Why do you hate Windows 8?

I’m seeing a lot of comments around the social networks from people who seem really passionate in their hatred for Windows 8.

I’ve been running it on my laptop since it launched and on my desktop (which I use for probably 12 hours a day) since last weekend, and I’m really quite pleased with Microsoft’s new OS so far. I find it to be much faster in terms of UI response, and I think the Start Screen is a huge improvement over the Start Menu (finding things on my system is way faster with the Start Screen than it was with the Start Menu, and popping open the Start Screen feels faster then opening the Start Menu), though I can still just use Fences on my Desktop if I prefer. I also am thrilled that I can have different task bars on each of my two monitors, and though this isn’t really critical, I’m happy to be able to run different desktop wallpaper on each monitor.

What’s really odd is I find I use the mouse less than I did in Windows 7. Sure Windows 8 works great with a touchscreen (well, I’m assuming that…haven’t tried it myself) but there are enough keyboard shortcuts that navigating around has me using the mouse less than I ever did (it could be many of these keyboard shortcuts always existed and I never bothered to learn them).

Anyway, like I said I see a lot of “Windows 8 sucks!” level comments but few of them with actual reasons why. I’d love to hear why people are switching to, or threatening to switch to, Ubuntu (good choice!) or Mac (awful choice!) because of the new OS.

Windows 8: the (almost) perfect ad-ware platform

So as I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been playing the Windows 8 version of Minesweeper for the past couple of days. Minesweeper is “free.” What I mean is, you don’t have to pay in dollars, you have to pay in time. Every so often you’ll have to sit through a 20 second video ad.

Normally I have no problem with this kind of system; developers have to make money somehow, right? My problem with Minesweeper is the same problem I’ve had with Hulu in the past. There’s no variety in the ads. No one likes to sit through ads, but having to sit through the same exact ad over and over makes it worse, at least to me (I’ve seen two ads so far, a trailer for Life of Pi and some car commercial).

So normally what I’d do is switch my focus to something else while the ad plays. Windows 8 makes this challenging, though not impossible. Minesweeper is a “Windows Store App” which means it normally occupies your full screen. Aha! But I have two monitors! Nope, they’ve thought of that too. As soon as I move my focus to a desktop (ie, regular old Windows) application on the other monitor, playback of the video ad in Minesweeper freezes.


There is a solution of sorts, though. You can run two Windows Store Apps at once on the same monitor by ‘snapping’ them to one side. Use Windows+. to snap Minesweeper to the right side, fire up something else on the left (I generally go with mail), and let the video play over there in the right half of the window while you catch up on your email in the left half.

I’ve yet to discover a way to run two Windows Store Apps concurrently, one on each monitor. I’m not sure it’s possible but if anyone knows a way, I’d appreciate hearing about it!

Will Windows 8 “cheapen” Xbox Live gamerscore?

Last night I somehow managed to spend a couple of hours playing Minesweeper under Windows 8! I know, right? But I succumbed to the gamification of gaming! The new Minesweeper has an ‘adventure mode’ that’s kind of fun, but it also has Daily Challenges. Beat the daily challenges to earn points towards monthly medals. OMG I need a Minesweeper medal, right? Of course I do. You can go back and do challenges you missed so I did them all from Nov 1 forward.

And then I noticed there were Xbox Live Achievements you could earn. I’m not usually a fan of all this stuff but I went in and got a quickie achievement for setting off a mine. Talk about padding my gamerscore!!

Now all told you can earn 50 points in Minesweeper but I wonder if this is the tip of the iceberg? Will the Windows 8 store wind up overflowing with casual games that come with Xbox Live Achievements?

And if so, is that going to annoy hardcore Xbox players? I mean when some testosterone poisoned young man in his early teens finds out his mom has a higher game score than he does, and all she plays is casual games while he’s out there on the front lines teabagging noobs in Call of Medal Warfare VIII, how’s that gonna make him feel?

Just to be clear, IF this even becomes a thing, I just find it all very amusing. I’m quite proud of my 5 point “Happens to Everybody” Minesweeper Achievement, though. Particularly since it’s an achievement for failing (setting off a mine by accident).

Windows 8 upgraders: be careful with the free Windows 8 Media Center Pack code

Windows 8 Pro doesn’t come with Windows Media Center installed; instead it’s an add-on option. The good news is that until the end of January you can get it for free by going to this page and entering your email address. You’ll be sent a license key for “Windows 8 Media Center Pack.”

