Ask LH: Has Windows 8 Improved?

Ask LH: Has Windows 8 Improved?

Dear Lifehacker, I’m not a fan of what Microsoft did with Windows 8, so I didn’t upgrade when it came out. I’ve stuck with Windows 7 for the past two years, but I need a new laptop (not tablet) and they all come with Windows 8. Has it gotten any better? Can I avoid using the stupid Metro interface? Thanks, Windows H8er

Dear H8er,

Windows 8 has been out for almost two years now, and has seen two sizeable updates in that time. Microsoft hasn’t fixed everything, but it has added a few things that should make you happier — and more cool stuff is on the way. Here’s what has (and hasn’t) changed.

The Current State Of Windows 8

Let’s start with the obvious: “Metro” (now called the Modern UI) is still around, and it doesn’t seem to be going away. It can now be customised a little more, and is a bit easier to use with a keyboard and mouse, but if you — like most people — aren’t interested in using it, you’ll find that it’s still just as dumb as ever, and you probably won’t use it at all.

But that’s the nice thing: you don’t have to use it, and honestly, you never did. Windows 8.1 introduced Boot to Desktop, a handy checkbox that lets you skip the Start screen entirely — something you could do since day one with one of many third-party utilities. As of the last Windows 8 update, it’s even turned on by default for non-touch screen devices.

And while Microsoft hasn’t brought back the traditional Start menu yet, it is going to. Again, you can get it back now with a tool like Start8 or Classic Shell.

In short: yes, Microsoft has fixed some of Windows 8’s most complained-about problems, but they have been fixable with third-party tools since the beginning. And Windows 8 still comes with some worthwhile new desktop features.

Lastly, Windows 8 will soon allow you to run its tiled “Modern” apps in their own Windows on the desktop, which is pretty cool — though once again, you can already do this with a third-party tool called ModernMix. It’s actually a useful feature, since the Modern UI does have some good apps.

The Biggest Problem: It’s Still $150

Windows 8 doesn’t deserve the hate it gets. Sure, Microsoft made some mistakes — at least in my opinion — but if you have even the most basic computer skills, you can get around them easily.

Windows 8’s biggest downfall is, and has always been, its price. Sure, it brings some handy desktop features, but are they worth $150 for a new licence? Well…probably not. Upgrading was $14.99 when it first came out, which was a lot less of an issue. Unless you really want one of its new desktop features, $150 is very expensive for a lot of stuff you won’t use.

That said, if you’re getting a new computer that comes bundled with Windows 8, the price isn’t an issue. You won’t notice that much of a difference, especially after you make a few minor tweaks. But if you’re deciding whether to upgrade your current computer, it all comes down to how much you’re willing to pay.

If you decide you really hate it that much, just make sure you get a laptop that can be downgraded to Windows 7.

Cheers Lifehacker

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    • *sigh* The joke is 2 years old now. And any move to Windows 7 in the present environment would lead to security risks and issues in the long term.

  • I personally don’t mind windows 8. I have found it a lot faster both booting and general use + a lot easier to use.

    I think they do need to fix metro, it’s great for touch devices but pointless for traditional PCs. Bring back the start button!!

    I hope the next instalment of Windows Microsoft get there shit together about the price. I wouldn’t of upgraded if it wasn’t for the early bird special of $15.

  • In the US, if you bought outright then you pay $119 for 8.1 and $199 for 8.1 Pro (USD). In Australia you pay $149 for 8.1 and $259 (was 399) for 8.1 Pro.

    So, by using a US address (you may need to pay $20 tax depending on the state), you can get it for AUD $147 for 8.1, which is not worth it, or $233 for 8.1 Pro. That’s $30 dollars less than the ‘special’ price but 167 less than normal price. All just by having a US address (and who says you have to live there?).

  • I dont know why people hate on windows 8 so much. I love it. I have it installed on my gaming rig and its much better than 7. My pc boots in seconds now and gaming performance increased a bit. SSD support is also much much better than 7. You can also avoid the metro interface all together with boot to desktop option and Start8 ( Its really not that hard.

  • Unless you’re interested in being able to run all AAA games that come out in the future, you’re not limited to buying a Windows laptop. I was in the same situation of not wanting Windows 8 on a new laptop just 18 months ago, so I bought a Macbook Pro instead. I was previously a lifelong Windows user, and honestly I’ve never looked back. With the exception of some recently released games that I play on my desktop PC, there’s nothing that PC handles that I can’t also handle on my Mac. In most cases it’s a much better user experience on the Mac, given the attention the end user is given in all design processes at Apple.

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