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Windows 8.1’s user-hostile backup story (edandersen.com)
94 points by edandersen on Sept 15, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 137 comments


I have given 8 a shot. You know what I've decided? That Microsoft's ideas on UI design are about as good as their ideas on advertising (i.e. head-scratching at best and migrane inducing at worst)

I'm serious. Whoever the genius was that decided that swipes on a laptop trackpad should behave the same way as on a tablet (in this case, switching applications) should be shot, and the corpse fired. Yes, I know this can be disabled. The fact that it's on, and the default, is the problem. (If you're wondering what the problem is, it's that there's no difference from a "swipe" gesture and just moving your mouse from left to right across the pad)

Same with the whole start screen business which has been discussed ad nauseum elsewhere. Suffice to say, its information density is low, its disruption to whatever you're doing is high.

And then there's this Microsoft account malarky that they shove down your throat at every other turn. I 'm already using an OS which more likely than not has backdoors for the TLAs, made by a company that admits they give new vulnerabilities to said TLAs before fixing them. I am sure as HELL not going to make logging onto my system reliant on some random cloud service!

Whatever tangible benefits 8 has over 7 do not at this point tilt the cost/benefit ratio enough in that direction for me to shell out the roughly ~$1000 it would cost to up(down?)grade my 7 enterprise infrastructure.


I really wish you'd get a real account that isn't dead. It's impossible to respond to you.

> I'm serious. Whoever the genius was that decided that swipes on a laptop trackpad should behave the same way as on a tablet (in this case, switching applications) should be shot, and the corpse fired.

Yes, they should be. Then, you should uninstall the custom trackpad driver that does that, because that's not a built-in gesture. That was probably added by Synaptic, or the OEM of your laptop, and you should disable the gesture and probably let the OEM know that including that gesture was insane.

The rest of your complaints are, well, I think they're overstated, but I can't argue with how using the OS "feels" to someone. If you think it feels poorly done, me telling you your feelings are wrong is not going to get us anywhere. But at least factually, you should know that some of your assertions might be rooted in what OEMs have done to add crap to Windows 8.

Tested this on vanilla Win8. Swiping from "beyond" the right edge of the trackpad to ~1cm left from the right edge opens the Charms menu (same thing as Win+C shortcut or doing the same gesture on the touchscreen). Similar results (app switching) happen when swiping from the left edge.

This is a built-in Win8 feature, not a custom driver feature. The gesture recognition is quite decent though, so I've never had these gestures activate accidentally.

It sounded like the author was referring to a (very real) feature of Synaptic trackpads that performs app switching via the trackpad.

I just installed Win 8.1 on my 2006 Dell e1505 laptop, and while it performs admirably (1gb of RAM!) I was surprised to find that the trackpad gestures were not in fact baked in.

Well you must agreed we should credit Microsoft on at least one thing...the third party driver install process from Windows Update is so smooth even Scence_Cast2 wasn't aware it happened.

>>Yes, they should be. Then, you should uninstall the custom trackpad driver that does that, because that's not a built-in gesture.

How many people are going to be able to: 1)diagnose the problem(the driver) 2) figure out they need a new driver 3) find a driver for the bundled hardware that will work the way they want(assuming it exists) 4) uninstall the bundled driver 5) install the new one

If something isn't easily fixable for 99% of computer users its broken because they don't even know where to start.

The same thing is wrong with the backup solutions microsoft has. They are all either 1) are too heavy weight and brittle or 2) do nothing useful. People aren't going to take the time to go install third party full system backup software when it isn't clear it will even work for them and they don't know how it will work when they need to recover something. It is just another thing they have to manage on their computer.

Compare that to Time Machine. It usually just works, and when it doesn't it is better than nothing. Plus people understand exactly how it works. Lost something? Go Star Wars! Simple and effective.

I almost completely agree, but no one seems amenable to the idea that Microsoft should be able to forbid vendors from customization of the computers they sell; some even think it would renew DOJ scrutiny.

