Windows 10 — Efficiency Sacrificed to Non-essentials and Glitz

John J. Hohn, Writer

John J. Hohn, Writer

Windows 10 is a mess. I wish like the hell I had never upgraded  I had been using XP on my laptop and Windows 7 on a second machine. Microsoft withdrew support for XP. My old laptop was wearing out. So I made the leap and find myself wallowing in regret. There is no way, after three months on Windows 10, that I have run into all of the glitches, bugs, and  design flaws. I expect to find more, but here are just a few that I have encountered so far.

The “Start” icon in the lower left hand corner calls up more options than one would ever care to explore. Not to worry. The files for the “Start” routine became corrupted within days of use. Checking the internet, legions of other users reported the problem. To their credit, Microsoft contacted me. They suggested a couple of fixes. Neither worked. They then referred me to the “Help” facility. That’s a joke. It was not on line over the weekend. The same tedious options are used to channel my inquiry. To keep it minimally staffed, they refer users to a users’ group. It’s a cool move when you think about it – letting your customers perform service for one another. I lost patience.

Microsoft is making tons of money. Bill Gates is one of the world’s richest humans. So why not give back to the people who have purchased your products in the form of truly proactive assistance? Besides, with a problem as widely experienced and reported as the corruption of the “Start” routines, why hasn’t it been fixed with a download? Duh!

I found the right clicking on the “Start” icon gives me an old fashioned, familiar menu – you know the kind we used for years before Microsoft decided their clients were illiterate and needed pictures. The menu is fine with me. I can go where I want without walking through a parade of promotional material.

Sheer Redundancy . . .

Somewhere someone wrote that if you take a watch apart often enough you will end up with two watches. That’s what has happened with Windows 10. You have the usual breakdown of the file storage sites and files that you are accustomed to seeing. They appear under a caption “Easy Access.” But what doesn’t make sense, is a duplicate listing of the same storage points and files appear just below it. Presumably the second list is the “Difficult to Access” files. This is sheer redundancy with no clear purpose except to confuse the operator. Some of your files will get stored under “Easy Access” and some under the second listing, and you will never know for sure which to call up first. Dropbox, to illustrate, can be completely empty in one list and full of items in the other. The same is true of Downloads. You can check your Downloads file and find all kinds of goodies, but try to find any one item to attach to an email and you get taken – you guessed it – to the second Downloads area that doesn’t have anything in it. To overcome the problem, you need to go to Downloads, find the file you want, open it and then save it an area that you can get to when you want to attach it to an email.

I yearn for the elegant simplicity of XP. Remember how on Windows Explorer, you could split the screen and list all your files and storage areas in a column on the left and open any file you chose on the right. Then a simply click and drag and files could be dispatched with ease to the location you desired. Windows 10 is like the watch taken apart too many times. You can no longer split the screen and drag files. Now, if you open a file, the only way to reassign it to another area or folder is to answer a “Send To” prompt. Yeah, right! Who remembers the exact name given to the receiving file? It’s not right there on the screen for you. You do not get a browsing tool to go look for it. Take a couple of stabs at remembering the exact name of the file you want to send something to and if you are lucky, the file gets moved. If you are unlucky, which is most of the time, the transfer fails, and you need to close out the explorer file, look up the exact title to the intended receiving file and then start all over again. In desperation, I finally created a “Collection” file under “Documents” and I send everything there first so that later I can open it up and resend to storage file I want.

Suppose you want to upload photos directly from some other medium like a camera memory card. Time once was that you got a listing of everything on the card, and it was possible to see more than the “Detail.” Icons (little reproductions of the photos) were available. Not now. Only “detail” is provided. In order to file photos, you must open the card, click through all of the “Detail” nomenclature to get an image to identify the photo. If you want to refer back to a given photo for any reason you should rename the photo so that you will find it when you call it up into a document. Either that or write down the detail – yet another extra step.

