this is that millions of people have had a chance to play around with Windows 8.
There have been lots of changes under the hood in Windows 8, but by far the most noticeable to users is the change to two competing interfaces. Most of you will be very familiar with the normal Windows desktop – icons on a background, with the Start Menu, and a taskbar along the bottom. The Start Menu has now been killed off, and replaced with ”Metro” – the colourful boxes you can see above on the right.
To hate or not to hate
Reactions have been mixed, with pretty negative reviews from a lot of high profile blogs. Statements such as “It’s going to be an utter nightmare“, “a failure to learn from mistakes of Vista” and “like two very different operating systems trying to be one” lead to some concerns. A former Microsoft employee has created a website called FixingWindows8.com, a site that’s been so popular I’ve not yet been able to load it, due to the traffic crashing the server.
Perhaps the worst indictment is that of tech guru Chris Pirillo’s non tech-savvy father. Here is a video of him totally failing to work out how to use Windows 8:
Personally, I installed the Consumer Preview, and used it for around an hour. I found the two interfaces completely contradictatory, and time wasting. I found nothing of value in Metro, and the loss of the Start Menu a devastating hit to the efficiency of my workflow. I couldn’t cope with trying it any longer than that, and immediately uninstalled it.
However, my opinions, the opinions of consumers and tech professionals matter not: Windows 8 is going to be awful due to the (newly named) Lowry’s Law
Lowry’s Law: Every other serious consumer Windows release is rubbish.
Let’s look at the evidence. (Windows didn’t really take off until 3 came out, so Windows 1 & 2 aren’t classed as serious releases).
Windows 3 – sold 10 million copies in 3 years. Led to Windows becoming the dominant operating system worldwide. Introduced mouse pointers, copy and paste, and countless other features we take as standard today. Good
Windows 95 – an innovative change, that set the tone for future versions of Windows for the next 15 years – however, pretty buggy, and still reliant on an MS DOS framework, causing driver issues galore. Famous for its prolific BSODs. Rubbish.
Windows ME – released in a hurry because XP wasn’t ready yet. Disgustingly buggy, with no real new features over 98. Known as the “Mistake Edition”, along with other less polite terms. Rubbish.
Windows XP – probably the most successful operating system ever. Slick, friendly, crash-free and resource efficient – it’s 11 years old, and still 40% of internet users are running it. That’s a definite “Good”.
Windows Vista – came installed on millions of cheap laptops, at a time when cheap hardware wasn’t quite enough to run Vista comfortable. Coupled with over zealous security pop ups, and lots of driver issues, I think its been the biggest driver of consumers to Apple in the last 5 years. Rubbish.
Windows 7 – basically Vista v2.0 – cleaned up the bugs and dialed down the security pop ups. Time had passed and drivers had been created for Vista and 7, and cheap laptops had the spec to run it well. Good.
Windows 8 – It’s not looking good.
So that’s it. 20 years of evidence support Lowry’s Law, meaning there’s an undeniable truth that Windows 8 is going to be rubbish. However, things are looking great for Windows 9…
But there, for the grace of Steve Jobs, go I
As someone who works, at least part time, as a design professional, I come into Mac fans on an almost daily basis. Sadly, whilst Apple products are generally rather good, they are intrinsically spoiled by their legion of unquestioning followers. You’ve probably met them. A conversation with a member of the Apple harem will go roughly like this:
Me, working on my laptop.
Mac fan: Why are you using a PC? You need to use a mac. SOOO much faster.
Me: Really? Isn’t that a Macbook Air – aren’t they pretty underpowered…
Mac fan: Nope, fast as lightning. Mac OSX literally makes the electrons in processors and RAM function at a higher velocity.
Mac fan: Seriously, why are you still using that steaming pile of failure? I’ve had Macs ten years, and I’ve never had one crash on me. I bet your Windoze heap is crashing right now!
Me: Actually, I’ve found Win7 pretty good. And OSX has crashed on me frequently.
Mac fan: No. It hasn’t.
Me: Sorry? Are you overuling my ability to discern truth?
Mac fan: WHY HAVEN’T YOU BOUGHT A MAC YET?!
Me: Well, I feel they are somewhat overpriced; I don’t really like how they look, nor do I find them ergonomic; I don’t like the operating system, I feel it doesn’t provide as good a workflow as Windows; the warranties are overpriced and underfeatured, and in my experience, overutilitised; I’m happy with my current machine…
Mac fan, screams and eats my PC.
Obviously, this is an exaggeration. Although the exaggeration is mostly on my side. Many Mac fanboys are really that bad, but I’m rarely as gentle and understated. In fact, I generally take the time to point out every single failing of Macs, in my opinion, and an explanation of how each point is adequately countered by Windows/Linux. I have become so insistent on the matter, I have turned into a mirror of the exact thing I despise – an anti-Mac fanboy.
Clearly, this is not a positive thing for my life. I don’t want to enter into arguments with people who, besides their weird quasi-religious dedication to an particular technology company, probably have a lot in common with me.
