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  1. #1
    Super Moderator bbearren's Avatar
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    A small 7/8/7 epiphany

    Earlier today I saw a question in the Windows 7 forum about Explorer column widths. I opened an Explorer window, went through the procedures and then posted them in a reply to the OP.

    Scrolling through the forums a few minutes ago, I saw that that thread was still on top of the listing in the Windows 7 forum. It was then that I realized that I was booted into Windows 8. I checked my reply, and sure enough, it was the procedure for Explorer column adjustments in Windows 8. So I edited my post and included the Windows 7 procedure.

    I've been using Windows 8 regularly for the most part for a little over two weeks, booting into Windows 7 from time to time for some specifics here and there. A couple of days ago I thought I was booted into Windows 8, then noticed my weather gadget on the desktop and realized I was in Windows 7. And then this incident today. Bear in mind that I don't shut down my PC, so I don't see the logon screen unless I boot to the other OS.

    I now have Windows 8 set up the same way I've had Windows 7 set up for a couple of years now, divided up into individual partitions between two separate hard drives. I'm using StartIsBack in Windows 8, boot directly to the desktop, edited the registry to eliminate the Lock Screen. There are no jump-out-at-ya clues to tell me that I'm in Windows 8. I don't need the Charms Bar or Start Screen for anything; I can do everything I need to do from the Desktop. I use a couple of accounts in Windows 7, and only one account has the weather gadget on the desktop, so its absence isn't a real clue, either.

    All that being said, the epiphany is that there is no noticable difference in performance between Windows 7 and Windows 8 on my PC. Everything is familiar. Usability is substantially identical. Adjusting Explorer column widths is an example. The ribbon pulls a couple of things together that are separate in Windows 7, but they still work basically the same.

    All of which further affirms my conclusion that the Start Screen is not really built in; it's pasted on, with the Start Menu crippled. I've had my hands in the guts, so to speak, and I know the places where the Start Screen is pasted on.

    So my advice for those folks who have Windows 8 on a new PC/Laptop and hate it, don't worry about trying to install Windows 7. Spend $3 and install StartIsBack, configure it to boot to the Desktop, and you will hardly notice that you're not running Windows 7.
    Last edited by bbearren; 2013-05-28 at 21:35. Reason: clarity, added a link
    Create a fresh drive image before making system changes, in case you need to start over!

    "The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem. Savvy?"—Captain Jack Sparrow "When you're troubleshooting, start with the simple and proceed to the complex."—M.O. Johns "Experience is what you get when you're looking for something else."—Sir Thomas Robert Deware.
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  2. #2
    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    Exactly what many of us have been saying for a while. I use Start8 on one PC and Classic Shell on the other PC rather than StartIsBack, but same conclusion. This simple addition makes a TOTAL difference. This will not stop the people that are just irritated that they should have to do this from speaking out, and that's OK. It will however greatly help those people who are on the fence about keeping Win 8.

    As the Win 8 Store apps improve over time, there might be some useful apps that make going to the Start Screen more worthwhile, but in my case I only go there for a couple of card games. Everything else is done on the Desktop UI just as it was in Win 7.

    In my case, because I do not have my OS as carved up as you, I do notice a speed improvement. I also had an improvement in networking, again on our network, YMMV.
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  3. #3
    Super Moderator bbearren's Avatar
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    It appears that networking improvements in Windows 8 are much dependent on one's network configuration. Windows 8 was noticably slower in picking up my NAS (Network Addressed Storage - mine's a Seagate Goflex Home, by the way) than Windows 7, but I've speeded that up considerably by mapping as a network drive the folder on the NAS where I store my drive images, so it starts looking on boot now rather than waiting until I click on Network in the navigation pane of Explorer. Windows 8 picks up the other PC's on the network about the same as Windows 7, but the difference was really noticeably slower with my NAS.

