I never reconciled to having to switch to Windows 10--am I just old?
September 5, 2018 6:10 AM   Subscribe

I held out using Windows XP up until I had to buy a new laptop last summer. I realize once you reach a certain age, you get set in your ways, but Windows 10 consistently annoys me and seems inferior in most ways.

Besides the obvious annoyance of it taking too much control over your PC (e.g., legacy keyboards I own may or may not work depending on Windows 10's mood that week), there are many aspects that are simply unintuitive. E.g., "File Explorer" doesn't give you a folder tree when selecting Quick Access folders; choosing "Uninstall" for a program brings up the "Install/Uninstall" dialog, but then you have to go find the program yourself (and often it's not even listed); lastly, some things are actuated by single click, others double click (no rhyme or reason behind the difference.).
Is there something I'm missing here?
posted by Jon44 to Computers & Internet (28 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
No, Windows 10 pretty much sucks. Windows 8, too, for that matter. I don't think going from XP to 10 is a great idea, because it's so different. If you'd like an in-between, Windows 7 is ok.
posted by kevinbelt at 6:28 AM on September 5, 2018 [8 favorites]

There's always Linux Mint.
posted by sydnius at 6:39 AM on September 5, 2018 [3 favorites]

Windows has always been hideously inconsistent in its interface; that legacy goes back further than overlapping windows, I kid you not. It's a big driver on lots of nerds moving to OSX and Linux (well, that and stability and security).

Win10 *is* more secure than prior Windows versions, so they say, and more importantly *is* still supported, so staying on XP is probably a bad plan. I don't support any family members on Windows at all, but if any were on Windows I'd insist they use 10 and keep the automatic updates on.

I'm with you, though, on the degree to which MSFT seems intent on abstracting out the file system so people don't have to understand how folders work. I mean, THIS is the thing you want to "fix"?

OTOH, if it's really making you crazy, maybe consider abandoning Windows entirely? I have the sense from your post that you're not super nerdy, so maybe Linux is out, but you could unload that laptop and jump to a Macbook. It'd still be a learning curve, but you'd at least find consistency.
posted by uberchet at 6:41 AM on September 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

Honestly, every upgrade I've done has felt this way, but you get used to it pretty quickly. And some things are clearly superior. Whenever i get a new Win10 machine, I go in and customize a few things.

WRT Explorer, go to "View" tab >> "Options" >> "View" tab >> Scroll to "Navigation Pane" and check "Expand to open folder". While you're there, feel free to adjust other things (unchecking "Hide extensions for known file types" comes to mind).

If you're used to Win XP taskbar, go to "Taskbar settings", check "Use small taskbar buttons" and set "Combine taskbar buttons" to "When taskbar is full". I also make my taskbar double size (this is a preference). After this I pin my most used programs directly to the task bar.

Get ShutUp10 if you want to control when and where your data can be used.

Get 7+ Taskbar Tweaker to control your task bar. I mostly use it to have "Middle click" to close.

THere are many things like this to make your machine act in a way you need it to. I know it's a little bit annoying to go though, but i think it's a small price to pay to have updated, secure (at least more secure than XP) OS.
posted by pyro979 at 6:46 AM on September 5, 2018 [25 favorites]

Yeah, not just old-- but that doesn't help-- muscle memory is a git :). I've been using Windows 10 since release, and I swear it still takes ten seconds for my brain to give up looking for 'Printers and Scanners' and start looking for 'Devices and Printers' instead.

The merger of UI to combine easy touch-screen and mouse-control seems to be the cause of most of the things you consider painful (and me, being a keyboard/mouse user myself).

You can just drag 'This PC' (or C: or whatever you want) up into your Quick Access folder to make getting to the tree view nice and simple.

Steering clear of the 'Settings' and just going straight to 'Control Panel' solves my major frustrations, everything, including Program & Features under there looks and acts pretty much like the legacy versions of Windows.

I think that's your complaint about the 'actuated via single-click' issue too-- when you're in the touch-screen areas (the new 'Settings' for example), it's going to be a single click to affect change. Sticking to Control Panel will give you your usual feel.

At some point I'm guessing it'll merge ever deeper, or they'll split it back out into two distinct modes because there's stupid collisions between old and new too often. Say you want to change your mouse sensitivity-- you can't yet do that in 'Settings' -> 'Mouse' directly, you have to then click on 'Additional Mouse Options' which then throws you back into the 'old' Windows Mouse setting panel.

