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Getting a proper Start button back even when Microsoft doesn’t want to give one

Are you putting off switching to Windows 8.1 because you don’t want to relearn everything from scratch that you’ve known since 1995? I saw Windows 8.1 on Thanksgiving, and you have to do some asinine downward swipe with the mouse to bring up Control Panel. Yeah, that’s easier.

But even though Microsoft insists on shooting itself in the foot with a nuclear missile, Classic Shell fixes what Microsoft refuses to fix. Want Windows 8 to act like Windows 7? No problem. Want it to look like XP? Yeah, you can even do that.

So I highly recommend it. Yes, Windows 8.1 with Classic Start. Here’s why.

Windows XP is, in computer terms, ancient. Its security model was about five years out of date on the day it was released. Service Pack 2 improved things considerably, but not to the extent that Vista did, let alone its successors. Vista was the first operating system Microsoft released after Microsoft got serious about security, and it shows.

If nothing else, upgrading to a 64-bit version of a modern Windows OS gives you greater security because it’s no longer possible to predict where your programs reside in memory. In the past, if I knew you were running Word, all I had to do was find Word in memory, overwrite some of its code with code I want, and wait for it to run. In 64-bit Windows, I might not be able to find Word. And in the newest versions of Windows, if I did manage to find Word and overwrite some of it, Windows would probably just shut Word down to protect you.

I know that XP license was expensive, and the $100 price tag to upgrade to 8.1 from XP is about double what it needs to be, but the enhanced security is worth something.

I also know large numbers of people will refuse to move off XP, calling it tried and true, just like there are still some people who refuse to move off 98SE. But it’s time. Really it was time in 2005, but Microsoft blew it so badly with Vista that XP got the longest reprieve in history.

I agree that 8.1 is worse than Vista. I used Vista. It was awkward but I could use it. In 8.1, I was fumbling around like I’d never used a computer before. My nephew wanted to know why his Core i7 laptop was slow, and I couldn’t figure out how to open Control Panel to find what kind of hard drive he had. It literally would have been faster and easier to physically open the machine. I know, I know. Tell us how you really feel about it, Dave.

But the problem is solvable. Windows 8.1 isn’t heavy on resources, it just has a user interface that’s so bad that people are willing to run Android on desktops now.  So it will run on anything that’s running XP at an acceptable clip. So the solution is to fix the user interface. Now you can do that in five minutes.

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