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Windows 8 arrived in 2012 to a barrage of controversy. Microsoft decided to change things up considerably for its latest operating system, mostly as a result of the changing needs of consumers. With touchscreen tablets and monitors becoming the norm Microsoft clearly felt it had to evolve or risk dying. Hence the desktop-friendly Windows 8 being overlaid with the Modern UI (read Metro UI) geared towards that sector.

The Windows 8 sales figures have been solid so far, but the criticism from users 8 Features Missing in Windows 8 and How To Get Them Back 8 Features Missing in Windows 8 and How To Get Them Back Microsoft removed a variety of features from Windows 8. Many of them aren't great losses to most people, but they are if you depended on them. Luckily, Windows 8 isn't yet a locked-down mobile operating... Read More hasn’t stopped since day one. Thankfully a major update, titled Windows 8.1 (formerly codenamed Windows Blue), is being released by the end of 2013. No one is yet sure what changes Windows 8.1 will bring, but we thought it was a good idea to seek your thoughts on the subject ahead of time.

The Results

We asked you, What Changes Do You Want To See In Windows 8.1? A good number of you weighed in on the debate, suggesting changes Microsoft should be making in order to turn Windows 8 into an unstoppable force. Some made it clear that they were already happy with the OS, but even they conceded it wasn’t perfect.

Having scoured the comments it’s possible to see some trends emerging from the mist. These are improvements or changes Microsoft could make to Windows 8 with the Windows 8.1 update which were suggested/requested by multiple MakeUseOf readers.

  • A unification of the various app stores.
  • The Aero effects from Windows 7 to return.
  • Better customization options for individual users.
  • An option to turn off the Start Screen.
  • Bring back the Start button on the desktop.
  • More support for games/older programs.

Comment Of The Week

We had great input from the likes of Nevzat A, Bern, and Rahul Chatterjee, to name just a few. Comment Of The Week goes to likefunbutnot, who receives the respect of myself and hopefully everybody reading this:


I’d like to see a greater degree of unification in the Settings Charm and the standard Control Panel (control.exe). I’m deeply annoyed that some but not all the tools contained in those places are duplicated and/or have multiple interfaces.
The Share Charm needs to be made WAY more useful. I want it to work like it does on Android. Even if they’d just expose something so that I can figure out how to add entries to it myself, that would be very helpful, but even some basic things like “Share via Google Talk” or “Put this on my Tumblr” would be nice.
Put a goddamned textbox at the bottom of the Start Screen so that people will know they can type. *I* don’t have a problem, but I know far too many people who struggle with how the Start Screen works.
I also think that it’s completely reasonable for the default search to include all of Programs, Settings and Files. That’s how searching from the start menu worked in Windows 7. It’s obnoxious that if I do take the time to search for a Setting that I have to change the context for the search.
Start button on the Desktop.
Start Screen customization needs to happen. It’s VERY “blah” right now. I’d like to be able to make some things much bigger (Desktop, Control Panel) and other things very small but not eliminate completely. As things stand there’s almost no customization at all.
Storage Spaces need to be a lot smarter than they are. That’s more of a Server 2012 complaint, but I didn’t really like having to pull everything off a 36TB array to get my server to re-balance duplicated files after I expanded to 72TB.
Give me a way to associate non-Metro apps with my Microsoft account so that I can download them automatically. When I sign in to a new Win8 machine with my Microsoft account, I get Plex and IM+ and a couple other things automatically. Can’t I get Firefox, Thunderbird, 7zip and the same way?
How about a “Cloud Storage Center?” There’s a pretty simple flag to establish a default web browser and default media player, but at this point my main laptop has three different cloud storage apps installed. I’d love to have one location that’s sync’d or an easy way to distribute my cloud data rather than having to manually decide what goes where.
Windows 8 does not have a Metro-style file manager.
Many of the Metro-style apps don’t have a way to manage files or folders.
The ability to exclude data from Live Tiles on the Start screen and/or underlying Metro-style apps is essential and completely missing. Yes, I want those lovely private pictures of my special lady in my Pictures library. No, I don’t want them occasionally making a starring appearance on my Start Screen. Particularly not on a machine I might occasionally put in front of clients. I wound up creating a different user account to use to get around this deficiency.
Likewise, network administrators should probably be given some ability to control Windows 8?s magical ability to find and install network printers. I found out about that the hard way after deploying some new notebooks in an office and finding that they really like printing banner-size pictures of Grumpy Cat on an LPR-accessible Plotter. Yes, most network printers have some kind of ACL, but those are not terribly consistent in interface or capability.
Windows 8 will not read data from a hosts file by default, which Microsoft is a security feature of Windows Defender. Since I deploy hosts files for all sorts of things (e.g. client-based ad-blocking), this is a huge misfeature.

