6 Reasons Why Windows 8.1 Failed Users

There’s been a lot of talk about what the changes in Windows 8.1 have done right for Windows 8. Very few users have talked about why Windows 8.1 actually failed them. While Microsoft has focused on a rapid release cycle similar to how Apple releases updates, they’ve forgotten that Windows 8.1 was meant to upgrade Windows 8 to what it should’ve been upon initial release.

start-button-in-windows-8.1

The long-awaited Windows 8.1 Start Button is the biggest disappointment of the preview. When users asked for the Start Menu back and Microsoft responded, they thought they were getting much more than just a literal Start Button. The Start Button and “Start Menu” in Windows 8.1 is nothing more than a glorified Win + X Menu.

This is not the Start Menu Windows 8 users were looking for. This isn’t even close, and for many looking for a replacement, they’ll stick with the freeware programs like we’ve covered to get the Start Menu back. This is by far the biggest disappointment for users looking forward to the Windows 8.1 update.

Upgrading to the Windows 8.1 preview – not installing it on a partition of virtual machine – is nothing but a frustration for users. When you choose to upgrade to the preview as opposed to installing it separately, you will have to re-install all your apps when the final version rolls out. Since the “upgrade” process works just like you would normally upgrade or install a major update to a OS, without losing data, there’s no reasoning behind why Microsoft would make users go through this trouble.

If you were looking to see what Windows 8.1 was all about, but didn’t understand how to install it on a separate partition or virtual machine, this shuts you out of the preview entirely.

bing-food-and-drink-app

Microsoft boasted for months that changes were coming to the Windows Store, as well as apps in Windows 8.1. Sadly, only two enhanced apps rolled out: Health & Fitness and Food & Drink. While they’re comprehensive apps that take advantage of what the modern feel of Windows 8 has to offer, many of the other so-called “enhanced apps” released only work half the time or not at all.

bing-health-and-fitness-app

Reading List and Scan are buggy, with the latter only working with wired scanners for the time being. There’s been no hotfixes to these apps to make them work for all users in Windows 8.1.

ie-11-in-windows-8.1

IE 11, at least in the Windows 8.1 preview, is just a tweaked IE 10. Very few front end changes came to the new IE 11 which is supposed to highlight how Windows 8 and the Web work together. Most of the features of IE 11 won’t actually be released until Windows 8.1 comes out in its final release. It’ll be up to web sites, blogs and services to change how they do things so that they work within IE 11.

IE 11 seems like a complete waste of energy in the Windows 8.1 preview, since nothing of substance is truly available to users to try out.

windows-8.1-full-skydrive-integration

Complete SkyDrive integration finally comes to Windows 8 in the 8.1 preview, but the problem is, you can’t turn it off. In fact, you can’t uninstall it at all. For users who utilize other cloud-based services and setups, this can be a hassle to deal with if you accidentally turn on SkyDrive during the Windows 8.1 installation process.

SkyDrive integration should’ve been part of Windows 8 from day one. Why they waited until now is anybody’s guess. While the integration is almost seamless, not being able to uninstall SkyDrive is a drain on system resources and a frustration for those who might accidentally save or drop files in SkyDrive folders.

Overall, Windows 8.1 seems to provide cosmetic changes, app upgrades and additions to the OS that really don’t address the fundamental problems with Windows 8. It seems Windows 8.1 just seeks to “improve” upon what we already know Windows 8 is instead of addressing concerns from users that the PC version is a mere touch screen OS port.

If Microsoft wanted to focus on the mobile market, they should’ve released a mobile-only OS instead of releasing Windows 8 for PCs. There was still room for improvements and changes to Windows 7 to compete on the OS market. Instead, Microsoft once again has proven its vision is more important than its functionality with Windows 8.1.

Chances are when Windows 8.1 arrives in final release form, several bugs will still need to be fixed by individual Windows Updates. Unfortunately, Microsoft’s good intentions may prove to be the downfall of the first major upgrade to Windows 8. Only time will tell if Windows 8.1 can truly live up to the hype as it heads towards official release.

43 comments

  1. I have had XP on my Desktop for years and like it. I bought a laptop with 8 and find it challenging. Learning something new is good for you. Get out of your rut.

    • I definitely agree! If users stick with Windows 8, they can get used to it. I think the issue is that we have such a gap between your average PC user and power user, that the jump from Windows 7 to Windows 8 was a bit too much to tackle at once. Instead of trying, they gave up. Change can be hard for those not used to how it changes.

        • Obviously, that’s your choice since you’re paying for the OS. All we’re saying is that while Windows 8 is jarring at first, you can get used to it and find the use in those changes.

