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Offline Hoagiebot

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Microsoft Windows 8 Discussion Thread
« on: March 19, 2012, 06:49:00 am »
I was wondering if any fur here has tried either the Developer Preview, Consumer Preview, or any other leaked or officially released beta version of Microsoft Windows 8 on any of their computers or in a virtual machine.  For the last several days I have been messing around with the 32-bit Consumer Preview beta-version of Windows 8 on a brand new netbook PC, and I have become curious as to whether or not anyone else here has taken the plunge into the brave new world that is the Metro user-interface as well.


While I bear no official allegiance to any particular computer software vendor's ecosystem or any particular software community (well, with maybe the exception of the Commodore 64 programming community that's still out there), Microsoft has a small office facility only a few miles from my house so I attend 4 local Microsoft-centric user groups that have their monthly meetings either based at or around that office due to the sheer convenience of them.  So to say that Microsoft has some influence over what technologies that I have some exposure to is an understatement to say the least.  While I have been hearing about the wonders of Windows 8 being extolled by the Microsofties ever since the Developer Preview of it was released last September, I never got around to trying out a version of it for myself until last week.  What sparked me to finally try it was because I received a brand new Acer Aspire one D255E-13695 netbook last week, and since the netbook is brand new I have no work-critical functions invested in it yet.  As a result, there was nothing for me to disrupt if I formatted it and threw Windows 8 on there.  That of course is when I learned my very first lesson about Windows 8:

The first rule of Windows 8:  Don't try installing it on a netbook, even a brand new netbook, unless you want to subject yourself to workarounds and trouble.

When I was deciding on a candidate machine to test Windows 8 on, the minimum system requirements for the beta-OS that I was primarily focusing on were its minimum processor and RAM requirements, which for the 32-bit version is a 1GHz processor and 1GB of RAM respectively.  My shiny new Acer Aspire one had a 1.6GHz Intel Atom N455 and 1GB of DDR3 RAM, so I figured that it would work out alright.  However, there was one minimum system requirement for Windows 8 that I didn't pay any attention to and I should have-- apparently Windows 8 has a minimum screen resolution requirement of 1024x768 pixels.  Windows 8 will still install and the desktop side of the operating system will still run if you have a screen resolution that is less than that, but unless you have a screen resolution of 1024x768 or larger you won't be able to get any Metro apps to run.  Period.  My Acer Aspire one, like most modern netbooks, has a widescreen format screen with a native resolution of 1024x600-pixels, which meant that when I tried to launch some Metro apps I quickly realized that they weren't going to load and that I was out of luck.

Now, for those of you paying attention to the development of Windows 8, it is a cobbled-together Frankenstein of an operating system with a split-personality disorder.  There are two "sides" to it, a desktop side, which is essentially the Windows 7 desktop environment with the "Start" button removed for your inconvenience, and a brand new "Metro" environment side, which is where all of the new work and development in the OS has really taken place.  The operating system does as much as it can to force Metro into your face as much as possible (such as replacing the "Start Menu" that has been a staple of Windows since Windows 95 with a new Metro "Start Screen"), so if you find yourself suddenly unable to launch Metro apps like I did it is a real deal-breaker.  So just like that all of a sudden instead of having Windows 8 on my machine all I had available to me was "Windows 7 Extremely Annoying Start Menu-less Edition" because my widescreen-format screen was 168-pixels too short in the vertical dimension.  Not good.  Not good at all.

Feeling extremely irate by this, I quickly joined the Microsoft TechNet Windows 8 discussion forums and started a new topic in their "Windows 8 Hardware Compatibility" section to complain about how wrong it was that they chose an unreasonable standard-ratio screen resolution as a minimum requirement when nearly every laptop, netbook, and desktop monitor has been using widescreen ratios for the last several years.  In my opinion, it made much more sense to use the 1024x600 widescreen format as the minimum resolution, as it wouldn't be *that* different from their current minimum and it wouldn't leave millions of netbook owners, whose machines can otherwise run Windows 8 just fine, out in the cold.  After all, Microsoft wanted to hear my feedback about Windows 8, so I gave it to them.  The first reply that I received from my post was unfortunately an unhelpful remark from some Microsoft "Partner MVP" about how analysts are predicting the death of the netbook to the hands of tablets, and therefore Microsoft shouldn't care about my predicament.  (For those of you who are wondering, yes, netbook sales are dropping each year, and many media outlets are very quick to report that statistic with glee.  What they don't bother to tell you however, and I looked up sales figures to be sure, is that there were still over 4-million netbooks sold in the U.S. alone last year.  So are netbook sales declining from year to year?  Yes.  But there are still a lot of netbooks being sold each year, and too many of them for Microsoft to be ignoring them with Windows 8 in my opinion!)

In any case, later posts made to the thread by more helpful people revealed that there is a change that you can make to the Windows registry on many netbooks that will allow them to use screen-resolution down scaling to project a higher resolution image onto a smaller resolution-capable screen.  This registry change allowed me to project a 1024x768 image on my Acer Aspire one's 1024x600-native resolution screen.  And while that made the picture "squished" a bit in the vertical and made the picture much fuzzier due to the scaling, the screen-image was still usable and it does allow me to run the Metro apps on my netbook.  So while it is definitely not an ideal solution due to the loss of image sharpness, through the use of down scaling you can indeed run Windows 8's new Metro apps on a netbook PC.  If you find yourself in a similar predicament when trying to run Windows 8 on your own netbook, I have posted the instructions on how to enable down scaling at the bottom of my Microsoft TechNet Windows 8 forum thread.

The next major issue that I immediately had with Windows 8 while first playing around with it was the networking settings.  As I mentioned above, Windows 8 is an operating system with a split personality, and this split cuts straight through the middle of more than just radically differing graphical user-interface paradigms.  On one hand, it seems like Microsoft wants to cram absolutely everything that they can into the Metro-side of things to force you into using Metro as much as possible, but on the other hand it seems like either they haven't had enough time to cram everything into the Metro side of things yet or they realize that they really can't which forces you to have to do some things on the Metro-side of the operating system and some things on the Windows Desktop side.  Unfortunately, much to Windows 8's detriment, this also applies to settings that once were all conveniently found within the Windows Control Panel.  My case in point is for the wi-fi and other networking settings.  You see, Windows 8 tries to be really smart, probably too smart in fact, and automatically assumes that you want to use Wi-Fi and that you will receive all of your networking settings automatically, from your IP address all the way down to your DNS servers' IP addresses, automatically through DHCP.  This probably would work fine for most consumers out there, but I am not like most consumers.  I have an entire evil warfleet of over 90 sinister Solaris, IRIX, OpenVMS, and Linux servers and workstations sprawled around my house (including filling two tall server racks in my basement).  My current networking setup involves a full-blown Cisco router running Cisco IOS, a 40-port Cisco Catalyst Switch, and various Cisco and Linksys Wireless Access Points, Wireless Bridges, and switches arrayed throughout the house.  Across this runs one large statically-addressed network, controlled by a "hosts" file located on each machine, in the 10.0.0.x IP address space.  That means that under normal everyday operating situations I am not running DHCP.  Windows 8's clever little default behavior of searching for a wi-fi network running DHCP naturally then doesn't find my network, and thus Windows 8 decides that it can't connect to any networks.

In previous versions of Windows this wasn't a very big issue.  To fix it, you would just click on the Windows "Start" menu, mouse over to "Settings," and then click on "Control Panel."  Every setting that you needed to change to setup your Windows PC to use a statically addressed network was right there.  In Windows 8, however, there is a Metro-based "More Settings" app.  In that app there is a section for Wi-Fi settings.  When you select it you get two settings listed that you can change: Turn the "Airplane Mode" on or off, and turn the "Wi-fi Device" on or off.  That's it.  And there are no other sections dealing with networking in this settings Metro app either.  That truly is it.  Luckily, the old faithful Windows Control Panel desktop application is still around.  Since troubleshooting my network connection issue was one of the first things that I tasked myself with doing in Windows 8, I wasn't very familiar with the Metro side of things yet and as a result I finally found the old desktop Control Panel application by doing a search for "Control Panel" in the desktop-mode version of Windows Explorer.  That is a ridiculous way to go about doing things I know, but what can I say, I was frustrated and desperate!  Since then I have discovered that there is a much easier way to find the old desktop-mode Control Panel through Metro:

1. Go to the Metro "Start" Screen.
2. Right click your mouse on a blank area of the "Start" screen to have its "command bar" float up from the bottom. Choose the option, "All apps". (In my case it was the only option.)
3. Scroll through the list of apps to your right until you see a heading that says "Windows System." Click on the "Control Panel" app listed underneath "Windows System."

