Will Windows 8.1 Make You Reconsider Microsoft’s OS Disaster?

Microsoft Surface tabletWhen Microsoft released Windows 8 and its line of Surface tablets, we reported that Surface RT tablets are DOA, but that Windows 8 beats Windows 7 for audio and  that Windows 8 music apps could be huge.

Yeah – those last two predictions didn’t work out so well for us. Windows 8 has been panned by users and blamed for causing the “most precipitous PC decline in history.”

Now Microsoft has released Windows 8.1 – an update that adds some new features, but more importantly, fixes some of the things people hated about Win 8. Is it enough to make you reconsider the OS? Check out the details and let us know what you think!

Here are some of the key features of WIndows 8.1:

  • The Start button is back in desktop mode, although not the way it was before Windows 8 came along. In Windows 7 and before, a click on Start would have brought up programs and important folders in a list. Now, Start takes you to the new tile interface, where you can click or tap tiles to open programs. A long press brings up crucial settings such as the Control Panel.
  • You can now start up in desktop mode.
  • The onscreen keyboard now includes the ability to type numbers or punctuation marks by swiping up or away from certain keys on the standard “QWERTY” layout, eliminating the need to toggle between numeric and alphabetic layouts.
  • Gestures – You can now control some apps using gestures captured by front-facing cameras on laptops.
  • Faster Tile Organization – Tiles in the touch-focused interface are now easier to move, and there are now four tile size options. You can also customize snapping for displaying two apps at once.
  • Many “Metro’ apps have been updated to offer more complete functionality, with big changes to Mail, People and Calendar; and Skype has replaced Messaging.
  • Search has been improved, integrating Web content.
  • Microsoft has released free Remote Desktop apps for iOS and Android that let you view and control your Win 8 computer wirelessly. This is likely to be fiddly with apps that aren’t touch-focused, but could be useful for some aspects of DAW-control.

There’s a 8.1 FAQ at Microsoft’s site.

42 thoughts on “Will Windows 8.1 Make You Reconsider Microsoft’s OS Disaster?

  1. I’ve just upgraded my music PC to 8.1 and it’s still horrible. It’s totally designed for a touchscreen which makes using a mouse on it fiddly and I really can’t understand the half baked start button. MS, if you’re forced to add in a start button to appease users, at least do it right.

    In short. It’s a horrible OS to navigate around if you’re using a standard desktop PC.

  2. I don’t have any real issues with Windows 8 – especially with the return of boot-to-desktop. It runs like 7, only slightly faster, and I’ve encountered no compatibility issues with any hardware or software. Maybe I’m just lucky, but I’m also aware of how notoriously kneejerk people can be when it comes to tech stuff. I remember XP igniting a similar wave of fury when it first arrived, being all slightly-different-looking and stuff.

    1. I’ve been on Win 8 for a year, without a lot of complaints. I work almost completely in the traditional UI and the update has performance improvements over Win 7.

      Win 8.1 should address the main annoyances I’ve had. Booting to desktop is #1.

      The other big annoyance is that Win 8 forces you to go to the touch interface for some things, which is stupid and jarring for desktop users. For example, it jumps you to the touch interface when you open .pdf files, and the pdf reader is terrible. Every time that happens, I’m like WTF is this UI?

      1. I agree, the PDF thing is jarring, though as far as I’m aware, previous windows versions haven’t even shipped with a PDF viewer – so surely it is just a matter of installing Adobe Acrobat or whatever, as before, and setting it to your default viewer.

        I think my only real complaint is that doing a “search” opens up a fullscreen metro page, which is definitely frustrating. Everything else I’ve gotten used to pretty quick.

  3. I still have my Microsoft Windows v1.0 on 5.25 floppy discs and I started using Microsoft DOS based computers since 1982. I have been in the computer industry as a reseller or as an operator of various computing systems since that time as well. So I can say this without it being considered a “knee-jerk” reaction.

