Friday, September 16, 2011

Pending fixes for Windows 8

So Windows 8 is the next big thing and I like what they are doing with the Start Screen UI for tablets. Steven Sinofsky has been talking about a "no compromise" strategy and mentioned in the keynote how Microsoft has been "listening" and made 1500 product changes since Windows 7 actually shipped. But were any of these changes good enough to make a difference to the warrant an upgrade for the die-hard Windows XP user to actually upgrade? Have they fixed broken or missing features which are still a problem in Windows 7 since Vista shipped? I am beginning to feel Microsoft has lost sight of fundamentals on the desktop side. Ever since Windows Vista shipped, there are a number of broken features in the Explorer shell, Taskbar, Start Menu, Windows Search, Internet Explorer, the new audio stack, Windows Media Player, Virtual PC and the logon screen. This table below lists the features users with Windows XP have that they no longer have when running Windows 8 (or Windows 7 or Vista). I have tried to be as fair as possible. If you have an issue with a feature represented incorrectly, feel free to contact me.

Feature
Windows XP
Windows 8
Windows 7
Windows Vista
Workaround / Fix for Windows NT 6.x
Apps can programmatically set file associations
Boot to desktop
   
Change advanced appearance settings
Windows Flip 3D
View devices on a Network Map
Detailed Chkdsk statistics when run at startup
Previous Versions (Shadow Copies) for local volumes
Explorer: Documented and re-usable Explorer view control
Explorer: Standard status bar control
Explorer: Folder conflict prompt/confirmation
No free GUI but command line robocopy / xcopy tools
Explorer: Set permissions and ownership/audit rights on multiple selected items
No GUI workaround but command line icacls tool
Explorer: Manual refresh or sorting of items
Explorer: Freely arrange items via drag and drop within a folder
Registry hack
Explorer: Extensible metadata property columns in columns
Explorer: Stacking items by properties
Classic Shell
Explorer: Customize folders with a background picture
Explorer: View thumbnails and details for AVI files
  

Fixed in Windows 8
Explorer: Ctrl+Enter to open selected folder in a new window
 
 
 
 
Fixed in Windows 7
Explorer: Up One Level button
 
(Ctrl+clicking Up button doesn’t open parent folder in new window)
Classic Shell, Fixed partially in Windows 8
Explorer: 1-click button to toggle navigation pane
Registry fix for Windows 7, fixed in Windows 8
Explorer: View folder hierarchy up to the top level in the address bar
Classic Shell
Explorer: Display icons from 16-bit binary files
Explorer: Store metadata/tags on the file system for any file
Explorer: Store metadata/tags inside the file itself
N/A
Explorer: Operate on more than 15 selected items
Combination of VBScript and ‘Send To’ feature
Explorer: Operate on selected files of different type
  
(Only verbs added by shell extensions available)
  
(Only verbs added by shell extensions available)
   
(Only verbs added by shell extensions available)
Combination of VBScript and ‘Send To’ feature
Explorer: Arrows to indicate subfolders in the navigation pane

(Arrows disappear if navigation pane isn’t focused)
 
(Arrows disappear if navigation pane isn’t focused)
 
(Arrows disappear if navigation pane isn’t focused)
Classic Shell
Explorer: Dotted lines connecting folders and subfolders
Classic Shell
Explorer: Display the folder name and icon in the title bar
Classic Shell, fixed in Windows 8
Explorer: Display the full path in the title bar with Windows Aero theme on
 
Classic Shell, fixed in Windows 8
Explorer: Customize toolbar buttons

(16 x 16 size icons)

Classic Shell, Fixed by Explorer Quick Access Toolbar in Windows 8
Explorer: Customize toolbar button/icon size
Classic Shell
Explorer: Customize whether to show or hide toolbar button text labels
Classic Shell
Explorer: Add a password to a ZIP file or open password-protected ZIP files
Alternative archiving software
Explorer: View images inside a folder in Filmstrip view/Preview pane
Explorer: View up to 4 image thumbnails per folder
Explorer: View total size of files in a folder on the status bar without selecting them all
Classic Shell can fix on Windows 7 and Windows Vista
Explorer: View total size of selected files in a folder on the status bar

