WE BITE THE BULLET

All right already. With all this talk about Windows 8 and what a turkey it is, we realized it was our duty to the readers to get in there and suffer. Well, there’s good news, and still bad news.

We jumped into the new world and bought one of those HP “all-in-one” computers. It looks like a big TV and all the computer parts are built into the screen housing. It’s beautiful. We mean, design-wise it’s beautiful. And it was only $530 at Staples, the giant office supply chain. Joy was dazzled by the 23-inch screen and besides, a similar Windows 7 machine – last year’s model, costs nearly twice as much. In just seconds, she talked Bob into getting it.  He hates it.

What’s the problem? For long time users, everything in Windows 8 feels different and nothing is where you think it should be. Who needs that? Bob’s not interested in going back to school when his old machine still works fine. He returned to his old Windows XP computer after one day. (Half the world still uses Windows XP, by the way.) But Joy likes the new all-in-one. Except for this kinda big problem known since ancient times as “the blue screen of death.” That’s when the computer locks up, the screen turns blue, and you have to reboot.

That infamous bug has returned. Windows 8 went blue screen twice in the first few days Joy used it. But it’s a warm and friendly blue screen of death. It comes with a message in the middle that says: “We’re sorry,” etc., etc. Bob’s XP computer has never experienced the blue screen of death.

The most striking thing about Windows 8 is the start screen, sometimes called “Tile World.” News, weather, photos, music, and travel information update constantly. Joy liked iHeart Radio and games like Mahjongg. Sure, she could have gone to iHeart.com without Windows 8, but she likes how it almost forces you to explore what’s out there. That is it’s biggest strength. Bob thinks, it’s the only one. In short, Windows 8 appears to have been designed primarily for entertainment rather than work.

An app called “Windows 8 Shortcuts, the Ultimate Cheat Sheet,” can save you from being lost forever in the tile jungle.  Instead of hacking your way through seemingly endless colored tiles and menus to find the file you want, just press the Windows key and the letter “E.” Press the Windows key and the letter “D” to get out of that screen full of colored tiles and back to the old desktop you know so well. Windows key plus “I” reveals the familiar commands for shut down and other useful controls. Windows plus “Q” lists all your apps. Since

Keyboard commands are the short route to sanity and relaxed computing. But some things in Windows 8 can’t be fixed. For instance, a free book downloaded from our Amazon Kindle account came in with letters so tiny they couldn’t be read. And then, you can’t play DVDs without additional software. The free “VLC Player” from Download.com is a good one.

So there you have it. Joy likes Windows 8 but wouldn’t recommend going through the hassle of upgrading from Windows 7; trying that on our new Win 7 laptop nearly ruined it. You almost have to go to Windows 8 if you’re buying a new computer, but get Stardock’s “Start 8,” $5, to bring familiar icons back to Windows 8.

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