Posted on October 22nd, 2012 No comments
There are quite a few things about Windows 8 that really bug me. While the context switching of Desktop vs. Metro apps is certainly annoying, I can deal with it. I can even handle that I must look in three different places to get all my windows updates (Windows Update from desktop control panel, Windows Update from Start Screen settings panel, and the Windows app store). Then there’s my Bluetooth never staying on. Ugh. But really, it comes down to two things that have pretty much been deal breakers for me when it comes to Windows 8.
Power Options are Underpowered
When I tell my laptop that I don’t ever want it shutting down when it’s plugged in and I’m away, I actually mean it. I’m the kind of person that likes to have multiple machines at my finger tips at any given time. That usually means remote desktopping (via Windows Remote Desktop or the super handy Chrome Remote Desktop). It’s hard to Remote Desktop into my laptop when it’s shutdown because Windows 8 went ahead and decided that it needs to sleep even though I have explicitly set the sleep timer to “never” when plugged in.
It’s possible this is a bug. It’s also possible that I could dig through the “Advanced” power settings to find some poorly named setting that will tell Windows 8 to actually not sleep. I don’t know. I thought “Put the computer to sleep: Never” would have covered that. Silly me.
It’s My Computer, I’LL DO WHAT I WANT
No, actually I won’t. Like most tech-savvy power users, the first thing I do on a new system is disable User Account Control. It’s annoying, it hampers functionality, and I hate it. However, I noticed something interesting on my Windows 8 install. And by interesting, I mean infuriating.
When you disable User Account Control under previous versions of Windows, there’s an automatic elevation process that happens behind the scenes, so that when you do something that requires you to be the literal Administrator of the machine (and not just a member of the Administrators group). So, most of your programs will automatically run in the context of “Administrator”.
Well, that doesn’t happen on Windows 8, anymore. At least by default. There is a group policy that allows this automatic elevation to take place. Well, I didn’t think that would be a big deal. That is, until I lost all permissions to one of my extra hard drives. For any file operations performed in Windows Explorer, I would get a pop-up saying I don’t have permissions to do that (remove a file or folder) but I can click “Continue” to be given those permissions. What. So, the annoyance that was User Account Control has returned, but this time with a vengeance. Since desktop programs you start don’t automatically elevate, when they try to write to my extra hard drive, they are flat out denied. No message. No prompt. Just denied. Took me forever to figure that out.
So, I went in and decided to flip the group policy to allow the elevation. By the way, if you’re editing group policies to restore basic, core functionality, that’s probably not a good sign.
Everything was hunky dory until I decided I wanted to try out the cool new Xbox SmartGlass app from the Windows Marketplace app store. I clicked “Store” and was met with a terse, “you can’t open Store unless you enable User Account Control. Click here to turn it on, you filthy plebian.” Wow. Okay. I guess I can kind of see why that would be an issue. Well, I’ll open up the Metro Chrome app. Same Message. Huh?
Yeah. You can’t open ANY modern-style Windows 8 apps if you disable UAC and turn on the elevation. I turned off the elevation setting in group policy and my access was restored, however then I had the issue with my extra hard drive. What is one to do? I decided I would take a page out of my old Windows 2000 playbook. Let’s log in as ADMINISTRATOR!
By default, the Administrator account is disabled in Windows 8. Of course, I enabled it, and then logged out of my normal user account and logged back in as Administrator. Odd, it didn’t ask for a password or anything, but I figured I would worry about that later. I tried using some Metro apps, and was told I can’t because those apps are not allowed to be opened using the Administrator account.
This means I cannot use my computer the way I want to, until Microsoft figures out this fustercluck of a permissions model.
Windows 8 Post-Mortem
Like a zombie breakout, there’s just too much garbage in my way to actually accomplish the things I want in Windows 8. I can understand that Microsoft has seen the light of Apple’s closed system gospel, but if they’re going to hogtie me on my own computer unless I do something akin to jailbreaking my Windows 8 install, I’ll stick with Windows 7 for the foreseeable future. And if Windows 8 is wildly successful and this is the new Windows truth, then I’ll probably have to do something distasteful like use Linux as my default OS. Yuck.
So, at least for now, I’ll probably wash my hands of Windows 8. At least until the inevitable Service Pack 1.