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xpclient

Why I find Windows 8.1 more suitable than Windows 7

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Because of the UI and UX awfulness of Windows 8/8.1 and Windows 10, there have been many people who stayed on Windows 7. I hate stock Windows 8/8.1 very much but after intensive modification by third party apps, especially Classic Shell and others, it becomes somewhat acceptable. So I began comparing it to Windows 7 to evaluate if there were any actual improvements too that were worth upgrading to Windows 8.1. Windows 10 is still extremely awful to the point where it no longer remains an enjoyable experience for long due to forced updates, size of updates being hidden and Microsoft resetting what you have carefully set up every few months. Nevertheless, Windows after Windows 7 did have some improvements on the hardware experience side. I am trying to make such a list. I already moved to Windows 8.1 with Classic Shell and a dozen other third party apps to fix the awful software experience. On the hardware and software side,

Windows 8.1 has the following benefits for me over Windows 7:

- Windows Search in Windows 8.1 has the ability to include removable drives/folders on removable drives in the Search index/or in a Library and have them indexed!
- Windows 8 introduces a new Solid Windows setup image format that uses LZMS compression. The resulting image install.esd is much smaller than install.wim
Memory Combining reduces the footprint of processes in the working environment
- USB 3.0 support. Even though Windows 7 PCs do have USB 3.0 drivers, Windows 8.1 supports USB Attached SCSI protocol which makes UASP flash drives much faster than USB 3.0 on Windows 7. UASP with USB 3.0 is a significant speed boost over USB 2.0 while still maintaining compatibility with USB 2.0 devices.
- USB Video Class 1.5 means your UVC webcam will work with inbox drivers and use H.264 compression (if your webcam supports it). 8.1 also supports 1080p60 webcams (60 fps), with Windows 7 and earlier, you're limited to 30 fps and USB 2.0.
- USB Type C connector with KB3103696
- Bluetooth Low Energy (LE)/Bluetooth SMART support means I can use devices like Bluetooth wireless mouse which supports the Bluetooth 4.0 LE standard or LE headsets. The batteries in these devices last for a long time. I began to use a Bluetooth 4 wireless mouse with 8.1 on my laptop and its single AA battery lasted one full year! Now that's amazing! This is something that was unexpected - a touch-centric OS like Windows 8/8.1 actually improving my MOUSE experience in Windows!!
- 802.11ac. With a fast 802.11ac router, 2 PCs with PCIe/NVM Express SSDs, you get amazing WiFi speeds. (OK, after doing some testing on Windows 7, it turns out, as long as you have the right drivers installed under Windows 7 and an 802.11ac router, you will get the same faster than N speeds as Windows 8 on 7 as well. It's only that Windows 7 continues to report your radio as 802.11n.)
Offloaded Data Transfers for file copying
- More WMI classes and PowerShell cmdlets
- Miracast wireless streaming to a display which 8.1 supports (although you could also use Windows 7 with Intel WiDi or buy a Chromecast dongle). But Miracast in 8.1 lets you not only mirror your display wirelessly to the second display but also extend your desktop to it. Like a wireless multiple monitors solution!
- Windows 8.1 supports external manifests for application executables ("PreferExternalManifest"=dword:00000001) without any side effects of Windows 7 like the Network icon breaking. This is important if you are using a High resolution/High DPI display because Microsoft f***ed up DPI scaling with Windows 7. I wrote an article "How to fix apps that look small on high DPI and high resolution displays" but the modications in it requires the PreferExternalManifest Registry key to be set which works correctly only on Windows 8.1, not on 7).
- The DPI scaling engine in Windows 8.1 loads much earlier than Windows 7 so apps which load at startup are scaled properly
- Windows 8.1 has better WinSxS cleanup using Dism.exe /Online /Cleanup-Image /StartComponentCleanup /ResetBase
- Besides the good old SFC /scannow, Windows 8.1 has the ability to repair the Component Store itself using: Dism /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth. Also its servicing stack is self-healing, it recovers from component corruption vs 7's stack which requires fixes from Windows Update like running CheckSUR
- Chkdsk Spotfix ability
- Client Hyper-V (although I was a fan of Virtual PC too, but VirtualBox is a good replacement for Virtual PC, except for running legacy Windows OSes)
- Most issues on the software side were resolved for me by using third party apps - Classic Shell, 7+ Taskbar Tweaker, Classic Task Manager, Equalizer APO, Google Chrome, Everything Search, PerigeeCopy, OldNewExplorer, FileSearchEX, VistaSwitcher, Media Player Classic - Home Cinema, and reinstating Sidebar Gadgets, Classic Games, classic MSConfig, various tray applet fixes, ERUNT, AutoHotkey, EasyBCD, UxStyle plus this theme, WindowsFirewallControl etc
- All the Metro crap uninstalled, default programs set to Win32 apps, Group Policies to disable crap like OneDrive, Bing Search and Customer Experience Improvement Program, it is OK.
- DOZENS of Registry fixes to make it work like the way I want - more like Windows XP Professional and Windows 7 so Windows 8.1 is now a pleasant and stable experience!!
- Media Center is missing but I got a new LG TV which has far better DVR recording features using modern compression and takes the load off the PC. If you don't have another piece of hardware that does DVR and home theatre, try Kodi. It is in my opinion superior to Media Center in many ways.
- Aero Glass project is there if you miss Aero. Personally I don't miss Aero's transparencies any more. I prefer this theme instead with makes the taskbar's active button of the foreground (focused) window very clear and easy to understand. From a usability perspective, I find the Windows 8 theme is uglier compared to Windows 7 but the visual cues are better. For example, it is easier to tell the active window due to the use of solid colors in the title bar compared to transparencies. The baby blue selection color in context menus is also more visible in the Windows 8 theme vs Windows 7.
- Classic Shell can completely skin its Start menu and the taskbar in any OS on Windows 7, 8.1 or 10 so the taskbar appearance too is fixable.
- Windows 8.1 has great performance as a virtualized guest OS due to DWM compositing being hardware accelerated/Advanced Rasterization Platform vs Windows 7 in a VM (even with WDDM drivers). Windows 10 is again horribly slow in a VM due to excessive use of managed code/.NET in the Explorer shell.

