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Why I am not a big fan of the Microsoft Windows 8 operating system

I have always been a keen Microsoft enthusiast. Ever since I got my first computer, running Windows 95 and Office 97, I have loved Windows and Office. Since then, I have always been quick to upgrade to the latest version of Windows, and I have similarly used most of the Office versions up to and including 2010. I have always loved the improvements. Today, I use the Microsoft Windows 7 operating system together with the 2010 version of Microsoft Office. I love the OS, and despite many painful bugs in Word 2010, I really like the basic ideas in Office.

However, my confidence in Microsoft has taken some serious damage during the last year, as Microsoft has changed directions completely. A few of my issues with Windows 8 are listed below.

I am also not a big fan of the new office suite, Office 2013. The reasons are similar to those discussed above for Windows 8. First, Microsoft obviously wants you to subscribe to Office rather than buying it. I hate that idea. If I’d invest in a new computer system today, I expect it to work the same way in 20 years, or even in 50 years. After all, the things I can do on it today, I can still do in 50 years. Therefore, I want a piece of software to be a product I install once, and not a service I need to renew annually. Imagine you have found a luxurious armchair that you want to place in your beautiful home, in which you plan to live until you die. Then surely you want to pay for the chair once and then own it, instead of renting it for an annual fee and having to worry about the survival of the company you are renting it from.

Second, Office 2013 is very cloudy. Third, the new GUI follows the radical new Windows 8 ideas, and so it only looks good on a Windows 8 system. Since I run Windows 7, I would never upgrade because of this alone. Office 2010 looks good onn Windows 7, while Office 2013 looks good onn Windows 8. In addition, I don’t think I like the new GUI. It looks very much like the GUI in Windows 1 and 2. [Maybe I should appreciate that, though, being fond of legacy.]

Fourth, I believe no new features have been added that I would benefit from, which is very sad. For instance, it is still not possible to number equations! As you all know, Word 2007 introduced a new formula editor, which is awesome, except for the fact that you cannot number equations, and except for the bugs. This is a major mistake. It’s almost like designing and building a fancy car from scratch, and then forgetting to add doors to it. In practice, this lack of a feature is not far from being a showstopper in many (if not most) types of math-heavy documents. In Word 2010, this feature had not been implemented, and we can now conclude that the same applies to Word 2013.

Apparently, the reason why they didn’t implement this feature is that they were busy replacing a perfectly working rendering system (based on the GDI) by a new one (based on Direct2D). [As an aside, I can also tell you that the new formula editor in Word 2007 came with a rather embarrassing translation mistake in the Swedish version. On the contextual Ribbon tab shown when you edit a formula, the word “Integral” has been mistranslated as “Integer”. No Swedish-speaking person using Word to edit formulae could possibly have missed that! I informed Microsoft about the issue early on, but the same mistranslation is present in Word 2010. I’d be surprised (although pleasantly so) if it is not present in Word 2013 as well. There are equally embarrassing mistranslations in WMC (“föräldraklassificering”) and Outlook (“vidarebefordra månad”).]

Many years ago, my father told me that I too would someday feel that technology is progressing too rapidly, and that I too would cling firmly to old things. This might have happened now: my current plan is to continue using Windows 7 and Office 2010 indefinitely.


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