Windows 8 is one of the biggest things to come out of Microsoft in years, and though it’s been generally well-received, the new operating system has also had its share of criticism, particularly the mobile device oriented user interface.
List of some of main Windows 8 problems
The following is a list of some of the main windows 8 problems, together with Microsoft’s response and some practical solutions for each trouble.
1. What to do about the new Metro-style Start screen
One of the new features people have complained most about is the new Start screen, Microsoft’s novel way of starting and managing programs and applications.
Windows 8 looks like it’s been designed with an eye towards the mobile device environment, a move which hasn’t been particularly well received by the community or the press. Focusing on just a couple of tasks at a time makes for a terrible user experience, as does the constant switching between the new
Start screen and the more classic looking desktop (which features the taskbar, desktop, explorer, and other familiar sights). In order to get a sense of how annoying this is, consider the following situation: you’re checking your e-mail using Outlook 2010 (a standard desktop application), and one of your contacts asks you for a specific document.
What you normally want to do is launch a file search, however when you hit the Start button or the WIN key to launch said feature, the classic desktop disappears and you’re directed to the new Start screen, as the Start menu is only available in the new Metro-style environment. After you find the file and open it, you once again get directed to the desktop.
This also happens when you switch between the built-in Windows 8 Metro apps (like Twitter@ama or Socialite) and your standard desktop applications. This new UI is obviously aimed at tablets and smartphone devices, but it can significantly hamper your productivity on your desktop or laptop – which is why it has received so much criticism.
The only solution is to turn the new Start screen off. Most users, especially those used to working with Windows operating systems, will probably spend most of their time in the classic environment, almost completely ignoring the pure Metro-style apps.
The default apps you get are more like “samples” of what the new UI offers, programs written by summer interns to give you a taste of what Windows 8 can do. And we’re not just saying that in derogative way, Steven Sinofsky (who was in charge of the operating system’s development) has actually emphasized the fact that these Metro-style apps are so easy to write that even summer interns can do it in just a few weeks.
To turn the Start screen off and go back to the more familiar Windows 7 UI, simply download “Windows 8 Start Menu Toggle”.
2. How to close apps
A really common complaint among testers was that there’s no real way to close the apps. Once you start one, it remains open until Windows 8 decides to suspend it in order to save CPU cycles, though the app is still there somewhere. This isn’t going to be much of an issue for the regular user, however it could become problematic for the more professional Windows 8 users. Keep in mind that we are not talking about how to uninstall windows 8 apps.
Addressing this problem, Corporate Vice President for Windows Development Jon DeVaan has stated that “The idea is Metro Style apps are not closed. The system takes care of keeping the apps from consuming background resources automatically.
You can examine the app lifetime information in the developer documentation if you’d like.” This approach is problematic because suspended applications still use up some of the computer’s resources (its memory). Also, while cycling through apps, you can sometimes find some apps have automatically suspended and are only available if you launch them again through the start screen – which can be really annoying.
In the Windows 8 Pre-Beta (the one with the developer tools) you can close apps using ALT+F4. Another alternative is to launch Task Manager, go to the Processes tab and close currently running apps.
3. How to change that hideous green Start screen
Windows 8 comes with a Start screen which is green by default – and there’s no real option to change it.
You can use the My WDP Customizer 1.3.0 to change the Start menu background and the entire color set, as well as the Windows 8 Start button with custom images and colors.
4. How do you shut down the system?
While this might sound a bit hard to believe, it can take quite some time to figure out how to shut down Windows 8. If you clock the Start button, all it does is bring up the new Start screen. So if you really want to shut down or restart Windows 8, you have to do the following:
– Log off, click on the Power button and select either Restart or Shutdown
– Hover over the Start button, click on Settings, go to Power and select your options.
If you’re wondering why would Microsoft put the Shutdown and Restart options in a menu called Settings – you’re not the only one!
There is a relatively quick and easy way around this, which is to create custom shortcuts for shutting down, restarting, hibernating, sleeping, and locking the PC – which you can then put on your Start screen. Right-click on your classic desktop, go to New/Shortcut, and then type in one of the following commands:
– Shutdown: shutdown.exe –s –t 00
– Restart: shutdown.exe –r –t 00
– Hibernate: rundll32.exe PowrProf.dll,SetSuspendState
– Sleep: rundll32.exe powrprof.dll,SetSuspendState 0,1,0
– Lock: Rundll32.exe User32.dll,LockWorkStation
Give them the appropriate names and choose their icons from Windows’s default icon library. Now, put them in the folder “%appdata%microsoftwindowsStart MenuPrograms”. Go to the Windows 8 Start screen and search for each of the shortcuts you’ve just created. After you find them, right click on them and select Pin. You’ve just created a simple way to shut down your computer!
