My usual morning ritual on waking is to turn on the computer and allow it to warm up while I make coffee. Then while the coffee is brewing I check my emails, the weather, and see what is going on in the world.
Last Tuesday I awoke, stumbled into my office, pushed the start button on my PC, and…. Nothing happened, no friendly blue light, not a sound. I had to sit around until 9 am. That’s when my local computer fix-it guy opens up for business. He told me he was swamped with work, and couldn’t even look at my machine until the end of the week.
That’s okay, I thought. There is plenty of other things need doing around the house, and the weather is nice, I might even ride my bike. You see I didn’t want to rush out and buy a new computer, if it was going to be a simple fix like a new switch, or something.
No such luck. Friday afternoon the fix-it guy called to say my Mother Board had died. I’m not even sure what a Mother Board is, but I had to take the expert’s word that nothing will compute without it, and it would cost more than a whole new machine to replace this Mother.
So now it was computer shopping time, this was going to be fun. The first thing I noticed was where there was once rows and rows of PCs, now there is just one little shelf in a corner. It’s all lap tops, and tablets now, but I just bought a beautiful large screen monitor a couple of months ago, (Great for watching bike races.) so I just needed the “Tower” part.
Then came the realization that all the new computers come with Windows 8. I had heard a lot about Windows 8, most of it not good.
“Can’t I just use, Windows 7? It does everything I need to do.”
I was told no. “Okay, can you show me what it does?” Where upon the salesman started to make all these different things happen with lightning speed.
“Wait… I’m never going to remember all this by the time I get home. Does it come with instructions?”
“No, there are no instructions, but I can sell you a tutorial disc for twenty dollars.”
Here’s a tip. Don’t buy the tutorial, it gives you stupid little tasks to perform, and if you don’t perform then you can’t continue to the next stage. The tutorial is almost as hard to operate as Window 8 itself.
Where there used to be buttons that I would click on to do something, now I have to then play “Hunt the button.” These magically appear when I hover the curser in the corners of the screen.
When I turn on the PC, I see a page with the time in large letters; I have a number of clocks in my home I don't need the time. I discovered, quite by accident, that I click anywhere on this page for it to disappear and reveal the "Log-in" box. The opening Clock screen is completely superfluous.
One of the first things I did was try to download the software that I use to build and maintain my web sites. I placed the disc in the tray and nothing happened. So I got on the phone to Microsoft tech support to ask how to download this program I needed.
After a long session with an automated voice system, I finally got a real person who passed me on to another person who then passed me on to yet another person. Then I was told that a tech person would call me back, probably on Monday. (This was Saturday.) Then came the kicker… This would cost me $250 to speak to their tech person. I refused their offer of service at this outrageous price.
Instead I Googled. “How do you open a disc in Windows 8?” I got my answer. When you put the disc in and close the tray, a tiny, almost transparent, box appears in the top right corner of the screen. It only stays in view for a few seconds, then disappears. If you are not looking for it you don’t even see it.
You click on this box and another box appears and asks what you want to do, one of the options being “Run.” I ran the software and the program was up and running in about five minutes. A lot less time than I had spent on the phone with Microsoft.
The problem as I see it, the people who design these programs have become way too clever for their own good. And just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. The people who designed Windows 8 lost sight of the fact that for most people the computer is a tool to get work done, it is not a fucking video game.
There was nothing wrong with the old system when you put a disc in the tray, a window opened in the middle of your screen that said “Run” or “Play.” What ever happened to the old adage of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Microsoft’s motto seems to be, “If it ain’t broke, work on it until it is.”
Please excuse the rant, but I needed to get this out of my system before I can settle down to serious writing. This couldn’t have come at a worse time. I have just been hired by Answers.com as an “Expert” writer on Cycling. (See the badge in the right hand column.) They want a minimum of 10 articles a month, and I have just lost a week because of this problem, and it could take me another week just to find my way around Windows 8.