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I Need to Confess ... Regarding Windows 8.1


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40 replies to this topic

#1
JodyT

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This weekend I setup my friend's new PC.  It was a gaming PC with Windows 8.1 installed.  Now guess what?

 

[OK....here goes.....]

I actually liked it.  It ran quite well.  The first thing I did was install IOBit's StartMenu 8 (though since it's ad-supported I may try something else for him.  But I installed Office 2007, setup IE 11 and transferred his data back, giving me ample time to use the system.  It really felt like a less animated, but more speedy Windows 7.  It worked VERY well.

 

So maybe, ahem, just maybe Windows 8 is somewhere oft in my future.  Er, we'll see.

 




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#2
NoelC

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I've moved my business machines up to Windows 8.1 recently myself.  It can be quite nice - I actually like it as well, though I personally have no love nor need for the Metro / Modern toy side and just don't use it. 

 

So yes, I have to admit, with some additional 3rd party stuff like BigMuscle's Aero Glass tool, it's pretty good.

 

But...

 

You did make one statement that caught my eye:  "It really felt like a less animated, but more speedy Windows 7"

 

During the (very thorough) evaluation we did here to determine if we could move up to Windows 8.1 (from 7; we skipped 8), I set out to determine whether Windows 8 really is faster.

 

After extensive testing on the same hardware, it turns out it's NOT faster, really, except for one key thing:  Booting up.  Primarily that's the only thing, and part of it is because Microsoft has integrated what used to be called hibernation into the shutdown/bootup process.  In head to head comparisons, with identical setups booting from SSD - and eliminating the hybrid shutdown/bootup (which we found had downsides we weren't willing to accept), we found the difference in bootup speed was just a few seconds, with Windows 8.1 being ever so slightly faster.

 

But beyond that, one of the most important things an operating system does - provide access to files - is actually slower in Windows 8!  You read that right - Windows 8 is slower to access files, and 8.1 even a bit slower than 8.

 

If you have both Windows 7 and 8 on equivalent systems, and especially if running from SSD, try this:

 

1.  Open Windows Explorer / File Explorer and navigate to the root of drive C:.

 

2.  In the files (right) pane, select all folders and files, right-click, and choose properties.

 

3.  Time how many seconds it takes for the Properties dialog to stop enumerating the files.

 

A healthy Windows 7 system will be able to count up about 20,000 files per second on an SSD.  Believe it or not, a Windows 8.1 system will deliver only about half that performance!  Benchmarks that show actual read/write performance show a reduction in throughput on Windows 8 as well, as compared to Windows 7.  I could hardly believe it and I did the tests many times over.

 

Other things, such as operation of controls in the Windows interface (e.g., as measured by the 2D benchmark in PassMark PerformanceTest) are also a little slower on Windows 8, believe it or not.  We did quite an extensive evaluation.

 

So why do people feel it's faster?

 

I believe most folks compare a loaded-up Windows 7 system with their freshly installed Windows 8 system, and would sense the very same "speedup" if they were to install Windows 7 afresh.  That, plus the fact that MIcrosoft's hybrid bootup really is a good bit quicker than a full shutdown and restart in Windows 7, makes it "seem" faster.

 

Bottom line is this:  Don't think that Windows 8 is going to radically speed up your computing experience.  It really doesn't, and in some cases can actually slow the same operations down a little by comparison.

 

-Noel



#3
NoelC

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P.S., Try out ClassicShell.  Free and no ads.

 

StartIsBack is another very inexpensive alternative, and written by a regular on this forum.

 

-Noel



#4
MagicAndre1981

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So why do people feel it's faster?

 

I believe most folks compare a loaded-up Windows 7 system with their freshly installed Windows 8 system, and would sense the very same "speedup" if they were to install Windows 7 afresh. 

-Noel

 

this was the same for Vista/7 when all users thought Wih7 was soooo much faster.


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#5
truexfan81

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on this machine, xp was fast altho unstable, never tried vista, 7 was slow, win8.1 feels closer to xp in performance.



#6
truexfan81

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P.S., Try out ClassicShell.  Free and no ads.