    So with it mapped in Windows 8 (but not in Windows 7) and "reconnect at logon" checked, the acquisition time for each OS is about equal now. Another of the really neat features (and I mean keeping things neat) of StartIsBack (and the others may well have it, I havent' tried any other Start Menu fix) is that one can configure it to place shortcuts to the Start Apps in a "Start Apps" folder in the Start Menu, which eliminates any need at all to use the Start Screen.

    Those Start Apps will open in the Metro UI, but it isn't necessary to go to the Start Screen first in order to open them. Once opened (I use the Weather App as I've mentioned previously) one can simply toggle back and forth using Alt + Tab. And the other feature I like is that StartIsBack pulls all the Programs that launch in the Desktop out of the Start Screen, and places them in the Start Menu exclusively, making the Start Screen consist ONLY of Apps, and the Start Menu looking almost exactly like Windows 7.

    So again, for those who simply hate Windows 8, it can be rather easily made so Windows 7'ish as to be nearly indistinguishable from Windows 7.
    Create a fresh drive image before making system changes, in case you need to start over!

    "The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem. Savvy?"—Captain Jack Sparrow "When you're troubleshooting, start with the simple and proceed to the complex."—M.O. Johns "Experience is what you get when you're looking for something else."—Sir Thomas Robert Deware.
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  4. #4
    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    I haven't noticed a whole lot of difference in terms of performance, except for maybe a slightly faster boot time.
    With the exception of the start screen and all that that entails, there really isn't too much difference.

    I have never had or felt the need to return to a start menu and I think the whole interface is much cleaner without one.
    I have grown rather fond of Windows explorer's ribbon bar setup too.

    My only modifications in Windows 8 are the bypassing of the logon screen, and making the
    charms bar area less intrusive when the mouse is in the general vicinity.

    I find booting to the start screen is not so bad either, as I find myself getting a glance at the weather
    and news details (live tiles) before hitting the enter key.
    Last edited by CLiNT; 2013-05-29 at 09:10.
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  5. #5
    Silver Lounger
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    The speed improvements come from the engineering shortcuts built into the protocols, especially for startup, and the removal of anything that would be a battery and processing burden to the more wimpy device market, like rich visual styles. Which are all (for the most part) good little engineering "tricksessess," but I also never noticed a dime's bit of difference in performance via my testing method (VM, often in remote desktop), except for App processing response times were significantly reduced compared to desktop performance. For example video playback over a local gigabit network was ok from the desktop, slight delays and some screen tearing, from the video app, unusable.

    It's not that the start menu is missing from Win 8 that's so irritating Ted, it's the unnecessary complex mess MS made trying to make up for it's removal (respects to those who like it that way). I think we can all agree we don't want to have to "fix" Windows for the next 2 billion copies going forward, because it's still going to be the dominant OS for a long time unless MS really screws up.

  6. #6
    Silver Lounger
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    Those Start Apps will open in the Metro UI, but it isn't necessary to go to the Start Screen first in order to open them. Once opened (I use the Weather App as I've mentioned previously) one can simply toggle back and forth using Alt + Tab. And the other feature I like is that StartIsBack pulls all the Programs that launch in the Desktop out of the Start Screen, and places them in the Start Menu exclusively, making the Start Screen consist ONLY of Apps, and the Start Menu looking almost exactly like Windows 7.
    Conversely, Classic Shell has the option to menu-ize the Start Screen apps so it makes it very easy, in conjunction with Stardock's ModernMix, to open any app in a window on the desktop. They don't resize down as well as gadgets but the traditional taskbar tiling and cascade commands as well as the Alt-Tab are effective. Bonus; Apps aren't so inadequate if given gadget status.

    I think we're getting much more effective cross-pollination in Windows 8 from all these start menu upstarts than Microsoft can ever hope to salvage from fixing the results of its removal.

  7. #7
    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    We use Start8 on my PC and Classic Shell on my wife's. I find I do not use the Start Menu for much, but the things I still use it for would feel awkward without it.

