Microsoft Windows – Bargain Basement

Bargain Basement

PC sales are plummeting.

PC sales go OFF A CLIFF to under 300 million a year
Everybody went backwards – some by 20 per cent – during Q2

The PC market had a horror second quarter, according to new data from analyst outfits Gartner and IDC.

The Register – Simon Sharwood – 10 Jul 2015

Retailers and distributors have a mountain of unsold Windows 8 machines.

MOUNTAIN of unsold retail PCs piling up in Blighty: Situation ‘serious’
We’ll be burning them in fireplaces instead of coal

The Channel – Paul Kunert – 19th June 2015

And Windows 10 is being released at the end of July as a free upgrade.

It’s FREE WINDOWS 10 time: 29 July is D-Day, yells Microsoft
12 months of free downloads barely WEEKS away

Windows 10 will be coughed up by Microsoft on July 29, the company said on Monday morning – and Windows 7 and 8.1 users can reserve their free upgrade right now.

Gratis upgrades to Windows 10 are pegged to last for 12 months, as previously announced by Microsoft. That gives you until the end of July 2016 to claim them.

1 Jun 2015 at 10:12, Gavin Clarke

In other words: retailers are offering discounts just to shift stock.

My local electrical superstore in Malaga has a pile of boxed Lenovo G50-80s sitting on the floor which they are knocking out for a bargain basement price of €399 [USD 439, GBP 281] which is even cheaper than Amazon.

Lenovo G50-80

This is fortuitous because my ancient XP and Vista workhorses have been visibly suffering from the vapours and advanced old age this summer.

Therefore, I took the plunge.

The Lenovo hardware is stunning compared to my old creaking machines.

The Intel I3-4005U processor [running at 1.7 GHz] and 4GB of memory are more than adequate for my usage [even after Windows 8.1 has swallowed 1.4GB of memory and 20 GB of disk space].

Memory and Processor

The 1TB disk should keep me going for several more years and the [single] USB 3 port saves a lot of time [data transfers at 110 MB per second] whilst backing up data to an external hard disk.


The downside of this new machine is Windows 8.1, the installed malware and assorted crapware.

The first to go was Norton Anti-Virus, Adobe Air, Adobe Flash player and a trial version of some unknown product designed to read and create Adobe PDF files.

The most important additional element was downloading and installing Classic Shell.

Classic Shell

Classic Shell™ is free software that improves your productivity, enhances the usability of Windows and empowers you to use the computer the way you like it.

The main features are:

Highly customizable start menu with multiple styles and skins
Quick access to recent, frequently-used, or pinned programs
Find programs, settings, files and documents
Start button for Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10
Toolbar and status bar for Windows Explorer
Caption and status bar for Internet Explorer

Classic Shell has been in active development for 5 years and has over 25 million downloads.

The beauty of Classic Shell is that it can be configured to completely eliminate [from your day to day user experience] all the Kindergarten Tiles plus all the associated Ap Crap and Charms that Microsoft has been so busy developing over the last few years.

Quite to my surprise the move to Windows 8.1 can be about as annoying as moving from XP to Vista provided you are willing to spend some time customising Microsoft’s prize pig.

Microsoft have rearranged many of the deckchairs on the Titanic [and even hidden away some in dusty cupboards where they are hard to find] but with the aid of Classic Shell the overall experience is just about as annoying [and visually pointless] as any other version change of Windows in the last 20 years.

Windows 8

However, Windows 8.1 looks very washed out [and indistinct] and there is the risk that prolonged use may induce eye strain or [even] Snow Blindness.

Snow Blindness

The other downside is that some of the utilities [like File Explorer] have been downgraded by replacing the menus with horrible, clunky [tabbed] ribbons.

This means than many of the quick keyboard shortcuts are no longer available and if you operate on auto-pilot you may experience unintended consequences.

Windows Explorer

This also means you may experience mouse-ache as you traverse the widescreen searching out the appropriate ribbon icon to click upon.

There are, however, several features that are positively good in Windows 8.1.

The Windows Compatibility Mode means that even old programs [like Fireworks 4 – circa 2000] can probably be successfully installed on Windows 8.1.

Compatability Mode

A nice touch [thanks to competition from Android and Linux] is that Windows 8.1 enables users to change the installed default language [Spanish in my case] of Windows into English language Windows via the control panel [and associated language pack download].

Thus my Spanish sourced PC with a Spanish keyboard is happily displaying Windows in English.

Change your language or keyboard
Applies to Windows 8.1, Windows RT 8.1

You can use Windows in many languages. Here’s how to change the language and keyboard layout you use with different Windows, apps, and the Internet.

Language Settings

The start-up and shut-down functions are also faster but it isn’t clear how much of this improvement is associated with Windows rather than the greatly improved hardware.

Under the Hood Windows 8.1 [NT 6.3] is really just a fancy service pack for Vista [NT 6.0].

Unfortunately, any improvements Under the Hood are offset by the reduced keyboard functionality, the pale user interface and the thick layer of kindergarten lipstick [which can be removed using Classic Shell – or similar].

Basically, Windows 8.1 is just another huge mistake by Microsoft.

However, it may be worth considering buying a new Windows 8.1 machine [while they are cheap and plentiful] because the writing on the wall suggests Windows 10 will be even worse!

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1 Response to Microsoft Windows – Bargain Basement

  1. James says:

    I am running Ubuntu 14.04 on a Dell inspiron E1705 laptop from 2005. Last year I put in a 256 G solid state drive for $49.95.
    Solid state drives make this old Dell PC run fast, and I am using only 6.6Gig of the hard drive with the Ubuntu 14 installed. No windows bloat ware, no money to the Dark Lord or Redmond. So what if the old PC does not do touch screen stuff.

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