As it is, the best way for users to buy a device with a Microsoft OS is probably the Microsoft Store, because they forbid those same customizations.

because apple is much better.

its not even a new os launch... and you still cant star a download or compile, close you laptop and move to another cubicle.

have to walk around with the damn screen on.

and not even complaining about defaults. there is no way to turn that sleep on closed lid feature.

and a few decades to have second mouse click...

there is no way to turn that sleep on closed lid feature.

Are you even trying? The first google result I clicked on has a way to do it: http://osxdaily.com/2012/02/10/run-macbook-with-lid-closed-w...

(And what does "star a download" mean?)

everyone actally suggests caffeine app or something... but anyway, im pretty sure there are custom shells for windows that work around several annoyances with the price of ...well, having extra applications doing what your expensive os should be doing.

anyway, im just flamming here. thankfully im not subject to either of those.

Should be "start a download".

8.1 also heavily pushes logging on with a Microsoft Account. 8.0 had a small print option to use a local account but that is gone now and you have to submit a bad email/password combo 3 times before it gives in and lets you setup a local account.

I'll stick to a local account per machine thanks very much. Would rather not have MS holding the keys on whether I can logon to my own machine or not, nor give them free big data for onselling to marketers.

> you have to submit a bad email/password combo 3 times before it gives in and lets you setup a local account.

Ike. That's horrible. Who in the world thought that hiding a standard user account would be a good idea?

Someone who will retire in 12 months.

That's a lie. It doesn't do that.

I just installed it about 5 minutes ago. On the "setup your account" screen, there is no option for a local account. You must login or create a new account. Now, once you go to create a new account, there's a low-contrast option at the bottom to skip this step.

I think I'm fairly computer savvy, but had I not searched on how to bypass this, I probably would have set up an MS account. For "normal" people, I'd say this will be extremely effective at increasing their "conversion" to Microsoft Accounts.

It's extremely hostile.

This is only true of the public beta. It bothered me as well when I tried it out, but after a few searches I found that the RTM will still have local accounts. I assume the decision was made to keep in contact with the beta testers or something, but my hotmail account is a glorified spam catcher at this point, so I've never bothered to check.

[1] http://news.softpedia.com/news/Windows-8-1-Preview-Won-t-Sup... (This isn't the article I read back then, but it's the first thing I found when I just searched.)

I just installed using the MSDN "RTM" version, not the preview. The option is there, it's just intentionally hidden, and the first page gives zero indication it's possible to use a local account. You have to start the MS Account creation step, then at the bottom of the screen you'll see the option to skip.

Not true. Total FUD.

you click create account, then select local account at the bottom.

Enterprise edition also doesn't prompt for a Microsoft account.

>you click create account, then select local account at the bottom.

Sounds like something Douglas Adams wrote. It is not _total_ FUD, it's confusing, and it's obvious Microsoft wants to hide that option and force most users into using an MS Account.

Edit: Oh, then if you create a new account, again, way at the bottom, in low-contrast text, is "Sign in without a Microsoft account (not recommended)". Clicking that takes you to a screen full of text, telling you how MS accounts are better. The default selection on that page is "Microsoft account". You must again click Local account to actually continue.

I installed the RTM x64 Pro version in a VM a few days ago and it did not have an option for local account. I had to Google around to find out how to bypass it. After installation, when you create additional accounts, it does give you the option to use local.

Just disconnect internet during installation.

(and under most cases during installing an OS, the internet is not avaliable)

You're right that this is a good option for people who care, but most won't bother. Windows 8.1 will have most drivers for ethernet and wireless cards which means that the majority of people will be connecting to the Internet before creating a user account. This is a very good strategy for Microsoft to maximize the number of Windows installations connected to their online services. A marketing or sales person would spin this around and say that it's good for users because they'll get to experience Windows connected to the cloud without having to jump through any hoops after installation.

