Apologies! (updated)

By Max Musson:

Internet 2To all of our regular readers, I offer my apologies for the temporary and unplanned hiatus in our normal output of articles. I have been struggling recently to upgrade my computer, which is now quite old and on its last legs, and anyone who has ‘upgraded’ from Windows 7 to Window 8.1 will know what a dog’s breakfast Microsoft have made of their once relatively transparent, logical, and straightforward operating system.

Upgrading to Windows 8.1 is like attempting to ‘upgrade’ from one’s European mother tongue to a form of Chinese presented to you by the inhabitants of Cbeebies Land, and so I am having more than a little difficulty finding my feet. Never-the-less, I am determined to resume normal service by the end of this week.

Anyone else contemplating such an upgrade should be aware that any Microsoft software produced earlier than 2013 will not run on the new system and so in addition to buying a new computor, you will in most cases also need to buy a complete new suite of Microsoft Office, so factor in a total cost that will be double the cost of the computer.

By Max Musson (c) 2015

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Good news, I have at last managed to remove the last hurdle and I now have a new computer running as happily as it’s perhaps possible to be on Windows 8.1. So, normal service will be resumed shortly.

The important issue to bear in mind is that the home page in Windows 8.1 is hidden from view when you first boot up and you are presented with a masking screen that is full of ‘apps’, or applications rather like those one would encounter with an iPad. The majority of these apps are superfluous and concerned with very low-brow entertainment, fantasy game playing and the like, and with shopping and other ‘lifestyle’ issues, like an electronic version of ‘Hello’ magazine that no serious person would normally be interested in. The ‘business end’ of the computer is consequently buried beneath a plethora of confusing and distracting nonsense. There were in the order of 140 such apps displayed simultaneously on my machine when I started it up, some appearing to be running, some displaying video and some with rotating carousel style displays — all competing for my attention at once — and to such an extent that it was difficult to see past them.

I spent much time uninstalling lots of these apps until I had reduced the machine down to manageable proportions and the way to navigate became clearer. I won’t say any more as I know one of our members (a man who would have saved me a lot of stress and frustration had I taken his advice in the first place) is writing an article for the guidance of others and I don’t want to steal his thunder.

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19 thoughts on “Apologies! (updated)

  1. Why did you upgrade? everyone on windows 7 or 8.1 will be allowed to upgrade to windows 10 for free if you sign up for it now

    1. My PC was suffering from old age and I have soldiered on for some time working around problems, but eventually, so much time was being wasted doing this that a hardware upgrade became essential.
      .
      All I wanted was a computer that was new, faster and had more memory than the old one, but All new computers run on Windows 8.1 now and so I had to bite the bullet and go for it now.
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      The problem is that Windows 8.1 is designed for people of limited intellect who just want an online entertainment machine that offers them a seemingly ubiquitous array of dazzling images, coloured blocks, and the electronic equivalent of the kind of amusements one finds designed for toddlers at the Early Learning Centre. There are ‘apps’ coming at you from all directions, each one asking you to open an account, i.e. register and create an audit trail for our ‘masters’ to spy on us.

  2. Be thankful Max that you didn’t suffer the original Windows 8 upgrade, that point one has made it slightly better, though you may not believe that! Originally it was more like trying to learn Chinese through studying their written works!

    Windows 10 is coming so you may be having a relapse sooner than you’d like!

  3. I run several computers for a small engineering business. We use a variety of Windows 7 Pro, either 32 or 64 bit for office apps. For engineering we use RedHat Linux which requires a subscription. However Linux can run programs for years without crashing.

    There are also small free Linux OS’s which have very short boot times (like <10 sec) which will run Office type apps written for Linux. I think the world may be moving away from Windows.

    I've used Windows for many years and hate it. Nothing in the OS is convenient and it was clearly made by a massive company with some sort of hidden agenda.

  4. Forgot to mention.. Bought a new laptop the other year: it came with some sort of new Windows on it. I purchased an OEM Windows-7 disk, 64 bit full install, and brought it to my computer guy and had him wipe the New Windows OS and install the Windows-7 on the new machine. Also asked him to leave a “space” on the hardrive for me to install free ubantu Linux.

    Of course Microsoft doesn’t make too much $ on this: maybe just $50, as you can keep all your Office: Word, Powerpoint, Outlook, & etc programs.