In the Control Panel you can still set all of your more advanced Networking settings for both wired and wireless networks pretty much how you are used to doing.  This isn't where the story quite ends however-- as I said, some of your PC's settings and even some administrative functions such as adding new users have been pushed over to the Metro "More Settings" app.  In some cases it seems, when a setting has been moved to the Metro settings app it has also been removed from the traditional desktop-mode Control Panel, so you often find yourself having to check both places to be able to do what you want.  Lame.  Seriously, I haven't had this much fun since I found myself often switching between the Gnome-based "Java Desktop System (JDS)" and the UNIX "Common Desktop Environment (CDE)" on my Solaris 10 machines because while I liked the JDS much better over all, the CDE had the better system administration tools.  But at least in that case both of those rival desktops used the same graphical user-interface paradigm, i.e. "WIMP" or "Window, Icon, Menu, Pointer."  In Windows 8 the situation is even more disjointing because the Windows desktop/Metro GUI paradigms are different.

Speaking of different graphical user-interface paradigms, getting used to Windows Metro itself was also the cause for a lot of pain, suffering, frustration, and confusion.  Let me tell you this now:  If you are using a mouse with Metro instead of your fingers on a touchscreen, *and* you are familiar with how previous versions of Windows worked, you are going to find yourself absolutely hating Metro... at first.  When you are using a mouse, Metro behaves completely differently from any other Windows technology that you have used before.  If you are a long-time Windows user and you are trying out Windows 8 for the first time, for the first one or 2 hours you will be completely lost and wandering around the operating system aimlessly like a chicken with its head cut off.  Little of the Metro side of things will be intuitive to you, and even less will be obvious.  The loss of the "Start" menu that has been a fixture since the days of Windows 95 will leave you screaming out loud "why?", and make you wonder why you ever decided to subject yourself to this torture to begin with.  I have been reading a lot of IT Professionals' reactions to trying out Windows 8, and I remember reading how one IT Pro couldn't even figure out how to shut down his PC in Windows 8 Metro until after 30-minutes of searching!  I myself had a miserable time finding the Control Panel as I mentioned above, and I didn't learn how to "properly" close a Metro app until day 2 of my own testing!  Sure, I did find "a" way to close Metro apps early on (by revealing the "previously used app list" by holding my mouse in a certain unmarked corner of the screen, right clicking on the running app that I wanted, and then selecting "close"), but the easier and more "correct" way that I only discovered later is to move your mouse-pointer to the top of the screen, wait until the mouse-pointer transforms into a little hand-shape, click the left-mouse button, and then drag downwards to close the app.  All of this probably makes real sense when using your fingers on a touch screen, but it makes little to no sense at all when you are stuck using a mouse.

That brings me to my final thoughts on Windows 8 up until this point.  Windows 8 would be fine if you could set it to primarily use the Metro touch screen interface when you are running it on a touch screen tablet or touch screen monitor, and set it to primarily use the Windows desktop environment when you are running it on a netbook, laptop, or desktop.  But it doesn't let you do that.  When you are in the desktop environment and you want to select a new desktop-mode program to run, instead of having a Start menu right there you are forcibly kicked out into the new Metro-based "Start Screen," only to get kicked back into the desktop environment again once you have clicked on the desktop-mode program's Metro tile.  You also completely lose the old Start menu's ability to organize lists of program icons into various folders.  When you install a desktop software application onto Windows 8 it ends up throwing all of its newly-installed icons into the Metro "All apps" screen, including the icons for the uninstallers for that program and other such garbage icons, which you then have to go and spend time to sort and clean-up.  And while I find myself getting better and more familiar with navigating through the new Metro interface all of the time, I definitely don't see any real benefit to being forced into it from the desktop mode every time I want to select another program to run.  In other words, it is not helping my productivity or ease-of-use at all.  Instead, only the amount that it is hurting my productivity is only slightly lessening over time, and that is only because I am getting better and more familiar with using it so the amount that it is holding me back and inconveniencing me is dropping.  So I am actually getting better at using Windows 8 despite Metro, not because of it.  With that said, I do have to say that some of the Metro apps that I have played around with, especially the "Weather" app, are some of the most beautiful-looking things that I have ever seen.  But at the end of the day computers are made for doing work on, and while running a smart-phone-esque full-screen one-app-at-a-time user-interface on a tablet makes sense, also being forced to run it on a powerful quad-or-more-core desktop machine, no matter how pretty those full-screen apps might be, just seems like a horrible waste of good computing resources and productivity to me.

In any case, I am going to try to tough it out and keep Windows 8 Consumer Preview running on my netbook for as long as I can stomach it, or until it expires, which ever comes first.  As a computer programmer, I have come up with some great ideas for some Windows 8 Metro apps that I would like to try and develop, and since Microsoft has also made available a beta-version of Visual Studio 2012 for Windows 8 Consumer Preview that allows you to create your own Metro apps, I am going to try to get some apps written and placed into the Windows app store before the final release of Windows 8 launches.  Luckily, the Consumer Preview of Windows 8 doesn't expire until January 15th, 2013, so I have some time to accomplish this yet!   :)

So now I ask all of you: Have any of you tried any of the pre-release versions of Windows 8 yet?  What was your own personal experience like with it?  Did you experience any hardware incompatibilities or any problems getting used to using it?  What do you think of Windows 8 overall?  Do you think that Microsoft has the right idea with where they are taking the Windows operating system, or do you think that Windows 8 and Metro will be their biggest blunder since Microsoft Bob?  I would be extremely interested to hear eveyones' thoughts, experiences, and impressions!

(With that said, I would like to institute one rule with replying to this thread if I can.  It is well known that there are some furry Linux enthusiasts around that patrol this section of Furtopia.  Don't get me wrong-- there is absolutely nothing wrong with both running and enjoying Linux-- I have Pardus, Scientific Linux 5 and 6, Ubuntu "Lucid Lynx" LTS, Puppy Linux, KNOPPIX, Wolvix, and Damn Small Linux running on various machines of my own.  But what I don't want to see in this thread is any form of "Anything from Microsucks blows because it's from Microsucks, and anything from the FOSS community rulez because Richard Stallman said so" kind of trolling.  If you want to have a civilized discussion over the new tablet-centric features being introduced these days in the many competing GUI's, such as Microsoft Metro, Ubuntu Unity, Gnome 3, and Mac OSX Lion, and how their various strengths and weaknesses differ from one another that is more than fine.  In fact I actively encourage that sort of discussion here.  The effects of Windows 8 taking advantage of UEFI's "Secure Boot" feature (which could potentially limit duel-booting into a second OS) could also be a valid point of discussion.  But if all you want to contribute is something of negligible discussion value along the lines of "of course it sucks because it's from Microsoft!  Linux rulez!" please take your thoughts somewhere else and start your own thread if you have to.  I don't want a FOSS vs. Microsoft holy war to dominate this discussion.  I just want to discuss what's new and different in Windows 8, if anyone has tried it for themselves, and what everyone thinks about it.  So please stay on topic and thank you for your understanding!)
« Last Edit: March 19, 2012, 07:28:37 am by Hoagiebot »

Offline Foxpup

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Re: Microsoft Windows 8 Discussion Thread
« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2012, 08:32:10 am »
I have not tried it, but from what you describe, I wouldn't want to. :o Some of this is just so damn crazy that if it was coming from anyone else but you, I'd accuse them of grossly exaggerating or even outright lying out Windows 8's shortcomings out of some misplaced anti-Microsoft bigotry. Instead I'm going to merely suspect you of same. ;) No, seriously, are you freakin' kidding me? I honestly don't know whether you are or not. I mean, none of your points are the least bit surprising, take individually; but taken collectively, I just can't fathom Microsoft screwing up all these things simultaneously in one release. I imagine they'll fix most but not all of these flaws in the final release. I hope so, anyway. Otherwise it will (incredibly) be worse than Microsoft Bob, and there will be much gnashing of teeth and explosion of heads.

