I want a new OS, a faster OS, a user friendly OS, an OS with lots of customization, an OS with the best local productivity apps and programs. I have a dream that one day this OS will exist, even if I have to build it myself. I just may. I’m teaching myself computer programming because after the premier of Windows 10, I’m tired of an OS that doesn’t do what I want it to. Or does useless things. See below for my biggest problems with the newest attempt by Microsoft to meet users needs, or maybe it’s that they are trying to tell the user what they need? I know what I need, and it’s not Windows 10.
I’ve never been sure on the obsession with digital assistants. They are cool in theory, but I’ve never found one in practice to be of any actual help to me. On my Windows 8.1 phone, Cortana has always been a hindrance. When I want to search for something, she takes forever to come up and I don’t particularly want to use the voice function. Why? Because we all look like asses when we interrupt conversations to say “Hey Cortana, find a sex shop near me.” I could just as easily type in my search and not disturb the individuals around me. Also on the phone, sometimes it will be listening at totally random times with no request from me. Once I was trying to talk to my spouse when the call dropped and Cortana popped up suddenly and I yelled at my phone “What the hell are you doing?” and it searched for this question on the internet. On my laptop, it is less than useless. I never use it. So it sits there, having taking up developers’ time that could be spent fixing problems instead of giving me the most useless feature ever. When I want to search for things, I open a browser. It’s just as fast and doesn’t take up as much processing power. It’s also easier to open the results, especially multiple ones, from the browser. I especially disliked the fact that Cortana automatically showed me the news. I hate the news, and it took me quite a bit of searching to see how to remove the news. Oh, and she has reminders. They are pretty uncustomizable as a feature, so again, pretty useless. Linking a Windows phone to a task app (obviously not from Windows, see higher on the list), does this much better and everyone is more likely to have their phone with them at all times than their laptop or tablet, and especially their desktop. I know MS made Cortana as a competitor to Siri, but I also found Siri rather useless. Oh, they can hear what I’m saying, but that’s about it as a “cool” feature.
9: Apps and Programs that Overlap, and Most are Useless
The update to 10 involved a lot of new apps. Some of which I haven’t even touched, mostly because I see no point to them. Usually what this means is that you have the preloaded 8 apps, your hardware apps, and now the 10 apps all on your computer, some of them serving duplicate or triplicate functions, especially if you include some of the older programs still being preloaded onto your computer. My laptop now has Windows Media Player, HP Connected Music, and Groove Music, as well as MixRadio (which I downloaded myself to see if it was anything like Nokia MixRadio, it is not) and the streaming clients, Spotify and Pandora. When I first bought this laptop it also came with another streaming client, something Radio (Slasher maybe), that I immediately uninstalled. I had used it on my old Blackberry Playbook and hadn’t liked it. I previously used Windows Media Player all the time on my laptop (because my laptop was my car radio, but now I actually have a car radio), but now not so much. I really only use Spotify. I’m always hesitant to remove apps and programs from my computer in case for some crazy reason I cannot foresee I will want to use those apps at some point. But there are some things I will just never use, Money, News, People, Sports (ugh), XBox, or Photos. So of course, the first thing I had to do upon updating to 10 was get rid of the majority of the apps it came with, even though most of these won’t let you uninstall them. However, upon going through the new Feedback app, I’ve found several people complain that upon updates to 10, those apps redownload and installed on their computers. Others have complained that the Store has told them they have reached an app limit even though their computer still has lots of free space. Is this app limit artificial and stops at a count of apps instead of the space they take up? If so, that’s crazy, especially combined with the preloaded apps that may reappear again and again with each update. I have some weird kid’s game apps on my laptop that I can’t uninstall at all. When I click uninstall from the Start menu, it opens the Control Panel and there is no indication of which program these games are buried in. The issue is that not only are there useless apps that may redownload taking up an app slot, but that Windows is still running in a strange combination of 7 and 8 on desktops and laptops. There are apps and programs that overlap. And good luck to you figuring out if it is a program managed through the Control Panel or a app managed through the Store. Every month, I try to do a spring cleaning of my programs and force myself to uninstall things I don’t use or shouldn’t be (like games), so I guess this will become more useful of an action if I’m going to have to uninstall the same apps again and again. My problem with all these same use apps is the total lack of unity on MS’s part. The stuff I download and the stuff from the hardware manufacturer is not on them, but what we’re left with is still more than one program that serves some of the same functions from the same source. Windows Media Player and Groove Music are both by Windows in some way. Why are there two of them? Why?
