Windows 8 and 8.1 Forums


Win8: Different new OS, same old oversights - or are they?

  1. #1


    Posts : 20
    Windows 8 CP 64

    Win8: Different new OS, same old oversights - or are they?


    I rarely post on forums for the simple reason that most of the time others have already (over)covered the pros, cons, and miscellania that I would comment on, making my posting little more than white noise. Windows 8 discussion is proof of the rule, as just like with 'Intel vs AMD' or 'MS vs Apple' an epic battle appears to be taking place re 'Metro vs Retro'. (Yes, I cannot help but lovingly rename the desktop environment 'Retro' and I'm rather surprised Microsoft hasn't cottoned on to the marketing possibilities of that.)

    I could go on ad nauseum about the obvious where WinRT/Metro are concerned; about how Microsoft is seemingly racing others in pushing for an eventual relocation of desktops to the computer equivalent of a retirement village, complete with a dome protecting it from the developing fluffy white cloud cover outside; about the debates over which HID is going to win in the end; about how Metro is just Microsoft applying insane restrictions on content use ala Blizzard (WoW's Lua-to-engine restrictions to combat botting ring a bell, anyone?); hell, even a piece regarding lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, just to cover all of the bases.

    No, I'd prefer to open a fresh can of worms, or at least grab a can of something that rarely gets opened because the contents are usually unpalatable. I'm going to be totally cryptic and ask you to remember this: 30 years.

    As a hobbyist C++ developer, I'm only a fair coder, but like most coders (and indeed, most self-taught [insert whatever here], I love what I do and therefore tend to notice little things - like bugs - that many people miss. The one thing I have failed to read virtually anything about in all this Win8 cafuffle is this simple fact: despite three decades of apparent experience in software development and the pending release of another 'innovation' in operating systems, Microsoft still has not addressed key bugs that have been prevalent in almost every version of Windows ever released, including the currently circulating previews of the new OS in question.

    Two bugs/oversights stand out in my mind; so far as I've seen, Win8 still fails to provide:

    1 - The ability to reliably and consistently save all desktop settings (such asbut not limited to the placement of icons) without having to unlog/relog the OS or user account, including any explicit user-selectable option to save the desktop state at will;
    2 - The ability to reliably and consistently save all folder settings (such as but not limited to the default display options of files/directories when opening a new Explorer folder view), and for all such options do do exactly as specified in the description (ie: the word 'all' actually means all, not just 'half of' or 'on occasion').

    Now I know people are going to read this and think 'OMG, that is so [trivial/petty/redonkulous]', but let's look at the bigger picture here. Both of these petty little 'bugs' have been present in some way or other in almost every major version of Windows since 3.1x; saving the desktop state is still to this day an 'automatic' process, and with no clear user control over saving/reloading that state specifically by user request, a simple display resolution change can trash a carefully-laid-out desktop and throw all icons into the 'Great Clump Of Death' starting from the top-left corner of the screen; thanks very much for having to waste time rearranging it all again, it's been fun.

    And I don't know about anyone else, but having to remind Windows every single day that I always want all folders to be displayed in 'Detailed' view regardless of thier contents, with the file size displayed directly after the filename and no pointless 'file type' indicator, got past a joke several versions ago for me, and certain other Win8-based additions to this apparent 'do as MS wants' rule are making me wonder if it's not deliberate. At the very least, it does not inspire my confidence in WinRT/Metro, because if the windows in 'Microsoft House' still don't open and close properly after 30 years (yes, that's it, the magic number I told you to remember earlier), how well are the kids in the sandbox outside the windows going to behave?

    Oh, and since Metro actually uses no windows, why is it bundled with - and still effectively called - 'Windows' when clearly it could have been developed side-by-side with Windows as a seperate tablet-geared OS and called... um... 'Tiles' perhaps? That could have opened the marketing door for... let's see... Doors... Furnishings... "[DxDiag] OS: Kitchen Sinks 2025 / SP1 (Automatic Garbage Disposal) / SP2 (Undersink Filtration)." Okay, amusing probably only to people as twisted as myself, but jumping on the bandwagon and creating a 'me-too' OS just to keep up with the competition is not exactly a winning stategy either, nor is it particularly amusing.