        • Like in the old days – when people said: ‘why should I learn how to drive a car when a horse and carriage is what I’m used to?’ ;-)

          • Why should anyone learn to drive anew every time she gets a new car. I don’t know where a car industry would be if they used the same practice for upgrades as Microsoft.

          • Why would you want to use a horse and cart (win 8) when you already drive a car (win 7). Win 8 is NOT a step forward

      • “If users stick with Windows 8, they can get used to it”
        You can also get used to banging your head against the wall, or self-flagellation. But why put yourself through the pain?!

  2. I will get back to number 1 and 6, but for 2 thru 5 a response is easy as a single argument covers all of them.

    The windows 8.1 preview is, surprise, a PREVIEW. Basically it is out there as a demo or beta, best for those like testing and banging on new things. It is not intended for the general public to install and use as their primary OS. It was the same with the Win 7 preview, in fact the exact same. Anyone can get it, install it, and test it. Even, if you choose, install it and use it for your primary, doesn’t mean you are supposed to. So your assertion that it has failed users isn’t valid on its face since it isn’t supposed to be a mainstream install yet.

    As for your point numbers 1 and 6, Win 8.1 and yes Win 8’s biggest problem isn’t the start menu. Windows 8 works fine it takes minutes to learn where things are, then some time to get used to it. Win 8’s biggest problem is the tech press insisting it doesn’t work, or it is frustrating, or it is hard to learn. The start screen is the evolution/mutation of the start menu. Take a few minutes to begin customizing it and it becomes more efficient than the old start menu. Take 15 minutes to show someone how it works instead of insisting they want the old way, or it is hard to learn, or it is frustrating and people understand it, even LIKE it. The tech press are really doing their readers a disservice.

    • I agree wholeheartedly, it took me about 10 minutes to get used to the new system, and especially when you have two screens Windows 8 and the new start screen is far more efficient, and far nicer, you can even just start typing to search in the start screen if things are off screen same as on 7 and vista, its basically the same just laid out a bit nicer. The only things I dislike is the segregation of apps and regular programs, they don’t need to be in 2 separate lists and closing an app should not require dragging to the bottom of the screen, its inefficient, though i’m sure its fine for touch screens.

      • I definitely agree that once you get used to Windows 8, it’s a wonderful upgrade and evolution of the OS. However, for PC users, there are many inefficient quirks in Windows 8 – continuing into 8.1 – that were designed for touch screens and not PC users.

    • More than 70% of the Windows 8 Consumer Preview went live when Windows 8 was actually released. Since Windows 8.1 is shipping to manufacturers for OEM use by the end of August, and Microsoft has addressed very few of the issues with the preview so far, I feel confident in saying what we see in Windows 8.1 is mostly what 8.1 will be.

      For those who aren’t power users when it comes to Windows, the jump from 7 to 8 is a huge one that I’ve helped many struggling with overcome. I’ve covered Windows for over four years from Vista to 8, and even I was amazed at what a different 8 turned out to be. Of course, I got used to it, being a power user but for those who don’t use computers every day but have one at home… Well, like I said in a comment above, change is hard.

  3. My computer at the office is a Windows 7 machine that is running Windows XP. I am not the administrator. My computers at home all run Windows 7 and I have two laptops running Windows 8. On the Windows 8 laptops, I have installed Start Menu Reviver which is excellent IMHO. When MS finally puts out 8.1, I will install it on the laptop I seldom use to see what changes it has in it. As I’ve gotten more and more familiar with 8, I tend to really like it. So, only time will tell. At 66 and having started with TRS 80 and then MSDOS and then Windows 3.1, etc, etc; I am used to change and adapt.

    • I wish more people would have your attitude when it comes to changes like this in Windows! It’s refreshing, to say the least!

      • What is there to like about. It is one thing to adapt because you don’t have a choice and another to resist the change which is not very productive. MS shoehorning their tablet interface on desktop user is totally useless and non sensicle decision. Users should complain to MS about the things they don’t like.

        If MS did not have the monopoly in PC then no one would have cared but it is directly or indirectly affects everyone.

  4. I’m out of the same stable as jreedsr and have the same thoughts on the matter. Lets revert to MSDOS and manually installing drivers, making sure that the interrupts don’t clash, etc, etc. That would sort ’em out!!
    Start menus my arse!!

    • I have still have issues in Windows with drivers clashing… But that’s because I refuse to give up my old Dell monitors! It’s worth the hassle, but for others, not so much. ;)

      I’m fine without the Start Menu now, but for those who were looking forward to what the Start Button would be… They have been sorely disappointed.