However, far more serious and sinister is the Secure Boot "feature", which (not just "potentially", but actually) prevents dual-booting or even installing another OS on ARM systems (but not x86 systems, because as Microsoft says "The customer is in control of their PC." Apparently, anything that doesn't fall within Microsoft's definition of a "PC" is not something that the customer is allowed control of). Let me say that again: if you buy a phone, tablet, or something-that-looks-like-a-PC-but-because-it-uses-an-ARM-processor-it-isn't, or anything else with an ARM processor, and it has Windows 8 on it, you can never install any other operating system on it, no matter what. You paid for it, but you do not and will never own it. Think very hard about what you're really paying for. I have thought very hard about it, but have yet to come up with a satisfactory answer. That this state of affairs hasn't caused an even greater outrage than it actually has simply boggles the mind in ways that cannot be adequately put into words. x_x
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Offline Alsek

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Re: Microsoft Windows 8 Discussion Thread
« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2012, 10:16:11 am »
Microsoft has been following this pattern for decades now.  Good os.  Bad os.  Good os. Bad os.

98 was awesome.  2k sucked. Xp was cool. Vista was horrendous. Windows 7 was decent.


Windows 8?  Time will tell but i'm not holding my breath. Something tells me most of us will be using windows 7 till windows 9 comes out.

I'll likely wind up getting my paws on 8server whenever it comes out because it's likely to have everything annoying about windows 8 striped out of it by default.

Offline Avan

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Re: Microsoft Windows 8 Discussion Thread
« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2012, 11:08:33 am »
Alsek's right there, win8 server probably will keep all the efficiency boosts and none of the junk.

Also, there are (at least in the dev version) registry edits that can be done to replace the metro start with the standard start menu. Some people even made programs to automate this process. Pity it doesn't work on netbooks though, because the performance gains it gets on that level of hardware are astounding as compared to windows 7. I got my win 8 dev box to play skyrim smoothly (its an E350) at higher settings than my i5 2410M laptop, which was limited not only in the graphics dept but the computing dept. as well as it suffered severe slowdown whenever the combat AI fired up (probably due to overheads & stuff), which the E350 with its much smaller and less powerful cores did not.

I'm obstinately a desktop sort of person and I don't see any real point of a tablet interface on a computer with a mouse. Hence why I turned my win8 dev install back into "Windows 7 + efficiencies + misc. minor enhancements" - its got significantly less overhead, greatly impacting low-power computers, as well as numerous small enhancements such as the explorer ribbon menu, but its hardly enough imo to be worth the cost of upgrading. WITH metro, it gets worse, and falls into what I perceive as a downgrade for any normal computer (maybe not for a tablet but I don't have tablets)

I doubt though that it will fare as badly as vista (which had crippling performance issues for a long while after release and the idiotic UAC popups) or ME (which had fatal stability issues). It is though, to say the least, when averaged out, underwhelming, imo.

-----------------------------

As to secure boot:

With the advent of ARM-based computers, I think that this policy is pretty stupid, to say the least. HOWEVER, since I build all my desktops, and I generally am not a poweruser of phones (irc, making calls, checking mspa for updates, listening to music, and playing a few games that aren't of the genre of 'ultra-light tablet/phone game apps') and I don't even own a laptop, it doesn't come off as a massive impact to me. I still oppose it on the principal of it though. its just wrong.
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Offline Narei Mooncatt

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Re: Microsoft Windows 8 Discussion Thread
« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2012, 01:15:42 pm »
Wow. I starting to think MS never will focus on an OS that is meant to be effecient so you can run better programs on less hardware requirements. The computer I primarilly use runs XP, and another runs 7. In both cases I have the OS enviroment set up to look as much like the "classic" Windows enviroment as possible to lower the amount of resources the OS itself needs. By what I'm reading hear, it sounds like with Metro, you'll need a fairly beefy system just to run advanced programs smoothly compared to prior versions. And the whole "split personality" thing also sounds like a big blunder. I was debating looking in to Win 8 for my XP machine, but I think if anything I'll only go as far as 7 with it. (The system was about the best money could by in 2008, but I think hardware limitations will make anything past 7 slow it down too much for my tastes)

Any idea how big the backlash against Metro's split personality is overall? Hopefully if it's big enough, MS will at least give us the full desktop enviroment back. I'd say maybe dump Metro all together, but companies usually don't do that with a new product that they've been hyped up about. They will try to force it on to the market to make sales, and only dump it if sales are low or the company becomes embarrased by bad reviews.
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Offline Hoagiebot

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Re: Microsoft Windows 8 Discussion Thread
« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2012, 01:19:09 pm »
I'll likely wind up getting my paws on 8 server whenever it comes out because it's likely to have everything annoying about windows 8 striped out of it by default.

It's kind of funny that you should mention wanting Windows Server 8 because it is going to have "everything annoying about Windows 8 stripped out."  How would you like to have a version of Windows server with all of the "windows" removed?  I subscribe to several Microsoft-centric magazines, and one of them, Redmond Magazine, recently published the article, "It's Official: The Windows Server GUI Is (Slowly) On the Way Out."  While for the last couple versions of Windows Server you could install a very stripped down "core" version that lacked a GUI along with a lot of other stuff, starting with Windows Server 8 installing the GUI is now optional with the full install.  In addition, the GUI that is being included with Windows Server 8 is a new stripped down "minimum GUI," and it is only being included as a transitional measure because Windows Server 9 is not supposed to have any GUI at all.  Microsoft is also stating that the "recommended" way of installing Windows Server 8 will be without the GUI, and that, "Software meant to run on a server should not assume a GUI will be there, nor should it take for granted any of the many other dependencies that the full server OS has traditionally included."

What's going to replace the Windows GUI in these new windowless versions of Windows Server, you ask?  Astonishingly, it will be the command line and the PowerShell task automation framework.  To quote another article, this one from The Register:

Quote
Compared to its precedents, Server 8 was designed backwards; everything in Server 8 can be manipulated via APIs and PowerShell scriptlets. GUIs are simply ease-of-use layers that offer a visual method of scriptlet control.  That means that anyone can build an interface to control any aspect of Server 8 from any operating system they wish. If you want to run a fleet of Windows 8 servers from Linux, Microsoft is not only happy to help, it built components for that.

So in other words, Microsoft is not only changing the way we work on PC's with Windows 8 whether we like it or not, Microsoft is also changing the way that server administrators work with Windows Server 8 whether they like it or not.  And if you look at a lot of the reader comments for some of these articles as you could predict there were a lot of UNIX and Linux server admins that chimed in about how they were seeing the irony in this new command-line and shell-scripting-centric direction that Microsoft is heading towards.  Many of the comments from these Linux and UNIX admins were a long the lines of "Hey Windows Server admins!  Welcome to the way us Linux admins have been running servers for years," and "it's about time that those lazy GUI-using Windows Server so-called admins were forced to learn how to actually administer a server!"

As a personal aside, I, for one, have mixed feelings on this new development.  On one hand, I don't mind scripting and automating things.  Since the days of MS-DOS 5 I have written dozens and dozens of batch files doing everything from automating Cygwin-X to connect to particular machines for me to automating the process that I used to use to build, document, package, and upload new versions of the Mozilla Firefox plugin that I used to maintain years ago.  More recently, I wrote automation scripts on Windows 98SE, XP, and Vista using VBScript and the Windows Scripting Host.  While I haven't been messing around with Solaris, IRIX, and Linux for nearly as long as I have been using MS-DOS and Windows, I also took the time to learn how to write BASH scripts should I find myself needing to.  Scripting is both great and powerful, especially if you want to automate a task that you need to do repeatedly or do to multiple machines.  But I also don't see the harm in a lot of cases of also having a GUI available on a server.