8: An Uppity Attitude from a Tool
The best thing about Windows 8 and 8.1 was the fastest start up time Windows had ever managed to produce. Windows has been behind Apple in this for years, whose OS has been able to restart much faster than Windows for pretty much ever. Windows 10 brings back the slow start up. The difference can be dramatic on older hardware (even if just two years old), but that’s not a huge problem until Windows tries, as it usually does, to usurp the user in order to update. Either the user is turning their computer on and suddenly the process takes three times longer than normal because right this second, the computer has decided to update. Or the user gets that very annoying message stating that the computer will update and restart in a day’s time regardless of user input. This was an issue in 8 and 8.1 as well, but it doesn’t get any less annoying to be told by an inanimate object when it will allow you to use it. What is really annoying about all this is that the user has no say in when the updates will happen and can’t even see what updates are going to happen. Higher power users care about this more than most. Some of us like to know beforehand what updates will be taking place and approve them. Now, maybe there’s settings for that buried somewhere obscure, but that doesn’t seem to matter. Most of my system settings save but don’t affect the system at all. No matter what I do. My computer is set to require a password, but there is no where that I can see (even where it’s supposed to be) to set the lock time, so my computer locks at five minutes. Nothing is set to five minutes. When locked, the computer is supposed to show a slideshow. This worked fine on 8.1, but since switching to 10, instead of my slideshow, my screen goes black. My display is set to shut off after an hour, and my computer is set to go to sleep after two. None of the special hidden settings are set for what my computer does. Windows 10 doesn’t care what I want it to do. It knows what it wants and does it whenever it wants. Most Windows’ OSes have this attitude, but they have gotten especially independent of the user of late. It doesn’t care about my needs, no matter how many times I communicate them. I think we need to see a counselor. And don’t tell me I just don’t know what I’m doing. I’m more computer literate than most average people. I can search through the Settings and Control Panel in depth for hours. I’ve gone online to see what other people have said about similar problems, and some of the solutions hit a wall when an option that should have been there wasn’t. After all that, I still don’t have an answer. There is no simple one, and why the hell not? Shouldn’t these settings be easily found and changed? Isn’t that the point of user settings? Obviously, this has been a thorn in my side for quite a while (even before 10), and I will endeavor to find the answer. Even if that answer turns out to be quit using Windows.
7: Where is the Control Panel?
In Windows 7, clicking the Start button brings up some static options, one of them being Control Panel. In Windows 8 and 8.1, swiping out the Charms menu showed similar static options, one of them still being Control Panel. The Charms menu is gone in 10 and none of the static options in the Start menu is the Control Panel. The Feedback app shows a lot of people asking where the Control Panel is. From Settings, there is no easy way to get to it either. You have to select one of many advanced options to maybe pull it up. This is just strange. It is buried in the All Apps section of the Start menu, but considering that most people don’t know the step-by-step way of getting to it because of the past static options, it may as well be invisible. Like those old 7 programs, Control Panel is from OSes past, but 10 is still using it to control certain settings. Why? Why not just merge Settings and Control Panel? Call it Settings Panel, or Control Settings, or The Place Where What You Put Will Be Saved Then Promptly Ignored. Either way, why have two different methods of OS settings? That’s stupid. Getting to the Control Panel is harder now because it is not sitting there statically as it used to be, and we still need to use it apparently since MS was too focused on making Settings look sleek and simple than putting everything under one umbrella. So most people are at a loss on how to get to it. Of course, there is a way to get to it, but why is it hidden now, when before it wasn’t? Is there a strange scavenger hunt we all signed up for by updating to 10 and we weren’t informed? If so, I’m throwing in the towel on this game. I’ve now pinned Control Panel to my Taskbar. If I pin any more, I will end up with a second Taskbar.
