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A simple cure for the Windows 8 blues

By: 18 May 2013 One Comment

winbuttonWhether you love or hate Microsoft Windows 8, it’s hard to deny that it’s a radical departure from what we’ve come to expect from the most popular desktop operating system on the planet.

Oh, and there’s been a lot of criticism — click here to read some of the harsher comments made by industry insiders about Windows 8 and Microsoft’s response to them just a few days ago. Microsoft has called a lot of criticism extreme and the company may have a point, but a lot of complaints seem to boil down to the decision to shove users directly into the Metro interface rather than the desktop and eliminating the comforting, familiar “start” button from the operating system.

Here’s the thing — the Metro interface with it’s constantly updating tiles and horizontal, multi-screen layout is fantastic if you have a touch device but is downright awkward if you’re using a keyboard and mouse to navigate the thing. In fact, getting around Windows 8 without a touch screen is about as much fun as navigating an early version of Windows without a mouse. Sure, you might be able to find your way around but why would you want to do that?

For those not wanting to deal with Metro, there’s an easy fix to the problem — just click here and download Classic Shell. That is a free little application that, by default, boots into a very familiar looking desktop mode and has the classic start button that has been a central feature of Windows for years. The default set up is great and it’s very easy to tweak things a bit so Windows 8 looks and acts a lot like Windows 7 or Windows XP.

Bear in mind that it’s not my intent to bash Windows 8. I’ll leave that to other people and do so with the realization that even my favorite operating system from Microsoft — Windows XP — was a bit of dog prior to the release of Service Pack 3. Windows 8 is in its early stages and Microsoft may address a lot of concerns that people have in the months to come.

Rush 2112 WindowsHowever, it seems fair to point out that the new interface seems very well suited for a tablet, phone or even an Xbox 360, but it seems out of place on a conventional, keyboard-and-mouse setup that is standard issue in homes and offices around the nation. It does feel like Windows is trying to unite all users under one operating system, and that comes across as more than a bit odd when one considers even dictatorial Apple hasn’t tried to shoehorn all of its customers into iOS. Using Windows 8 is strange if you’re on a desktop and the learning curve is steep. It’s not a bad operating system but it does seem like an inappropriate one at times.

Oh, and the application is genuinely free. Like no strings free. You won’t get peppered with ads and that’s a good thing. Furthermore, switching back to the Metro interface is very simple and you’ll probably want to do that from time to time. Whether you like Windows 8 or not, it’s a good idea to learn how it works as this is the direction in which Microsoft appears to be headed. The days when an operating system was effectively a program launcher and nothing else seem to be numbered.

One more thing — if you’re feeling adventurous and are willing to try something new, click here to check an earlier article posted at First Arkansas News about Xubuntu Linux. That is a ridiculously fast operating system that is free, comes bundled with software that allows you to read and write Microsoft Office files with ease and features a desktop theme that was clearly influenced by the clean, classic look of Windows XP. Oh, and you don’t have to give up Windows 8 to use Xubuntu — you can opt to set up your system so it has both operating systems on it and you are asked to select which one you want to run when you start your computer.

Windows 8 might not be perfect, but almost anyone can live with it by taking the time to figure it out or by installing Classic Shell.

About: Ethan C. Nobles:
Benton resident. Rogue journalist. Recovering attorney. Email =

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