It gives you the option to create a local account on installation regardless. You have to follow my instructions which were discovered in about 20 seconds.

I've done this on two network connected physical machines and a VM.

Like i said this is all FUD from emotional people who just want upvotes for shitting on Microsoft for not noticing the damn option.

For reference, it's documented as well.

True. I did it twice on two different installs in the last few days for 8.1 Pro RTM - upgrading from 8.0 which had local account. Both times I looked very hard to create a local account.

Here is a blog describing how to get around it for preview but he describes exactly my experience for RTM. http://www.infobyte.hr/blog/337/windows-8-1-preview-how-to-i...

note: I'm talking about the install process. not in the OS UI after install.

oh i see what you are saying - you create account at the spot where they are asking you to logon. I never clicked that as I have several accounts. Still it is very hostile UI as is pointed out. I'm not making up fud and if you look at my profile I'm no karma whore.

That small print to use a local account from 8.0 was moved one extra click away to the page you get on when you click on the button to register a new Microsoft Account in 8.1.

So it's still there but you have to really look for it.

Still sounds like Microsoft using Dark Patterns on their paying customers.

> free big data for onselling to marketers.

What user data has microsoft ever sold to anyone? Maybe they have.. I just dont recall any specific instance which didn't turn out to be clickbait FUD.

Not big data in a personally identifiable sense - but big data in aggregated advertising market data:

At install, all options on this screen were defaulted to on http://imgur.com/RP4UNhG Note the "Let apps use my Advertising ID for experiences across apps" option. Also let apps access "other account info"...what info is that?

Windows 8.1 Smart Search now renders Bing ads into the search results - so ads brought onto your desktop - not just in the browser experience http://www.pcworld.com/article/2043518/windows-8-1-smart-sea...

some snippets I found in the T&C's linked from Windows 8.1 RTM (even the the document still says preview)


Windows Search also sends an identifier to provide personalized search results based on your interactions withBing and other Microsoft products and services.

If you sign in to Windows with aMicrosoft account, the identifier will be associated with your Microsoft account.

If you allow Windows Search to use your location, the physical location of your device as provided by the Windows Location Platform will be sent to Microsoft as a part of each search request. Alternatively, we may attempt to derive your approximate physical location based on your IP address.

If you choose to use Windows Search to get web search results, we use the search term you have provided, your local and online search history, information associated with yourMicrosoft account, and the location of your device to provide relevant search suggestions, personalized search results, and personalized experiences in other Microsoft products and services

You can also clear your search history and turn off personalized search results for WindowsSearch in Search in Search & apps in PC settings. This clears your local search history and instructs Microsoft not to use any previously collected search history stored byBing that’s used to personalize your WindowsSearch experience. It does not delete information that is used by Microsoft in aggregate to improve search results and otherMicrosoft experiences. That information is retained and anonymized

chrome OS is the best modern next generation OS - it forces u to login with a google account and it provides all the benefit because of that (sync of data/setting seemless setup/better prediction using google now etc..)....Windows 8 how dare you ask u to login with a account that can provide you the same sync capabilities and benefits.. we want you remove it so we can bash you for not keeping up with modern cloud capabilities and chaining us to old WinXP way of not providing all these functionalities that a modern OS should provide... </s>

There's a reason a lot of people haven't bought ChromeOS devices. Further, there's a reason that many who have then installed Linux.

Totally irrelevant. Windows isn't a cloud OS and the behavior is changed. And, it's much more likely that people want a local account.

The really sad part is that at least somebody at Microsoft once knew how backup was supposed to work. Windows Home Server backed up every Windows machine in your house over the network to the central server. It was a bare metal recovery type differential backup, the backups were aged rationally, and the machines were woken up in the middle of the night to perform the backup, but laptops would only do this if they were plugged into AC so you wouldn't wake up a laptop in a suitcase and drain the battery and burn up the machine because it had no cooling airspace. It was pretty damn perfect (OK, a couple of minor issues), one of the best products Microsoft has ever produced.