6: No Customization on Sign in Screen
In 8 and 8.1, the sign in screen (the page that asked for your password) was just a flat color, whatever color you had chosen for your theme. In 10, it is a totally uncustomizable Windows logo in blue colors. It’s so ugly. Not because it is Windows, but because my theme is red, my account photo is red, so it all clashes. Now, this may not seem like a big deal. It may not seem like it should matter to anyone. But why have programs that do something aesthetically that the user cannot change when there are plenty of other aesthetics the user can change? As a practice in user design, it makes no sense. “We’ll let you pick your color, we’ll let you pick your screen saver, we’ll let you pick your desktop image, but not this screen. Oh, no. That one’s ours.” Why are they jealously guarding this screen from customization? It’s not as if we don’t know we’re using a Windows computer. The Start button is the Windows logo after all. But no. For some reason that is beyond reasonability, Windows won’t let the user change that screen. Oh, you can change it, if you download a registry hack or an app, but why doesn’t Windows let us do it in the system? It’s decisions like this that make me wonder what kind of conversations the devs and their managers actually have. I imagine most of them are brainstorming sessions with the goal of “How to Needle Our Users.”
5: If Not in Fullscreen Mode, Videos Don’t Actually Play Fullscreen
There are a lot of leftover 8 apps on 10 computers. Not all app developers have come out with 10 versions of their apps, mainly because they had to wait for it to premier to start testing hardcore. As such, most of us are still using the 8 versions until the 10 versions come out. A lot of apps have a video component, and therein lies the problem. Originally, these 8 apps were meant to run in fullscreen mode, so clicking on the fullscreen function of a video made the video fullscreen as they should. Using 8 apps on a 10 desktop or laptop means they are not automatically in fullscreen mode (unless you have tablet mode on) but are windowed. So when you click the fullscreen function of a video in the app, the video fills the window, not the screen. This somewhat defeats the purpose of fullscreen and adds another step to actually make the video fullscreen. It’s an annoying growing pain until the 10 version of apps really start to come out. I am currently beta-testing an app (without a video component) for 10, and it works so poorly and glitchily that I keep opening up the 8 app when I actually want to do something. When app developers catch up to 10 will be a happy time, but until then we have apps designed for fullscreen mode running in window mode or in progress apps with lots of issues. This growing period will be fun for the user. Speech in front of class when you’re not prepared fun. Family reunion when you don’t have a job fun. Rage quit fun. I know I’m enjoying watching Windows 10 and my favorite apps grow together, arguing over how exactly things are supposed to work.
4: Nerfed Calendar App & Lack of a Local Task App
I use calendars and tasks like crazy. The Live/Outlook Calendar that came with 10 sucks major ass. Most of the things a user could do before and can do in the browser, they can’t do in the 10 app. The Calendar won’t allow users to color code individual events like they could before and doesn’t show tasks, whether they are from the Live/Outlook Calendar client or being subscribed to on the account. It doesn’t show tasks. At all. That seems crazy. What good is this app then? Oh, it shows me the date. Whoopee-dee-do. It also doesn’t sync very well, so don’t expect events you add from your phone or browser to show up in the app and don’t expect events you add from the app to show up on your phone or browser. Raspberry sound. The Calendar app from 8 synced fine and it showed tasks, local or subscribed. But let’s talk hard about tasks. Reminders are not the same. They aren’t easy to add, they don’t have high-functioning recurrence or levels, and they have to be tied to a time. Versus to do list applications which the best I’ve found are Todoist and Wunderlist (though neither meets my needs 100%). Why doesn’t Windows believe in tasks? Why does it think we don’t have things to do? I have lots of things to do. I’m obsessed with tasks. I have thousands of tasks in my to do list. Thousands. So if I want to add those to the Live/Outlook Calendar, it takes two minutes to add each one, versus in some of the better to do list clients which take me seconds to add each one and I can easily add a second immediately afterwards. But it’s not like it would matter if I added all those tasks to the Calendar since I wouldn’t be able to see them on my laptop app. Logically, since you can’t see them, you also can’t add them from that app. Nor do any reminders work for them, I believe. I am not all that able to compare Windows’ desire to give to do lists a middle finger to other OS makers, but with how popular third party clients are, one would think that OS developers would want to provide that themselves. So MS bought Wunderlist, but Wunderlist has no plans to add due dates on subtasks, which is crazy unacceptable. That’s why I’m splitting my usage with Todoist. But Todoist doesn’t let free users subscribe their tasks to a calendar and doesn’t yet have a Windows Phone app (meaning on my phone, I can’t see any of those tasks, and don’t even mention TaskCrunch; that thing never syncs and deletes repeating tasks upon completion). You can see the problem. Task management is a huge thing for me, and apparently a lot of other people, and the lack of even being able to see my tasks in the Calendar makes it useless. It’s useless in other ways that are more of a priority for other people, but this isn’t their blog, so yeah I focused on the one thing that bothers me most. I’m not sure why Calendar lost most of its functionality in the switch, but a step back in features is the wrong direction for Windows to take. They should be adding more features and keeping the ones already there.