Windows 10 has the following benefits over Windows 8.1:
- RemoteFX vGPU in Client Hyper-V (although VirtualBox is faster, more useful for me)
- Windows Spotlight (although the Lockscreen Slideshow of 8.1 is just as good)
- Miracast receiving ability in Anniversary Update and later (but an app called MirrorOp does the same for earlier versions of Windows)
- DLNA Streaming of YouTube and other web videos to DLNA compatible TVs using Microsoft Edge and Windows Media Player (I haven't been able to find any decent 3rd party app to DLNA stream to TVs that works as well as Windows 10's built-in streaming).

But in Windows 10, mostly I find cheap gimmicky features like Cortana and more of the silly Metro stuff forced on us! We have a broken updating mechanism now that abuses your internet bandwidth, changes things on your PC however it wants, whenever it wants, downloads unwanted crap from the Store, shows annoying nags. Action Center is just one more headache to manage and clear all the notifications after reading them. Lots of stuff happening behind the scenes which I cannot control. Even if I can control updates somewhat by setting my Wifi to metered, I have no idea how big they are, what exactly are they going to change because many of the changes are undocumented, and so many of my customized tweaks get reset. Updates take a hell lot of time to download and install compared to the little value they add. This is a complete deal-breaker. And then the UI which is still a disaster.

For me, Windows 10 is a very strong case of negatives overwhelmingly outweighing any positives.


Given the extremely intrusive nature of Windows 10, it is not suitable for serious use on a business/enterprise class PC. I can think of no good reason to use it for now. Windows 8/8.1 on the other hand whose childish UI and Metro silliness killed it has now evolved because great hardware is available and the f***ED up software side is fixed by third party apps.

