In order to keep up with goings-on in the U.S. while I’m in Russia (where I’m writing this from), I bought a $60 WinBook TW700 tablet (on which I’m writing this) equipped with full Windows 8.1 in mid-January of this year (like it or not, Windows 8.1 is currently the only non-mobile OS with the full backing of Microsoft as of the time of writing). I think it has the greatest variety of ports for a tablet of its price range, with a MicroSD slot, a Type D HDMI port, a micro USB charging port, and a full-size USB 2.0 port. The screen’s pretty decent, too, although there’s under six gigabytes of useable disk space out of the box, forcing me to block the installation of all Windows updates but Windows Defender malware definitions to conserve disk space. So far, without using a keyboard or mouse, I’ve been able to post multiple blog comments, watch a couple of hour-long YouTube videos, and even check five check boxes in the Windows 8.1 File Explorer (one of the hardest things to do without a mouse in Windows 8.1). I found the separately sold tablet folio to be very useful for protecting the screen from damage.
As I’ve used this tablet for a month now, I think I am able to judge well the merits and demerits of Windows 8.1. This post shall focus on the demerits.
*In XP, Task Manager is used to kill unresponsive apps. In 8.1, Task Manager is the first app to become unresponsive. Instead of killing unresponsive apps, it is used to kill Modern UI apps. Even attempting to kill unresponsive apps with the 133 kilobyte XP task manager failed, as 8.1 does not appear to allow any new programs to open until issues with the unresponsive one have been resolved.
*”Closing” Modern UI apps (by dragging down) does not actually mean closing them.
*There being no easy way to shut down the OneDrive Sync Engine Host without a registry hack.
*OneDrive (which cannot be uninstalled easily) bans literally at least 85% of the Internet (also, links to it and uploading of the same content more than once). Yes, these policies are effectively enforced. Even if they’re not meant to be. So there’s never really a reason to use OneDrive for personal use, despite Microsoft’s aggressive promotion of it (see above). Dropbox has similar, though much less broad and more vague policies. Google Drive has infinitely more sensibly-written and explicit policies, suggesting a greater willingness to listen to reason (this doesn’t mean they always do so; just listen to some of Thunderf00t’s complaints about YouTube policy enforcement).
*The LoveSummerTrue mousepad (a requirement in some cases; e.g., moving forward/backward without arrow keys in some video players, scrolling quickly in File Explorer and Control Panel, mousing over to find menus on some websites, dragging some items in some websites) is not built-in.
*8.1 File Explorer and Control Panel are terrible for touch. Checkboxes and scrolling are the worst.
*Modern UI only being able to serve a very limited purpose in desktops and laptops, with many (most?) Modern UI apps being unnecessary for large screens attached to computers with 4+ gigabytes RAM. Most desktop and laptop users do not even open one Metro app per day.
*The default calculator not having a quick way to convert square units.
*Having to go through some hoops to truly remove the default apps from the hard disk (Uninstall just won’t do; you’ll also have to delete some hidden folders and change folder ownership). Default apps include Health and Fitness, Games,
Zune X-Box Music, and Mail+Calendar+People.
*I found the learning curve to be excessively steep due to omnipresent Mystery Meat navigation. I’d never have guessed where the Show Desktop button is without intoxication, excessive concentration, or Googling. Neither would I have known how to move or remove Modern UI apps. Or fill half the screen with one app and the other half with another. The charms are quite difficult to purposefully pull up on a desktop without some experience, but are much easier to pull up (while actually meaning to) on a tablet.
*The Windows Mobile and Windows RT/Full Version Windows App stores not being the same thing. Mobile Windows apps are unavailable on Windows for tablets and desktops. That’s just insensible.
*Related to the previous point, fewer and less feature-filled apps (for why, see above).
*No way to view exact percent battery left in Modern UI without installing a quite cruddy third-party app.
*OneNote requiring constant connection to the Internet.
*No free Office Online Modern UI apps (other than OneNote). Office Online is available for free on live.com. But why isn’t it available as a set of Modern UI apps in the Windows store?
*The tabs in the latest version of Internet Explorer for Desktop are too small when there are more than about five of them.
*Internet Explorer for Modern UI not supporting extensions. What’s up with that?
*The toxic rule that only the default web browser is allowed to have a Modern UI mode. The fact other browsers are allowed to be default does not change the fact this is a clear anti-competitive business practice, since Internet Explorer for Modern UI was always the best-established Modern UI web browser. That rule successfully killed Firefox for Modern UI, which was shaping up to become the best Modern UI web browser up until 2014.
*No screen sharing in the Modern UI Skype App (this is part of an issue mentioned above, but shouldn’t Microsoft have some respect for what it owns?).
*The Windows app store having a more-than-decent amount of questionable apps (including a questionable “UC Browser”).