Living with Windows 8.1: A User’s Story

Rob Enderle
Slide Show

Five Common Excuses for Avoiding Windows Migrations

As I was writing my earlier piece on how Windows 8.1 is being successfully used in business, I couldn’t help but wonder what the big deal was. I go to meeting after meeting where fellow analysts are outspoken about how Windows 8 sucks, largely because it is different. But I’ve been on it for over a year now and when I go back to a Windows 7 machine, it feels like I’ve stepped back into the dark ages—and don’t even get me started on Windows XP, which now feels absolutely ancient. I remember the initial Windows ramp, and folks were outspoken then, too, about how much it sucked when compared to the old DOS command-line interface, but a few years later folks lined up to buy Windows 95. I get that people hate new interfaces, so I thought I’d write about my experience with Windows 8 to showcase that, once you get used to it, the grass is actually greener on the other side of this OS.


Clearly this was the signature part of Windows 8, and after I started using tablets, finally having a laptop with a touch screen helped prevent me from putting my finger through my laptop screen. Once you get used to using your finger on a tablet, it kind of feels weird to not use it on a laptop. However, I’m writing this on a desktop computer without a touch screen and I’m in Word using the old Windows interface to do it. Given, I mostly live in Word on my desktop and I play games now on tablets, so I’m not hit with the changes except when I need to go into a menu. Once I learned that the two-key command with the Windows Key and X gets me to the administration functions that used to be on the start screen—it took about 20 seconds to learn—I was good with the location changes. That one key sequence removed my frustration immediately.

Speed and Battery Life

Windows 8 is noticeably faster to boot, recover from hibernation, or wake up. I often have to run in to do an update or check on a post before I leave for a flight, and being able to rapidly fire up the PC and get into email has been a godsend. Coupled with the massive battery life improvement in Intel’s latest processors (Haswell), these two improvements are my favorites because they ensure that I keep working longer on a battery charge and get me into Windows quickly when I’m running behind the clock.


Out of all of the updates, the improvement to SkyDrive has been the most useful. I use a number of PCs, and now my passwords and files sync automatically between them and are always available on my SkyDrive from my mobile device. From work files to entertainment files, everything works and the apps I’ve purchased are now available on every machine, as well (as long as they are Windows 8 apps, old apps pretty much work the same as they always did). When I get a new PC in to play with, I just log in and all my settings start downloading and it takes literally minutes to bring up a PC where it took hours to do so before. The only remaining pain is that Office is still on the old plan, requiring a second log in and Sync process to start.

Wrapping Up: The Change Was Worth It

Now that I’m on Windows 8, well 8.1 now, I’m a happy camper. I rarely have to reboot a machine. I can move from PC to PC seamlessly, and I can access all of my files on my phone, tablet and my PC. This is a little easier for me because I have a Nokia phone, but I’m glad I made the move to Windows 8. Now, to be fair, even though I moved way back when Windows 8 launched, I really didn’t have that hard of a time with the new OS. Windows 8.1 made it even easier, but once I learned where everything was, I was pretty much OK. So maybe I’m missing the “don’t like change” gene. But, honestly, I like using Windows 8 far better than I liked the older versions of Windows so I just don’t get all of the drama. I don’t.