(Up to 99 files only)
Classic Shell can fix on Windows 7 and Windows Vista
Explorer: View disk free space on the status bar
Classic Shell can fix on Windows 7 and Windows Vista
Explorer: View security zone information on the status bar
Classic Shell can fix on Windows 7 and Windows Vista
Explorer: View tooltip information of selected file on the status bar
Classic Shell can fix on Windows 7 and Windows Vista
Explorer: Enable Details pane & preview pane simultaneously
Explorer: Tiles view changes metadata properties shown by sort criteria
Registry fix to display static properties
Explorer: View item properties using Alt-Enter in the navigation pane
Classic Shell
Explorer: View network computers by domain or workgroup tree view
Registry fix to add legacy network GUID to Explorer
Explorer: View accurate file timestamps (including seconds) for recently modified files
Change the locale
Explorer: Undo more than one delete operation for files sent to the Recycle Bin
Fixed in Windows 8
Explorer: Show file name in file copy/move dialog
Fixed in Windows 7
Explorer: Associate a file extension with a file type and MIME type
Default Programs Editor or Nirsoft FileTypesMan
Explorer: Associate a file type with a default application
N/A
Explorer: define and edit custom secondary verbs
Default Programs Editor or Nirsoft FileTypesMan
Explorer: Show extension only for specific file types
Nirsoft FileTypesMan
Explorer: Customize icon and description per file type
Default Programs Editor or Nirsoft FileTypesMan
Explorer: Delete file type associations
Default Programs Editor or Nirsoft FileTypesMan
Explorer: Confirm open after download per file type
Nirsoft FileTypesMan
Explorer: Configure file types to browse in the same window
Nirsoft FileTypesMan
Explorer: Browse all control panel items in Classic view
Explorer: Load the 32-bit Explorer in 64-bit Windows
Explorer view control: custom positioning, custom ordering, or hyperlinks
Explorer: Position and lock toolbars on a single row
Explorer: Select multiple groups by clicking Ctrl+group header
Explorer: Overlay icon to indicate shared folders
Classic Shell
Explorer: Custom folder view when accessing the folder through a library/special folders
Explorer: Show column headers in all views
Classic Shell
Explorer: Group items using column headers
Explorer: Horizontal scroll bar in navigation pane
Classic Shell
Explorer: No navigation pane scrolling bug
Classic Shell
Explorer: Auto-navigate to folder using keyboard from navigation pane
Classic Shell
Explorer: Keep selection of multiple items across back and forward navigation and after sorting
Taskbar: Separation of running programs from non-running programs
7 Taskbar Tweaker
Taskbar: Floating or docked toolbars (deskbands) on the desktop
 Use any dock or gadget launchers
Taskbar: Click to minimize foreground window when grouping is enabled
Taskbar: Disable button combining
N/A
Taskbar: Disable button grouping
7 Taskbar Tweaker
Taskbar: Configure after how many windows to combine
Taskbar: Show number of combined windows
Taskbar: Show power icon for desktops
Taskbar: Network activity animation
Network Activity Indicator
Taskbar: Disable thumbnail previews
N/A
7 Taskbar Tweaker
Taskbar: Disable ‘Always on top’
Taskbar: Select multiple taskbar buttons using Ctrl when grouping is disabled
7 Taskbar Tweaker’s Taskbar Inspector
Taskbar: Show all power plans
Taskbar: 1-click access to ethernet, wireless and dial-up network connection status, settings and enable/disable
(Wireless only)
Network Activity Indicator
Taskbar: Per-connection network icon
Taskbar: Double click Printer icon to open printer status
Taskbar: Sound for balloon notifications
Registry fix
Start Menu