  5. This may be a helpful hint to some:- You may have software you like using, but which isn’t liked by new computers. Don’t chuck out the old computer; use it just to run your old software. I have WordPerfect and an antique image processor both of which I’m accustomed to, with their own dusty PCs.

  6. Windows 8 is awful, nothing runs on it, you have to go through a screen of pointless “apps” and there seems to be no way to edit system files (I enjoy modding video games, so it is a real pain) windows has always been a poor but ubiquitous system, but at least useable. Windows 8 is absolutely dreadful though.

    1. Actually SS, the problem is not so much the system itself, its the fact that the practical applications and the way to navigate around those applications in Windows 8.1 are obscured by a plethora of simplified ‘apps’, crap that is designed to appeal to a dumbed-down audience. Once you uninstall the majority of these apps, the underlying computer and the operating system is perfectly functional.
      .
      The ‘Start’ screen’, which is the page which masks the ‘Desk-top’ screen that we are all familiar with, and the additional ‘Apps’ screen, are superfluous for anyone of reasonable intelligence. They are a kind of ‘Kindergarden’ in which all of a child’s toys, books, games machines, sweets and clothes are strewn all over the floor in a higgledy-piggledy mess, just as the child last left them. Finding a specific object quickly from within such a mess is very difficult and what is needed is for an adult to tidy everything away in its proper place.

  7. Why would anyone still being using Windows malware in 2015. Switch to GNU/Linux and save yourself the hassle of dealing with poorly engineered Microsoft products.

    1. Hi Russ, thanks for your comments. I guess we humans are creatures of habit and we tend to stick with things that are familiar. Perhaps you could write an article setting out the advantages of GNU/Linux and giving our readers some hints as to how and from where to acquire the hardware and software? If you can manage that , please email the article to me max.musson@hotmail.co.uk and specify any nom de guerre that you might want to use.

  8. My nerves are shot worrying when my 2010 computer is going to crash. I can manage Windows 7. Then after 2 full computer scans ( about 5 hours each ) this week, Bell’s security scanner informs me: 3 “Trojans” were deleted Wednesday, and 6 “Trojans” today ? First time able to visit Western Spring for a while, and here you all are discussing the computer world. British stock bonding.

    1. We all have to be vigilant about computer security and maintaining our machines at optimal performance. Good luck with your problems and I hope the next article will prove helpful.

  9. I will have to follow in your footsteps at some point as my computer is approaching either retirement or sudden death.
    There’s the theory of dog years, I wonder if it works the same for computers?

  10. I had the same problems with Windows 8 when I bought my laptop – and I’ve had even worse problems with windows 8.1.
    .
    (Windows 8 at least ran all the programs I need to use, whereas 8.1 would not. Backdating to Windows 7 had its own problems and for various reasons I had to then leap forward to 8.1).
    .
    The cycle at Microsoft seems to be to release a decent version of windows then release a completely dud one. “Windows ME” and “Vista” are perhaps the older examples of this, where Microsoft leap forward and use millions of their customers as guinea pigs ready for their more stable and usable products.
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    On this basis, I expect windows 10 will be much better than Windows 8, albeit keeping some of the trash that now bundles with it all, seeing as people have now taken up the whole windows 8 nonsense and Microsoft will not want to back-track.
    .
    When it comes to Linux and others, for many they may be okay – but for me and my needs, they simply do not provide the ability to run the programs I need. The same goes for Apple Mac, in my particular case.
    .
    This is not the fault of the operating system, but that programmers of many major software products do not code for Linux or Mac. There are alternatives to some of these well known products, but they are not the same. If you only browse the net, write letters, send emails, edit images, then there is nothing wrong with Linux or giving it a try.
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    When it comes to Microsoft Office, I haven’t used it in years. The open-source “Open Office” does almost everything Microsoft Office does and it is free to download. It opens Microsoft files and exports to them too.
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    Of course, that will be no consolation to Max now, but it may be of interest to others in the future. Mircrosoft Office does tend to be a little bit better, but unless you’re a serious power user, Open Office is perfectly capable and has a nice interface.
    .
    For those who are new to Windows 8 or 8.1 and who liked Windows 7 (as I did), you can do wonders by installing “Classic Shell” – a free program that allows your computer to boot up straight to the desktop (as has always been the normality).
    .
    In addition, you get your proper “start menu” back. It is really easy to apply. I would not have coped without it. Just search the net for “classic shell” and you will find it straight away.
    .
    Another good one is “startisback” – which again boots you straight to the desktop and gives you a fully functioning start-menu. This one you need to pay for though. I now use this.
    .
    I have managed to run some older programs (but not others!) via using the “compatibility mode” which allows you to try and overcome problems by making the computer program think that the operating system is Vista, XP, or Windows7. It can be pot luck though.
    .
    “OpenSource Alternatives” can be a good website for alternatives to expensive software. For example, I use a program called “GIMPshop” which is for graphics and editing. It is almost exactly the same as Adobe Photoshop in both looks and abilities, but costs you nothing, unless you wish to donate something.
    .
    For people out there who are operating on a seriously tight budget, there are a lot of hidden and not-so-hidden gems that can be obtained legally for free.
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    This includes free anti-virus, free spy removal software, video editing suites, video conversion tools, audio recording and editing, office suites, CAD programs, home entertainment programs for your TV cards or music collections (alternative to Windows Media Centre).
    .
    There is no real need to be limited in potential capabilities, thinking you will need to pay hundreds or thousands of pounds to complete such tasks. It is just a case of finding the right ones and remembering not to install some of the bloat-ware and various browser toolbars and such that may come bundled with the installation software.
    .