When I was first teaching myself how to administer a web server for example, our old Furtopia admin WhiteShepherd, who was mentoring me at the time, recommended that I should at least at first have a GUI installed on my server.  I am paraphrasing from memory here, but he said something along the lines of, "Some things are just far easier and more convenient to do with a GUI.  Having a GUI available doesn't cost you that much more in resources relative to what modern servers have available to them in this day and age, and if your server isn't able to handle having a GUI without having a noticeable performance hit, then you probably shouldn't be using that machine as your web server anyway."  Well, in general I have to agree with that.  Sure, you can do pretty much anything that you want (and even more than what the GUI is capable of doing) in Linux from the command line, but there are some GUI-based tools that make some of those more routine tasks so much simpler.  For example, on my Scientific Linux 5.3 server there is a GUI tool that lets me start and stop services with check boxes.  Can I also stop and start services through the Linux command line?  Absolutely.  Is it hard to do that with the Linux command line?  No, but man, clicking a GUI check box is even easier.  Now, as I said above, if you need to automate something across many machines or do something repeatedly, the sheer massive power of the command line and shell scripting is your very best friend.  But for very simple mundane tasks such as the occasional restarting of a single service, well, I know that it makes me a "lazy admin" and that it causes me to lose a lot of my Linux street cred, but at least for now for my own personal convenience's sake I'll just check the the little GUI check box and move on to more interesting things.  So in other words, while I can see the need for individual servers to not have a GUI installed on them in certain instances for security or performance purposes, at the same time I think that server operating systems should offer GUI's as an option should you choose to want to install them.  With Windows Server 8 and its optional "minimal GUI" that is still the case, but if Microsoft sticks to its plans then with future versions of Windows Server it won't be, and I just don't understand why they are taking such a hard-lined inflexible approach especially since it represents a complete 180-degree change from their past position and what all of their Windows Server customers had grown accustomed to.

I mean, none of your points are the least bit surprising, take individually; but taken collectively, I just can't fathom Microsoft screwing up all these things simultaneously in one release. I imagine they'll fix most but not all of these flaws in the final release. I hope so, anyway. Otherwise it will (incredibly) be worse than Microsoft Bob, and there will be much gnashing of teeth and explosion of heads.

Believe me, I am not the only person out there who has reacted negatively to Windows 8's practice of forcing you to constantly switch back and forth between the Metro UI and the Windows Desktop UI to do even the most mundane of things.  The still being developed operating system has also caught a lot of flak with the press for doing this too.  Just check out some of the articles about Windows 8 that has appeared on the IT news website The Register for example:


Now granted there are a lot of people there who say that Windows 8's Metro UI will make a fantastic and intuitive UI for touchscreen tablets, and that may very well be the case.  I can't personally back that claim up because I don't have a touchscreen monitor or tablet to test that with.  And the Metro UI, once you spend that first miserable hour getting used to it, eventually doesn't become that much of a hindrance to deal with.  What really irks me however is that desktop and laptop users, such as myself, are unnecessarily kicked into the Metro UI to perform lots of what should be routine Windows Desktop tasks, even when it doesn't really make sense to do it with desktop users because we are not running it on touchscreen tablets.  I just don't understand why Microsoft couldn't have made two separate operating systems like Apple does, and have the multi-touch optimized Microsoft Metro for smart phones and tablets and the mouse and keyboard-optimized Microsoft Windows 8 for netbooks, laptops, and desktops.  Or at the very least Microsoft could have done what one Windows 8 IT Pro Forums user suggested, which is to "allow [Windows 8] metro apps to switch between full-screen and windowed mode. Mac OS Lion has this feature and it works pretty well."  That would be a more acceptable compromise than what Microsoft is doing now, I think.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2012, 01:22:17 pm by Hoagiebot »

Offline Storm Fox

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Re: Microsoft Windows 8 Discussion Thread
« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2012, 03:50:57 pm »
Desktop GUI, user features, and that Metro UI aside…

With the UEFI secure booting crap, people won’t even be able to install Windows 7, let alone something else like Linux on a machine that has Windows 8 hardware.
As the firmware will only accept Windows 8 keys, so if the OS ends up being a failure, people will not be able to downgrade their new computers like so many did when they didn’t want Vista.

In the end it all comes down to being too much control, and Microsoft is trying far too hard to turn into Apple.
And if Microsoft continues with this method of logic, or lack thereof, I’m confident that I and many others will soon have nothing to do with their company.
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Offline Avan

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Re: Microsoft Windows 8 Discussion Thread
« Reply #7 on: March 20, 2012, 08:51:53 pm »
Yeah, don't want or need another apple. Didn't want the first to begin with.  :P

I must say I'm quite surprised with just how obstinate MS is being about some of the issues people are raising about the new stuff. I mean, one would think that BOB taught them a lesson. But maybe its been too long, and they've forgotten that big of their history. Well, if they continue on the path of saying "You want THIS." and people saying "Uhh, no we don't. Kbai." and heading off to linux and/or not upgrading (ie, continuing to use older versions) (since what with the iOS-ification of XOS, apple isn't really an option for this consumer base) they'll have a reminder soon enough.
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Offline Alsek

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Re: Microsoft Windows 8 Discussion Thread
« Reply #8 on: March 20, 2012, 11:41:36 pm »
Hoagiebot,  I have my doubts that the GUI is going to completely vanish anytime soon.

  They're probably moving in that direction.  But there isn't anything in windows 7 server that was stripped out that i can't access and enable.

That is to say,  I got sound,  wireless networking, windows media player,  and aero themes working on 7server.  I'm betting i'll be able to re-enable the GUI even if it's disabled by default.


As a student,  i can get server operating systems for free through Microsoft dream-spark.  I haven't payed for an OS sense XP.   :3

Offline Mylo

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Re: Microsoft Windows 8 Discussion Thread
« Reply #9 on: March 20, 2012, 11:45:01 pm »
Yeah, don't want or need another apple. Didn't want the first to begin with.  :P

I must say I'm quite surprised with just how obstinate MS is being about some of the issues people are raising about the new stuff. I mean, one would think that BOB taught them a lesson. But maybe its been too long, and they've forgotten that big of their history. Well, if they continue on the path of saying "You want THIS." and people saying "Uhh, no we don't. Kbai." and heading off to linux and/or not upgrading (ie, continuing to use older versions) (since what with the iOS-ification of XOS, apple isn't really an option for this consumer base) they'll have a reminder soon enough.

You're right in a sense, but Windows 8 will still ship with every computer but a few netbooks in the near future.  While a certain demographic may stay with Windows 7 or move on to Linux, most everyone who buys a new computer honestly will not care so long as it works.  Heck, I know a lot of people who still use Vista...it's just that your demographic (pretty much all content creators) is more outspoken.  I personally think Windows 8 is too rough, like a prototype, and I'm talking from a usability standpoint.  Hopefully, you'll be able to disable Metro if you want (like enabling Windows classic in XP).  

And about Microsoft wanting to be more like Apple...if you were on MSFT board of directors and you saw Apple making more money than God, wouldn't you, for the sake of money, want to emulate that runaway success?  After all, people must really love Apple considering the amount of units they sell.  

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Re: Microsoft Windows 8 Discussion Thread
« Reply #10 on: March 21, 2012, 07:35:14 am »
Hoagiebot,  I have my doubts that the GUI is going to completely vanish anytime soon.

  They're probably moving in that direction.  But there isn't anything in windows 7 server that was stripped out that i can't access and enable.

That is to say,  I got sound,  wireless networking, windows media player,  and aero themes working on 7server.  I'm betting i'll be able to re-enable the GUI even if it's disabled by default.


As a student,  i can get server operating systems for free through Microsoft dream-spark.  I haven't payed for an OS sense XP.   :3

First of all, in your post you said "Windows 7 Server."  I think that you mistyped and actually meant "Windows Server 8," because the version of Windows Server that came before Windows Server 8 was called "Windows Server 2008 R2."  Assuming that you meant Windows Server 8, you're right in pointing out the fact that it still has the option to install the full GUI.  Apparently I misread one of my articles, and the full GUI is still available on Windows Server 8.  However, based on everything that I have been reading, both from the press and from Microsoft itself, the days of Windows Server having a full GUI-install option are numbered, and Windows Server 8 may be the very last version of Windows Server to offer it.  Microsoft's Distinguished Engineer and Lead Architect of Windows Server, Jeffrey Snover, wrote on his Microsoft TechNet Windows Server Blog that the full GUI-install option was only included in Windows Server 8 solely for the purpose of maintaining backwards compatibility with legacy GUI server applications, and that developers should not expect their applications to have a GUI available to them any longer.  He even had a whole presentation about it at last year's Microsoft BUILD conference-- you can watch a video of the presentation here:

BUILD Conference - "Windows Server 8 apps must run without a GUI" - Microsoft's Jeffrey Snover, Distinguished Engineer and Lead Architect of Windows Server

That is also why Microsoft has developed the brand new "minimal GUI" to offer a lighter weight transitional GUI that will be included, at least for a while, in new versions of Windows Server after the full GUI has been removed.  To quote the Microsoft TechNet Server and Cloud Platform Blog, "[The Minimal GUI] is a compatibility option for applications that are not ready to support our recommended application model but still want to benefit from some of the benefits of Server Core."  So as you can see, I am not just pulling this info out of my butt.  It's coming straight from Microsoft.

