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Overwhelmed and Uncertain Where to Start with Win8


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#1
devilbear

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After seven years with my now slowly dying Vista machine, I've taken the plunge and purchased a new laptop online. Which means I have until it arrives to figure out what to do and how to do it to make sure that the system is pleasant to use and as secure as possible without overkill that makes it more difficult to operate. I've done research for months now, have mostly figured out how to fix the quirks and settings of Windows 8 that I know would annoy me, etc... But I still feel completely lost and confused.

 

As I said, it's been seven years; I don't remember anything about the typical 'when you first get a new computer' procedures to follow. And since I'm on 32-bit Vista but moving on to 64-bit 8.1 I also have compatibility issues to worry about. Unlike the past, which was just transferring programs and tools over without much concern, it's going to be more difficult this time around. So I have a few questions that I hope you guys can help me with...

 

  • Are there any power settings that I should change? (In Vista, I had to disable hibernate mode because it was and still is very glitchy. I was wondering if there's any known issues with sleep or hibernate for Win8.1)
     
  • What are the first things I should get set up-- security programs, maintenance programs, monitors etc.? Currently, I use Windows Defender, MalwareBytes Anti-Malware, CPUID Hardware Monitor, Rainmeter, and ObjectDock on my Vista machine. I've done a small bit of research regarding if there's Windows 8 versions of these softwares, but more importantly I'd want to know if perhaps these are no longer recommended or useful. (And, if so, what the alternatives are.)
     
  • Is there anything I should keep an eye on or look out for, such as common glitches or problems? Namely, the warranty is only 90 days since I purchased a refurbished model. I want to be hyper-vigilant to make sure I catch anything that could go awry while I still can. So anything that sticks out as a warning sign of trouble to come would be appreciated.
     
  • I've read about a lot of different start menu programs, and I'm especially interested in the free ones. Are there any out there that you know to be safe and reliable?
     
  • What else should I keep in mind / do with my new computer to make the transition from Vista to Windows 8 as painless as possible and try to ensure that I don't muck up my new system?
     

I know these probably seem weirdly specific (or maybe weirdly general) in places, but I'm just really anxious about the fact that I have no clue what I'm doing anymore and need to ensure I do everything I can to maximize the performance and reliability (and lifespan) of the new machine. Any and all feedback, answers, and/or advice will be extremely welcome and appreciated!


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#2
dsenette

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Hibernation and sleep are much better in 8.1 than they used to be. since they designed 8.1 to be used on tablets and phones as well it was something they focused on. I personally still don't hibernate, but that's because I've had trouble with it in the past like everyone else and it's become habit to disable it. give it a try and see if it works well on your system or not (hibernation isn't just the OS. the underlying system does a lot with regards to how effective hibernation is), if you don't like it, you can always disable it

 

8.1 still has defender, and defender is surprisingly good for an AV. is it the best? no, but it does get the job done in most cases. MBAM still works on 8.1 and is still quite high on the list for antimalware tools. CPUID should work fine. I'm not personally a fan of objectdock....I always found it to be more of a gimmick. since 8.1 is focused on the start screen more than the desktop I don't know how much value you'll get out of it, but it should work with 8.1 so test it out and see. it should still be of use when you're on the desktop of 8.1 instead of the start screen.

 

8.1 has been out for a while, most of the major issues have been addressed. there are obviously still things that may or may not work as expectd.

 

what do you mean by start menu programs?

 

the biggest advice I give to people who are using 8.1, especially if it's a non-touch system, is to become a master of the search function. you can search for everything in win8.1. you can find files, words in files (if they're indexed), apps, settings, basically anything by using the search. the search box is your friend.

there's not really much that's going to make it painless transition. win8.1 is COMPLETELY different than vista. you will just have to plug away at it. there are a lot of really nice features in 8.1 but there are annoyances (like the start screen, and the metro apps, etc..). you'll get the hang of it though
 


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#3
Aura

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what do you mean by start menu programs?


He's most likely asking about programs that creates a "Windows Start Menu" shell, to have a Windows Vista, 7 Start Menu in Windows 8/8.1. Personally, the most used program for this is ClassicShell:

http://www.classicshell.net/

Fully stable, actively developped, entirely customizable, etc. You can even replace the default "ClassicShell" icon with the Windows logo:

http://www.classicsh...c.php?f=5&t=853
http://www.classicsh...c.php?f=5&t=853

Hopefully this will answer devilbear's question!
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#4
devilbear

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Thanks to both of you! That is indeed what I meant by "start menu program," and it's good to know that hibernation has been improved. Since my new computer is supposed to ship with 8.1 installed, it's also good to know some of the bugs were worked out with it. (I know some of the general quirks I hated when reading abotu Win8 were fixed as well, from what I've read.)

 

As for the search, that's a relief. To be honest, I already only use my start menu for searching and quick links to the control panel etc. while I use an objectdock for everything I use on a daily basis. I'm definitely not planning to spend much, if any, time on the start screen/app tiles since it's a non-touchscreen laptop. (Also the idea of fullscreen apps on a 17" monitor disgusts me, so no metro apps for me.)

 

Would anyone happen to know about the reliability (or lack thereof) of uxtheme.dll patchers? Or perhaps even have a link to one that's shown very little or no problems with Windows 8.1? I absolutely hate the default shell and am hoping to install a custom one, just as I did with Vista basically right out of the box on my current laptop.


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#5
Aura

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No problem :) Also I forgot to mention that ClassicShell is totally free, which makes it an even better choice! As for the reliability of uxtheme.dll patchers, I couldn't tell. I try to avoid messing around with system files (even less patch them) since an issue can pop out at any moment when doing that. If you plan on using Rainmeter however, it should work just fine.
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#6
devilbear

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I got rainmeter working like a charm... except, of course, I can no longer have a system uptime monitor due to Windows 8's Hybrid Boot feature. Minor annoyance, but I really like the performance of hybrid boot (and figure it's not that different from the fact I never shut down my mobile devices unless necessary because they're acting up.) And I'm 98% certain the network meter is showing far too slow of speeds. My new computer goes no slower on the internet than the old one, yet the speeds shown are under half, so yeah. It's not really that huge a deal since I use the meter to make sure nothing is leeching my internet / there's data transfer at all if something appears to be taking too long. I couldn't care less about the numbers themselves.

 

I'm thinking I may patch the uxtheme anyway, once I get some annoying graphics issues sorted and decide for certain I'm keeping the laptop. (The screen quality is horrendous, eugh, but that's something I started another thread for.) I do know what you mean, though! After seven years, I randomly had the patched uxtheme act up and revert to a Windows default while bugging out and making the taskbar unusable on my old laptop. Fairly certain that was related to an even broader issue, though, since that was during a huge ordeal where I had to repair the hard drive. Once that got resolved, the theme worked again.

 

ETA: Classic Shell was basically the first thing I installed. I honestly tried to give the standard Windows 8 experience a shot, but found myself saying all kinds of rude things at the poor computer before grabbing and installing Classic Shell.


Edited by devilbear, 12 February 2015 - 09:08 PM.

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#7
Aura

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If you are decided to path the uxtheme.dll file, be sure to have a quick and efficient way to revert back it's action (maybe copy it somewhere to save it and keep it?) and make sure to restore the original .dll if you start having any kind of issue under Windows 8.1 to see if it was causing the problem.
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