Not only is this an epic comment in terms of length, some great points are made about how Microsoft could improve Windows 8. A lot of the same gripes many others have with Windows 8 are brought up, but with a passionate turn of phrase that makes the whole thing entertaining to read.

We will be asking a new question tomorrow, so please join us then. We Ask You is a weekly column dedicated to finding out the opinions of MakeUseOf readers. We ask you a question and you tell us what you think. The question is open-ended and is usually open to debate. Some questions will be purely opinion-based, while others will see you sharing tips and advice, or advocating tools and apps for your fellow MakeUseOf readers. This column is nothing without your input, all of which is valued.

Image Credit: Jon Fingas

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  1. ravenclawwit
    May 30, 2013 at 1:09 am

    I'd like to point out that Microsoft's sales numbers have been fudged just a bit. They've only released the number of licenses sold, not the actual number of activated copies of Windows 8 being used. This means that a sizable chunk of those "licenses sold" might be to PC manufacturers, and said licenses might be on PCs that are gathering dust in a warehouse. Windows PC sales were down much more sharply than expected this year, even given tablet and mobile computing adoption. Many PC makers think Windows 8 is at least partially responsible for that.

    • Dave Parrack
      May 30, 2013 at 3:12 pm

      That's a fair point, to be honest. Poor adoption would certainly have been the reason for revisiting the OS and making significant changes to it, which is what appears to have happened with Windows 8.1.

  2. raymond
    May 29, 2013 at 10:58 pm

    look it's real simple to sum up windows feels...undone

    • Dave Parrack
      May 30, 2013 at 3:10 pm

      Here's hoping Windows 8.1 feels more complete. The initial details certainly suggest as much.

  3. Gideon Waxfarb
    May 29, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    Most of the stuff I want is for 'Classic' mode and geared toward power users, so it'll probably never happen, since MS (along with the most of the industry) hates power users. But here goes: File tabs in file explorer, multiple clipboards, system-wide spell checking, cloud options in the save dialogs, a notification center, ability to slipstream hotfixes/service packs into the install disc. You know, stuff that probably should've been in XP. I know you can get a lot of this in 3rd party tools, but when you work in locked down, corporate environments, you don't always have that option.

    • likefunbutnot
      May 29, 2013 at 9:45 pm

      It's entirely possible to build an install disc that slipstreams Windows 7 or Windows 8 updates, hotfixes, drivers etc. into the default .iso. Depending on your personal level of patience, you can do it with the Windows Automated Install toolkit for any OS as far back as Windows XP SP3. For Windows 7 and Server 2008 there's also an nlite-like tool called RT7Lite that streamlines the process. That might not be an option in a locked-down corporate environment, but regardless the Microsoft tools are useful and well documented.

      The only down side to building custom Windows install media is that it's fairly easy to exceed the 4GB file size that's probably most comfortable for easy distribution via DVD or small thumb drive.

      It's also very, very easy to build sysprep images that can be distributed in whatever way makes the most sense for your installation needs.

  4. Ira Brandstein
    May 29, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    I think it is incredibly annoying and a waste of productivity time to not have the scroll bar on the top and bottom un-locked when moving your mouse away from the bar or hesitate for a few seconds.
    Is it me or the opening the browser in Desktop mode is another instance than what is on the Win 8 screen. WHY?????

  5. Tim
    May 29, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    I'm a gamer and the games I play are not compatible with Windows 8 (as per Microsoft's website). Also, I do not own a tablet or smartphone or any device that uses "apps" so for me the metro interface is foreign and unnecessary. I would like to see some more compatibility with older games (and some newer titles) and perhaps touch hardware detection that prompts the user with the appropriate boot option. I had to remove Windows 8 and purchase/install Windows 7 on my new laptop to run my applications. Annoyed to say the least.