    I use it for the CP menu, favorites menu when IE is not open, and WU. Sometimes I use Start Menu for less often used apps, but those are infrequent. For my oft used apps I use my Shortcuts Toolbar exclusively. I suppose I could get used to other methods if Start8 was not available, but I prefer the Desktop with it. To each their own.

    When I was still dual booting, every time I went to Win 7 I was saying to myself "come on, do something" as things seemed to take longer and I found myself waiting for something to happen.
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  8. #8
    Silver Lounger
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    Bbearren and I were discussing the all programs section a little in another thread and the fact that it is essentially nothing more than a preconfigured area for toolbars, which left to the defaults is not the neatest area, but the convention for placing shortcuts there in a whole bunch of tiny individual program toolbars is about as organized as it can be by default (Start screen shows how much worse it can be), and a couple of the toolbar folders have to stay there and a couple more make sense there, like Games and Startup. The rest however are on the organizational chopping block and I'm starting to think almost no one remembers or treats it as such, and that's my personal sub-epiphany to this whole tale.

    I've got too many programs for one taskbar attached toolbar, and several would take up too much room there, so, and bbearren's is probably even better organized than mine but the pic is XP's arrangement, with a detached and re-attached always on top auto-hid toolbar at the top just to rub it in a bit, I don't actually use that one there but it's so clearly a superior feature compared to the taskbar-anchored toolbar limitation, I'd like to know why it went away in Win 7. Never mind Win 8, it had to go away for other obvious considerations there...but anyway...the pic;

    AllPrograms as customized toolbars1.jpg


    Win7 is much the same except because I can't detach toolbars and they look ticky tacky when the taskbar is locked, I stick my two other two customized toolbars in the all programs menu! So, I think I've turned this particular area of the start menu from the most unorganized portion to the most valuable section in many respects. Oh, and I use Classic Shell so I can get the same menu fold out style as XP and set the regular start menu to pop up if I center click on the start button or hit the windows key.

    And finally, to bring it all back to Win 8 since this is where the thread is, Classic shell has menu-ized the Apps, which appear directly below or above Programs. Little tweaks like that and Stardock's release of Windowblinds 8 Beta has me more interested in Win 8 again, though I don't know if I can make it a part of my production line yet. My mind has to deal with the very ironic nature of Win 8, where a touch interface elevates the value of keyboard shortcuts and that which was removed entirely, when re-established and tweaked and value added (StartIsBack's elimination of desktop install landslides on the Start screen) and working in concert with other tweaking programs (ModernMix), begins to provide more integration and more organizational sense than the "pasted on" contraption mentioned by bbearren in the first post! I'm wondering now if third party advancement is going to surpass or relegate 8.1 improvements long before they ever make it to release. Now, I shall never write upon the subject again!



    OR....maybe I just have a menu fetish!
    Last edited by F.U.N. downtown; 2013-05-30 at 23:49.

  9. #9
    Super Moderator bbearren's Avatar
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    StartIsBack also has the option of using the XP-style flyout for the All Programs menu - only two clicks to launch anything, for those who like it. Plus it's easy enough to change back with the StartIsBack configuration screen. UI - wise, Microsoft has already been beaten soundly by third party options. 8.1 is pretty much dead on arrival, as far as I'm concerned, unless they've got a whole lot more up their sleeve.

    I still have a number of installations yet to do. I'm just installing programs as the need arises. I've got what I use week in and week out installed, but I'm not rushing to get it all in, just taking my time.
    Last edited by bbearren; 2013-05-30 at 22:00. Reason: info
    Create a fresh drive image before making system changes, in case you need to start over!