You can always turn on the God Mode folder-- for quick access to all your system tools/settings, just create a new folder and name it: GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C} and it'll magically turn into a folder that contains shortcuts to all the depths of tools/utilities you'd ever need-- none using the new UI.
posted by Static Vagabond at 6:48 AM on September 5, 2018 [8 favorites]

I think the reassurance of the additional security that comes from an up-to-date operating system, not to mention application compatibility for the future, makes it worth getting used to the changes. It took me a long time to make the move from Windows 7, but a couple of years later I'm glad I did, a few annoyances notwithstanding.

The Install/Uninstall thing: what's happened is that Microsoft wants you to uninstall by going to the list in Control Panel - this transition has been happening since XP. A lot of third-party software companies are still adding an 'uninstall' link under the start menu folder, and those will often just redirecting you to the list, rather than necessarily opening a bespoke uninstaller (remember InstallShield?). I suspect it's as far as the third-party link can help you. The solution is to get used to uninstalling directly from the list. The quickest way there is to click/tap the Windows button/key (start button) and type 'add'. You should see a link to the apps list at the top.

Quick access is intentionally limited, to make it beginner-friendly. You might find Libraries a better fit. Under 'Desktop' in the left-hand pane, right-click Libraries and do New -> Library. Once you've created a library, you can right-click any folder and add it to the library. Libraries do have a tree, unlike Quick access.

Re: single vs. double click. As far as I'm aware, a double-click is used to launch an app or open a document from an icon, and to open a folder in the right pane of a file dialog. Windows 10 does have areas where there are icon-like things that aren't icons, but you can normally tell how they'll behave because they'll highlight when you move the mouse over them.

Control Panel can be a bit weird, because it has more than one interface, designed for different audiences (The 'Control Panel' app, and 'Settings', launched from the side of the start menu). The former, which is closer to the way older versions of Windows work, is the one I prefer. Again, just click/press the Windows icon/key, and type 'contr'. Right-click the 'Control Panel' item and 'Pin to Start' if you want it easily accessible in the start menu.

I find that, once you get to know how the various elements of Windows 10 work, you have more flexibility in terms of adapting things to your needs than you did in older versions. It just takes a bit of patience I guess.
posted by pipeski at 7:07 AM on September 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

If you're used to Win XP taskbar, go to "Taskbar settings", check "Use small taskbar buttons" and set "Combine taskbar buttons" to "When taskbar is full". I also make my taskbar double size (this is a preference). After this I pin my most used programs directly to the task bar.

You can also get your quicklaunch back if you want your launcher to not be the same exact thing as your display of which applications are running. There are a zillion guides to doing this.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 7:24 AM on September 5, 2018

I suspect this will be me a few years from now. I'm sticking with Windows 7 as long as I possibly can, which I've customised using Classic Shell to be a bit more XP-like. (Especially the Start Menu and Explorer.) Classic Shell supports Windows 10, although I have no experience with how well it does that. The software is also no longer under development, so there's that.

I expect I'll have to move to Windows 10 at some point in the next few years. The little bit I've used it on other computers annoyed me, too. (For example Settings/Control Panel.) I was going to look into customisation, with Classic Shell or something similar, and other utilities as mentioned upthread.
posted by snarfois at 7:24 AM on September 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

Lots of people are still using Windows 7. And they/we should be able to do so for as long as we want!
posted by amtho at 7:27 AM on September 5, 2018

Honestly, I can't in good conscience recommend using a version of Windows that is no longer receiving security updates, no matter how much you hate the new ones.
posted by tobascodagama at 7:59 AM on September 5, 2018 [9 favorites]

I don't think there are a whole lot of people using Windows because they love the UX.

Instead, they use it because one or more Windows-only programs are (or are perceived to be) necessary for their workflow. In short: fax effect.

Thus, the further Windows gets from the thinnest possible application launcher, the more miserable it is for everyone involved. Windows XP, arguably, represented a sort of high-water mark (relative to other Windows versions, though certainly not in general) in terms of inflicting itself on you as little as possible and just letting you run the program you actually want to use.

Unfortunately, tobascodagama hits the nail on the head: You can't just continue to use old versions, because of compatibility concerns, both in general and very specifically in terms of security updates. It's not an option. Pretending like it is means you're living on borrowed time, but it also means you're hurting everyone else when your box gets used to propagate malware or made part of a botnet.

All of this is just going to get worse over time, as from the perspective of Microsoft's rent-seeking embrace-extend-extinguish business model, it's all working as intended.
posted by sourcequench at 8:09 AM on September 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

Yeah, if you do use an older version, you have to continue to accept reasonable responsibility for keeping your machine secure. This is probably not 100% safe, but things like: keeping backups and the install media (and copies of the install media), so that if you're infected, you can re-install stuff relatively painlessly; not downloading random software; disabling Javascript in e-mail; being prudent about web browsing; etc. And I worry about my ability to still do this stuff in 25 or 35 years, when I might not be as sharp as I am now.