    • Tim
      May 30, 2013 at 6:53 pm

      They released details about Windows 8.1 today. I haven't seen anything about application compatability improvements (games) so yeah, sticking with Windows 7.

  6. Bryan
    May 29, 2013 at 11:03 am

    I confess I've warmed up to the new start screen and do not miss the start menu as much as feared. The problem is that most of my core applications are just shortcuts that bring me to desktop mode. It's almost like having two operating systems: a degraded Win 7 desktop environment and a new app-centric one. If Microsoft wants to be app based and friendly on muliple devices, it must better integrate desktop software and non-Microsoft apps into the start screen. Microsoft seems more concerned about pushing, Office, Skydrive, etc. than it is about promoting a new operating system. An OS that plays nicely with others is what consumers want. If the company can get us to trust the OS, we will populate it and perhaps choose other Microsoft products. Right now you only get new features if you use current versions of Microsoft products and newly developed apps--the selection of which is pathetic for anyone familiar with Android or iOS.

  7. null
    May 29, 2013 at 10:57 am

    One of the most annoying things about Windows 8 is the gestures on a laptop mousepad. There is no way to switch it off except through a registry hack. I don't see why I should need to hack the registry to get rid of this annoying pointless addition to laptops. After all how many laptops have touch sensitive screens? Not many. To be honest I wouldn't want Windows 8 on any of my mobile devices as I think Android is far superior.

  8. Nevzat A
    May 29, 2013 at 6:03 am

    We want silver and bronze medals to 2nd and 3rd best commenters too :)

    • likefunbutnot
      May 29, 2013 at 4:47 pm

      Since I do not use any of the services allowed for user registration here I have no way to claim the points anyway. They should probably go to someone who can actually use them.

      Thank for talking up Dave Parrack et al. for noticing my comment regardless.

      • Nevzat A
        May 30, 2013 at 6:39 am

        Well there is a good reason for getting points now, MUO t-shirts! :)

      • Dave Parrack
        May 30, 2013 at 3:09 pm

        Damn, that's a shame, but I choose the best comment based on nothing more than its insightfulness. You should sign up, as the rewards on offer are pretty epic for those who build up their points.

    • Dave Parrack
      May 30, 2013 at 3:08 pm

      I personally would dole out points for all worthy comments, but as that is above my paygrade you'll have to settle for getting a mention instead :)

  9. Esaure
    May 29, 2013 at 4:22 am

    Windows 8 behavior should be more like Kubuntu (linux distro) 12.10 (or later) desktop environment.

    When anybody installs Kubuntu in netbooks, mobile desktop (kind of modernui environment but much better) is autoinstalled because the screen resolution is too small (1024*600) or uses an intel atom processor (it depends on its own design), an easy desktop to setup with shortcuts and gadgets.

    If you want to have 'windows 7 like' desktop and 'start menu', you can have it if you go to in desktop properties.

    In case you setup a desktop computer with kubuntu 12.10, a 'windows 7 like' desktop environment it's going to be installed.

    Basically is what i quoted here:

    "An option to turn off the Start Screen.
    Bring back the Start button on the desktop."

    What i do not want to have "back from windows 7" is, when i expand folders in windows explorer (in a large list of folders), it slides down, just like being 'trolled' by microsoft because i hove to go down looking for a desired folder.

    From the desktop effects, i miss only the letf side button to show desktop and windows previews

    What i really miss, is the taskbar and the capability to have 2 or 3 windows on my desktop, 'left aside' that only for 7" tablets or smartphones (and maybe 10" devices). I have windows 7 in a desktop computer, the taskbar has been moved to the top side and it autohide and makesme happy to have 2 or 3 windows overlapped by a 10%-40% one over the other by stretching'em vertically.

    • Soluna
      May 29, 2013 at 5:12 am

      Well, the start button will be coming back; however, it's only a button, and will bring users to the start page. I've read that users will be able to boot straight to the desktop as well.

      The expanding-to-the-current-folder thing is something you can turn on/off in Windows 7/8. I changed it with Windows 7/8 Managers on my computers, but even without it, it's probably just a registry entry.

      What is this left-side button that shows the desktop and window previews? There is still a desktop preview on the right-hand side of the taskbar, and you can always pin a desktop shortcut to the taskbar. I may be misinterpreting though.