    1. Hello B.A,
      .
      You make some excellent points as always and I can’t find anything to disagree with there. I was wondering though if you commented on this article before reading my one above? as we have covered some of the same points.
      .
      Anyway, if you find the time then why not pop into the paltalk room for chat as we haven’t spoken for a little while now 🙂
      .
      John

      1. Thanks John. As I have been absent for quite a while, I had been working up the articles ‘back to front’ – and had not read your other one yet. I now wish I had, cos it would have saved me the bother of writing the above!!
        .
        Computers, eh. Can’t live with them, can’t live without them. Well, you can, I suppose.
        .
        Despite still being on the right side of 40, I am perhaps reaching that age where I cannot keep up with technology the same as I used to do. It took my several days to change my laptop hard drive, reformat it and install a new Windows 8.1 – something I would have once rattled off in a couple of hours.
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        The new BIOS systems and stuff had me flummoxed, as well as the safeguards they have now set up to prevent certain copies of Windows running. I then mistakenly formatted the new drive to something other than FAT or NTFS, I can’t remember the name for it, but it was the advised one for installing Windows 8 and any future versions.
        .
        The laptop took a great disagreement to this! I then had to learn how to completely alter the new drive in order to switch it back to NTFS, via the command prompt. (Good job I had access to another machine in order to look it up). It wasn’t just a case of reformatting it.
        .
        After a load of hassle, I tried to get back to Windows 7 (which I used to run on my desktop computer before I was forced to have Windows 8 “preinstalled” on my laptop purchase).
        .
        However, there were no drivers for some of the features on the laptop and all sorts of stuff kept failing. It all felt wrong and flaky. So after days of trying to sort it out, I went once again to Windows 8 – but by now it is Windows 8.1. Then…cue loads of programs not running. They’ve made a right balls of it in my opinion.
        .
        I feel sorry for those who are very unfamiliar with computers, it must get very daunting. With nationalist beliefs as well as financial data risks, not all of us would be willing to take our machines to a computer shop for repair either. It is good to know some of the basics and I hope your other article can help others out.

        1. Hi B.A,
          .
          Thank you for the reply and I guessed you had been working your way up the articles so not to worry.
          .
          Regarding the BIOS, Drivers, Formatting and new laptops trying to resist changing the OS, I know exactly where you’re coming from and it can be a pain that quite often requires access to another machine as you’ve pointed out. I think everything was fine until they brought 8.0 out and it was then that things started to get a little tricky and you know things aren’t quite right when you have to start looking at programs like Classic Shell just to get things working the way you want them to.
          .
          I’m actually going to build a new PC next year as my current one isn’t quite up to the job anymore. It’s actually a doddle to install the OS and drivers on a home build as you haven’t got to try and bypass all the obstacles pre-built machines seem to have in them these days.
          .
          Anyway, I hope you have most of the problems ironed out now and like I said above, pop in to the room sometime for a chat.
          .
          John

  11. Hello B.A,
    .
    You make some excellent points as always and I can’t find anything to disagree with there. I was wondering though if you commented on this article before reading my one above? as we have covered some of the same points.
    .
    Anyway, if you find the time then why not pop into the paltalk room for chat as we haven’t spoken for a little while now 🙂
    .
    John

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