Instead, Microsoft's new strategy for administering Windows Server is to have rich GUI server administration applications running on the client side and connecting to the server remotely-- not running on the server itself.  To once again quote the Microsoft TechNet Server and Cloud Platform Blog,  "In Windows Server 8, the recommended application model is to run on Server Core using PowerShell for local management tasks and then deliver a rich GUI administration tool capable of running remotely on a Windows client."  So there you have it.  In the future Microsoft wants only a command line and PowerShell scriptlets running on the server itself, with rich GUI administration tools connecting to the server remotely from Windows clients.  To paraphrase the author Don Jones of Redmond Magazine, Microsoft is heading towards a GUI-less future for Windows Server whether Windows Server Admins like it or not, and that Windows Server Admins will have to "adapt or die."
« Last Edit: March 21, 2012, 08:48:42 am by Hoagiebot »

Offline Alsek

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Re: Microsoft Windows 8 Discussion Thread
« Reply #11 on: March 21, 2012, 08:54:48 am »
Not a misstype,  no.

7server is a colloquial term (originating from their pre-release internal name) for windows server 2008 r2.   It's commonly used and faster to type.  It's also a much more acurate description as it has no resimblance to server08.

i'll keep using server OSes as long as it's practical to do.   Should windows 9's server equivilant be released without the possibility of using the GUI i'll not be using it.  But it looks like 8's will have it so one step at a time.   ;)

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Re: Microsoft Windows 8 Discussion Thread
« Reply #12 on: March 21, 2012, 01:52:21 pm »
And about Microsoft wanting to be more like Apple...if you were on MSFT board of directors and you saw Apple making more money than God, wouldn't you, for the sake of money, want to emulate that runaway success?  After all, people must really love Apple considering the amount of units they sell.  
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Re: Microsoft Windows 8 Discussion Thread
« Reply #13 on: March 23, 2012, 10:53:11 am »
I have some more thoughts on Windows 8 Consumer Preview since I have been messing around with it more.  As far as web browsers go, Windows 8 Consumer Preview comes with Microsoft Internet Explorer 10 Consumer Preview, and up until today that was the browser that I was using while I was experimenting with Windows 8.  Internet Explorer 10 on Windows 8 Consumer Preview is an interesting beast, with both a standard Windows desktop environment UI and a full-screen Metro UI that come as part of it.  It is not two separate browsers, but one browser designed to run natively (with actual native WinRT code components for the Metro side) in each of the two Windows 8 GUI environments.  When you run IE10 in desktop mode it acts just like IE9 does with the same UI and with the option of installing plugins like Flash and Silverlight.  When you run IE10 in Metro mode it runs full-screen with almost no UI at all, and is optimized for multi-touch finger input.  IE10 in Metro mode also won't let you use any plugins at all (including Flash), so if whatever website that you are looking at doesn't work in straight-up HTML5 without plugins, it just doesn't work.  This meant that when I went to visit YouTube using IE10 in Metro mode YouTube sent me to their HTML5 Video beta version of their site, which then of course still didn't work right due to the current browser and patent war over the video formats used with the HTML5 "Video" tag.  For those of you who don't know about this situation, essentially Microsoft and Apple want to use H.264 video as the standard format for HTML5 video tags, especially since both of those companies each own some of the patent rights to the H.264 format, and Mozilla, Google, and Opera want to use WebM since Google owns the rights to that.  Because YouTube is owned by Google, the YouTube HTML5-based beta site uses WebM videos, and as a result I had to install WebM support into IE10 before I could view any videos.  After that the videos on YouTube did indeed play, but to be honest I think the standard Flash-based YouTube site works a little bit better.

As I mentioned in the "Web browsers?" thread on this forum, I absolutely *hate* the user interface that is in IE9 and IE10.  I just can't emphasize that point enough.  My hatred towards IE9 and 10's new UI isn't just because it was made to look and act more like Google Chrome, which I also don't like, but because they absolutely hobbled the "search provider" functionality that was in previous versions of the browser such as IE7 and IE8.  To explain, the search provider-functionality in IE7 and IE8 worked pretty much exactly like it did in Firefox versions 2.0 and above-- you had a separate search bar, and if you wanted a search provider that didn't have an official add-on to download from the Internet Explorer add-ons site, such as Dictionary.com or Wikifur, all you had to do was visit that website and IE would automagically detect that you could do searches on that website and would allow you to add that site's search functionality as a new search provider.  That feature worked great in IE7 and IE8, and it still works great in Firefox.  In IE9 and IE10, now do you not only have the search functionality combined into the URL Address Bar (which I hate), but that ability to add the search functionality of the websites that you visit as permanently available search providers is gone as far as I can tell, meaning that you have to jump through some serious hoops if you want to add a search provider to IE9 and IE10 that isn't available on the Internet Explorer add-on site, such as the before-mentioned Dictionary.com and Wikifur.  On my Windows Vista desktop this isn't too big of a deal-- I just keep IE8 on the machine and all is blissful.  But on Windows 8 that is not an option, so I installed Firefox 11 onto it and quickly had all of the custom search providers that I wanted added to its glorious still-present search bar, and its awful Chrome-esque user interface customized back to something that is more at least somewhat more Firefox 3.6-ish and palatable.  This is where Firefox clearly wins-- it kept the search bar functionality that I liked, and at least its user interface *is* customizable-- with IE10 you are stuck with how it comes UI-wise.

Everything is not all perfect with Mozilla Firefox and Windows 8, however.  As of right now, Firefox 11 has no Metro functionality, and as a result it can only be used in desktop mode.  That means that you still have to use IE10 if you want to surf the web with a Metro-based browser (which would be quite likely if you were using Windows 8 on a tablet).  That in and of itself was a bit of a disappointment, because I was hoping to replace IE10 completely in both UI modes with some kind of beta or "aurora" Metro-capable version of Firefox.  Unfortunately, not only is there no Metro-capable version of Firefox that exists right now, but there won't be one arriving anytime soon either, as Microsoft only released the documentation on how to create web browsers for Windows 8 and Metro on February 29th, which gives Microsoft and IE10 a 5-month head start over both Firefox's and Chrome's Metro-capable browser development efforts.  So for now I will just have to be content with running Firefox 11 in desktop mode until I hear about some Metro-capable version of Firefox arriving in the nightly build or the aurora channels or something.

Another interesting feature in Windows 8 Consumer Preview that I have discovered is that it actually has a full-blown virus scanner built in to it and enabled by default.  Do you remember the Microsoft Security Essentials anti-virus/malware scanner for Windows XP, Vista, and 7?  In Windows 8 it is no longer a separate app and is completely integrated into the operating system.  In fact, I had no idea that it was even there and running until it attempted to attack and kill my "Angry IP Scanner" network utility for being a "malicious hacker tool."  A tool yes, but malicious no, so I had to rescue the poor utility and tell Windows 8's up-until-then invisible virus scanner to cool its jets and allow it to live.  Windows 8 calls this new integrated functionality "Windows Defender," but don't get it confused with the simple anti-malware versions of Windows Defender that Microsoft included in previous versions of Windows.  This is truly a full-blown version of Microsoft Security Essentials that has been built into the OS, and they just renamed it to Windows Defender.  Naturally, as you would expect, the independent anti-virus software vendors are all ready crying foul and threatening to sue Microsoft for monopolistic practices because of this as well.