3: Health & Fitness being Replaced by Microsoft Health
If you look at the recent reviews of Health & Fitness and the reviews of Microsoft Health, most of them are about how disappointed, angry, annoyed, or unhappy people are with the discontinuation of Health & Fitness. The new generation version is Microsoft Band based, so it has no manual diet tracker, no symptom checker, no yoga videos (no yoga discussion at all), no articles, no food look up, and no video workouts. This replacement app nerfs the Windows Phone for health tracking and nerfs general workout sources from Microsoft. It basically tells Windows users that if you don’t own a Band, which start at $149.99 from Microsoft and which doesn’t have as many uses as a computer or a phone and is therefore a luxury item for most people, then Windows doesn’t give a crap about your health. It’s true that you’ve got to pay to be healthy, but the free app, Health & Fitness, helped a lot of people out and created some good will between Windows users and Microsoft. Not only is the good will gone with the app on Nov. 1st, but people are now angrier with them than they were before. Good job. Bring back the Start button, but get rid of your best app. What can the new app do? Well, it does nothing on your computer since you can’t download it for your computer, but if you put it on your phone you can track your steps (if you have the right kind of phone), you can track the calories you burn (but just based on your steps if you don’t have the band, so your workouts don’t count), you can track your sleep (if you have the Band), you can track the route of your run (if you have the Band), you can track the route of your bike ride (if you have the Band), you can track your performance during sports and physical activities (if you have the Band), you can track your workout (if you have the Band), you can find a workout (only strength training, weight loss, running, biking, and golfing–no yoga or Pilates or newer workout methods like the Barre), you can track your golf performance (if you have the Band), and you can find a golf course (which you could do with Cortana). As you can see, this isn’t really a stand alone app like Health & Fitness was. It seems also to be aimed at a much more specific demographic: well off (to buy the band) people in their thirties and forties (the strange emphasis on golf). I don’t know if Microsoft is aware of this or not, but there aren’t a lot of well off people right now. Health & Fitness was an app for anyone who wanted to be healthy. This shows that yet again Microsoft is off the mark of their market, as I’m pretty sure that this demographic is currently sitting pretty with Apple products. I understand that Microsoft is a business trying to make money, but sometimes it’s a good idea to know where your bread and butter comes from and trying to please that person. This direction has pissed a lot of people off who already buy Windows products. I think there’s a bunch of axioms that explain why this kind of decision is a bad one, such as “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” and “Are you stupid, Microsoft?!”
2: Nonresponsive Start Button
We were all so glad when they announced that 10 would bring back the Start button and menu. Little did I expect Windows to have forgotten how to make it work. In 8 and 8.1, my Start button, either on the screen or keyboard, worked about 70-80% of the time. It’s not as good as the 95% on XP and 7, but it was a mild annoyance that happened once a week at the most. Apparently, 10 stands for 10% because that’s the rate at which the button, screen or keyboard, works on my laptop since updating to 10. Now it is not a mild annoyance that happens about once a week. Now it has been upgraded to a major frustration that happens every five minutes. I sometimes restart my computer to see if that will fix the problem. It usually doesn’t. I tried restarting Explorer from the Task Manager, and that was a huge mistake because my Taskbar disappeared and wouldn’t come back until I restarted my computer. The problem isn’t just that my laptop is two years old. Lots of other people have noticed a dramatic drop in responsiveness in this respect and others. Oh, it’s so great having the Start menu back when it is willing to actually respond. This isn’t a hardware issue either. When a user clicks on the Start button, it blinks as if it acknowledged that the button was pushed. Then nothing happens. Think of all the things you can’t get to if the menu doesn’t open. It’s a lot. Lucky for me, most of my useful programs are pinned to the Taskbar or have a shortcut on the desktop. If it isn’t a Windows program, they usually respond without issue. Other Windows 10 components can end up reacting the same way, like the useless Cortana or the Calendar peek from the System Tray or the Notifications function. Sometimes removing a flashdrive becomes impossible because a user can click to remove all day and the system will do nothing. I’ve now pinned Run to my Taskbar so that I can get to basically any program that is buried in the Start menu only so that things don’t get too cluttered. All this unresponsiveness makes me believe that Windows 10 really wasn’t ready for release. One hopes that further pushy updates will result in a system we can actually use.