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Nov 22, 2013 12:17 AM Di Di  says:
Rob, Like you I really like Windows 8. Once I got use to where everything was, I am a happy camper. Don't want to go back, to 7, not at all. I think a lot of people just don't like change. Cheers Di Reply
Nov 22, 2013 5:16 AM Kevin Kevin  says:
So Rob Enderle turned into one of the Microsoft fanboys who's lost objectivity or intellectual ability to spot what's really improved or gotten worse. Reply
Nov 22, 2013 9:21 AM cheeryking cheeryking  says:
The biggest trouble for me is forgot Windows 8.1 login password and locked out of computer. But finally I regained access it with the help of this post guide: http://t.co/drLURsD1EE Reply
Nov 22, 2013 1:30 PM kenhes kenhes  says:
Finally a reviewer who gets it. Reply
Nov 22, 2013 4:49 PM Lala Lala  says:
I'm a Mac user but did purchase a Surface tablet. I have enjoyed using my RT tablet. I'm not afraid of change or using different platforms. Of course I wish there wasn't the separate desktop but its not a major deal. I believe Microsoft's direction is a good one with this newer interface. Reply
Nov 22, 2013 4:59 PM steve steve  says:
I worst part of Windows 8.1 is the Start button (same goes with Windows 8). In Windows 7/xp/vista, I can open start menu by without even seeing the start button. But in Windows 8/8.1 , the Start button is very slow and sluggish. The new Start Button of Windows 8.1 is for old chap or for slow user who move their mouse pointer very slowly. If I click the new Start button in my normal speed, the start button don't even respond, it (start button) only gets highlighted. Reply
Nov 25, 2013 5:09 PM Windows 7 Fan Windows 7 Fan  says:
Obviously you are out-of-touch with the world of keyboard and mouse users. You are either being paid by Microsoft or are oblivious to the fact the Start Button/All Programs/Menu are how Microsoft made it very convenient to find files and programs and to "send shortcuts" to the desktop. Sorry Pal. There is no redeeming factors about W8.1. The next version should be a repeat of Windows 7 for keyboard and mouse users.... Reply
Nov 26, 2013 11:52 AM MightyJo MightyJo  says:
The UI is good for APS with few functions with big buttons all apps like web design and adobe products have lots of buttons all over the place for instant access and the buttons are small, so you need the pinpoint accuracy of a mouse and you spend most of your time using the key board. Touch is only good for simple apps. All it is doing is turning brilliant laptops and desktops into cheep tablets. Reply
Jan 4, 2014 4:44 PM Beathoven Beathoven  says:
" I rarely have to reboot a machine" - Really? I Disagree. I have more problems with Win8 and WIn8.1 than I ever had w Windows 7. My machine goes through one or two "Windows has encountered an unexpected error and needs to reboot" a day. Explorer and especially IE crash all the time. Microsoft pure and simply has never met the OS's responsibility to control apps (their execution) and their memory spaces. (I wrote one of the first 32 bit OS's so I have an idea how it should work.) As for the UI I personally think it's a big waste of screen real estate. Even w Win8.1 I use Classic Start Menu 4.0.2. If you're trying to get real work done on your PC it is simply more efficient. I think Billy's copying the UI style of inferior machines was a big mistake. It's sort of like bringing down wages and the quality of work in America by bowing to, legitimizing and encouraging the influx of illegals. Reply
Jan 18, 2014 4:20 PM JORGE FERRERO JORGE FERRERO  says:
january 2013 I installed an evaluation copy offered by Windows...The year passed and now Pc reboots every our and flashes the importance of the new 8.1 and if you don`t install it it will continue the reboots every our...so you go to the app in the store and it says: installing 8.1 and will iddle for the next our...and back to "0" again...the was a problem with the installation please install again...this has been 36 hours and I don`t know if mi Pc wont get ruined Reply
Jan 21, 2014 5:51 PM dub0ne dub0ne  says:
Recent install, so maybe this happened with an update, but I don't get the hang up on the start button. That seems to be the biggest thing people cry about. It isn't like there are not alternatives to get you working the way you are used to working. Outside of a quick flip to full screen, I don't notice a lot of difference myself. For example, with Word 2010 installed, if I need to open an instance of it, press the windows key - type "Word" - press enter and Word opens. I can see it throwing you off if you rely on the mouse to access everything, but not sure how using the mouse to navigate menus and sub menus is more efficient. I'm going to guess that any sluggishness of the start menu is due to hardware resources and not the OS. I can agree that there are some apps (3rd parry and MS) that have decided to focus attention more heavily to the "touch" look and feel and don't offer alt options in the desktop world, but I don't think you can pin that on the OS. Additionally, I'm a heavy command line/*nix user, but have had no troubles adapting to Winders 8.1. In fact, the performance boosts mentioned in the article have been worth any of the relearning I had to do. Reply
Feb 4, 2014 2:24 PM Andy Andy  says:
windows 8/8.1 is rubbish, windows 7 if better in every way, MS should bring back proper start button in windows 8.1 Reply
Feb 8, 2014 1:00 AM asd asd  says:
