I Tried Windows 10 and Rolled Back to 8.1

I tried out Windows 10 on my 2013 ASUS Q200E 11.6″ touchscreen netbook the other day. I primarily use it like a touch tablet for playing simple games, surfing the web, watching Netflix, etc. When I travel or go to a library for research it’s nice to have a good keyboard and track pad/USB mouse/Wacom tablet which makes it much more convenient for writing, data entry and media editing than a tablet. The desktop environment in Windows 10 is pretty good and if that was my primary usage I would have kept it installed. But with my primary usage as a touch screen device I very rapidly found Windows 10 to be far more difficult and less pleasant to use than Windows 8/8.1.

Below is part of a photo that shows the main problem I had with trying to use Windows 10 (click to see whole image in the original tweet). The tiny little icons you have to tap to work with Windows 10. In the picture that’s a pinky and ring finger showing and you can clearly see that you have to be very careful to hit the icon you want. If I was using a tablet like in the picture it would be easier but on a netbook there is a keyboard 90 degrees to that icon space making it very difficult to select the correct one. In Windows 8/8.1 I never need to try hit tiny targets like this, instead of a permanently showing tiny task bar, you swipe open the charms bar and tap nice big, finger friendly, targets. Far too often while trying out Win10 I had to switch from touch to the track pad so I could hit the targets accurately.

Another change that I found annoying was the loss of the simple single swipe to switch between Metro (full screen) programs. In Windows 8/8.1 if I’ve got two running, e.g. a game plus a forum, I simply swipe left to right and the other program is there. In Windows 10 you have to swipe left to right which opens an Alt-Tab like display and then you tap on the program you want to see. I suppose the new way would be easier if you routinely have lots of Metro programs running at the same time but I never have more than three or four open. Another Win10 annoyance was that you can’t simply swipe between desktop and tablet mode, you have to select a tiny icon and turn off tablet mode to get to the desktop which makes all Metro apps act like maximized desktop apps with title bars using up more of the 768 pixel vertical screen space. Often I’ll want to have a traditional desktop type program running as well as a couple of tablet style Metro apps, on Win8.1 I simply swipe to move between the Metro apps and the desktop.

While I was playing around I opened the mail app and saw an email from Microsoft telling me I had exceeded the limit for how many devices can be connected to the store. This was rather surprising since I have only one device connected to the store and opening the store showed there was only one device registered. I guess the server software running the Windows Store has a big bug that makes it think one is greater than 10 :-). You can see a copy somebody else received here, Windows 10 “Device Limit Reached”.

With my evaluation done in just over an hour it was clear I would be far better off rolling back to Windows 8.1. The rollback appeared to go well but a few glitches made me spend some time getting things working the way they were before the upgrade.

  • It lost my account picture, I use one of the stock Microsoft Live.com images and Windows 10 used it. On rollback it was not in Win8.1 and I couldn’t locate it anywhere on the drive. So I copied the image from Live.com and put a copy on my hard drive.
  • I cancelled the reservation after rollback but on every reboot it started to re-download the 2G Win10 install. Had to uninstall the Windows update item then go back into update and when it showed up again as available I hid it so that it never comes back (hopefully). Went ahead and did the same with the get Win10 icon update too to stop it from showing up.
  • The Photos app ended up with a duplication of the Camera Roll folder that can’t be deleted in Photos (OneDrive error). So I deleted the whole Camera Roll folder via the OneDrive web interface which did delete both copies from Photos.
  • account.microsoft.com/devices¬†still shows my Netbook as Windows 10 not sure what if any problems this is going to cause.
  • Google chrome got trashed causing it to duplicate all its bookmarks that of course synch across devices and then began to fail to start at all. I deleted all the duplicate bookmarks from a different PC and went to bed. The next morning when I fired up the system Chrome fixed itself and is running fine again, Google for the win!

Most reviewers seem to be excited about the return of the Start menu, something I’ve been sick of for more than a decade (was so glad that Vista/7/8/8.1 let me just press the Win key and type the name of the program to find it). The following posts are more in line with my feelings about this new touch version of Windows.

Maybe Microsoft will bring back parts of the Win8.1 touch interface that I find easier to use as either options or defaults in the future. If they do and Win 10 is still free I’ll try it again but it doesn’t really matter since the end of support for Win8.1 is long past the time this netbook will be useful or possibly even functioning. If they keep the harder to use touch screen UI, I’ll just move on to another brand, I like the IOS & Android touch UIs almost as much as the Win 8.1 touch UI. Heck after over a decade of usage I dumped Office when it got harder for me to use than OpenOffice. I still have Office on a work PC because my employer is stuck paying for it whether I use it or not due to Microsoft’s licensing rules. Every once in awhile I fire it up and every time it’s still slower and more frustrating to use than LibreOffice. At least Microsoft will get my business for new Desktop PCs at work and my home office every 5 years or so because the Windows 10 desktop UI is at least as good as the Win 7 UI.

I really wish Microsoft had made better decisions once they got slammed over Win 8. All they needed to do was bring back the Start menu and have a selectable option in setup to turn off all the Win8 touch features. All the people I know who where going ballistic hating on Win 8 would have been 100% satisfied with that solution. But nope, Microsoft releases Win 8.1 with a stupid Windows button on the task bar which did not satisfy any of the people who were pissed off. Then they spend enormous effort on Windows 10 and instead of simply leaving the touch UI as it was (I don’t recall anyone complaining about it for touch devices) they completely re-write it. They probably spent a huge amount of money on the re-write and other than a few Microsoft fanboys I haven’t seen anyone say the new touch UI is significantly better than the one in Win 8.1.