However, that's a long-term problem with enough time to create a proactive solution. I hope I'm not the only person who is thinking in those terms.
posted by amtho at 8:23 AM on September 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

Honestly, every upgrade I've done has felt this way, but you get used to it pretty quickly.

That is usually the case with me, but Windows 10 has never gelled. I suspect that some fundamental UI changes were made in anticipation of collapsing the mobile and desktop interfaces, but right now it just feels awkward.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 8:33 AM on September 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

Windows 10 is great! It includes all the good stuff from Win8 and fixes some of the problems that release introduced.

Here's a tip that you'll love, and that was alluded to above: Use the Windows key for *everything*. If you want to open a program that you don't have pinned to the taskbar, just hit the Windows key and start typing its name. Then hit enter. Then that program is running. If you want to turn on bluetooth, hit the Windows key and start typing 'bluetooth'. Then hit enter, and you've got bluetooth settings open.

The problem with Windows 10 is not that it's bad. The problem is that its features are not discoverable. Whatever you wish it did that you think it doesn't? It probably does that, and you just have to tell it to first. As a result there's a steep learning curve, and that can be very unpleasant. But it's worth the effort, I promise!
posted by dbx at 9:36 AM on September 5, 2018 [6 favorites]

Windows 10 is fine. Just get over yourself and use it. It's easy to learn and most people live in their browser most of the time anyways.

XP is unsafe, so is anything else that's old (and I don't like that fact either). No use in complaining.
posted by oxit at 10:08 AM on September 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

I still find Win10 massively annoying. There's good stuff under the hood, but the user interface is stupid and inefficient. The newer menus for various settings are huge and slow to open. One reason I prefer Windows to Mac is that I prefer the keyboard (mouse gives me tendinitis), and they've hidden a lot of the keyboard shortcuts and the underlined keyword keyboard menus. Some of it can be re-enabled, a lot just appears to be gone. The last update screwed with Paint, of all things, to push us to Paint 3D. It's customer hostile.

When I install an app, I put a shortcut in a desktop folder. I put some on the taskbar. I rarely use the tiles, but I did reorganize the tile menu and made all the tiles small. I seldom use the MSoft default apps or the MSoft Store. I used the Startup manager to educe startup apps.

I have a license for Win7, so if I needed to do a reinstall, I'd use that. I would not use any version older than 7, you need security updates.
posted by theora55 at 10:19 AM on September 5, 2018

I agree with oxit. Different doesn't mean inferior. Windows 10 is fine. Running an out-dated OS these days is too risky.
posted by LoveHam at 10:38 AM on September 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

I refuse to update to 10 and have been living very happily with 8 for two years now.
posted by Hermione Granger at 10:57 AM on September 5, 2018

I'm fine with Windows 10, but it definitely has bad parts. The worst thing is the way they only ported over half the system to the new user interface (Metro). It's particularly apparent when you try to change something simple in Settings only to find it's literally impossible, you have to launch the older Control Panel programs to do whatever simple thing you have to do. It's an incomplete product.

The other big offense in Win 10 is Microsoft trying to monetize every little corner of it like it's a goddamn free mobile phone game. The games themselves that come pre-installed and keep coming back after you delete them are dumb, sure. But the way it tries to get you to opt in to OneDrive, over and over again.. Wasn't Microsoft sued for that kind of bundling back in the day?

But Win 10 has many significant improvements. Personally I'm super excited about the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL), which if you're a Linux nerd like me is amazing. Rendering, filesystems, security, a lot of things are way better in Windows 10. Edge is a significant improvement over MSIE too.
posted by Nelson at 11:38 AM on September 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

Saying that Edge is a significant improvement over MSIE is like saying that tapeworms are a significant improvement over cholera.
posted by sourcequench at 12:38 PM on September 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

Is there something I'm missing here?

You picked on quite a few but I'm sure you've missed other annoying points. For me, it's the update bullshit. I was forced to use windows 10 the other day (a rare thing) and logging into my user account was a 20 minute job. I'm assuming that updates are automatic on this machine, but I'm sorry, if the process wastes my time then MS, you're doing it wrong.