(No Classic Start Menu)
Classic Shell Start Menu
Start Menu: Expand ‘Connect To’ and ‘Printers’
Classic Shell
Start Menu: Hold down Shift key to launch multiple items

 

Classic Shell Start Menu
Shell: Configure Recycle Bin maximum allocated size globally (across all drives)
Shell: Working Downloaded Program Files (ActiveX) folder
Shell: Expandable folders under Send To
Windows Search: Fast real-time non-indexed search
FileLocator Lite
Windows Search: Advanced search builder UI
FileLocator Lite
Windows Search: Index network shares (UNC paths) and FAT32 volumes
(Both x86 and x64)

(x86 only)

(x86 only)

(x86 only)
Windows Search: Perform a case-sensitive search
FileLocator Lite
Windows Search: Search NTFS Alternate data streams
FileLocator Lite
Windows Search: Expand environment variables in search locations/paths
FileLocator Lite
Games Explorer: Customize game shortcuts
N/A
Internet Explorer: Fully customizable position of toolbars and address bar
Internet Explorer: Automatically restore previous session
IE7
IE10
IE7
Internet Explorer: Dedicated search box with OpenSearch provider discovery and sound notification
IE8
IE8
IE8
Internet Explorer: Change pinned site shortcut icon
IE8
IE8
IE8
Internet Explorer: Tab list menu button (Ctrl+Shift+Q)
IE8
IE8
IE8
Internet Explorer: Page title and icon in the title bar
IE8
IE8
IE8
Classic Shell
Internet Explorer: Progress of individual downloads on taskbar
IE8
IE8
IE8
Internet Explorer: Progress bar when loading pages
IE8
IE8
IE8
Classic Shell
Internet Explorer: Page loading errors and Done message on status bar
IE8
IE8
IE8
Internet Explorer: Security zone information and Protected Mode in status bar
IE8
IE8
IE8
Classic Shell
Internet Explorer: Cookie blocked and website privacy policy/report
IE8
IE8
IE8
Internet Explorer: Completed MB and progress bar for downloads
IE8
IE8
IE8
Internet Explorer: Download complete notification with only a sound
IE8
IE8
IE8
Internet Explorer: Prompt for location for each download
IE8
IE8
IE8
Internet Explorer: Help files
IE8
IE8
IE8
Logon screen: Press Ctrl+Alt+Del twice to logon to a hidden user account when not in a domain
Logon screen: Select domain names from a drop down list
Logon screen: Bypass Autologon by holding down Shift
 

Unreliable in Vista
Audio: Output simultaneously to multiple audio devices/endpoints
Audio: Record ‘Stereo Mix’ or ‘What U Hear'’
Audio: Input Monitoring
Audio: Double click to open volume mixer
SndVolPlus
Audio: Volume mixer window saves position, size and is minimizable
Audio: Adjust per speaker volume from volume mixer
Audio: Select a different MIDI WDM software synth
Audio: Hardware acceleration

          –

Audio: Multi-channel surround sound effects in games (DirectSound 3D HAL)
Graphics Driver Model: Spanned resolutions
Fixed in Windows 8
Startup Hardware Profiles
Hibernate and resume progress indicator
Service Pack slipstreaming
Speed of clean install
Slow
Fast
Fast
Fast
Speed of upgrade install
Reasonable
Reasonable
Extremely slow
Extremely slow
Speed of servicing
Extremely fast
Slow
Slow
Extremely slow
Advanced System Restore settings configurable (through registry)
Help and Support: Index, dual pane navigation, Favorites, History and advanced search options and detailed in-box or online documentation, “What's this" field level help
WordPad: Binary (.DOC) Word document format support
WordPad: Open XML format support
Windows Photo Viewer: Animated GIFs
Alternative photo viewer
Windows Photo Viewer: Printing selective pages of multi-page TIFF files
Alternative TIFF editing/ viewing software
Windows Photo Viewer: Create and edit TIFF annotations
Alternative TIFF viewing/ editing software
Remote Assistance: Voice session and sending invitation via mailto:
Remote Assistance: File transfer and clipboard sharing
NetMeeting / Windows Meeting Space
Windows DreamScene
Offline Files: Command line tools
IIS in Windows client: SMTP and POP3 servers
Virtual PC: Drag and drop sharing

