If you are using Windows 8, I feel sorry for you


I bought a Windows 8 laptop for my son so that he could use it for his exams. It had to be Windows because he is doing computing for 2 exams and alas the school advised that a Mac would not be helpful.

So, we spent £300 on an HP Pavilion laptop with 8GB of RAM, Windows 8 installed, an AMD processor and a 500GB hard drive. A decent price for good enough specifications and so I was ready to set it up for him. Or so I thought...

The initial experience is quite frankly appalling in almost every way. I have been using a Mac for the past 4 years and a Windows 7 laptop for work, but nothing prepared me for the changes in Windows 8 and the sad news that some things never seem to change.

This laptop came with Windows 8, not 8.1, installed and despite realising that there is no start button, when I came to try to work the PC without it things immediately became confusing. After some time I realised that I could tap the Desktop tile to get back to familiarity and then I couldn't work out how to find the installed apps. A selection are shown as tiles, but that didn't help until I accidentally swiped from the top of the screen to be greeted with an 'All apps' option at the bottom. Tapping this brings up a disorganised list of apps to choose from, but at least I could pin them to the taskbar which offered a minimal shortcut setup for my needs.

And so I proceeded to install the updates that were available, all 97 of them! I thought I would click to download and install and just leave it running. It stayed on 0% and would not budge. After some digging around I found out that there is a setting turned off by default that can cause this problem so I swiped from the right of the screen, tapped Settings, chose Change PC Settings, tapped Devices and then turned on 'Download over metered connections'. How did I not spot that immediately? It's just so obvious...

Anyway, I started to download the updates again and nothing happened until I was greeted with an error code that meant nothing to me. I went to help and support and found out that it meant that other updates were being installed. Well, they were not and I still have not installed one single update.

Oh yes, the Norton window keeps popping up to notify me of high CPU usage because I am downloading updates (which I am not able to) and then a much bigger Norton window appears every 5 minutes which I cannot dismiss advising me to pay after the trial is up. At some point I will remove Norton from the laptop, I despise the company and its software, but so far I have still not managed to do anything at all. I did find out that I need to contact HP for support, not Microsoft, and that when I search for this problem I am advised to go to a specific Microsoft web page. This page tells me to install updates from the control panel which is where all of the problems are occurring in the first place. Anyway, I uninstalled Norton and it could then download updates- it took many hours (8?), but they came through in the end.

When I tried to launch most apps from the tiles I was told that the updated version must be installed which means I could not use them and I still needed to remove all of the HP crapware and other silly offers that just got in the way.

Microsoft has attempted to make Windows easier to use with the tiled interface, but instead has created a confusing interface which does not flow and which rarely offers any obvious guidance. Parts feel built for touch while others are obviously not and I am still scratching my head as to what to do half the time. I am not a bozo when it comes to computers and I wonder how on earth those who have little computing experience cope with such poor design and so many unnecessary hurdles in their way. No wonder so many people say "I hate computers!"

You may say that £300 is not a lot of money, you may say that a MacBook Air is expensive at £800, but I would gladly pay that to lose the quite dreadful experience Windows offers out of the box. I understand that a Windows PC is not a choice for various reasons including affordability and specific needs, but that does not excuse how unbelievably awful it is to set up and, if I ever get it running properly, use. 

I love my Mac twice as much today as I did a week ago.

PS. Do any of you happen to be experts in Windows? I have a few questions...

UPDATE: some new updates appeared which I managed to download, but I now have to provide administrator access to install them. I am logged in as an administrator, but it won't let me install them because I need to give administrator access despite the fact I am an administrator and that it will not tell me how to do that. For f*ck's sake!!!