Do you have any good reasons on the hardware side to "upgrade" to Windows 10? The software changes in Windows 10 are already AWFUL with silly features like Store, Cortana, ugly and silly Metro/UWP apps, totally crap visual style and graphics, slow bloated .NET code in the shell, Windows Update nonsense, Telemetry crap, Tablet mode/Touch UI infecting more parts of Windows destroying the mouse/keyboard usability, GarbEdge being worse than IE. Discuss. :)

 

UPDATE: Update size is also a big factor affecting my experience due to slow internet. It has ballooned tremendously for Windows 8.1 (updates are up to 100 MB or more) compared to Windows 7 (less than 50 MB). Don't even ask about Windows 10 where monthly updates are 500 MB to several GBs!!!!. I cannot download such huge updates every month just to keep Windows secure, simply do not have the bandwidth. Windows 10 is out of the question forever.

Edited by xpclient
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17 minutes ago, xpclient said:

- Windows 8.1 has better WinSxS cleanup using DISM

You can also cleanup WinSXS with Disk Cleaner, it is much easier I think.

I have Windows 8 on my laptop and I made it look like Windows XP as much as possible with the Windows settings (Folder Options etc.). The only Apps I use is the Mail and the Reader for .pdf files. I replaced the missing Start Menu with Start Menu X by Ordinary Soft  and I use Macrium Reflect to backup the Windows partition. Windows 8 are stable and my laptop works almost flawlessly (no BSODs, an application error from time to time). The good thing is that Windows 8 aren't contaminated with the "Feedback and Diagnostics" telemetry stuff (only some compatibility telemetry for upgrading to newer versions of Windows - I won't anyway). In overall I am fairly satisfied, yet I still have Windows XP SP3 on my old Pentium III desktop and I still believe that the Windows XP user eXPerience is incomparable.

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46 minutes ago, xpclient said:

Windows 10 has the following benefits over Windows 8.1:
- USB 3.1 (Higher speeds than USB 3.0)

I'm using Windows 8.1 on my Skylake system with a lot of tweaks and third party apps to make it like I want. Windows 8.1 support USB 3.1, I have just tested with my Intel Thunderbolt 3/USB 3.1 Alpine Ridge controller and it just work as expected ;)
I'm using Aero Glass, OldNewExplorer, Classic Shell, UxStyle, custom theme, Rainmeter, T-Clock, Desktop Gadgets are back, a custom set of icons, Start Screen customize + OblyTile for games tiles on the start screen, no metro craps, no ms account, no automatic updates and more. Windows 8.1 works flawlessly on all my PCs without any bugs so I haven't any plans to downgrade to 10.

Edited by MTDirector

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10 hours ago, MTDirector said:

Windows 8.1 support USB 3.1, I have just tested with my Intel Thunderbolt 3/USB 3.1 Alpine Ridge controller and it just work as expected ;)

USB 3.1 has two standards: 3.1 Gen 1 which was USB 3.0 revised with minor improvements and 3.1 Gen 2 which was the 10 Gbps speed. The Type-C connector is also part of the spec but I think some update for Windows 8.1 added that support (although I haven't tested it myself). So I thought Windows 8.1 only supported USB 3.1 Gen 1 with Type-C (after KB3103696) but not Gen 2? What is the actual throughput that you get when you start copying a file from a USB mass storage device, if I may ask? :) 

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I have tested it with friend's SanDisk Extreme 900 480 GB USB 3.1 Gen 2 SSD (the only USB 3.1 drive I have found yesterday to test it) and I'm getting between 550 and 700 MB/s depending on file size.

As far as I have understand, Windows 8 support USB 3.1 gen 2 natively but the controller will be flaged as USB 3.0, for me, it works. Maybe Windows 10 have better support for this but since I don't have myself a USB 3.1 gen 2 drive and as long as those USB C connectors work it's good ;)
 

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Oh wow that's great to know! Thank you MTDirector. There is lack of information on this so I appreciate your info. Certainly USB 3.1 is hardly a reason to use Windows 10 given how intrusive and time-wasting it is.

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15 hours ago, xpclient said:

- More WMI classes and PowerShell cmdlets

By default - yes, but one can install Powershell 5 on Win 7 machine, it's supported. If there are major differences between PS 5 on Win 7 and Win 8.1/10, enlighten me.

15 hours ago, xpclient said:

- DOZENS of Registry fixes to make it work like the way I want - more like Windows XP Professional and Windows 7 so Windows 8.1 is now a pleasant and stable experience!!

Willing to share? :angel

14 hours ago, HarryTri said:

The only Apps I use is the Mail and the Reader for .pdf files.