    "What bigger picture was he on about?" you may (or may not) still be wondering. It'll probably seem like a(nother) strange tangent, but bare with me and look carefully at Window's development over the years: look at WinRT's restrictions on what can and cannot be done in Metro apps; back further to UAC and its underlying model of '"You Can't Touch This!" (MS 'owns' this file/directory/tree/grass - keep off.)'; further still to the beginning of the addition over the years of various Microsoft-only linked file/directory attributes to control the flow and access of data (of which UAC was the eventual result). There are probably a few others that escape my memory at this time, but the upshot should be clear: Microsoft has slowly but surely been gaining control of your device and (in a roundabout way) everything on it, even if that device hasn't even been invented yet. Sure, they are not the only ones, but the methods they have employed over the years do tend to stick out like a hammered thumb.

    As far as Microsoft and its products go, ultimately I'm in the camp that says "I'm not a fan...but it could be worse." Some MS products I've used over the years I've loved, some I've hated, and some I'm on the fence with. But there is one thing I must say that I'm fairly confident some people out there agree on, and it's this: An operating system is correctly defined as the primary control and interface codebase that allows the human (the brain) to tell the computer (the brainless) what to do; if my operating system is telling me what I can and can't do with my data on my computer - and is indeed taking full and undeniable control over aspects of the computer's operations without my say-so - then it clearly isn't doing what it is supposed to; it is in fact acting in a manner that is reminiscent of a viral attack, and that kind of behaviour usually results in eventual eradication of said virus from the host - or the death of the host.

    At the very least, it means my OS is trying to tell me it's smarter than I am. Not only is that complete [insert favourite expletive noun here], it's downright insulting.

    (Disclaimer: All trademarks are owned by thier respective owners and are used without permission because contacting said owners to garner it would just take too damn long. The views, opinions and attempts at humorous discourse are solely that of the author and its associated peripherals and are in no way affiliated with any of the other parties denoted in this post, neither express, implied nor otherwise; in fact, said author reserves the right to claim it was never here in the first place.)

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  2. #2


    Posts : 5,360
    7/8/ubuntu/Linux Deepin


    Yes . I haven't been around all that long, but win8 seems worse in this respect.


    An operating system is correctly defined as the primary control and interface codebase that allows the human (the brain) to tell the computer (the brainless) what to do; if my operating system is telling me what I can and can't do with my data on my computer - and is indeed taking full and undeniable control over aspects of the computer's operations without my say-so - then it clearly isn't doing what it is supposed to
    Interesting post - too many words for some to digest, I fear.
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  3. #3


    Posts : 454
    Windows 8.1 Pro with Media Center


    Quote Originally Posted by Eccles View Post
    Two bugs/oversights stand out in my mind; so far as I've seen, Win8 still fails to provide:

    1 - The ability to reliably and consistently save all desktop settings (such asbut not limited to the placement of icons) without having to unlog/relog the OS or user account, including any explicit user-selectable option to save the desktop state at will;
    2 - The ability to reliably and consistently save all folder settings (such as but not limited to the default display options of files/directories when opening a new Explorer folder view), and for all such options do do exactly as specified in the description (ie: the word 'all' actually means all, not just 'half of' or 'on occasion').
    TL;DR for the most part, but Microsoft has never cared about (1) dating back to Windows 95, and the smart money stopped caring about it long ago. Besides, the desktop is usually obscured by windows making it fairly useless for storing things you need to access frequently. The good news is, the Windows 7 taskbar is rock solid at remembering the positions of pinned icons, and you should be using it primarily instead of the desktop and Start Menu. As for (2), again Microsoft has done a poor job on remembering your settings, and they partially gave up in Windows 7 concerning things like Explorer window sizes. The smart thing to do is use a registry hack to force Explorer to open all folders in Details view by default and stop caring (much) about Explorer remembering customizations.