2007
Version 7

2007

2007
Virtual PC: Folder sharing

2007
Version 7

2007

2007
Virtual PC: More configurable options and VM properties
Virtual PC: Physical and virtual parallel ports, virtual floppy disk
Virtual PC: Supported guests with integration components

(Only Windows XP and later)

(Only Windows XP and later)

          –

Windows SteadyState

(x86 only)

(x86 only)

Suggestions for inclusion of new broken or removed features, workarounds and corrections to this table are welcome.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

For "Windows Search", a tool known as FileSearchEX seems to offer an XP style experience.

xpclient said...

Yes I know about FileSearchEx, I was asked to test a few betas for it. FileSearchEx is a very good tool, fast evolving and matches the Windows XP Search interface. However, for now, I feel FileLocator has the edge as it can search inside file contents in real-time using iFilters, the same iFilters used by Windows Search to index content.

Anonymous said...

On WinXP a vertical taskbar supports multiple columns. On Win7 you need to scroll between multiple columns, making vertical taskbars practically unusable.
Pretty annoying change, since on widescreens vertical screen space is much more valuable than horizontal screen space.
(No idea about Vista and Win8)

Anonymous said...

Hi,
i think you forgot a really important feature that was present only in xp: expanding folders on explorer left tree with a single click:

http://connect.microsoft.com/WindowsServerFeedback/feedback/details/313066/explorer-should-expand-folder-tree-the-windows-xp-way

Gaurav Kale said...

That feature (Single click to expand/collapse folders) is called "Simple Folder View" and is fixed by Classic Shell.

Anonymous said...

Hi. according to your table XP is totally better in audio, but this says differently:
http://www.createdigitalmusic.com/2009/09/29/obsessive-windows-7-under-the-hood-guide-for-music-can-you-finally-dump-xp/#more-7680
so what it is? after you read the article, the table would change?
thx.

Gaurav Kale said...

Depends on what matters to you. Are you an amateur or pro musician? Which apps you use? How much audio latency you are getting? Measure it with a latency measurement tool using the various software stacks - ASIO, WDM, WaveRT. Here are two I use: http://centrance.com/products/ltu/ and http://www.thesycon.de/deu/latency_check.shtml . Do you use ASIO-capable hardware and an ASIO driver? Windows 7/Vista have WaveRT for lower latency for PCI audio interfaces but it doesn't support USB audio devices. Sure, there are kernel improvements to scale better but numerous regressions too in audio performance. Depends on the hardware and software stack you use. Is the software you use heavily multi-threaded? Then it should run slightly better on Windows 7. Is it worth the regressions to you? I will recommend Windows XP obviously. :P Windows XP x64 will scale better than Windows XP 32-bit.

Anonymous said...

Still, the audio advantages of win7 (even if they don't surpass for you the ones of xp)should be in the table, as well of any other possible win7 or win8 advantage that is not there.

That will give more credibility to the table, if indeed win xp is better it should be concluded after seeing all pros and cons.

Still great comparison, congrats.

Paul Coddington said...

Sadly, I figure Windows 8 will be a downgrade of functionality for me. I lose features I use regularly and pay to upgrade software that is not Windows 8 compatible, plus buy extra software to replace missing features. I also end up with a desktop that is harder to use.

I am considering doing all Windows 8 development and testing in a virtual machine and keeping my Windows 7 desktop for a while. I have to upgrade VMware either way, so this makes the most sense to me.

Anonymous said...

The point, "Apps can programmatically set file associations", is incorrect.
Applications can still register the file associations they want.

They just cannot change the default program to handle the file association. Only the user is explicitly allowed to do that.

Gaurav Kale said...

That's right. They cannot register as the default program. :)