You mean the huge Badass fullscreen Metro style pdf Reader? Replaced it with Sumatra pdf within the 1st day at my work win 8.1 PC ;)

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@Mcinwwl, Windows 7's PowerShell lacks cmdlets / functions and modules found in Windows 8's version of PowerShell. You cannot install certain cmdlets (even by copying the modules folder from Windows 8) because Windows 7 does not have the underlying WMI classes. For example Get-NetAdapter in Windows 8. Also there are many new cmdlet-like functions. Here the score is Windows 7.count = 147, Windows 8.count = 593.

As for the Reg keys and values, read the http://winaero.com/blog/ regularly. It is where I share my reg tweaks. As of now there are only http://winaero.com/blog/page/212/ pages.

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Seems like you're right, I have no cmdlets involved after PS3. Used this to check that out for clarity.

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On Saturday, June 25, 2016 at 2:50 PM, xpclient said:

- Media Center is missing but I got a new LG TV which has far better DVR recording features using modern compression and takes the load off the PC.

This caught my eye. Are you saying that your LG TV has built-in DVR functionality? :unsure: Which model is it?

--JorgeA

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It's the LG 32LF6300. It also has Miracast for wireless streaming and playing video from USB.

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Huh, pretty cool. :cool:

I went looking for LG models in the U.S. that would have that "Time Machine" feature. While I found references to its existence in India, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, and even Pakistan, the feature sadly doesn't seem to be available in the U.S. Probably it's Hollywood we should be "thanking" for that omission. So I'll have to stick with Windows Media Center.

--JorgeA

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Please add this

Windows 8.1 x64 Consume less ram normally with all driver and soft about 800Mb Ram where windows 7 x64 consume 1.5gb ram (Absolutely Quickheal is running both in 7 and 8.1)

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Great thread, Gaurav.

I've been using Win 8.1 Pro upgraded to MCE for as long as it's been available.  I've never reinstalled it and I've run it as long as two months straight with heavy daily use, until something like a display driver update or other install made me to reboot it.  I no longer ever worry about whether the system is going to fail and lose my work.  It just doesn't fail.

With Aero Glass and the Aero7 theme overlaid with my custom theme atlas (plus metrics tweaks) I've made the desktop quite beautiful to use.  Classic Shell of course has been a mainstay on all my systems since way back when.  I have a now not so state of the art ATI Radeon HD 7850 video card that drives 3 monitors for a total of 4960 x 1600 pixels, and everything is butter smooth.  My center monitor is a big one, though not quite 4K (it's 2560 x 1600 pixels).  I'm glad I didn't get a high DPI monitor, actually.  Very little software is up to the task even today.  All my monitors are right about 100 ppi, and save for the slight space between them for the bezels, my desktop is well-integrated.

It's been possible to de-provision and remove all the Metro/Modern/UWP BS Apps and I always keep UAC completely turned off.  This works GREAT for a geek's geek system and I believe I've gotten very good value out of it.  I had used Win 7 for 3 years prior, about half that time on this same (fairly powerful) workstation hardware, and I skipped Windows 8.0 entirely.  Overall the Win 8.1 file system is in some ways a little slower than that of 7 and in some ways a little faster.

I find Win 8.1 multitasks better and does lots of things simultaneously more smoothly than Windows 7 did, and the desktop doesn't "load up" as easily or become sluggish.  Believe me, with this system I notice right away if anything takes long enough to respond to actually notice.  I never, ever have to worry about how much stuff I've started.  At one point just for fun I even started up Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8.1, and 10 virtual machines running on it simultaneously, and I *still* couldn't sense any delays in desktop activity.

I've worked around all the shortcomings experienced vs. Win 7.  For example, Win 8 dropped the Windows Backup UI, but it's easy enough to schedule VSS-integrated System Image backups using a wbadmin command, and as time goes on I think I like command line operation where you can really get down to the nitty gritty better and better.

Office 2003 didn't work right on Win 8.1, and I didn't really feel a need to upgrade it otherwise but I ended up getting a license for Office 2010 and in the end it's a little bit of an upgrade with a very natural transition from 2003.  It brings the applications up to 64 bits and actually works pretty well with Aero Glass and re-themed desktop controls.   In the end I'm glad to have it.