    • Rather sad that one has to resort to artifices to make a Win8 “usable”, don’t you think? I find “it’s not bad, really!” hardly a selling point. I have tried it, and even *after* installing “Classic Shell”, it’s still a case of “change for the sake of change”… same-ol’ issues as before with a different colour lipstick.
      I agree with the author. Changing (as in: making more obscure) the interface is not an improvement. And Redmond clearly is NOT listening to their user-base. The “Start Button” is pretty much an insult.

      • The biggest complaint about Windows 8 is the lack of the Start Menu. I understand why this user base wants it back, I totally get it. I’ve gotten used to how Windows 8 works and I’m fine without having to install a Start Menu replacement, but I’m glad the option exists for those who’d rather utilize it.

        I don’t think it’s sad that people resort to using third party software to get more out of Windows. But, how cool would it be if Microsoft released this type of optional software for users? That’d be a compromise between changing the vision of Windows 8 and making customers happy.

        • ” But, how cool would it be if Microsoft released this type of optional software for users?”
          But that would be M$ admitting that it was wrong, and M$ IS NEVER wrong. The problems are caused by uninformed and uneducated users who cannot understand and appreciate the innovative improvements M$ keeps making to Windows.

          We are MICROSOFT! You WILL like the improvements! Resistance is futile!

    • There’s a lot of ways out there to customize Windows 8, same thing happened during the long stretch of Windows 7. I love that the community finds ways to make Windows better when Microsoft often ignores suggestions and complaints.

  5. I’m still trying to figure out the final point of the article, that 8.1 fails to address what is ‘fundamentally wrong’ with 8, because unfortunately the author doesn’t bother to tell us! Please do, I’m very interested.

    • That’s for a whole separate post. Windows 8 for PCs is a touch screen version of a mobile platform OS. That’s the biggest issue, I could go on and on about this, but that’s not what this post was about.

  6. Melissa,
    It is not just the start menu.
    It is not that we are NOT “power users”. Many of us have been using computers even before the first IBM 4.8 MHz (not GHz) was out (back in 1981). By the way, what were you doing back in 1981? :)

    I personally have a number of machines running different OS’s (DOS, Windows 3.1, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows 2000, Windows XP, and Windows 7 Ultimate, which replaced Vista).

    So assuming that we don’t like Windows 8 because of the lack of experience is a wrong assumption on your side.
    Defending Windows 8 with all this enthusiasm and total disregard to what we think of it makes you sound like you are being paid by Microsoft!! Who knows, maybe you are.

    Bottom line is, I hate Windows 8 with passion, and I resent Microsoft’s total disregard to users’ input.
    This reminds me of a GM VP back in late 1980’s when asked about customer’s input, and he said “who the hell is the customer!!! We are General Motors; we make cars; the customers’ job is to buy them!!!”.
    Eventually, that mentality caused GM to go bankrupt!

    It would have been wise on MS’s side to have an OS for mobile devices, and not mess with the Desktop OS, aside from improving performance.
    None of my dozens of clients plans to upgrade to Windows 8. Even on new machines they have replaced windows 8 with XP or 7.
    Personally, my favorite OS is XP, despite the fact that it is not a perfect OS.

    • I definitely don’t get paid by Microsoft… It would be nice if I did though. I’ve been using Windows as my primary OS for over a decade now, I suppose I could enjoy another OS if I gave it a shot but I’ve stuck with Windows and found ways around the issues it presents.

      I’m really not intending to say everyone’s problem is that they need to get used to it. I’m just trying to present a compilation of what I’ve been following on “issues” with Windows 8.1 so far.

      I, too, hate Microsoft’s lack of user input and truly believe these “previews” they use are just ways to try and appease those that don’t understand the business model.

      I also wish they would’ve focused on making two versions of Windows 8: One for PCs and one for the mobile side. The problem is that Windows 8 falls more on the latter side and that just doesn’t work well for a true PC environment.

    • I also have used each of those OSs… From MSDOS to now,
      windows 8. I also remember that with each release there were howls of pain and users insisting that the changes weren’t user friendly or needed. I remember explaining that yes you have to hit “Start” to shut down your computer. Explaining that you use the thing on your desk to move the thingie on the screen called a cursor to interact with the machine. Apparently too many don’t remember or refuse to acknowledge that every release (except win 7 due to vista’s reputation) came with it’s own chorus of people insisting it was less user friendly, less productive, less whatever.

      I use it every day on my non-touchscreen desktop without a problem, I use it and like it. It is different, nothing more, that is the problem. In a few years when 3d interfaces become the norm there will be a chorus of people insisting we don’t have to lose the windows 8 start screen.