 

StartIsBack is another very inexpensive alternative, and written by a regular on this forum.

 

-Noel

i decided to try classicshell, my system became quite unstable, had to remove it to get my stability back


Edited by truexfan81, 22 December 2013 - 02:46 AM.


#7
bphlpt

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i decided to try classicshell, my system became quite unstable, had to remove it to get my stability back


You must have something else wrong with your system. I have not experienced or heard of ClassicShell causing stability issues.

Cheers and Regards


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#8
Aloha

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In my mind, Win 8 or 8.1 is surely better than Win 7! 



#9
jaclaz

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In my mind, Win 8 or 8.1 is surely better than Win 7! 

That's good :), in the sense that you are wrong :w00t:, but you have the freedom to be so ;).

 

More seriously, please define "better", all test reports (of actual tests, not subjective impressions) I have seen seem to imply that NoelC has hit the nail right on the head (re: speed).

 

jaclaz



#10
shae

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A healthy Windows 7 system will be able to count up about 20,000 files per second on an SSD.  Believe it or not, a Windows 8.1 system will deliver only about half that performance! 

 

Benchmarks that show actual read/write performance show a reduction in throughput on Windows 8 as well, as compared to Windows 7.  I could hardly believe it and I did the tests many times over.

 

Other things, such as operation of controls in the Windows interface (e.g., as measured by the 2D benchmark in PassMark PerformanceTest) are also a little slower on Windows 8, believe it or not.  We did quite an extensive evaluation.

 

Any links to the performance benchmarks?

 

At least regarding Explorer file properties I don't think it matters that much. Explorer in general is annoying and out of control. Just like the Start Menu, one would be better off with a 3rd party file manager that has a stable feature set and a GUI that doesn't change across versions or that can be configured to your liking. 



#11
NoelC

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Benchmark results?  Sure.

 

Passmark overall disk assessment.  The blue results were from a run under Windows 7 back in September, and the red results were the same benchmark run on the same hardware two days ago, on Windows 8.1.

 

Win7vsWin8DiskTest.png

 

Here's a more advanced test, which simulates "Workstation" type loading, with a combination of read and write operations.

 

Win 8.1:

Win8WorkstationTest.png

 

Win 7:

Win7WorkstationTest.jpg

 

 

And you can discount Explorer all you want, but how well it can follow the file system structure to enumerate all the files is an activity that actually does give a very good assessment of file system performance.  I literally used to be able to enumerate almost 30,000 files / second on this modern workstation, running from an SSD array.  Now it's more like 10,000 files / second.  Yes, everything's optimized and up to date.

 

There can be no conclusion other than to do useful work, Windows 8.1 is slower than Windows 7 on the same hardware.  In my case it reduced disk access from blindingly fast to just blazingly fast, so it's really not a serious problem.  My software builds went from 29 seconds to 35 seconds - not a big deal.

 

-Noel


Edited by NoelC, 22 December 2013 - 01:46 PM.


#12
NoelC

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Want more benchmark info?

 

ATTO disk I/O speed measurement on the same hardware, again showing an incremental degradation on Win 8.1...

 

Win 8.1:

Win81ATTO.png

 

 

Win 7:

Win7ATTO.png

 

 

-Noel



#13
shae

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Some of these deltas are large enough to seem unlikely, no? Doesn't look like something Microsoft could afford to have going on. Maybe it's drivers or settings somewhere? 

 

E.g., a random data point: http://www.techspot....ows7/page3.html

Some things are somewhat slower, some faster. This was right after Win8's release.

 

Re Explorer, I don't know if you can consider it a reliable benchmark for filesystem or disk I/O. I'd look for a benchmark made for this specific purpose, or create a simple directory scanner.



#14
NoelC

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I have already found such benchmarks, and have shown some of the results above.  Every test and all my experience since moving our development environment up to Windows 8.1 confirm that there's a file system performance loss of 5% to 10% more or less.  Our testing wasn't limited to this one system.  And as I said, Windows 8 slowed things down a little, and Windows 8.1 slows them down a little more.