    "The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem. Savvy?"—Captain Jack Sparrow "When you're troubleshooting, start with the simple and proceed to the complex."—M.O. Johns "Experience is what you get when you're looking for something else."—Sir Thomas Robert Deware.
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  10. #10
    Super Moderator RetiredGeek's Avatar
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    Hey Y'all,

    Thought I'd chime in. I really like StartIsBack for Win 8 but no mater 8 or 7 or XP I use a custom toolbar to organize the stuff I use all the time. Doesn't matter what OS I'm using it's the same on all of them and I always know exactly where stuff is located. I'm just sayin'...

    Custom Toolbar.JPG
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  11. #11
    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    I do the same thing with my Shortcuts Toolbar and Links Toolbar. It's just the way I have been doing it since XP and it's familiar, thus quicker for me. Like I said I use the Start Menu still, but not very much. It just makes it handy to find those things that I don't have on a Toolbar (things that I do not use as often, or use in Menu format)
    BACKUP...BACKUP...BACKUP
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  12. #12
    2 Star Lounger
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    As long as doesn't disable the abilities of StartIsBack in the 8.1 release I will be OK with Windows 8. I would be happier if I could easily just turn off the new Modern UI.
    The only apps I use are the Weather Channel app, a National Geographic photo of the Day app and an ABC news app. All of them are clunky. The Weather Channel has a desktop app for Windows 7 that works much better. The ABC News app is constantly locking up while trying to view videos, much better if you just surf to the ABC news website. I tried the Zinio magazine app and it just plain does not work. I go to the desktop and use Zinio Reader 4 which works great. I have yet to find an app that is better than just surfing to the appropriate website and just viewing what you want there.
    The news apps on my Samsung Galaxy II are all better than any app in Windows 8. CNN, NBC, ABC, and the Daily Mail all work incredibly well on the Android phone.

    Anyway, back to the subject. If 8.1 blocks use of the add on Start programs I would be forced to buy a copy of Windows 7 to install. I don't have the Pro version of Windows 8, so a free rollback to Windows 7 is not available.

  13. #13
    Silver Lounger
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    Quote Originally Posted by RetiredGeek View Post
    Hey Y'all,

    Thought I'd chime in. I really like StartIsBack for Win 8 but no mater 8 or 7 or XP I use a custom toolbar to organize the stuff I use all the time. Doesn't matter what OS I'm using it's the same on all of them and I always know exactly where stuff is located. I'm just sayin'...
    Of course, the only long-winded point I was making is that the Programs or AllPrograms section is nothing more than a ready-made customizable toolbar area, once it's organized as such and should be looked upon that way. You could easily move the BTB toolbar into the programs menu without loss of access speed or function if it was organized as well...but in your case I wouldn't because that's an eclectic, cherry picked, nested folder toolbar with an organization only your eyes can see.

  14. #14
    Super Moderator bbearren's Avatar
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    Bruce and Ted,

    I do the same thing, only I do it using the Start Menu All Programs Menu. Of course, I do the work in the All Programs folder itself (ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs).

    The All Programs Menu is my personal, customized toolbar. It's already there, it's always in the same place, and it's always customizable.

    --- edit --- I forgot to mention it, but it is also completely portable; so long as the same programs are installed.
    Last edited by bbearren; 2013-05-31 at 22:48.
    Create a fresh drive image before making system changes, in case you need to start over!

    "The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem. Savvy?"—Captain Jack Sparrow "When you're troubleshooting, start with the simple and proceed to the complex."—M.O. Johns "Experience is what you get when you're looking for something else."—Sir Thomas Robert Deware.
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  15. #15
    Silver Lounger
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    Yes, if you had seen my Win 7 Programs menu, it has my RD and NetworkPlaces shortcut toolbars added because I cannot detach them from the taskbar and stick them to an unoccupied side like I can with XP, so it becomes a pure preference in that case and as I said, when I tried and used it that way for a while, the toolbar space would always back off a bit when the taskbar was locked, revealing an edge with the first few items in the toolbar partially revealed. I'm using the medium text size setting (125%) so maybe that has something to do with the slight shift? Whatever, it was fugly.

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