      I do not understand your last statement. There is still a hideable taskbar that you can dock on any side of the screen. You can still have 2 3, 4, etc... windows overlapping on the desktop.

      • Esaure
        May 29, 2013 at 3:06 pm

        If is coming back a start button that takes me to that annoying metro ui, is better to keep it off, in that case, slide the pointer to the left side (top or bottom, can't remember) and you will see the start button (looks like a small screenshot of the metro ui start menu). We, the users who wants the start button back, includes the start menu and its behavior, i'd like the win XP behavior but is ok if we get win 7 behavior (just what third party apps do, is not only a start button shortcut)

        When i'm typing, most of the times i use keyboard combinations like the win key for the start menu and access to most used or pinned apps or Win + E and many more.

        Here one of the (useless) start button back:

        I do not like to install third party apps for something that i can survive with, like the 'expanding-to-the-current-folder thing' behavior, i would be glad to know that 'registry thing to change it'.

        I did wrong with, is not the left side button, is the right side, just at the right side of the clock, by moving your mouse over without click, you'll see the desktop, i'd like to have a taskbar for those 'metro style apps' that cover the full screen, most of those apps don't have a menu or is somewhere where we shouldn't reach it.

        • Soluna
          May 30, 2013 at 1:30 am

          Personally, I like that the menu is gone, and I really do not want it back. I also like that the start button is gone, and I hope I can toggle it off when the update comes around. I programmed one of the forward ticks on my mouse to be the Windows key. I enjoy being able to reach just about every important, oft-used document with two mouse clicks from anywhere, and no matter what I am doing.

          There are plenty of new keyboard shortcuts with Windows 8, and I am sure you can learn them well enough to do everything you used to be able to do, and more.

          Simplest method: right click on a blank area in the Explorer sidebar and uncheck "Expand to current folder"

        • Esaure
          May 30, 2013 at 5:43 am

          Thanks for the tip for windows explorer, it works as i expected!

          Instead of tiles, this is what i really want in windows 8:

          What i really hate in windows 8 is, any "modern ui app" because it covers all my screen, canĀ“t have any resizable, i can't see any process going on while i do something else like reading or watching movie.

          Example of other tasks:
          virus scanning
          converting one format to another
          photo processing
          video processing
          and for that, seems like i should by another device.

          Here is where "windows" lost what its name means and only keeps "multitasking", its new logo should be an angled square instead of 4

          I've tests done monts ago but didn't made any review or took shots.
          Kubuntu 12.10 had a problem with intel stuff (some module made kubuntu too slow, by now it has to be solved)
          In netbook edition mode and desktop edition mode, is possible to have resized windows and there is a visible button to switch to another windows in case i have a full windowed app

          Windows 8 start screen seems to be a third app "always on top".
          How did i discovered?
          I have found UScrybe software for multitouch Synaptics touchpads (watch this video: )

          When i activate Scrybe, it works but doesn't come up over the metrostart screen, only on desktop while i have it clean or any app open there, scrybe shows on top.

          Not bringing back the start&menu button in 8.1 is going to be a bigger mistake, vista has compatibility bugs and power hungry, windows 8 come up worst with nx requeriments (equals to a power hungry system) and a "what the heck" first time start menu.

          I can learn, for sure everybody can do but the problem is:
          do we have time for something new?
          have anybody heard that they want to pay for training employees, despite the time and money they have to invest?

          I wonder how many billions microsoft has spend in windows 8 ads, can't remember that pc makers or brands blame microsoft for such piece of OS. Users blamed microsoft when windows ME and vista but didn't heard of pcmakers.

          Microsft tried to "copycat" apple's behavior: "costumers do not know what they want, we know what they want". Microsoft had "automatic software feedback" and "decided" to remove the start menu because "almost everybody pins their favorite apps to the taskbar" (somewhere i read that) but i cant agree more with ravenclawwit's comment

      • Esaure
        May 29, 2013 at 3:12 pm

        I had separated paragraphs, don't know why it got all 'shrinked'.

        Maybe it is caused by resizing the edit field while typing the reply.

  10. Akira Michael Sato
    May 29, 2013 at 2:58 am

    more popular application for Windows 8 phone.