Monday, 27 January 2014

Tweaking Windows 8.1

Since a week or so I am back to Windows 8, Windows 8.1 to be precise, and this time I probably won't switch back. I switched back because Windows 8, and all its fancy features were driving me crazy. They might be nice on a tablet (full screen apps like Skype) and on a laptop with touch-screen (charm bar, hot corners, etc) but on a normal desktop/laptop and especially with a multi-monitor set-up it was fastidious.

The performance on my Asus Zenbook UX31E (with intel i7, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD) is way better under Windows 8.1 x64 than it was before with Windows 7 x64. With three Chrome browsers (different user profiles) opened and in each multiple tabs active the 4GB of RAM were not enough and I couldn't upgrade the Zenbook. It was causing 90% or more memory usage, the processor was constantly over 50%. Now with Windows 8.1 it's down to 70% memory usage and the processor is doing around 20-40%. With the same browsers, sites and apps opened that is!

With some little tweaks I lowered the irritation level to a minimum: with Start8 I brought the Windows7-like start menu back to my Desktop avoiding having to switch to the Metro GUI each time you need another application. I also disabled some of the hot corners with this app and somehow in 8.1 the uncharming Charm-bar is not popping up so much as it was in W8.

The one major feature that keeps missing in Windows are the Virtual Desktops, like OS X and Linux offer you. I just do not get why MS just doesn't implement them natively. There are enough tools to help you, but native support in Windows would just give Windows DESKTOP (not the new Metro GUI) a much better user experience, especially for the experienced and demanding user (like me). I just started evaluating Dexpot and Actual Virtual Desktops, let's see if one of these gives me what I need.

Here are some links to blogs I used for tweaking Windows 8.1 to my needs/preferences

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