Sunday, November 17, 2013

Windows Hate

I'm undoubtedly late to this party after being steered clear of Windows 8 by ... well, pretty much every single person I've spoken to who has had the pleasure of using it. However, now I've moved close to my brother we've decided to set up some backup hardware (rsyncing between houses) and for some reason that's still opaque to me he's decided to set up Windows 8 on the microserver that's intended to be his disaster recovery machine.

Oh my days, what a terrible piece of software windows 8 is. Metro is effectively useless, and realising this they've obviously decided to remove every useful piece of the desktop mode to force you back to metro. I'm incredibly lucky to have multiple machines in this house - if the Windows 8 machine was the only one I'll be damned if I could find out how to launch a browser, just so I could google "how the hell do I do anything on this piece of crap operating system".

I'm intending to control it via RDC, which we managed to set up on my mac a few days ago. The mac part of that process was "download and install the app". The windows part of the process appeared to be "expect things to work - oh no, of course not, reboot the machine - yes - no, yes, no, well, maybe, just plug a monitor in, right, great, and now a keyboard, fantastic ok NOW you can remote control me". Utterly defeating the point. After a bit more random configuration, we got the remote desktop working.

Except, of course, the default power settings while the PC is plugged in are "go to damn sleep". Where do I change that setting? Easy!
Boot the machine.
Now log in to Metro.
Find the settings icon.
Open up Control Panel (this kicks the machine into Desktop mode, obviously)
Navigate the control panel to "power settings".
click a button which effectively translates to "show me the damn buttons"
click "managed"
click "show me the damn buttons"
navigate the tree to "hibernate"
click "show me the damn buttons"
enter a setting of "zero minutes" into the box
voila, you've now stopped the machine from going to sleep. simples! The fact this took me 10 minutes of digging around (and I usually know what I'm doing) just boggles my mind.

The whole experience is an abomination. Nothing makes any sense. I don't want to interact with a designed-for-touch UI on a desktop machine. Even the guys at the office who have touch monitors don't want to use Metro. The desktop, they have managed to remove the single thing that makes windows 7 so quick to use - the start button. I've been using OSX for the last couple of years, and that has plenty of niggles but I can use it at least. Whatever ships with recent Ubuntu - that's usable. Windows 7 - that's usable. Windows 8 - I have no goddamn clue. It appears that if I want to do anything more complex than launch a browser or look at whatever stupid feeds have been set up for me, I have to learn some crazy arcana just to be able to invoke my programs.

The menu bars are hidden unless I poke at some specific screen corner (which is obviously great fun while trying to find that feature over a remote desktop where the desktop is in a window and the mouse isn't clamped to the display). When you try and alter settings, you're presented with reams of flat text on flat colours - there's absolutely no affordance as to what is a clickable element, what is informational - it's just idiotic.

Thank god I moved over to the Apple ecosystem. There, I said it. I feel like stabbing myself in the eyes but with tens of billions invested in R&D and tens of thousands of purportedly very smart engineers, Microsoft have managed to make an operating system I can't operate. Well done all!

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