  7. “It’ll be up to web sites, blogs and services to change how they do things so that they work within IE 11”

    Bwahahahaha! Typical Microsoft conceit. Hell will freeze over before that happens. Anyone complaining that something doesn’t look/work right in IE11 will be told to get a real, standards-compliant browser. CSS, HTML, javascript, etc. are all industry standards for creating web pages and sites; if IE 11 doesn’t render them properly, then it’s IE 11 that has to be changed to work properly.

  8. Well I use computers since 1987 when i was 5 years old up till now.. been on windows 1.0 to the recent one except 8.1 (will wait) ;) i used ms-dos alot in the late 80s and 90s .. i even used WISC-UNIX (BSD 4.3) , Solaris 7, QNX, BeOS, Linux for 13 good years (don’t use it anymore) I use Illumos Solaris systems a few distros (not to be bad needs more work) and also all BSD OSes (freebsd, netbsd, openbsd, and dragonflyBSD) and i also tested all the windows over the years and even tested mac os 7, 8 , 9 in a emulator on windows os , and mac os x 10.6.3 on my amd64 pc (hackintosh) , alot of other old unix os in simh etc. etc. now whats wrong with windows 8 ? nothing the new start menu is actually cool i have no beef with it… the facts is the facts did i ever really used the start menu on any windows os.. not really i only go if i need to.. do i go in the start menu on windows 8 more offend ? not really i use it the same i used windows in the last 20+ years man its like 3.1 v.s 95 u know everyone hated the new windows 95 and its (start button/menu) and how everyone prefer ms-dos or windows 3.1 and blah blah blah its the same old story man.

    What people forget to mention is that windows 8 works faster, its stable and boots up quicker :) the ui on the windows are very ugly it kind have a Motif look on on unix ui for their toolkit but the buttons to me are sort of flat and ugly the developer preview had a nice aero glass (not talking about aero itself) the them is what im talking about or (styles) aero is still in windows 8. they just took out the transparent look.

    I must say the basic look does help speed up the system.. like in Xorg windows a basic (no eye candy / toys and all that non sense) does improve the desktop speed and stable-ness.

    I find they also improve alot in the kernel and Hyper-V , and why would IT / professionals use this OS for business and servers ? i run vmware workstation 9.0.2 and run like about maybe 3 OSes at once on a dual core system and i get very good speed on all them and have alot of other apps open on windows 8 (host) so yeah virtualization is amazing on it.

    i’m not a fanboy for any os.. whatever works for you is the best system for you.. we have alot of other systems out there if ur tired of closed os.. we have a handful of great trusting open source os.. like BSD for one thing is a long time software company have very solid programs , security great for enterprise and hardcore servers.. like netbsd with their great support for all arch.. even microsoft took the netbsd tcp/ip stack for their NT systems and u know mac os x is heavyly using alot of freebsd / netbsd code in it not entirely all , but alot ..

    so we have choices man.. if u like to play games.. well windows 8 does VERY fine for that.. if u like a productive systems for servers we HAVE alot of choices even got amazing openindiana system which is much like opensolaris with zfs , dtrace, zones and ips package manager and SVR4 package managers and u can even use blastwave aka (opencsw) with pkgutil managers..

    there no excuse.. so choose your os today.. its not all just about microsoft we have MANY choices so stop being a whinny little bitch… “HACK UP OR SHUT UP”

    Cheers!
    //Gary

  9. not being able to uninstall skydrive makes me stick to windows 8.0. Sure you can switch it off, but like all bloatware, if I don’t use it, I don’t want it on my system.

  10. Windows 8 and 8,1 are non-productive in a busy workcenter. I have to shake my head on who is running the development at Microsoft. I own my own computer business and not a single person has asked nor have I sold one copy of Windows 8. All I get is customers asking me to “fix it” and I install Classic Shell. It works great and is a free fix to bring it back to life. What a complete disaster Microsoft has handed out to the public and I suspect this will fail just as bad. I already don’t like the fake start menu. I have Windows 7 desktop orders stacked up I’m so busy.

  11. Choices, there are none.
    What if I want a new machine with Win 7?
    What is the big problem with having a Start Menu option available during setup?
    Why try to force people to use something they don’t want?
    When you buy a car do you buy what the salespeople tell you to buy or what is comfortable and fits your lifestyle?
    Microsoft is in trouble with this attitude which is partially why Ballmer is leaving.
    The truth is if something is better it will eventually win out so give it a level playing field.

    • If you want Windows 7, you can still purchase it separately and install it on your machine.