As far as I am concerned, there is both a good side and a bad side to this new integrated "Windows Defender."  On one hand, I absolutely love the idea.  I can't tell you how many times that I have had to clean horrible stuff off of some relative's computer because they let their pay anti-virus software's subscription expire and they stopped receiving anti-virus updates months before.  Having an invisible anti-virus/ anti-malware scanner, and a very good one at that, that is running silently and automatically updating itself all of the time will help keep all of those hapless largely computer-illiterate users out there out of trouble.  On the other hand, I do wish that Windows 8 would put an icon in the task bar or something to let you know at least that there is an anti-virus/ anti-malware program of some kind that is installed and running.  In addition, in the long term if Windows 8's integrated Windows Defender does crush the independent anti-virus software products in the market and becomes the dominant anti-malware product in use on PC's, that would lead to a potentially dangerous homogeneous anti-malware software install base where all of the malware authors out there would only have to worry about targeting and circumventing one anti-malware product.  If that happened it wouldn't matter how good Microsoft's anti-virus technology happens to be-- with every malware author out there devoting all of their attention to finding ways to circumvent that one software program, holes will be found and malware will find ways to get through, guaranteed.

Speaking of malware, yesterday I signed up for the Windows 8 beta "Survey Feedback Program" and "Automated Feedback Program."  The "Survey Feedback Program" is just what it sounds like-- Microsoft is going to e-mail me a survey once every two weeks asking me questions about my experiences with Windows 8.  That is straight forward enough, and I am more than happy to do it if it gives me another soap box to complain about Metro not working on 1024x600 resolution screens and just plain complain about Metro in general with.  The other program that I signed up for, the Automated Feedback Program, is a bit more sinister however.  It involves installing what is essentially a spyware program called the "Microsoft Windows Feedback Panel 6.0" on my netbook, which collects the following information:

  • Windows usage behavior including installed and used applications.
  • Number and type of software errors encountered.
  • Performance of software and hardware products installed on your computer
  • File and folder structures on your computer, including number of types of files in folders, such as number of jpg files in the Pictures folder.
  • What transpired during a network problem, including data obtained from various network connections, components, and devices installed on your computer.
  • System-specific information, such as hardware, devices, drivers, and settings installed on your computer.
  • Registry values.
  • Event logs.
  • Office Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP) data.
  • Windows Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP) data.

Normally I wouldn't touch a program that collects information like this with a 100-foot pole.  That's one of the reasons why I have never installed Google Chrome on any of my machines, and why I only log into my Google account if I desperately need to, amongst other things.  However, there were three reasons why I was willing to consider installing such a usage behavior monitoring program in this case: First of all, I don't really like the direction that Windows 8 is heading in, and as a IT professional I know that I will have to deal with using it or helping others use it sooner or later, so if there is any way that I can influence the direction that Windows 8 is heading in I will considerate it, especially since I think that my complaints on the Microsoft TechNet Windows 8 forum are falling on deaf ears.  Secondly, since I am only using Windows 8 to test it and possibly try my hand at programming a Metro app, I won't really be doing anything on that netbook that is worth spying on, and lastly, Microsoft offers you swag if you stick with running the usage behavior monitoring program for 4-months in the form of a free $150 copy of Microsoft Office 2010 Home and Student or your choice of one of a few different XBOX 360 games.  Unlike Alsek, I am not a student any longer and have to pay full price for software like Office, and being that I have been out of work for a really long time and am desperately short of cash, swag which I never would have even considered doing something like this for before suddenly becomes a bit harder to say no to.

Unfortunately, that information listed above that the "Microsoft Windows Feedback Panel" usage behavior monitoring program captures is for the standard Windows 7 Automated Feedback Program.  Since I was doing this for a beta version of Windows 8, after agreeing to those terms listed above I was greeted with yet another set of terms to agree to called the "Supplemental Agreement for Beta Participants."  It had me agree to allow the monitoring program to record even more information about what I am doing on my netbook in addition to all of the information listed above, including:

  • All mouse clicks and certain hot keys (but not all keystrokes)
  • The domain name of web addresses you visit (for example, http://www.facebook.com, http://entertainment.msn.com), and in some cases additional parts of the URL string up to the full URL string for certain web sites to better understand the traffic on the sub sites and web pages of large web properties (e.g. http://www.microsoft.com/download/en), including the usage of web applications.
  • The context of each open window, which includes for example the windows title at the very top of the window

In addition, the supplemental agreement stated:

Quote
With the Beta Feedback Program, there is a chance that personal information may unintentionally be collected. Depending on the programs and websites you use, this could include the subject of e-mail messages and information you enter or view on your computer or online, possibly including sensitive personal information. Microsoft does not need or use this personal information and makes a great effort to avoid collecting it. All original information sent to Microsoft from your computer will be deleted after seven months from when it is received.

While I can understand Microsoft wanting to collect mouse clicks and hot key usage, those other two points and the statement below them really made me cringe.  In fact, as much as I wouldn't have minded receiving a copy of Office 2010 for myself or a copy of Forza Motorsport 4 that I could have then given to my father for his birthday (he absolutely loves those Forza games), there is no way that I could deal with having Microsoft knowing every website that I visited along with taking snapshots of the context of what it is that I am looking at.  When a corporation starts warning you about tracking every website that you visit and accidentally slurping up sensitive personal information and e-mails, it's time to tell them to take a hike.  While I suppose agreeing to this would be no worse than having an active GMail account (read your GMail privacy policy-- Google electronically "reads" all of your e-mail before you do), I don't want to spend the next four months second guessing myself about every website that I want to visit on my netbook because I might not want Microsoft to have a record of it.

With that said, I currently am signed up for the Automated Feedback Program and I do have that monitoring tool running on my netbook (so far the monitoring tool has gotten to watch me install Visual Studio 11 Beta, Mozilla Firefox 11, and a 9-year old copy of Nullsoft Winamp 2.95, which does work on Windows 8 surprisingly, all of which I am sure that the boffins at Microsoft will find absolutely fascinating), but the more that I think about it the more that the free copy of Forza 4 doesn't sound worth all of the uneasiness and paranoia that having this monitoring program running on my netbook will generate, so by the time that you read this post I will have probably already opted out of the program and uninstalled the monitoring tool.  I swear, I was actually willing to give Microsoft a few inches of leeway with this monitoring stuff, but then they had to go and throw in that second even more heinous supplemental agreement and try to take a mile.  *sigh*

I have even more that I could blab about involving Windows 8, but I think that I will cut myself off here for now!   :)

Offline Foxpup

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Re: Microsoft Windows 8 Discussion Thread
« Reply #14 on: March 23, 2012, 09:08:11 pm »
Another interesting feature in Windows 8 Consumer Preview that I have discovered is that it actually has a full-blown virus scanner built in to it and enabled by default.  Do you remember the Microsoft Security Essentials anti-virus/malware scanner for Windows XP, Vista, and 7?  In Windows 8 it is no longer a separate app and is completely integrated into the operating system.  In fact, I had no idea that it was even there and running until it attempted to attack and kill my "Angry IP Scanner" network utility for being a "malicious hacker tool."  A tool yes, but malicious no, so I had to rescue the poor utility and tell Windows 8's up-until-then invisible virus scanner to cool its jets and allow it to live.
Just to clarify, were you using Angry IP Scanner to scan your Windows 8 machine, or were you actually running it from your Windows 8 machine when Windows said "I'm afraid I can't let you that, Dave"? From your wording I presume you mean the latter, but how does that make sense? Port scanners aren't even malicious! Or even purely hacker tools for that matter. What about debuggers? Are they "malicious hacker tools" too? Compilers? Where does it end?