 

Microsoft doesn't seem to care too terribly much about actual functionality as compared to their prime focus on what things look like.  They're trying to reset the clock back to Windows 1.0 so they can grow up all over again.

 

-Noel


Edited by NoelC, 22 December 2013 - 10:19 PM.


#15
Aloha

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That's good :), in the sense that you are wrong :w00t:, but you have the freedom to be so ;).

 

More seriously, please define "better", all test reports (of actual tests, not subjective impressions) I have seen seem to imply that NoelC has hit the nail right on the head (re: speed).

 

jaclaz

 

 

Oh Jaclaz, how about reading this for the definition of "better" :P:

 
More seriouly, it is very personal when I say Win 8/8.1 better than Win 7. But I believe many others who have chosen to use  8 or 8.1 have the same ideas as mine although we have different needs to use a computer and different ways to use it too. 
 
I can't write a long post now to analyse why I find 8/8.1 better. But I can be sure that I prefer Win 8 not just because I feel it faster than Win 7. I use W8 because it has some new interesting features that W7 doesn't have. 
 
Btw, people who say or think W8 is not good or not worth trying are those who don't use W8 for long enough to evaluate it precisely. Again, this is my very own opinion! 


#16
tomasz86

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I really like Windows 8 on a tablet PC. It's very easy to navigate with touch, and for desktop stylus is enough to be able to operate comfortably without using a mouse.

I don't own such a hardware myself but one of my friends does and when it comes to functionality it's way better than any Android tablet or iPad.

Edited by tomasz86, 23 December 2013 - 02:29 AM.

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#17
jaclaz

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@Aloha

@tomasz86

 

Sure, the previous posts were about "speed", and particularly about "assumed" or "felt" faster speed when compared to Windows 7, which is measurable, while it "being better", like beauty is in the eye of the beholder. :)

 

jaclaz



#18
NoelC

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And I just need to reiterate one thing, since I'm coming across in this thread as kind of critical...  Though we have a measurable (though small) incremental speed decrease, I quite like Windows 8.1

 

At this point we've got it working very smoothly and it's completely stable (better than I expected this soon after release, actually).  Windows Updates kept me from running it longer, but so far it's gone one stint of 17 days straight without a reboot on one workstation (under heavy daily software development use).  You wouldn't believe the amount of work we crunch through on these workstations.  I use mine for not only software development, testing, etc. but also business management.

 

-Noel



#19
jaclaz

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And I just need to reiterate one thing, since I'm coming across in this thread as kind of critical...  Though we have a measurable (though small) incremental speed decrease, I quite like Windows 8.1

 

At this point we've got it working very smoothly and it's completely stable (better than I expected this soon after release, actually).  

 

To be picky - as I am ;) - what you currently use/have (and "quite like")  is NOT Windows 8.1 (as "delivered" by MS, i.e. the thing that everyone can have) but rather a heavily tweaked, tuned up, and refined Windows 8.1 utilizing a number of third party tools most of which aimed to have back the Windows 7 functionalities/look/usage paradigm.

 

jaclaz



#20
NoelC

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Well, yeah - you're absolutely right.  It's pretty much a POS without those tweaks.  But it IS tweakable, and the kernel underneath is actually quite solid (it's probably little different from Windows 7 under the covers).  We used to tweak Windows 7 almost as much - so using Windows 8.1 this way is not fundamentally different.

 

But it's not like we've spent a lot of money to get the tweaks we use, and I've even published a book on how to set up systems like we do.

 

The ones I can think of quickly offhand, most of which we used with Windows 7 as well...

 

ClassicShell (desktop usability enhancement) - $0

Aero Glass for Win 8.1 (desktop usability enhancement) - a few dollars donation

FastPictureViewer Codec Pack (thumbnail generator) - $12 I think it was.