Direct downloads from your camera’s memory may not work because Windows 10 will not recognize the format of the item to be imported. Be sure, therefore, to use a memory card in your camera. One family reunion with ever photo recorded in the camera’s memory is still there for me.

A Lot More Complicated . . .

In summary, moving files around is just a hell of a lot more complicated than it needs to be. And never ever hit “search” for anything. If you do, go out for coffee because, with a larger hard drive, Windows 10 searches all of it. Too bad. I am no programmer, but wouldn’t it make a lot more sense to put a marker at the end of the segment of the drive to designate the end of any recorded material and then search up to the marker but no farther?

Speaking of photos, the photo viewer that comes with Windows 10 is very limited. You can no longer crop photos. This is a severe deficiency. Where once the off center or poorly composed shot could be quickly adjusted, now you need to go to a different program or internet site to achieve this simple edit. This means moving the file of the photo, of course – a step that was not necessary under the earlier photo viewer. In addition, and all the more damning, the photo viewer of Windows 10 does not allow you to save a photo to a designated file. You need to go back to the source media, find the file, and retrieve it into some other program. The ability to “save-file” and “browse” is no longer available. This is a giant step backwards, easily enough to make me wish that I could dump Windows 10 and go back to some earlier version. What were they thinking?

Microsoft’s motives for limiting the photo viewer program become somewhat clearer when you consider that they include a download program entitled “PhotoDirector.” I pulled it up just to see what it had to offer and could not get it to perform even the simplest tasks. There’s nothing user friendly or intuitive about it. When I finally did get a photo loaded to edit it, the program could not perform the task I requested. I was directed to download AND PAY FOR a more extensive version. They take something away, in other words, and you need to pay to get it back.

Lost in the Non-essentials – Glitz yes; Guts, no.

I use Microsoft Word. I needed to buy a newer version of Office so that I would have word processing capability compatible with Windows 10. I intend to review Office at a later date. But here again, a lot of attention is paid to the accidentals and non-essentials. It takes more rather than fewer steps to move about in the Word program. An array of rarely used formats greets the user upon opening Word. A right click produces more choices in editing text than you will ever use but efficiently blocks out a large portion of text in your composition. Experienced users familiar with “Control” commands will find this a nuisance. Most annoying is that the tool bar always defaults back to “File” after executing a demand when it would be to the user’s advantage to remain on the most recently used menu A limited number of fonts is provided, some with new hybrid names. Courier is not one of them, probably because it is an efficient draft font that doesn’t call for quarts of ink in printing a manuscript. All of the fonts seem too heavy and ink squandering. Microsoft has favored printing manufacturers. Ink is expensive.

I have been around computers since the mid-1960’s when I worked for as a a field implementation specialist for a major insurance company as it moved into electronic data processing. I worked with EDS in helping design the paper flow procedures for the model Blue Shield claims processing program that EDS installed throughout the country. I was a salesman for a Digital Distributor (OEM) until the minis lost out to desktop IBMs. At a low point in my career, I sold MS-DOS machines for Radio Shack, or TRS-DOS of the day. I have owned a personal computer for more than 35 years, starting with a Radio Shack Model III. I mention this only to establish that I know whereof I speak.

I would estimate that 60 percent of my work with a computer is word processing, 30 percent internet including email and 10 percent photo work. This changes hit me where I am the most productive, and I can’t imagine what inspired the changes in Windows 10. It appears that the designers and programmers have become lost in miscellany, nonessentials and accidentals. They have forsaken the basics. Microsoft has clearly lost touch with their consumers. Two stars, folks, and that’s generous.

Addenda (Stuff I keep Finding In addition to the above)

Using Dropbox, icons are not available for viewing. Only the detail view (i.e. jpf1234). Above I recommended that files be renamed so they can be readily identified when accessed from a different program (i.e. email attachments, Word, etc). That’s still a good idea but you need to know that Dropbox with still carry the original file with the detail caption. You end up with duplicates in the Dropbox, in other words. Not very efficient.


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