Unfortunately, that information listed above that the "Microsoft Windows Feedback Panel" usage behavior monitoring program captures is for the standard Windows 7 Automated Feedback Program.  Since I was doing this for a beta version of Windows 8, after agreeing to those terms listed above I was greeted with yet another set of terms to agree to called the "Supplemental Agreement for Beta Participants."  It had me agree to allow the monitoring program to record even more information about what I am doing on my netbook in addition to all of the information listed above, including:

  • All mouse clicks and certain hot keys (but not all keystrokes)
  • The domain name of web addresses you visit (for example, http://www.facebook.com, http://entertainment.msn.com), and in some cases additional parts of the URL string up to the full URL string for certain web sites to better understand the traffic on the sub sites and web pages of large web properties (e.g. http://www.microsoft.com/download/en), including the usage of web applications.
  • The context of each open window, which includes for example the windows title at the very top of the window

In addition, the supplemental agreement stated:

Quote
With the Beta Feedback Program, there is a chance that personal information may unintentionally be collected. Depending on the programs and websites you use, this could include the subject of e-mail messages and information you enter or view on your computer or online, possibly including sensitive personal information. Microsoft does not need or use this personal information and makes a great effort to avoid collecting it. All original information sent to Microsoft from your computer will be deleted after seven months from when it is received.
Is that even legal? That can't be legal. They say they record all mouse clicks but not keystrokes, but if you're using a on-screen keyboard, they are recording all keystrokes. They say they make a great effort to avoid collecting personal information, but I'm not seeing any of this effort. And what do they mean that "all original information" will be deleted after seven months? Are they giving a copy of this information to third parties? Keeping a copy for themselves so they can claim they deleted the "original"? What are really doing with this information? I can think of no non-sinister interpretations of this phrase.

While I suppose agreeing to this would be no worse than having an active GMail account (read your GMail privacy policy-- Google electronically "reads" all of your e-mail before you do), I don't want to spend the next four months second guessing myself about every website that I want to visit on my netbook because I might not want Microsoft to have a record of it.
Actually, it's much worse than that. All email providers read your email, everybody knows that, which is why everybody who care about that encrypts their email. Same goes for all other cloud services. However, what you do on your own machine is private unless someone physically* steals your machine (and people who care about that encrypt their hard drives). But Microsoft is taking all that away. You can't encrypt anything because the plaintext is being sent straight to Microsoft's servers. I'm guessing this spyware won't be present on the release version of Windows 8, but I wouldn't bet on it.

*Assumption: your firewall is sufficiently non-useless that people can't read your files over the network (not necessarily a good assumption as far as Windows is concerned).
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Offline Hoagiebot

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Re: Microsoft Windows 8 Discussion Thread
« Reply #15 on: March 24, 2012, 04:41:00 am »
I'm guessing this spyware won't be present on the release version of Windows 8, but I wouldn't bet on it.  *Assumption: your firewall is sufficiently non-useless that people can't read your files over the network (not necessarily a good assumption as far as Windows is concerned).

Whoa whoa whoa!  Backspace and overstrike there, Foxpup!  If you re-read my last post you will see that I had to sign up for both the "Survey Feedback Program" and the "Automated Feedback Program."  In fact, I had to do more than that.  These feedback programs are not available to the general public, and the "Microsoft Windows Feedback Panel 6.0" usage behavior monitoring program does not come as part of the Windows 8 Consumer Preview.  I had to go out of my way to express my interest in these programs and apply for them, and only after Microsoft approved my application was I given the ability to even opt-in to them.  After I signed up for the Automated Feedback Program I was given a link to download the Microsoft Windows Feedback Panel 6.0 software, and I had to install it on my own machine myself.  So everything is legal since I expressly requested and agreed to it, and the reason why the Microsoft Windows Feedback Panel 6.0 is able to communicate through Windows 8's firewall is because that privilege was granted to it when I installed the software.

I was already familiar with the terms of the standard Automated Feedback Program, and was fine with them because I was hoping that maybe my usage data would help improve the design of Windows 8 (because boy does it need improving).  The only reason why I have some sour grapes about the whole thing now is because of the second "Supplemental Agreement for Beta Participants" set of terms.  That second set of supplemental terms, which were the ones that allow the Microsoft Windows Feedback Panel 6.0 software to collect the information about all of the websites that I visit, capture every mouse-click, capture contextual information, etc. in addition to what it would normally collect under the standard Automated Feedback Program took me completely by surprise, and basically took a wizz in my punch bowl, metaphorically speaking.  So I was actually in favor of participating in the Automated Feedback Program under the standard terms, as I wanted to be able to provide feedback to Microsoft, and I went out of my way to apply for the privilege.  But those additional supplemental terms for beta participants that they sprung on me were just too invasive and far-reaching for my sensibilities, so earlier this evening I back-peddled and decided to opt-out of the Automated Feedback Program and uninstalled the Microsoft Windows Feedback Panel 6.0 software from my netbook.  So I am no longer participating in the Automated Feedback Program (which means that I can kiss my free copy of Office 2010 or Forza Motorsport 4 goodbye), but I am still participating in their Survey Feedback Program.  It's such a shame-- had Microsoft stuck with their original terms of the standard Automatic Feedback Program instead of tacking on those extra-invasive "supplemental" requirements for Windows 8 version of the program than I would have stuck with it.

So to summarize:

  • The "Microsoft Windows Feedback Panel 6.0" usage behavior monitoring program does not come as part of the Windows 8 Consumer Preview download.  You have to download and install the monitoring program separately, and you can only do that after you get approved by Microsoft to even be allowed to do so.
  • The "Microsoft Windows Feedback Panel 6.0" usage behavior monitoring program will not come as part of the final version of Windows 8 when it goes on sale in October.  As I mentioned above, it is only for approved participants in the Automated Feedback Program.
  • The Windows 8 firewall is fine-- I had to specifically allow the Microsoft Windows Feedback Panel 6.0 software to be able to communicate through it when I installed the software on my machine.

I hope that clears everything up.

Just to clarify, were you using Angry IP Scanner to scan your Windows 8 machine, or were you actually running it from your Windows 8 machine when Windows said "I'm afraid I can't let you that, Dave"?

Neither, actually.  I had my Windows 8 netbook connect to a Samba share on one of my other Windows machines.  That remote machine had a copy of the "Angry IP Scanner" executable in the directory that I had connected to.  Apparently, the integrated Microsoft Security Essentials-based anti-virus scanner on my Windows 8 netbook automatically scanned all of the files in the Samba share on the remote machine when I connected to it (which is a good thing), and it found the Angry IP Scanner executable in the share, identified it as a potentially harmful "hacking tool," and asked me if I wanted to quarantine it.  Since that particular tool was in that directory because I put it there, I told the Windows 8 virus scanner to "allow" it.  So I wasn't running the Angry IP Scanner at all at the time.  Apparently, the Microsoft Security Essentials-based anti-virus scanner is set up to detect it as a potential threat whether the Angry IP Scanner is actually running or not.  This behavior is not only limited to Microsoft Security Essentials-based anti-virus scanners though-- I have had anti-virus scanners from other vendors such as McAfee and Symantec flag the Angry IP Scanner is being a "hacking tool" as well and also want to quarantine it.  Like you said, port scanners aren't even malicious, so I don't know why multiple anti-virus vendors have it out for this particular one.  I generally don't even use it to do anything more interesting than as a fast way to determine what hosts are alive on my own home networks when I am doing network troubleshooting.  Apparently there are other people out there who are wondering why so many anti-virus vendors are targeting the Angry IP Scanner as a harmful "hacking tool" as well, because there is actually an online petition that is collecting signatures to stop the practice.

Offline Foxpup

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Re: Microsoft Windows 8 Discussion Thread
« Reply #16 on: March 24, 2012, 10:48:03 am »
Whoa whoa whoa!  Backspace and overstrike there, Foxpup!  If you re-read my last post you will see that I had to sign up for both the "Survey Feedback Program" and the "Automated Feedback Program."  In fact, I had to do more than that.  These feedback programs are not available to the general public, and the "Microsoft Windows Feedback Panel 6.0" usage behavior monitoring program does not come as part of the Windows 8 Consumer Preview.  I had to go out of my way to express my interest in these programs and apply for them, and only after Microsoft approved my application was I given the ability to even opt-in to them.  After I signed up for the Automated Feedback Program I was given a link to download the Microsoft Windows Feedback Panel 6.0 software, and I had to install it on my own machine myself.  So everything is legal since I expressly requested and agreed to it, and the reason why the Microsoft Windows Feedback Panel 6.0 is able to communicate through Windows 8's firewall is because that privilege was granted to it when I installed the software.
...
I hope that clears everything up.
Sorry. Usually the words "sign up" mean "click 'I agree' in response to an EULA that you may or may not have read and understood in its entirety". My outrage makes more sense when taken in that context. But if they're not doing anything sneaky like that then I guess it's okay.