      Technology evolves, it always has and Windows 8 is just the next step in the OS’ evolution.

  12. Actually #3 is *the* issue. Studies show that Metro app launch rates are in the 0-2 launches per day (even on touch devices). There is no point in launching a modern app as there is always a better application on the desktop. Music vs. WMP or Media Center? Mail vs. Outlook? Modern IE vs. desktop IE? Most modern apps don’t even fair well against web applications. Until MS writes some actual apps which someone would use vs. a desktop application… the rest of Windows8 is just a waste.

  13. I fully admit that I have a minimal amount of experience with Windows 8.
    I’ve played around with it a bit on other peoples computers, mostly when my neighbors need help with a virus or malware or something like that.

    I’m currently in possession of two computers: a desktop running XP and a laptop running 7. (I have another desktop I intend to fix up and turn into a BSD machine.) These are the desktops I have the most experience with. My laptop, however, is not at it’s best, and I will soon be replacing it with a new windows machine, and it will most likely be a windows 8 or 8.1 if it’s out.

    I’m going to admit I’m not entirely happy about this. I enjoy the simplicity of the previous OSes and having to switch to such a radically different UI is daunting. I admit, I am a very conservative person. I don’t like much change in my life if I can help it. That said, I am willing to adapt to change if there is need for it…. it only becomes a problem if I do not understand the need for the change. I do not currently understand why we, as consumers, need windows 8. It might be a good tablet OS or phone OS, but I don’t like the idea of using it on a desktop or laptop. I might be able to tolerate it if I can rig it to be more accessible, and especially if I can rig it to be functional without having to launch the icon based menu. I will need to adapt somehow, as I am a windows programmer and I will need to learn to write for the new OS.

    I have one thing to say about the “evolution” that many people claim windows 8 to be. I fully acknowledge that technology evolves. Only geeks like me enjoy the idea of learning a command language, thus we have the graphical interface. People apparently want to take internet with them when they travel (an idea I’m afraid I’ve still not come to fully appreciate, as I like to take breaks from technology. But I’ve come to accept it.) So we now have smart phones, the apps and internet capabilities being their main selling point. That said, we do not always require the bigger and better option to perform a task that needs doing.

    If I see a small pile of dust on the kitchen floor, do I go lug out my vac, carry it to the kitchen, unravel the cord and plug it up, and then finally get to solving my problem? Or do I simply grab the broom and sweep it up and throw it away? In this analogy my problems are more akin to a small pile of dust on a kitchen floor than a carpet with crushed up potato chips embeded in it. The vacuum is a better choice for the second problem, but if you only have the first problem then the broom is a lighter, quieter solution that requires much less effort. The broom is not outdated simply due to the introduction of the vacuum.

    I will finish my post off with a positive statement, however: I am aware that the new OS is apparently faster, less demanding resource-wise, and more stable. I give it credit for that and I am glad to see such an improvement. Windows has always had problems in that area. These improvements do not warrant my respect for the UI, but I do respect the kernel.

  14. In all honesty, Windows 8 was nice at first, a refreshing difference to the look and feel, however after months of using it, its become annoying at times. I have added the start menu’s that are available as free and fee ware, some good, some bad. Microsoft is at fault here as they catered to an eco system that they don’t seem to be considered as a contender. The Desktop/Laptop interface we all know and love(d) called Windows should always put the Desktop first, Tablets are in a different category.

    • I completely agree with your Ron. I wish they would’ve developed what we know Windows 8 to currently be on a PC or laptop as a mobile-version only. They could’ve adapted and tweaked figures to work on a laptop, effectively taking advantage of the modern feel of Windows 8. But, instead, they just released a OS that works amazing on a tablet or phone but not on a PC. It’s a shame, too, that they don’t seem to get it.

  15. Trying to get windows 8 off a new system just so you can install 7 is an adventure all in itself. What happened to the common sense idea of allowing users to choose the “windows 7 interface” rather that forcing such a drastic change of formats. why do you think so many users and companies are STILL using XP??? What if your system doesn’t have a touch screen? The design may make sense for a phone where screen and keyboard are sharing limited space, but not so for my laptop or desktop. How close am I supposed to sit to my monitor now? Really???

  16. Oh, and Melissa, you may not be getting paid by Microsoft but the title of your article is “6 Reasons Why Windows 8.1 Failed Users” Not how much you like the system anyway or why we should learn to adapt. Stay on target please.

    • Just because I adapted and have come to enjoy what Windows 8 offers doesn’t mean I can’t be objective and present a different side of the story for our readers but feel free to troll on. :)

Comments are closed.

Sponsored Stories