WizMouse (mouse scrolling coordinator) - a few dollars donation

ShellFolderFix (Explorer tweaker to pre-position windows) - $0

Avast! free edition (anti-malware) - $0

7-Zip (compressed archive access) - $0

Z-VSSCopy (shadow copy access) - $0 (though still looking for a less clunky solution)

Skype (audio online collaboration) - $0

Tortoise and Ankh Subversion (software configuration and data management) - $0

Frameworkx Shortcut Manager (cleans up shortcut icons) - $0

ShellExView (shell extension manager) - $0

Autoruns (SysInternals background program manager) - $0

FileTypesMan (associate applications with file extensions) - $0

FolderOptionsX (Explorer usability tweaker) - $0

 

Plus of course we use a number of commercial applications.

 

-Noel


Edited by NoelC, 23 December 2013 - 06:17 AM.


#21
jaclaz

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Well, yeah - you're absolutely right.  It's pretty much a POS without those tweaks.  But it IS tweakable, and the kernel underneath is actually quite solid (it's probably little different from Windows 7 under the covers).

 

But it's not like I've spent a lot of money to get the tweaks we use, and I've even published a book on how to set up systems like we do.

 

-Noel

Sure, and noone AFAIK said anything against the actual "core" (which has some added features, but as seen is not particularly faster), only about the interface and the senselessly changed usage paradigms.

 

As a layman example I do love my FIAT Panda, it is a great little car :yes:.

Apart changing wheels, tires and suspensions to better handling, replacing spark plugs and exhaust system and tuning engine electronics to get some more juice from it, and replacing seats and interiors because they were uncomfortable and ugly, it is exactly like a stock Panda ;).

 

jaclaz



#22
NoelC

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But as I mentioned in an edit to my post above, there's nothing fundamentally different about tweaking Windows 8 to make it more usable.  Anyone in their right mind did that with Windows 7 as well.

 

I'm not at all happy with the direction Microsoft is taking - turning away from serious computing - but they haven't removed quite enough of the "To Work" options yet to make Windows useless.

 

-Noel



#23
Aloha

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Quite a few people use utilities to tweak their Windows XP, Vista, and 7. I find it normal if we use tweakers on W8/8.1 too.

Now I have SIB+, UltraUXThemePatcher, Uncleaner, Unlocker, Vista Shortcut Manager. Except for SIB, I had to install all the others on W7 when I was still using it.



#24
tomasz86

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@Aloha
@tomasz86
 
Sure, the previous posts were about "speed", and particularly about "assumed" or "felt" faster speed when compared to Windows 7, which is measurable, while it "being better", like beauty is in the eye of the beholder. :)
 
jaclaz


My comment was related to the original subject of this thread, nothing related to speed :P

I'm just a big fan of those hybrid notebook-tablet devices. I can't see any OS other than Windows 8/8.1 that can be used on them and offer such a wide functionality (maybe except for full Linux distributions such as Ubuntu Touch but they're still not mainstream).

I've myself been using an old Windows XP laptop and an Android tablet, and would be very happy to merge the two into one Windows 8 tablet PC (just a wish since I've got no money for such things now). When I was buying the Android device two years ago, there was no Windows based alternative so can't really blame myself for doing that... but if I was to buy a tablet now then definitely a Windows 8 device would be on the top of my wish list.
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#25
Soukyuu

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All I can say is that I was forced to go back to win7 in the end. Reasons included
  • boot times were only on par with win7 if hybrid boot enabled, meaning
    • slow shutdown times because of writing the RAM to SSD
    • 6GB writes to SSD each shutdown
  • rebooting didn't reset the ramdisk as it was supposed to (not really win8.1 fault)
  • several programs misbehaved
  • several additional pay/dontationware required to get exact functionality as win7
  • file association is still backwards, having to set it twice - once in the program, once in the explorer
That's just a small list though. About the only positive about win8.1 on my system was that I could finally move files on my server via network without the files being first copied over to my machine, then sent back to the server as win7 does it for whatever reason. In practice, I never felt win8.1 was faster on an equally setup system. Most people praising it being faster just set up a fresh installation and compare it to their old win7 one filled with random crap.
AMD Phenom II X4 970BE | 12GB DDR3 | nVidia 260GTX | Windows 8.1u1 x64 Pro | Primary
Intel C2D T7250 | 4GB DDR2 | nVidia 8600m GT | Windows 7 x64 Pro | Secondary




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