Overall I find Win 8.1 if anything a little MORE likely to try to "spill the beans" online than even Windows 10.  That makes sense - after all, it's 10 that finally pushed the public over the edge and has gotten all the privacy attention.  But it's nothing that can't be worked around with plenty of individual tweaks (there's no O&O ShutUp8.1) and a good deny-by-default firewall setup (thank you again for introducing me to Sphinx; I've been working with the author and he's going to have some GREAT things coming out soon).

The Task Manager from the WinRE environment is essentially the old Windows 7 Task Manager, so the dumbed-down Task Manager is no longer the only girl at the ball and thus no longer a shortcoming of Windows 8.

I had achieved the ability to see into ISO files on Win 7 through 3rd party software, so the ability to mount an ISO in 8.1 isn't that big a deal, but I DO use it.

I've used DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /Restore-Health I think twice, after Microsoft screwed up the servicing database with updates, and that's been nice to have.

There was a problem with a recurring message implying a security failure, but a permissions tweak fixed that forever more.

For a while I missed the Previous Versions feature, but have restored all that functionality and then some with the use of a 3rd party VSS access tool called Z-VSScopy.  One of its nice features is an Explorer-like window that give you a view into whatever snapshot you've selected.

I've had "scroll wheel moves whatever window the mouse is hovering over" turned on for a long time.  But to be fair I had that with Win 7 as well courtesy a tool called WizMouse.

When I open Explorer windows to particular locations (e.g., courtesy shortcuts I've created) they start in the same place they were last.  This is accomplished with a tool called ShellFolderFix, which works equally well in 8.1 as 7.

My Explorer windows have more closely spaced list view items drawn with darker text, courtesy a nice tool from T800 Productions called Folder Options X.  With the ribbon closed up the Windows File Explorer pane can be configured to show a little more work and less vertical boilerplate in 8 vs. 7, which I like.

ExplorerComparison.png

The OS takes advantage of the non-uniform memory addressing scheme I've selected in the BIOS configuration, so - assuming a little luck - both CPU packages can be addressing their own memory through their own channels simultaneously.  I'm not sure the kernel in Win 7 could take advantage of NUMA.  Perhaps this is why multitasking seems smoother.

I have 6 SSDS and 3 HDDs inside the chassis, and one of the HDDs is formatted ReFS, which 7 could not do  I also have two external MyBook USB drives permanently connected to facilitate regular backups, and one of THOSE is also formatted ReFS.  Neither of the ReFS volumes have EVER given me a lick of trouble.  ReFS really works.  I figured they'd go ahead and roll it out in Win 10 but nooooo...  I'm also running several different forms of RAID on both SSDs and HDDs and it all just works together seamlessly.  I guess you could say that NTFS is also better on Win 8.1 because of it's newer self-healing abilities.

DiskManagement.png

VMware Workstation works flawlessly (as it did under Windows 7).

For a while I ran Collabnet's Subversion Server on Win 8.1 quite nicely, though I've since migrated it to its own Windows 7 system.  It just didn't seem right to have the company jewels hosted on my workstation, however stable it is.

Windows 8.1 plays music perfectly while I'm working (I often listen to Pandora or my own files).  I've never had it skip/pop/stutter no matter what I do.  Honestly, I really never had flaws to speak of with Windows 7 or even Vista, though.  This Win 8.1 system also plays even the highest definition video beautifully.  I had an HD TV tuner for a while, but when our cable system was replaced by fiber optics the tuner became obsolete, and I haven't used Windows Media Center since.

I haven't used a 3rd party antivirus package in years.  Frankly, Windows Defender has never caught anything, so it's hard to say what's better.  I have a good security environment, so I don't need an AV at all.  I run regular scans with MBAM and it never finds anything.  Not saying Win 8.1 is better in this area, because MSE is really just as good on Win 7.

That's all I can think of that's pertinent right now.

I'd say that in summary, other than the few things I've bolded above I don't find Win 8.1 superior for any particular features, per se, but that it's more polished (other than the out-of-box fugly desktop).  More polished and more capable where it counts, under the hood.

-Noel

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