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Reflections from a Swede in Norway.

Here you will find my small graffiti board where I write about things I come to think about.

In my blog, I write about the general unfairness of life, about spam mail, vintage computers, board games, Norwegians, current and not-so-current affairs, technology and whatever else occurs to me — in other words, a glorious mess. All opinion expressed here are of course my own, and all similarities with any living people is of course intentional.

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All text and pictures copyright Peter Krefting, unless otherwise noted. More about the author.

Windows 8 - a first impression

Published: Monday 2012-11-12.

I thought I’d try to keep up with the new technology for once and take Microsoft up on their offer of a Windows 8 upgrade for 250 Norwegian kroner. Earlier upgrades have cost way too much for it to be worth it, but the latest one was priced at the same level as Apple’s Mac OS X, at a bit more reasonable level. So I downloaded the upgrade assistant and let it run. It worked fine, it thought my computer would be capable of running Windows 8, took my credit card payment and gave me a license key. Then it stopped.

I run Privoxy to filter advertisements and other annoyances and had set Internet Explorer to go through it (despite never using Internet Explorer), and apparently the upgrade assistant noticed that, tried to use it and was stopped by a filter somewhere. Or whatever it was that happened, I never received any error message, instead it just stopped at 0 % After a restart I noticed that the assistant thought it was a good idea for me to pay once more, it was not possible to enter the license code and try to download again, but fortunately there was a link in the e-mail receipt I had received. So with Privoxy disabled I managed to download the upgrade and burn it to a DVD for future use.

The install itself was painless — actually more than usual. For the first time ever it was actually possible to install Windows without having the installation destroying my boot manager. I have had several installations of IBM Boot Manager, LILO and GRUB overwritten or disabled by Windows installations over the last 17 years (counting from Windows 95), but this time it worked fine. The installer restarted the computer a number of times at random intervals during the installation process, and since I have Debian as the default choice I had to go over to the computer every now and then to see if its login screen was showing and restart the computer if that was the case, but finally all of Windows 8 was installed.

[Windows 8 desktop]
Windows 8 desktop.

My first impression of Windows 8 can be concentrated to a single word: Ugly. When Windows 7 was released a few years ago I found it to be the first time Microsoft had managed to create a graphical user interface that looked good, but now they have taken a step backwards. The start screen, which I will talk more about later, looks like a box of children’s toys and the classic (desktop) mode looks more or less like a bag of wine gum. I have not quite understood what it is they are trying to achieve, perhaps the speculation I read that they are trying to make the desktop mode ugly on purpose, to make everyone switch to the it’s not called Metro mode. But if that is the case, why did they make that mode just as ugly?

[Start screen]
Start screen.

What about the Metro mode, or Windows 8 mode, which is might be called (no-one seems to know for sure) with its start screen, then? Well, it looks like they are trying to create an operating system for tablets (no thanks, Android works just fine on mine, thank you very much), but have it transplanted onto a desktop computer. With a mouse (okay, trackball) and without a touch screen it doesn’t work as well. It is very strange to use a mouse pointer to move around in it, and even if it is a bit fun to run Wordfeud on the PC it feels misplaced in full-screen mode with mouse control. The game that feels just perfect on a phone and tablet just feels weird.


Anyway, the upgrade wasn’t too expensive, and even if I do not grieve over the loss of the Start button (I have never really liked it), I have installed Classic Shell anyway, to not have to switch to the start screen to open other programs. And it is never wrong to run the latest, but the Debian install will remain the default choice on the box.

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