5. Side-by-side multitasking doesn’t work
On displays with resolutions lower than 1366 x 768, the Snap feature which allows you to display two apps on your screen (resizing them to 1/3 or 2/3 of the screen) won’t work.Windows has decided to prevent Snap from activating, even though lots of mobile devices still feature a resolution of 1280 x 800 and can display two apps side by side with no problems.
Solution: Open up regedit and go to “HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionImmersiveShell”. Now, create a new key called AppPositioner. Within that key, create a DWORD entry and name it AlwaysEnableLSSnapping. Double click on it and enter “1”.
After you restart you computer, you can display all apps side-by-side.
6. Running Windows 8 in a virtual environment
While some people run Windows 8 on physical hardware to get the complete experience with the operating system, others simply want to take it for a quick test drive to see how it performs, or check on application compatibility. The Windows Developer Preview isn’t very helpful however, and has been known to give users trouble using VMware or even Microsoft’s own VPC.
VirtualBox and VMware Workstation/Player 8 are now completely capable of running Windows 8 virtualized, so you can always try one of them. The MyTricks virtualization blog also has some useful step-by-step tutorials that’ll help you get the Windows 8 Developer Preview running on VirtualBox, VMware and even Parallels.
Also, don’t forget to delete/disable the emulated Floppy drive to avoid crashes.
7. Metro apps don’t work anymore
On a lot of systems, Windows 8 apps will simply not launch or freeze just after displaying the startup splash screen.
If you’ve experienced this, you’re not alone – it’s a known bug in Windows 8 which is connected to the user account control (UAC) feature. If it is turned off (by the user or by a third party application), some apps might not work the way they should. In order to re-enable UAC, you have to go to the Start screen, look for “User Account Control” and click on “Settings”. Now click on “Change User
Account Control Settings” and move the slider to the default setting. You will also have to make sure you didn’t use the built-in Administrator account to run Metro style apps – use your own user account instead.
8. Windows 8 requires a product key
The Windows Developer Preview is a public –pre-beta, so it shouldn’t require a product key. Some users, however, have been prompted with a “Please enter product key to proceed” window in one of the following situations: when installing Windows, when running Windows 8 off a USB key (“Windows To Go”), or after they repaired the operating system using the Windows Refresh feature.
In order to get rid of the product key request prompt, Microsoft recommends re-downloading the ISO from the MSDN website and installing it all over again. This might not be the ideal solution if you’ve already spent a lot of time downloading, installing, and configuring your Windows 8 test PC, so there’s another, quicker way to fix things: simply use a key provided by Microsoft’s Support that works universally across all Windows 8 Developer Preview builds:
6RH4V-HNTWC-JQKG8-RFR3R-36498 (for the Windows 8 Client) 4Y8N3-H7MMW-C76VJ-YD3XV-MBDKV (for the Windows Server 8)
9. .NET Framework 3.5 is missing
Oddly enough, Microsoft has decided to not include the .NET Framework 3.5 in its Windows 8 Developer Preview, which only has version 4.0 running. If you attempt to install an application which requires 3.5, you will receive a message telling you it needs to download the required components. This either takes a really long time, or simply doesn’t work and you just end up with a bunch of error messages.
There is a way to go around this, which is by running the offline installer on the Windows 8 Developer DVD. Place the DVD in the drive (or ensure the ISO is properly mounted), open up a command prompt and type:
dism.exe /online /enable-feature /featurename:NetFX3 /Source:x:sourcessxs
(where ‘X’ is the letter of your DVD or ISO drive).
10. Programs and drivers won’t run
Surprisingly, almost all of the Windows 8 apps and drivers seem to work from the very beginning with minimal fuss. There still are, however, a few programs that will give you some trouble, since Windows’s version number jumped from 6.1 (Windows 7) to 6.2 and some installers’ version checks simply refuse to run.
You’ll have to remove the Windows version check of an installer file using “Orca MSI Editor”, or remove the version information from “*.inf” driver files. While it’s true that there’s a different series of steps required for all drivers and installed files, you now at least know what to look for and how to force your “legacy” software to run on Windows 8 Developer Preview and later versions.