You'll like WIndows 7, but you'll have to deal with the same tomfoolery when that goes end of life. I'd recommend Linux. I've been using Ubuntu/Debian with XFCE for about 10 years now, and my desktop, the settings widgets are all in the same place and function the same fucking way. Because computers are for getting shit done, not hunting for settings every five seconds when MS decides to "change things up".
posted by Juso No Thankyou at 1:13 PM on September 5, 2018

"You picked on quite a few but I'm sure you've missed other annoying points. For me, it's the update bullshit. I was forced to use windows 10 the other day (a rare thing) and logging into my user account was a 20 minute job. I'm assuming that updates are automatic on this machine, but I'm sorry, if the process wastes my time then MS, you're doing it wrong."

The updates are supposed to be automatic. If they aren't, likely someone using that computer was doing it wrong. I know my comp will update itself if I don't specifically tell it to wait X time before trying again.

Win 10 is great in my eyes, once you take care of some of the newage things like the telemetry stuff and the windows store or products they're pushing. Once those are out of the way it's basically windows 7 but better. Not to mention so much faster.

I think any major update in familiar software will temporarily feel like a pain in the ass, and "worse" since everything you know how to do is slightly different now and even when it's better, it's still just not what you're used to. When XP came out people were shitting on it even more than they can shit on 10 today. I hated when a school or work computer had XP on it, with its fisher price windows theme. I was going to stay on 2000 forever, screw XP. Then at some point I got used to XP and then Vista came out and I was like, no way, never touching that shit. This cycle repeats itself. Going from Windows 7 to 10 was actually a better transition than any before for me. My biggest gripe with windows 10 is the recent update which broke drawing-tablet monitors, including their own surface line. Fix took like 15 seconds messing with registry somewhere or running a bat file, I forget, but still, that was a ridic update to push out.

Give 10 some time, eventually you'll get acclimated and used to how it does stuff and when Windows 12 is out, you'll one day switch and fuss about how 12 is so much worse than 10.
posted by GoblinHoney at 3:17 PM on September 5, 2018

The single/double-click inconsistency is the result of Microsoft deciding that touch-screen and tablet computers were the future, and bolting a weird tablet interface onto Windows 8 -- everything is single-touch, or single-click if you use a mouse. This was widely reviled and they made it less prominent in Windows 10, but aspects of the system remain.

Microsoft, at least in the past, has had a notoriously dysfunctional corporate structure. Traditionally an ambitious manager would have to stake out a big project for themselves and get it into Windows in order to get promoted.

Weird, inconsistent ways of doing the same thing, or different parts of the system with different designs and interfaces, may be the result of this -- two people, in charge of two different factions, both wanted to build something to get promoted, and neither wanted to give up priority to the other's project.
posted by vogon_poet at 3:26 PM on September 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

And as other people have said -- the unfortunate reality is that, if your computer will ever be connected to the internet, you have to use an operating system that is still receiving security updates, no matter how irritating the interface becomes.

This is why old crotchety programmers love Linux; I know lots of them that are still using their same weird desktop interface they set up in like 1996. But unfortunately, the more user-friendly Linux distributions like Ubuntu constantly go through inexplicable, radical changes to the interface; it's just that people with expertise are able to change it back themselves.
posted by vogon_poet at 3:30 PM on September 5, 2018

Google "Classic Shell". It's a free program that makes Windows 10 function like the version you choose. A real sanity saver for me.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 6:13 PM on September 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

You're not missing something. I'm stuck with Windows 10 at work (was forced to upgrade from 7, which was totally fine) and even now after a year and a half, I still find it infuriating occasionally. For me the worst thing is that the shell/taskbar gets unresponsive when the machine is under a heavy load, which was never an issue before.

But I agree that you really do want to be using something that's getting security updates, even if it sucks.

I'd like to put in a word for Xubuntu--Ubuntu with the XFCE window manager. XFCE is very easily configurable to be similar to the classic Windows UI style. And it just never changes. I've been using it at home for ~8 years now and I would never ever go back to Windows.

If you have Windows programs you need, VMWare has a free utility (vCenter Converter) that can make a VM from your physical Windows machine. And then to run it, VMWare Player is also free. I did this with my old XP machine, works like a charm.
posted by equalpants at 8:50 PM on September 5, 2018

...I should mention that the downside of running XP in a VM is that you absolutely cannot let the VM access the network for any reason.
posted by equalpants at 8:56 PM on September 5, 2018

Count me among the crotchety who dislike this continual upgrading but Windows 10 isn't bad at all -- I made the jump from Windows 7 fairly painlessly. Fortunately I never had reason to use a Windows 8 machine until recently, and its touch-screen aspects made it awful for me, but that hasn't been my case with Windows 10.
posted by Rash at 9:10 PM on September 5, 2018

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