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OT: Win8/8.1, Refurb etc... (short)

Posted By: Michael Petch
Date: Tuesday, 1 April 2014, at 9:30 p.m.

In Response To: Opinions-OT (Keene)

I used Classicshell when I first got Win8. I didn't like the design of the UI portion of the OS, but it grew on me after I started using it with touch screens. After that I didn't seem to mind the design considerations. It is clear Metro was designed for touchscreens. Win8.1 was enough of an improvement that I can do the work I did before without feeling weighed down by the UI without Classicshell. Only real difference is that I pin more things to the taskbar that I use frequently in lieu of the start menu/programs.

I didn't start using touchscreens until a friend of mine wanted recommendations for her next PC given her specific usage patterns. She went from XP right to Win8. When I was out with her looking at laptops (pre 8.1), I was concerned that as a non-techy she would have difficulty adapting. She decided to make the jump to Win8 and she really had little difficulty adapting after I gave her some tips. Then she bought a touch screen, and she actually doesn't mind the Metro interface at all.

So I use to be anti-Win8, but after seeing that other people who aren't tech savvy can adapt; and the fact I warmed up to 8.1 without Classicshell - I'd say that it really isn't as bad as people seem to make it out to be. I recently shifted my primary windows development system from Win7 to Win8.1 and I have no real complaints. Right mouse clicking the Windows icon in the lower left gets me to the other things like control panel and command prompts and administrative tasks that I need to get to on a sporadic basis.

The Metro UI has a few idiosyncrasies that aren't painfully obvious at first - like closing a Metro App by dragging the application from top edge of the screen to the bottom. I've even got use to do that with the mouse. Metro App switching in the upper left is a bit clunky at times. I often find myself swiping from the edges with my finger on non touch screen systems ;-). The other thing I dislike is how Microsoft decided to break some of their user design guidelines from 15+ years ago - most especially putting main menus (Visual Studio/office 2013 come to mind) in UPPER CASE.

My biggest grievances are that outside of a VBScript or Powershell there is no way to automate loading of Metro Apps in the background at boot up. Meaning there is no "Launch at bootup" or "Launch after sign-in" option for a Metro apps. Secondly (unlike Win7), XP Mode (a virtual machine with a fully licensed copy of XP) doesn't come *standard* with any Win8 variants. I do use VMware with the unity interface to replicate that functionality. This likely isn't a concern for 99.9%+ of the users.

Despite the limitations that I do get around, I'm actually now happy with Win8.1 .

As for refurbished machines, I'm not against them, I know may people who buy them who have tight budgets. I only suggest you get refurbs that come with a manufacturers warranty (even if it is only for 3-6 months). These refurbs are usually done by the manufacturer when they get equipment returned to them that had easily fixable issues (bad hard drives, bad RAM etc). Lenovo is generally pretty good with their refurb program.

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