comparing dos to windows is like comparing landline phones to smartphones. that transition was revolutionary, nothing like windows 8 or any future OS in decades to come. i don't believe there were as many people complaining about windows 95 like people complain about windows 8. i believe microsoft introduced the tablet interface in windows so they can force more people to get used to it and eventually consider buying windows tablets and phones. Which in return means billions of $ profit in a market they don't yet predominate. Most windows or more-so apple OS users use computers just for internet, no matter if they own 1,2,4,or 8 core processor machines, for them IE icon on the desktop is more than enough . Microsoft didn't care much about pissing off advanced users with their forced tablet interface, which can not be disabled, because they are a minority. For me, any other additional click required for a task in windows 8 compared to windows 7 is a huge! loss in efectiveness for day to day use. Same goes for office 2013, which is even worse than comparing windows 8 to 7. All in all, i would compare windows 8 to windows vista for the amount of nerves it lost for me. Reply
Feb 12, 2014 3:40 PM SEL SEL  says:
I haven't used anything but win xp. I'm fixing to get a new computer and all the talk about the new windows is scaring me, wondering if I will be able to figure it out. Everything that people is talking about sounds foreign to me. Is it that hard to figure out? Most are referring back to windows 7 and moving on to windows 8 - 8.1 but I haven't had any experience with either. I would appreciate your response on this. Thank you Reply
Feb 18, 2014 3:02 PM questsin questsin  says:
I love using new interfaces, but Microsoft Windows 8.1 is very disappointing. I have a new Samsung ATIV and it crashes way too often . Gets hung up, tons of other issues and is generally unusable. I currently use lots of other Computers and OS's. Looks like Vendors that own the SW & HW stack fair much better. Give better support and don't play the finger blame. Apple and BlackBerry come to mind. I hate to be the sucker with only 1 Windows computer. Same goes for Android phone. Hope Windows integrates Nokia and starts selling hardware too. Surface sucks for the cost :( Reply
Mar 4, 2014 7:57 PM Mack Altman Mack Altman  says: in response to Kevin
I find it sad one is considered a "fan boy" when finding evidence in support of one thing over another. Personally, I have two PCs exactly the same at home, one running Win 7 and one running Win 8. Win 8 has outperformed Win 7 on everything. I find it funny that web is trending back towards using less graphics. If people paid any attention to the Win 7 UI versus the Win 8 UI, you'd know that there are less graphics being used; therefore, you'd understandably get better run times. Do you remember win Windows XP came out? Most people reduced the system load by removing the "pretty" XP look. Additionally with the release of Win Vista/7, you removed the transparency to reduce the system load again. Now, we have a UI that is a simple dimensional object with a flat color. If you think a gradient is going to render quicker and more efficiently than a simple object filled with one color, you know nothing about how graphics work. Reply
Mar 27, 2014 5:28 AM argh argh  says:
I just installed 8.1 in a VM. I think my productivity would be almost zero if I tried to use it for real work. I just bought a new PC over a Mac because the hardware was such a good value when compared with Mac prices. I figured I could learn to live with 8.1 when the time came to upgrade. Now I'm not so sure. Reply
Mar 31, 2014 12:45 PM penguin penguin  says:
Really? There are still people hanging around with Windows? Windows 8 was the death of Microsoft! Now every intelligent human being should choose a linux distribution that suits his interests. For novice users I'd recommend linux mint. Otherwise keep living in the misery of M$. Reply
Apr 4, 2014 12:33 AM Slowspeed Slowspeed  says:
I could stand 8.1 for few days, constantly improving it with third-party software. After all realized that all 'improvements' either disable new features or add features existed in previous Windows version but removed by MS from 8, I reverted back to Windows 7 and now I am a happy camper - whatever this means. Reply
Apr 15, 2014 1:19 AM john McCurdy john McCurdy  says:
At least Microsoft is consistent in its failure mode. XP was a really decent step up from Win95/98. Vista was terrible. Win7 was a magnificently stable OS, Windows 8/8.1 stinks. Every update trashes connectivity to my USB hubs and devices. Home network members fall off for no reason, as do printers and shared disk drives. On the last update, I had to re-install the printer to get functionality. I want my money back (ha ha that'll happen!) Reply
Apr 22, 2014 7:10 PM Frank Fulmer Frank Fulmer  says:
I have win 7 on desktop and android tablet. I would like a more robust os so I could use Dragon. I cant type. Its hard to use this ity bity key board with 1 finger and a full sized with 2 fingers, that is why I use Dragon. My concern is how long of a learning curve is involded using 8.1. I am a 71 year old fat man and I dont have that long to go. What are thoughts opinions since you use 8.1? Thank you Frank Fulmer Reply
Sep 15, 2014 10:03 AM herbert92x herbert92x  says:
Windows 8 is a pile of crap. Windows 8.1 is a pile of crap with whipped cream and a cherry on top. Previous versions were clunky, but, at least they were organized by engineers. One learned that doing "A" would lead to "B". Windows 8 acts like its on crack. Going to the dark side and buying a Mac. Reply

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