I don’t want to be that person, so I am going to use the mightiest weapon in my arsenal: grace. From this day forwards, unless specifically asked on my opinion, I am going to attempt not to voice my feelings on the matter.
If I break this promise, I promise to buy this machine (probably).
See you around, whatever hardware you use!
PS. Yes, I took the survey below. I was, I’ll admit, slightly disappointed not to score zero.
Error reporting not reporting error
Yes, the title of this post is a palindrome, as a metaphor for the backwards and forwards nature of the problem I’m experiencing. You see, my computer has BSODed about once a fortnight for the last few months. That’s a Blue Screen of Death, for those of you not geek enough – its where your computer displays an error message, then turns itself off.
In fact, the only one that never failed me was my BBC Micro: but then I only really used that to play games; mostly Dare Devil Denis and Invaders. It also has something to do with that fact that the whole operating system and games combined came to about 60Kb. In comparison, this webpage is approximately 120Kb and a basic Windows 7 install is 20Gb, or 333,000x larger than the BBC OS and games combined.
So I expect computers to crash. But I also expect to be able to find out the cause and sort it out. In fact, Windows 7 has an excellent automated error reporting and solving program built in, meaning that it should be sorting itself out. Unfortunately, mine doesn’t seem to work. It tries to connect to the service, then tells me ”Problem connecting to the Windows Error Reporting service. Some of the reports could not be uploaded to the Windows Error Reporting service. Please try again later“.
Needless to say, I tried again later, with no particularly helpful effects. Some forums advised me to turn off my firewall – not the best long term solution – and another advising allowing Performance Logs and Alerts through the firewall, which did not work either. I have tried a system file check, and a clean reboot, and am now out of ideas, and recommendations.
At this point I throw myself into the helpful arms of the internet – anyone got any ideas?
Fixing file previews
If, like me, you have Windows 7 (or Vista) 64 bit installed, you may have noticed an annoying glitch – whilst the file previews are much better than they ever were in XP, they can’t quite manage PDFs. You get a funky message in fact:
This file cannot be previewed because of an error with the following previewer:
PDF Preview Handler for Vista
To open this file in its own program, double-click it.
For the last 6 months, I’ve just kind of ignored this. But I finally got annoyed enough with it to try and find a solution. As with most of these things, 3 seconds on google found me the answer.
Sorted. It will update your registry to make thumbnails and previews work, making your life at least 3% better.
One taskbar to rule them all…
I have just finished the resits for my finals (after failing them so impressively last time). I don’t know whether I pass until Monday, so for now I get to be geeky normal me again.
So, I would like to introduce my latest purchase, the excellent, non crashy and productivity increasing Display Fusion Pro. It‘s a multi monitor taskbar. To the vast majority of you, this will mean very little, but to those of you who use more than one screen with Windows, its a godsend.
- Can be arranged, sized and styled like the normal Windows taskbar.
- Automatically only shows the programs open on the relevant window, and takes them off the main taskbar.
- Allows multiple wallpapers, random changes or just a single wallpaper stretched across 57 screens (probably).
- Only £15.62
My only regret with this program is that it’s necessary. I had hoped that 10 years after XP, Microsoft would have provided better multiple monitor support out of the box. And its not like at least 357 people agree with me.
Anyway, check out the software at http://www.displayfusion.com/ – there’s a 30 day trial, so you can see that I am right, and you cannot realistically live without this software – unless Microsoft actually listen to consumers, but me and 211,416 other people think that seems unlikely.
The license agreement has been updated, with free, standard, personal pro and company pro licenses. Cheers to Jon for the free upgrade!
Many many plans
So, I have finished my exams. And that leaves me a few short weeks to tackle a variety of projects. Taking inspiration from Lifehacker, I am making a list on here of stuff I am aiming to achieve.
- Get healthy: The next 7 weeks, my first hour of each day is exercise. Keep me accountable on this one please!
- A new YesIts.Us website: The Lowry Family homepage, in full technicolor. Need to update this, and create a blog for my darling wife.
- Install Windows 7 on my PC: I only bought it 5 months ago, and already I feel I should probably install it!
- Make VictorandRachel.co.uk: A wedding site for my housemate.
- Do some more work on Cutting Edge: my large corporate project has been put on hold, but that’s no excuse not to do anything on it.
- Finish CrookesOnline.co.uk: Let’s get the Crookes homepage up and running for everyone!
- A new NamesNotNumbers.info: Everyone’s favourite charity, soon getting a new website. Design by committee – the best way!
- Get my server set up: It’s working fine, but its time to get that software running properly, with regular backups, and every PC in the house being served!
- Redesign ChristianPunks.co.uk: This site is no longer an active portal, so let’s make it a little more fresh and helpful!
- Start a peer reviewed journal: Coming soon – The Online Journal of Medicine (also known as OnJoM).
- Get tagging: Put post tags on every post on my blog.
- Walk the dogs.