    None of this has ever really worked right, and I gave up on third party "settings savers" long ago. With libraries, Microsoft even introduced new weirdness in Windows 7. For example, if I directly navigate to a subfolder in my Documents folder without using the library link and set its sort order, Windows ignores my changes when I subsequently navigate to it through the Documents library link. And it gets crazier, because if I navigate through the Documents library link and change the sort order for a subfolder, when I back out of that folder, the sort order for the whole library has changed. That's because Microsoft is maintaining two sets of sort orders, one for the library as a whole and everything in it when navigated to via a library link, and another for folders navigated to in the traditional way, without entering via a library. All this is clearly "by design" because they had to actively make it this stupid; if they did nothing, the folders would remember their sort order no matter how you navigate to them. It's important because some people like to open folders directly with Explorer shortcuts, and they get different settings if they should happen to navigate to those folders through a library link and vice versa.
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  4. #4


    Posts : 20
    Windows 8 CP 64


    Fair call to both of you for the TL;DR call; I guess I tend to ramble online as much as off. :P To boil it down for the bored, my main concern is that MS are trying to merge 2 distinctly different UI's into one OS, and if they couldn't get a few simple things right in the original base UI, how confident can we be that the new UI will be any better? A direction I think they could have taken instead is to extend the existing desktop with scroll capabilities, replace traditional icons with tiles, and finally allow a simplified, sandboxed and restricted 'Metro-style' app development framework (using Metro-style user interaction and styling) as an extention of the standard 'desktop' framework (say, using .NET/managed code with extra system restrictions); the best of both worlds in the same UI on the same codebase, rather than two essentially seperate codebases. Let's be honest, any dev with half a brain and some spare time can currently create a desktop app with the 'look and feel' of a Metro app, without any of WinRT's restrictions; all that would be required is to add the extra HID support for touchscreens, for the most part.
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  5. #5


    Posts : 5,360
    7/8/ubuntu/Linux Deepin


    That would be far too sensible.
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  6. #6


    Posts : 5,707
    Windows 8.1 Pro


    Interesting read.

    I've heard of folder view issues before, but not a day to day issue. I have them set to large icons and sometimes, it doesn't keep it that way in certain locations.

    I think the naming you mentioned kind of peaked my interest because if you compared Windows 1 to Windows 95, should 95 have been called Windows and not MultiTask (or other favorite term)? The point I'm making is that every version of Windows appears different than the last and it's still Windows. Windows 1 looks nothing like or 8, but they're still called Windows.

    Also UAC has two sides to it, you spoke of the other Microsoft controlled side. UAC is ok since it denies access to non-benevolent programs from accessing and tampering with those files. Sure, you as the user don't have access to that, but the great thing is that UAC is easily disabled. There is also the issue where even disabling it doesn't fully allow control of a file, that's why there is a .reg file that allows YOU full on control of the file.

    Even then, before UAC, I think somewhere along the OS series, Windows was designed to not have the user be in full control of the OS, as a user, you use. It used to be where you turned Windows on, you're in primary control, not Windows. But that has been changed due to security safeguards for the vast majority of Windows users, much like UAC.
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  7. #7


    Posts : 20
    Windows 8 CP 64


    Quote Originally Posted by Coke Robot View Post
    ... should 95 have been called Windows and not MultiTask ... ?
    Good point, but despite the addition of true multitasking, it was still, well, Windows. Metro is almost going backwards by removing multitasking - amusing and alarming at the same time to me, but the 'average user' may well prefer it, and it certainly reduces system requirements and opens up new hardware options.

    Quote Originally Posted by Coke Robot View Post
    It used to be where you turned Windows on, you're in primary control, not Windows. But that has been changed due to security safeguards for the vast majority of Windows users, much like UAC.
    Hit the nail on the head, and therein lies the rub: system security from malicious, unintentional threats vs the (power) user wanting full control over (within reason) the management of all data/programs on the system. UAC used to get me mad constantly when it first surfaced, but I soon learned to trust it knew (usually) what it was doing, and again the 'average user' benefits by not accidentally deleting a .DLL and BSODing thier system to kingdom come. It's not UAC per se that bothers me; it's the increasing drive towards the "you payed for it, but we still own it" mentality that many companies (not just Microsoft) seem to be applying not just to thier software, but also to your software (including but not necessarily limited to data).
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  8. #8


    Posts : 1,925
    Windows 8.1 Pro


    First things first. There is a difference between a bug, and design flaw. A bug is when something does not function as it was designed to, a design flaw is when something functions as designed, but the design is not what was intended.

