Microsoft slips advertising into Windows 8 without telling you or -- imagine the thought! -- asking you. And you can't turn them off. This is worse than nonsense. It's worse than Big Brother. It's disgusting.
Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously available online since 1983

Windows 8 screen.

TILES ON THE SCREEN of a Windows 8 PC are supposed to be touched and slid around on a tablet. For those with a regular PC, mousing around with Windows 8 is a dreary experience. And that's just the beginning.

Thumbs down on Windows 8 -- and on Microsoft's stealth ads inside the new operating system

November 11, 2012

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2012, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2012, The Post-Standard

I remember how excited I was about the launch of Windows 95. Microsoft got the Rolling Stones to sing for the big day and the Empire State Building was lit up in Windows' colors. The world seemed to go crazy at the prospect of the first modern version of Windows, with proper multitasking and hundreds of other advantages over the bad old version of Windows called 3.1.

But that was 1995. This is now. Another version of Windows is here. Pardon me if I yawn.

Things are not the same. They might never be.

Microsoft, maker of Windows, has lost its mojo and the market for PCs is faltering in favor of tablets like the iPad. Apple, once ridiculed for its tiny market share, has become the wealthiest company in the world, worth more than Microsoft, Google and Facebook combined.

To compete with Apple, Microsoft decided to copy Apple -- first with a tablet of its own, inexplicably called "Surface," and now with the launch of a new version of Windows. The new version, meant as the successor to the highly regarded Windows 7, is Windows 8. You can buy it at local stores and over the Internet already.

But hold everything. You're probably assuming that Windows 8 is an improvement over Windows 7, just as Windows 7 was an improvement over Microsoft's dreaded Vista.

It's not. No way. Not on your life.

Windows 8, with building-block-shaped squares you squish around the screen, was designed to work on a touch-screen tablet computer that's designed to run Windows 8. Good luck with that; not even Microsoft can sell you a tablet that can run Windows 8 at this time. "Surface Pro" tablets with Windows 8 will be ready in a few months, but you can't get them yet, and when you can, they are likely to cost twice as much as an iPad. That doesn't sound like Microsoft got the message about copying your competitor's products; if you're late to market, you come in at a lower price.

No touch screen on your home PC? None on mine, either. But Microsoft still wants us to switch to Windows 8, using a mouse to deal with things on the screen that were designed only for touching. The Windows 8 interface, after all, is derived from the interface on Windows Phone, and the notion of hooking up a mouse to a Windows Phone is totally nuts.

So here's where Microsoft wants us, installing Windows 8 on a regular PC. And then we discover it's just plain dumb. But can't you just give it a go and learn it? Sure, if Microsoft hadn't taken away the Start Menu. And other familiar menus. And if Microsoft hadn't replaced the web browser with a dumbed-down version made just for a tablet. Likewise, the email software. Likewise, the rest of the stuff you normally use on a computer.

It's kid stuff, and we're adults.

Nerds are surely jumping off the couch right now. They're trying to tell me I'm an idiot. After all, doesn't Windows 8 have a way to bypass this nonsense? It does indeed, sorta, kinda. It's got another kind of Windows more or less hidden inside, for those who don't have a touch-screen tablet. But is your idea of a good purchase paying for a version of Windows you can't use (or maybe can't stand) just so you can use a hide-away version you already have?

Probably not. For now, my recommendation is to stick with Windows 7 if you're using it now, or upgrade to Windows 7 if you're using an older version. Don't let yourself be fooled.

Added note: After this column was written, I discovered that Microsoft slips advertising into Windows 8 without telling you or -- imagine the thought! -- asking you. And you can't turn these ads off. This is worse than nonsense. It's worse than Big Brother. It's crass and disgusting.

Don't let yourself be fooled indeed. Why would anyone willingly pay for such a dreadful experience? Turkeys, as we all know this time of year, are turkeys, whether they end up on your table or on your desk.