Neither, actually.  I had my Windows 8 netbook connect to a Samba share on one of my other Windows machines.  That remote machine had a copy of the "Angry IP Scanner" executable in the directory that I had connected to.  Apparently, the integrated Microsoft Security Essentials-based anti-virus scanner on my Windows 8 netbook automatically scanned all of the files in the Samba share on the remote machine when I connected to it (which is a good thing), and it found the Angry IP Scanner executable in the share, identified it as a potentially harmful "hacking tool," and asked me if I wanted to quarantine it.
Hmm, okay. Which leads to my next question, can this annoying behaviour be disabled? Yes, I realise that scanning absolutely everything everywhere can be a good thing is some or even most cases, but if this behaviour cannot be disabled without disabling Windows Defender completely (which, knowing Microsoft, sounds likely) or worse, cannot be disabled at all (which also sounds likely), then this is definitely a Bad Thing.
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Offline Hoagiebot

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Re: Microsoft Windows 8 Discussion Thread
« Reply #17 on: March 30, 2012, 04:26:56 pm »
Hmm, okay. Which leads to my next question, can this annoying behaviour be disabled? Yes, I realise that scanning absolutely everything everywhere can be a good thing is some or even most cases, but if this behaviour cannot be disabled without disabling Windows Defender completely (which, knowing Microsoft, sounds likely) or worse, cannot be disabled at all (which also sounds likely), then this is definitely a Bad Thing.

I took a look into this question for you.  With the Microsoft Security Essentials anti-virus software that you can download for free from Microsoft and run on Windows XP, Vista, and 7, you get the following choices as far as controlling its real-time scanning functionality:  First and foremost, you can turn all real-time scanning functionality on and off with one master check box.  However, in addition to that, Microsoft Security Essentials also allows you to set individual real-time scanning options on and off with additional check boxes.  These real-time scanning options include:

  • Scan all downloads
  • Monitor file and program activity on your computer
  • Enable behavior monitoring
  • Enable network inspection system

I tried to look more into that "enable network inspection system" option, and it seems to analyze ingoing and outgoing network traffic from your PC over various protocols, including SMB, to try to prevent worms and botnets from communicating or transferring themselves to and from your computer.  Whether or not this particular check box will turn off the automatic scanning of remote SMB shares that you connect to and browse I cannot say because I could not find a lot of documentation on the feature.  In any case, in Windows 8 it's a moot point anyway.  The reason for this is because Windows 8's built-in "Windows Defender," which is identical to Microsoft Security Essentials in appearance and behavior in nearly every way, does have one significant difference in its "Settings" panel.  While you can still turn all real-time scanning in Windows Defender on and off with a master check box, now all of the child check boxes that allowed you to enable or disable particular real-time scanning options are gone.  So now all you can do is turn all of real-time scanning on or off-- there is no longer any finer-grained control of what the real-time scanning feature did.  So you can still disable all of the real-time scanning, but you can no longer fine-tune what kind of real-time scanning features that you want to have enabled, which admittedly is kind of a bummer if you are a power user and you know how to configure that kind of stuff.

I will finish up my thoughts on this with an excerpt from an article that I found on the enterprise IT news website, eWeek:

Quote
According to Microsoft and some prominent security experts, Windows 8 is really secure. The operating system is so secure, in fact, that users might only need Windows Defender to prevent malware from getting to the software. Is that really the case or will it fall short? Time will tell.

I don't know about you, but I cringed a bit when I read that statement.  I distinctly remember attending Microsoft live in-person events in years past where their evangelists spouted about how rock-solid secure all of its soon to be released versions of Windows were going to be from Vista all the way through until now, and while all of their recent OS releases have definitely had security improvements which each iteration, history has shown that no matter how secure you think your software is, some unnamed 16-year-old in Sweden is going to be able to eventually break it from his bedroom.  Considering the fact that the massive market share that Windows has makes it the primary target for malware authors, and with some of the most sophisticated absolutely unbelievably unstoppable malware that I have ever seen, such as TDL4 (TDSS) being released in recent years upping the ante to nearly astronomical levels, well, I am not going to hold my breath that Windows 8 won't inevitably get pwned by something.  Even if Windows 8 can somehow now thwart such threats as TDL4 on its own (and I don't have the slightest clue if Windows 8 currently even can stop the current incarnation of TDL4 on its own or not-- I have found no reports pointing either way so I am speaking hypothetically here), it is only a matter of time before some malware team out there finds a way to get something past every last one of Windows 8's defenses.  It almost makes me wonder why mindless marketroids even dare to say crap like this anymore-- they *always* eventually end up with egg on their face every single time.  *sigh*

Edit: One more troublesome thing that I forgot to mention about the new integrated anti-virus protection in Windows 8 Consumer Preview is that now anti-virus definition updates are completely part of Windows Update, and not quasi-separate from it like they were before.  To explain what I mean, in previous versions of Windows when you installed the stand-alone AV product Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) it could fetch its own definition updates on its own, and if you had Windows Update configured to allow updates for other Microsoft products besides Windows it could fetch its definition updates from there in addition to on its own.  That way, if you are like me and you disable automatic updates in Windows Update your virus definitions would still get updated automatically by MSE regardless.  In Windows 8 Consumer Preview on the other hand, since the Microsoft-based AV software is built-in and completely integrated as part of the operating system the only way that it can get its definition updates is through Windows Update-- it can no longer fetch its own AV definition updates on its own automatically.  That means that in Windows 8 Consumer Preview if you disable automatic updates in Windows Update you now no longer get automatic updates for AV definitions as well, which sucks frankly.  I tend to like to choose manually when my computer runs Windows Update so that it doesn't bog down my system at startup or bog down my wi-fi connection on my laptop or netbook when I may need it.  In addition, by holding off on downloading an update automatically for a few days, if it turns out that there are unforeseen bugs in an update (which only happens very rarely, but it does happen) Microsoft will have worked it out and pushed out a fixed version by then.  Now with Windows 8 Consumer Preview my wanting to manually run Windows Update, which I don't think is a completely unreasonable thing to want to do, is now potentially making my system less secure from malware.  *grumbles*
« Last Edit: March 30, 2012, 07:43:10 pm by Hoagiebot »

Offline Foxpup

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Re: Microsoft Windows 8 Discussion Thread
« Reply #18 on: March 31, 2012, 09:56:44 am »
I tried to look more into that "enable network inspection system" option, and it seems to analyze ingoing and outgoing network traffic from your PC over various protocols, including SMB, to try to prevent worms and botnets from communicating or transferring themselves to and from your computer.  Whether or not this particular check box will turn off the automatic scanning of remote SMB shares that you connect to and browse I cannot say because I could not find a lot of documentation on the feature.
Sounds more like a network intrusion detection system to me. Considering the amount of dark magic typically associated with such systems, I find the lack of documentation disturbing.

I will finish up my thoughts on this with an excerpt from an article that I found on the enterprise IT news website, eWeek:

Quote
According to Microsoft and some prominent security experts, Windows 8 is really secure. The operating system is so secure, in fact, that users might only need Windows Defender to prevent malware from getting to the software. Is that really the case or will it fall short? Time will tell.

I don't know about you, but I cringed a bit when I read that statement.
You only cringed a bit? I've never heard anything even remotely like that about any operating system. Although I do like the way they said "some" prominent security experts. Not "most" prominent security experts, or even "many", only "some". The rest of the "prominent security experts" are no doubt collectively facepalming. x_x
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Offline WhiteStorm

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Re: Microsoft Windows 8 Discussion Thread
« Reply #19 on: April 03, 2012, 01:52:29 pm »
Sounds annoying, but I guess if it ends up more trouble than it's worth I'll just skip a generation. I never buy new products from some companies (mostly game publishers/developers and anyone who makes video cards, but MS is definitely in there) because I like to give it time for people to discover what problems it has and how (if) they can be fixed before I risk money on it. Hard to move away from MS in general if you like PC gaming though. I know some things exist for Mac/Linux and you can use WINE in a hit and miss sort of way with a lot of tweaking, but I just don't care enough to do that much work - it ends up either Windows of some kind and the ability to play games, or some other (free) OS and a computer I only use for the internet and films/music.

Fortunately, from what I remember with skipping Vista, new games can usually run to some extent on the older OS until the next one comes along.
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