I went through the process on my laptop and it took a few hours before the key arrived, but everything worked.

When I upgraded my desktop I filled out the form again, but I got impatient and decided to see if the key I got for my laptop would work a second time. Since it’s a free key and I gave them no info other than an email address I figured it was worth a shot.

Windows happily accepted the key, installed the Media Center Pack, rebooted that machine and then announced that my copy of Windows was not activated because the key I’d entered was in use on another machine.

I checked it out and my Windows license key now appeared to be the Media Center Pack key. So I found my receipt and got my original Windows 8 Pro upgrade key and entered it. I was told that key wasn’t valid for this edition of Microsoft Windows. It appears Windows 8 Pro and Windows 8 Pro with Media Center are considered separate products as far as license keys are concerned.

I couldn’t figure out a way to ‘back out’ of the Windows 8 Media Center Pack installation to return my machine to a Windows 8 Pro install. I was stuck with an un-activated copy of Windows.

After asking on some forums someone suggested trying to activate via phone. I did that and for some reason it worked and now I’m out of that jam…I hope. I’m waiting to see one or other of my machines revert to un-activated at any moment.

Now this was my fault for trying to use the same key twice, but I’m drawing attention to it because it seems (from what I’m reading on support forums) that if you request more than one Media Center Pack key from the same email address, you’ll get the same key sent to you several times. So if like me you install the upgrade on two machines and ask for a Media Center key twice and happen to use the same email address to do it (which is likely) you’ll get the same key and you might not notice until after you’d sent yourself down the rat-hole that I sent myself down.

If you need a 2nd Media Center key for a second upgrade, best bet is to request it using a different email address.

Another odd Windows 8 issue – “the extended attributes are inconsistent”

I’ve been running Windows 8 Pro on my laptop for a week now and really digging it, so I decided to update my main system.

Everything went well until I tried to install some software, when I encountered a pop-up error saying “The extended attributes are inconsistent.” Well of course they are! All I needed to do was to homogenize the attributes and all would be well right? Wait, what?

So I’ll spare you the long story, but it turns out this can happen if you install a new theme (I picked a lovely autumn one!) that changes your sound settings. Changing the theme back to the default one should fix it, but an even less drastic solution is to open your sound settings (search for “Change System Sounds” in the Settings category) scroll down to Windows User Account Control, and set the sound to (None). That should make the problem go away.

For a detailed explanation of what’s going on, check out this link where some guy who is my hero spent a lot of time tracking down what the heck was going on:


Hopefully Microsoft will patch this issue out soon, but until then it’s a pretty easy fix.

Switching to Windows 8? Read this before you fire up any game apps!

So I took the plunge and installed Windows 8 on my laptop today. Windows 8 allows you to log into your device using a Microsoft Account (formerly called a Windows Live Account). I had one I created back when outlook.com opened up, so I logged in. Everything was going great.

Then I downloaded a free game app, Jetpack Joyride. As soon as I started it up, Windows 8 announced that it had generated a temporary gamertag for my Microsoft Account.

Ha, I hadn’t even been thinking about Xbox Live. I do have an Xbox Live account of course, but it’s associated with a different Windows Live Account.

I did some research and I can “migrate” my gamertag from one email address to another, so I decided to migrate my ‘real’ Xbox Live Gamer Tag to the Microsoft Account I’m using on Windows 8. But I can’t, because now there’s already a gamertag associated with that account. So first I have to migrate the gamertag that Windows auto-generated for me off to another Microsoft account. This is an account I’m creating just for this purpose. Dumb right?

But wait! It gets worse. Since my temporary gamertag was just created today, I can’t migrate it for 30 days. You can only move these things once every 30 days.

So basically I have to wait 30 days before I’m willing to buy any gaming apps from the Windows 8 store, because if I do so before then they’ll be associated with this gamertag I’m trying my best to throw away.

I’m generally happy with Windows 8 so far, but MS really blew it with this one detail. I can’t believe they don’t prompt the user before generating a gamertag….

If you only have one Microsoft account this won’t impact you, but I’m sure I’m not the only one that had an old cruddy hotmail account for my Xbox Live account and would rather use a swanky new outlook.com account for my new system.