    Unfortunately, neither of your issues are either bugs or design flaws. They are both working exactly as they were intended to. What you view as a bug, is simply a limitation in the way it was designed.

    First, who's to say that a user doesn't want the icons to re-arrange when the desktop size changes? What's it supposed to do? Allow icons to move offscreen where they can't be found? It's forced to rearrange them, and then of course save them in the new position. Like it or not, this is as it was designed.

    There are several third party apps that will fix this for you, my favorite is Fences from Stardock.

    The second issue is a limitation on the amount of storage assigned for windows. Windows only remembers a certain number of folder settings, after that it replaces old entries. This is to prevent the disk from filling up with these entries. Now, it could be argued that this limitation is no longer necessary with 3-4TB disk drives, but again it is working as it was designed.

    It may seem like it randomly "forgets" it's settings, but the fact is, it just doesn't remember them forever by design.

    There are a few things you can do, however. If you want a particular style to be the default, then you can go to the Folder Options, and the View tab, and click the Apply to Folders button to set the current style to be the default.

    So in neither case are these "bugs", which is why they've never been "fixed". But one could argue that the design could be updated to deal with modern systems.
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  9. #9


    Posts : 20
    Windows 8 CP 64


    @ Mystere:

    1. Good point, perhaps my example was not the best; I could argue about increasing vs reducing resolution or color-only changes, or that it's not the only reason for a desktop reset, but I'd just be splitting hairs. However, you missed my actual stated design flaw, the omission of a way for the user to enforce saving of the desktop state manually without having to reboot the system or perform a logon/logoff. You cannot say Windows hasn't ever made icons dissappear offscreen either, because it's happened to me a few times over the years and is highly amusing (albeit usually because it was my own fault in some offhand way, but also due to driver bugs, power issues, etc.). I'll definitely concede that it's more of a pet peeve and could be solved using TPS, but sometimes things seem like they should be a given.

    2. Again, you have missed the point somewhat; the 'Apply to Folders' option and its ilk are exactly the functionality I am referring to as flawed, hence the stress on 'all meaning all' in my original post. Read the text above that and the 'Reset Folders' button and the words all folders of this type are clearly visible, however I still find myself constantly reapplying to folders containing multimedia files (ie: avi, jpg, wav, etc) depite those folders clearly and forcibly being typed 'General files' in their respective 'Customisation' tab. Again, this is still happening in Windows 8 and unless I'm really missing something, such behaviour falls under 'not working as advertised' which to me is longhand for 'bug'.

    Don't get me wrong, much kudos for attempting to address the issues, but I've been playing with Windows for over 25 years, so I'd be pretty stupid not to be sure of my claims. The bugs/flaws were never the real issue, just a pertinent device to deliver it.
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  10. #10


    Adelaide
    Posts : 1,338
    Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 (64 bit), Linux Mint 17.1 MATE (64 bit)

    Disable Auto Folder Discovery


    Quote Originally Posted by Eccles View Post
    2. Again, you have missed the point somewhat; the 'Apply to Folders' option and its ilk are exactly the functionality I am referring to as flawed, hence the stress on 'all meaning all' in my original post. Read the text above that and the 'Reset Folders' button and the words all folders of this type are clearly visible, however I still find myself constantly reapplying to folders containing multimedia files (ie: avi, jpg, wav, etc) depite those folders clearly and forcibly being typed 'General files' in their respective 'Customisation' tab. Again, this is still happening in Windows 8 and unless I'm really missing something, such behaviour falls under 'not working as advertised' which to me is longhand for 'bug'.
    You are both right on this point.
    MS deliberately designed/configured Windows to forget/ignore the folder settings.

    If you want your Folder Templates to stick you have to hack the Registry.
    You have to disable Auto Folder Discovery (folder content sniffer).

    Go to:
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes\Local Settings\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Shell\Bags\AllFolders\Shell

    Make sure this setting is present:

    "FolderType"="NotSpecified"

    I'm not sure if this works in W8 (it does in W7).
    The only folder that "plays up", once I have made this change, is the "Recycle Bin".

    I've attached my .reg file.
    Use at your own risk.
    Win8: Different new OS, same old oversights - or are they? Attached Files
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