It’s not the start menu, its the file association

All the focus is on the start menu, as if there was the cause of why end users hate Windows 8. It’s not that, the start menu is easy enough to replace (Classic Shell, Start 8 etc) . The real issue is elsewhere.

We are focused on the IT services for the home market, I see why they hate Windows 8 up close. It’s the file associations. Not that that is what end users would say, but watching them use it, that’s what freaks them out.

Here’s how it works: the user is using a desktop app. He clicks on something and.. boom he is in a different universe. There is no X in the top right to close it down, everything works differently and no obvious way to get back where he was. It is the sudden and unexpected change of universes that they hate. Jarring is exactly the right word.

All the standard file associations open Metro apps. Open a .jpg, you are flipped into Metro. Open a PDF, Metro and so on. The real sneaky bit is that Microsoft removed the ability in Windows 8 for you to change a whole bunch of file associations in a batch file (or we would simply create a batch file to fix this). You used to be able to do this in all previous versions of Windows. With Windows 8 is it blocked because they want to drive users to Metro whether they want it or not. You have to change all the file associations to desktop apps one at a time and there is no way of getting a list of what is left pointing at Metro apps. So just when you think you have the user sorted, they get flipped out of their universe again. This is why our workshop is stuffed full of machines having Windows 8 removed and Windows 7 installed. I bet sales of Windows 7 OEM have gone through the roof, probably making up for the lost revenue due to lower PC sales.

Adding the boot to desktop and start menu back in Blue is ok, but it does nothing about the file associations. I cannot see this making much difference to the user experience.