1: No Universal Dark Theme
Eye strain is a big problem in today’s Information Age. We stare at screens all day now. We read, we write, we watch, we communicate, we work, we play, and we organize through screens. It can be harsh on the eyes to do this all day, which is why people tend to gravitate to programs and themes that are darker. When I had Microsoft Office 2010, I always had it set to a darker color. It made working in it for long hours easier. I also tend to make pages in these programs a soft, dark red to make it even easier on my eyes. Windows has always gravitated towards brighter backgrounds in Explorer and other local OS components, but it didn’t seem like such a big deal before monitor and screen technology improved to give better brightness and truer color. Windows usually gives a big finger to HCB themes, what with 7 HCB themes not having Aero and resulting in the loss of certain display capabilities such as unique text color in MS Office. Then they came out with Microsoft Office 2013, which uses the word “dark” ironically it seems considering there is nothing dark about the dark grey theme. Go to MS support and see how many people are asking for a true dark theme to 2013. Also see MS support admins responses which ignore the OP’s comment on the fact that dark grey is not dark enough and wherein they “answer” the question by saying use the dark grey theme. Lovely. Now check out the Feedback app in 10. Search for the words “dark theme” and see how many people have already requested darker colors. Edge has a dark theme which is exactly the kind of thing we all want for the Calendar, Mail, the video player, File Explorer, and everything else local. The fact that Edge has a dark theme brings hope to the faces of users that someday, hopefully soon, a new update will allow for an overall dark theme. This is one of the most important features that’s missing from 10. We want a real dark theme for our programs, not a sarcastic, trolling one like in 2013. Give it to us.
Even as I’ve been writing this post, I’ve noticed more and more issues with 10 that tick me off (the local OneNote app only allows users to choose from OneDrive notebooks, when, let’s face it, before 10 our notebooks were most likely on our harddrives or on a flashdrive because it’s not like public computers will have our notebooks). Everyday I’m faced with new annoyances: Cortana and the Start menu don’t stay up if you click on something else (Why?); or old ones that were never fixed: when in the process of something else, if a Windows application starts (like opening any Windows/MS program), it will interrupt what I’m currently doing instead of starting in the background. It has felt like for years Windows has been trolling users, and 10 just seems to bring it all home, mainly because they teased us with the prospect of bringing back the Start menu. The more annoyed I get, the more I want to return the finger Windows gave me by creating a system for myself. What Microsoft seems to have forgotten (or maybe they never knew it) is that computers are tools for a user. The maker of an OS or application shouldn’t be telling the user what they want. They should be trying to figure out what the user wants and meeting those wants. I’m not saying that it is possible to please every Windows user; it’s not, but as with each new OS version, Windows seems to be walking away from productivity and efficiency and moving towards a sleek, new look, and it seems a lot of people are missing the productivity and efficiency they were used to. I remember loving the calendar program from XP and Vista, but that was scrapped for cooler looking applications that did less. Microsoft is not the only software company that seems to be choosing style over substance as I’m noticing more and more “cool” programs that have very little functionality, including missing basics such as shortcut keyboard commands, tab through capabilities, and a dramatic increase in clicking. I base my idea of efficiency on how little keystrokes or clicks (more keystrokes than clicks is better) it takes me to do something in a program. Clicks have gone up in most programs because of the advent of the touchscreen, but that doesn’t mean you get rid of keyboard commands completely. Most work is still done with a physical keyboard. It’s just faster that way. We are currently in a transition period in computer technology and Windows is desperately trying to find a way to use the newer technology to their advantage. That’s why 8 existed. This is why 10 exists now, and so quickly after 8. It is important for Windows to understand that while users like a sleek look and a lack of clutter and confusion, we like usability more. After all, that’s what a computer is for: our use. They’re meant to make our lives easier, but when the OS developers take away functions with an update, they just make our lives more frustrating.