    Microsoft will NEVER…..let me repeat…..NEVER have a product that excels for the artist the way Apple has produced (and at one time Commodore with their Amiga….primarily for video editing….and Atari, whose 1040 St and Falcon computers STILL TO THIS DAY have the best MIDI timing of any device out there). Starting with Bill Gates and then Steve Ballmer, it has never and will never be in Microsoft’s genes to produce an OS that can adequately fulfill the needs of the artist. Period. What you have is a system that won the hearts and minds of the business world, primarily due to year over year backward compatibility and “JGE” (Just Good Enough) computing. Plus, and this is probably the most important, the OS was decoupled from hardware. Therefore, companies could cheaply build their own boxes and not pay a high price for fancy Apple designs or if they did buy off the rack from IBM or HP or Dell…..there were so many PC’s being manufactured that it drove the price down for all PC hardware. When computing was cheap and “JGE” for businesses coupled with decades long backward compatibility….for the most part….then it was a cinch that Microsoft would lock up the world market.

    However…..that very success bred from “JGE” computing is the very thing that DOOMED Microsoft to its current state…..which is irrelevancy. With a code based that has ballooned through the years to meet “JGE” computing and backwards compatibility, coupled with the constipated mentality that comes from a near monopoly and the tendency to try to wall people off with a Microsoft “standard” instead of incorporating more innovative and “open” standards, Microsoft now, in an obvious desperate move, is trying to be relevant with this hybrid touched based monstrosity called Windows 8.

    It is the surest sign that they are finished.

    1. I know plenty artists/creatives who use windows and find it more perfectly satisfactory. In fact, I even know a few who find Macs limiting and poor value. Some even use Linux!!! One even uses Windows Vista! VISTA!!!

      1. OS X is built on POSIX UNIX. If you buy a Mac you have both, UNIX and OS X which is object oriented in a good way, not this Java crap. A PC is good for gaming and not much else. You can still build good software even on a PC, noone denies that. But the UI of basic OS functions is still shit form 1995.

    2. There are no operating systems that are designed with the creative professional in mind, none. I use Macs because they are slightly more logical but OS X does nothing to specifically aid my creative process. Windows is designed for the office, OS X is designed for the casual user and Linux is designed for the enthusiast.

      Artists use the platform which can run their programmes and after that it’s purely a case of personal preference. No OS has anything more to do with the artistic process than the walls around you. They facilitate, they don’t participate.

  4. Paying for O/S only after a couple years is a scam.

    They could fix, change and make it a great system if they really wanted to.

    They give you just enough to keep you satisfied until they sell you the next best thing.

    Do yourself a favor and skip a generation now and then.

    Save some money and get out of the ponzi-scheme these tech companies and their stockholders have come up with.

    It’s basically keeping society in a tech lock until they feel it’s okay to make more money.

  5. Mac is my main computer platform, but I have a windows 8 phone and still use an XP netbook from time to time. My concern about what Microsoft is doing has more to do with the competitive pressure they exert on Apple to excel. Once Apple smells blood in the water there will be NO pressure to innovate, at least in the desktop/laptop eco system.

    I fear that we are already seeing some sign of this with their ho hum upgrade to Logic and all of the garish and inexplicable “improvements” in iOS 7 (what was the problem they were solving there?).

    We need choices. Good ones. Not one system to rule them all. I hope Microsoft figures it out and gets it right eventually.

    1. Did you have to pay for that iOS 7 upgrade? So what’s your point?
      M$ is the one who always wants money for just new outfits without new or better functionality.

  6. For Microsoft. Its impossible to serve army of office rats that would stick wit Windows XP because all they do is Excel, Word and Outlook and yet at the same time serve creative bunch that want the latest technology touch enabled OS etc etc. Apple crowd doesnt have that office usage factor that much. OSX dont need all the bloatware to run all the generic hardware in windows world.

  7. >>> I fear that we are already seeing some sign of this with their ho hum upgrade to Logic and all of the garish and inexplicable “improvements” in iOS 7 (what was the problem they were solving there?).

    Good point. The “problem” is that we’ve been conditioned to expect constant novelty when most of it is just razzmatazz for its own sake. I’m a Mac/Logic user who is baffled by why they thought the GUI for Logic X needed to be so dark. If there was an A/B option for applying a lighter skin, that’d be fine, but as it is, wtf? Such arbitrary changes just create pointless user friction.

