Ugh: Windows 8, Metro and Desktop

First I’ll say that every PC I use these days is running Windows 8.1.  That’s my home desktop, laptop, Surface RT, and work PC.

Windows 8 is actually very good on the tablet form factor.  It’s fine on PCs if you’re wanting to stick to the new Metro style apps.

But it’s horrible when mixing desktop and Metro apps.  This seems to be compounded further when you’re running a multiple monitor rig.  Since many people complain about Windows 8 in general without offering specifics, I thought I would.

IE Stops Streaming

So here I am doing some work in Visual Studio or Lightroom. I’d like to stream something to listen to and watch, so I fire up Internet Explorer (Metro).  I dock it on the side of a monitor and get back to work.  Everything’s going just fine, I can glance over and catch a peek. It’s really nice.

Until I need to launch another app, that is.  So I hit the Start button to bring up the Start Screen and BAM.  Audio and video pause.  I suspect it’s because MS didn’t add background audio capabilities to IE, but still… it’s EXTREMELY jarring and frustrating.

Metro Apps Disappear

Many times, it’s happening right now actually, I’ll have a couple Metro apps docked but will still be working on the desktop.  As soon as the desktop app gets focus, some (or all) of the docked apps disappear and leave the start screen background color.  That’s it.  So now I just have a gaping hole of blue. If I click on that hole, the Metro app re-appears.  Give focus back to the desktop app and it disappears once again.

I don’t think it’s a driver issue, but then again I’m running all NVidia displays.  Anyone else experience this?

What’s Going to Happen?

When I want to open or close a Metro app, what happens next feels non-deterministic.  I can never guess where an app will open, what will replace the screen when it closes, etc..  On my Surface, my resolution doesn’t support 3 simultaneous running Metro apps, so I get prompted about which to replace. On my desktops, the new app starts full-screen and I have to move it somewhere.  The result is before launching an app I have to pause and recall which machine I’m on so I can prepare for what will happen (or if I should launch it to begin with given the screen/resolution limitations).

Sometimes after closing and app, I expect the Start Screen to re-appear, but it’ll just be replaced with a blank canvas, forcing me to hit the Start button (keyboard or lower left hotspot) to bring the Start Screen back.

And why, oh why, if I’m on the desktop and launch a Metro app am I not taken back to the desktop if I dock that app somewhere? After docking it somewhere, I’m taken back to the Start screen.  I just noticed this happens regardless of the starting point (Desktop or other Metro app).  Don’t make me remember what I was in before launching the new app, just take me right back there.  It’s ridiculous.

Did I Mention Multiple Monitors is just Weird?

Over the course of writing this, I have a situation where I have the desktop showing on one half of my left monitor and one half of the right monitor (full-screen metro app in between).  You can drag a window “behind” the metro apps, to the other sides.  It’s just really strange and unnatural feeling.

What am I Missing?

So these are my main gripes, coming from someone who uses Windows 8 daily and in multiple form factors.  Hopefully more is done to fix these in upcoming releases, but I’m not holding my breath.

Anyone have any other specific complaints?


The Cascade Tree is No More

The tree I have called the Cascade Tree (after the rural road it is on) is no more.


I have no idea what it was about this tree, but many times while driving back from shooting at the lake I’d stop and give it some lens time too.  I always liked how the road looked like it was swerving around it, like it was worth going around rather than destroying.

The Cascade Tree

We drove down the road this evening, and it’s gone.

Just Crop

It has been a while since I’ve been out in the evenings to take photos.  I took David with me and we headed to Sangchris Lake, in hopes of a good looking sky and/or sunset.

Sadly, the sun slowly dimmed without a show.  I didn’t come away with much, around 30 shots in total.  One of the best looking shots was just so full of so much *bleh* sky.


Ah, but go with a non-standard crop and it looks so much better!  This one is growing on me.

My Painful Experience with Microsoft Surface Support

This all started when my Surface RT’s screen cracked. I was using the device just minutes before picking it up and finding the screen shattered – I still have no idea what happened, but that is besides the point.

I briefly chatted with support,who explained the cost. They agreed to take a look at it and determine if it was my fault, and if so they were supposed to call me to authorize repair. $300, fyi.

While setting up the service, they ran into a problem which took a day to clear up. My device, a prior replacement due to video-out problems, was marked as an Enterprise device which apparently causes problems.

So I sent my Surface in, and waited for a call. And waited, and waited. A little over a week later, my device arrived back at the house.

With a letter explaining it was my fault and instructions on how to setup service.

And to top it off, they applied numerous little sticker arrows pointing to the cracks. As if I didn’t know the problem!


After another round of support, I sent it off AGAIN. It was mailed on May 9th and delivered on the 13th. Repair is supposed to take 8-10 business days.

It has now been 12 business days, the status online hasn’t even acknowledged they received it, my Escalation Engineer says there is an “internal issue” preventing them from shipping, all I am told is “we are sorry”, and there is absolutely no ETA.

For all I know, I won’t have this thing back by Christmas.

Why, Microsoft?

Or, rather: Why Microsoft?

Nice way to treat your early adopters.

Update 5/31/2013:

At the behest of @surface, I emailed my Customer Care Advocacy Specialist last night, asking for more information.  I just received a response:

Dear Eric:

We have received your device, but the internal issue is preventing us from processing your device. Since we can’t process your device there are limitations to shipping a replacement. I understand this issue isn’t providing the best customer experience and I am deeply apologetic for that. However, I assure you were doing everything we can to get this issue resolved as quickly as possible.

So Microsoft is holding my Surface in limbo.  It sounds like they’re just going to ship a replacement, but are waiting to fix an internal issue before doing so.  Excuse me?  You can’t send a replacement and fix your problem on your own time?  Seriously?

I don’t think this is how you’re supposed to act when you’re getting your butt kicked in a market you showed up 3 years late to.

Update 2, 5/31/2013:

Yay, an official mention of no ETA:

Unfortunately, I don’t have an ETA when this issue will be resolved, and our system is setup to receive an item and then ship a replacement.

I understand my apologies are becoming redundant but I do apologize for this inconvenience and want this issue resolved for you as soon as possible. I am doing everything I can.

Thank you for your continued patience.

I think I sense sarcasm in that last line.


Update 6/5/2013:

Today I finally received my replacement Surface.  Thanks for taking your sweet time, Microsoft.  Here’s to hoping nobody else has to deal with that.