    Virtually all industries have to constantly appear “new and improved,” when in fact, things like Logic are FULLY MATURED. If you can’t do your thing with Logic or DAWs such as Live, stop pissing about and just take up the bagpipes. To accomodate 64-bit use and the like is practical, but the rest is just disruptive window dressing under the guise of end gain for the actual user. I’m all for Apple making a profit, but I’m tired of seeing “innovation” disrupt what was already working well in real-world terms. That’s unchecked consumerism for you, mine included. 😛 People keep demanding version 2.0 of the piano when its perfect as it is. I’d pay Apple a small yearly fee NOT to modify Logic for at least 5 years. Ballyhooed changes too often represent a step sideways in progress at best. Sheesh, I’m beginning to sound like a doddering old greybeard, bitching at the kids about how tough it was back when I had 4 shoeboxes full of floppies. Now I have my entire Logic stash, libraries and all, on two hefty USB sticks as one of my backups. Genuine progress rocks.

  8. I’ve been using Win8 for a while. No touch screen. I installed the program Classic Shell and it’s been so long since I’ve seen the app menu screen (I can’t even remember what it;s called) that I forgot it exists. My music programs run great with the lowest latency yet and I am very satisfied. I’ve had no crashes in the programs except for a few VSTs being weird due to the usual 32/64 bit bridge problems. Everyone had a bellyache when I said I was getting Win8 and so far I think it’s fine. Sure, I installed a free program (Classic Shell) to put things back how I liked them, but other than that I don’t see what the big deal is.

  9. “some of the key features of WIndows 8.1″…

    They have nothing to do with the ‘under the hood’ peerformance, latency, eficiency etc.

    I want to see how much of an improvement in raw speed & performance Win 8.1 is over 8.0, and over Win 7 / XP ?

  10. This will perhaps answer some questions, an insider look (by Christopher Daed who’s worked for Microsoft, Intel and others) into how bad gadgets and OS:es come to fruition http://www.cracked.com/article_20689_5-reasons-tech-companies-make-bad-gadgets-an-inside-look.html … Christopher addresses the Windows 8 in one of the reasons, being that developers develop for themselves, not the general public. Microsoft executives love the tablets and the tiles and for them and their work flow it works very well. However the general public still loves the Windows XP interface and thinks tiles are bullshit. Anyway you can read his points there (and I’d recommend all other articles there as well). The article links to sources as well for the claims it makes as well.
    How does this affect the musicians? Well let’s say there are a few that have mastered the Windows 8 touch screen laptops and are enthusiastic about it. They are however just too few for music software developers to seriously invest resources into Windows 8. Hell, I’m a Mac user and I was still excited when I read in music magazines some years ago that the Windows 7 looked like a really great platform for music production. Giving also that a lot of free and often awesome VSTs are Windows only I figured this would surely benefit creative minds with limited budgets; less worrying about cpu usage and memory allocation and just make great tunes.

  11. After going from MS-DOS to Win 3.1 to Win 7 and everything in-between including a couple Linux distros, I am now using a Mac (OS X Lion) for the first time. I love it, but I can’t really say why. Core Audio/MIDI is much better than third-party ASIO drivers, but beyond that, there’s something I enjoy about it. Everything’s just integrated really well. I even use GarageBand as my main DAW… it does everything I need and it’s easy to learn.

    But, I always thought Win 8 looked cool. I actually like the tiles idea… *shrugs*. It’s funny, but every time I think MS is actually showing some innovation, they stumble. Still, with MS… you have to skip every other gen of OS. Win 9 will probably be great.

  12. I sold my PC laptop a week ago and for the first time since the mid 80s I do not own a PC of any kind. It’s not about making music, it’s about stability. No viruses, no spyware, no booting problems, no bullshit. I’m not going back.

    1. I don’t have viruses, spyware, booting problems or any other “bullshit” with Windows 8. Literally NEVER had it freeze or crash on me. Not sure what you were doing wrong but 8 is stable as hell.

      1. It’s been stable for me until I’ve tried to use my firewire audio interface – whenever I plug it in I get a BSOD. Never happened with 7, or even XP. It’s been a bit of a trial at times, but I don’t completely hate it.

  13. I bought a Macbook Pro last year because I was terrified at the prospect of a PC laptop freezing my backing tracks in the middle of a gig. Rock-solid performance after almost two years of constant use – except for a pesky blue screen that I get every once in a while.

  14. I love all this BS about Windows not being an OS for the creative professional. I’ve been using windows to produce, do graphic design and web design for 15 years and I can’t imagine a reason to switch. No disrespect to Apple, I’m sure they make a fine product. I’ve been running Windows 8 since it’s release as my media PC (which the layout actually works really well for), my production PC and my work PC. I added a start menu program and I can’t tell the difference between it and 7, aside from the fact it runs faster and I’ve never had a crash. I’m certainly not 100% happy with how they laid out 8 but really it’s extremely easy to setup the way you want it.

  15. Can no one see an immense potential in latest windows 8 touch screen devices ? It unlocks many innovative ways to produce music in your studio. Imagine now you can get a huge touch screen, connect it to your windows machine and you end up with a more beautiful and interactive way to deal with your DAW and plugins.

    And you can’t do that with Apple devices because they are so limited. Windows encourages modular setups. Plus no one here seems to mention ‘you get what you pay for’. I myself can’t afford an apple macbook, so windows does the job really well at fraction of price.

  16. I’ve had Win8 since the developer preview, and I’ve used it as my second OS ever since. It has a lot of things that annoy me, but I installed Startisback to get it looking like Windows should, and I’ve had a largely positive experience. Maintaining it is much harder – the F8 boot menu is no longer there for a start, and I’ve had many compatibility issues with my audio and MIDI hardware, but for gaming it’s a very good OS – even better than 7.

    I use OSX for music making almost full time now – the CoreMIDI and CoreAudio subsystems are a godsend, and I don’t know what I’d do without the IAC bus and all of the other goodies that make audio work so much easier.

    It wasn’t a total disaster, I just think people weren’t ready for such a radical change in UI. It feels like they tried to shoehorn two different interfaces into one OS, and there wasn’t much cohesion between the two. If they have fixed that in 8.1 then they may be onto a winner.

  17. Win 8.1 rage…a Reverend lady customer rang me, she’d had Win 8.1 update forced on her and couldn’t login. Her Outlook password wasn’t being accepted. She’d had to create this account, even though I’d set up win 8 as local. There was no way to get into the system, no safe mode available. No way to change to local or admin login. I then found that she’d been locked out of her outlook account by using another PC.
    Win 8.1 was too stupid to tel her that. After a password reset I got to login and quickly changed back to her local account. I then found that there was NO PASSWORD RESCUE DISK option under her user account options. I’m an engineer and I’m floundering with this OS, purely because Microsoft don’t give a damn about their users. My time has cost her dearly and now she’s late with her Sunday sermon. I’m never going to recommend Win 8 again.

  18. Windows 8.1 is the real disaster. People whom are afraid of anything different didn’t buy Windows 8, big woop, at least it worked. Windows 8.1 is the buggiest OS/update release I’ve ever heard of. My plea to the software giants is to fully test products BEFORE you release them, releasing unfinished products with the intention of patching the problems is unacceptable.

  19. I loved Win 8 no issues except for the loss and re downloading of most of my old programs . But it was all fine and easy to use once sorted , Win 8.1 now a disaster for me right off the bat lots of freezes in FB and other internet searches . Graphic problems with Google Earth still not resolved plus problems with screen resolution Fail Microsoft !

  20. Yup, big disaster and the fix still isn’t out there for people to correct the piece of junk called 8.1. Freezes in Chrome, freezes in IE, freezes when your not even on the internet! I’ve tried the recommended changes to my system and each time the freezes come back.
    Microsoft, I hope you read these posts and I hope millions of others do to and walk away from the crap you put out there! This is ridiculous! GET YOUR STUPID ACT TOGETHER AND PRODUCE SOMETHING THAT WORKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  21. i wish Linux was more popular about making music for hardware companies. i use Ubuntu since 2 year for my everyday routine, like internet, chat, video, radio, downloads and so on, and for music making mac or Pc notebooks. but from all three i like the linux more. its easy, stable, best of both worlds… i hope and wish BITWIG will make some changes on music making with linux, and pro dj software aswell…

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