So of course they screwed up the next version so bad that all the OEMs dropped their products that were based on it and Microsoft killed the product.

I was burned on more than one occasion by the "RAID" disk volume getting corrupted. As much as I liked Windows Home Server, I was really hoping the next release would have improved their drive volume manager, rather than just killing off the product.

I truly don't understand what MS finds so hard about backup. What people want is so simple and obvious - a separate copy of all their files, preferably their whole system image, somewhere else. And yet every version of Windows seems to screw around with it. I remember Vista came out and I thought a great way to migrate would be to do a full system backup and then I could restore back the personal files I wanted onto Vista. Nope - the backup system totally changed, the utiltity to restore files didn't even ship with Vista! I was left to manually use an old XP computer to extract and copy files across from my backup image.

Then Win7 came and I started using the backup option there. But even with the full drive image I didn't quite trust it, so I also made intermittent backups using Macrium Reflect which creates a low level image of each partition. So then came the day when my wife chose the "recover my pc" from the boot menu and wiped everything. "No problem!" I thought, I will just Google how to restore a full system image to bare metal. Imagine my shock to discover that this is not a feature of Windows backup. Unless you make a "recovery disk" using a CD (this computer did not have a CD drive), you cannot reinstall a full system image!? So I installed from the Macrium partition image and it delightfully brought back our system in a matter of minutes.

I've never been able to work out if this consistent incompetence is by design (to keep the industry of alternative backup solutions alive and avoid accusations of monoply / antitrust) or if they have some strategic or tactical reason to make sure noboby on windows manages to back up their computers (hey, 20% of all users who corrupt their hard drive just buy a new computer!)

Whatever the reason, it is exacty this sort of thing that is driving regular consumers away from Windows and into the arms of Apple. I hope MS figures it out, because I am not fond of Apple either.

Random question: What would be a good backup option for Windows? Even Windows 7's backup option was often unusable, failing backups with strange errors or taking two days to complete so I'm not too sad to see it gone completely. I'm just missing a useful alternative. File History is nice for accidentally lost files, but for restoring a working state of the machine there are probably better options.

I work for KeepVault Online Backup and we've heard similar feedback from customers regarding Windows built-in backup solution.

Our software provides both local and cloud-based backup. If you only need local backup to an external, you can sign up for a free KeepVault trial account and use the local backup forever. KeepVault Pro also provides versioning, so a file corruption or deletion isn't going to wipe your backups.

KeepVault backups are also fully encrypted end-to-end and incremental.


For a purely local backup (I rsync my NAS to a datacenter myself) KeepVault seems unnecessarily complicated, as I have to get an account and I cannot seem to make a local backup to a network share/drive (I only see local drives in the selection).

I went through a number of Windows backup solutions to find one that worked for my Dad, and in the end the one that we were the most happy with was Genie Timeline. It works quite similar to Time Machine on OSX, and includes both system restore and continuous incremental file backup, which were the criteria I was looking for.

I've been using ShadowProtect for several years. It's really great; I have it set to run a complete incremental backup every 15 minutes, and those backups usually take less than 30 seconds with no impact on system performance.

I wrote about it in some detail previously:


Something like backup part of now dead Windows Home Server, sold as a backup appliance a-la Time Capsule would be awesome backup option for windows.

Crashplan and Backblaze are popular online backup solutions. Either will allow you to backup your entire boot partition, or just your user folder.

I am staying on 7 as long as I can. I get the impression that 7 is the new XP.

I've been a happy windows users for a long time, but 7 will probably be my last windows OS - and not because I want to go elsewhere, they are actively pushing me away.

It really hurts to see that after so many years of searching itself microsoft finally got things right again with 7 and made a great OS, only for them to throw it all away in the hopes of trying to do a OSX-like thing which ended up being subpar, unsurprisingly, and on top of it most of their regular desktop lovers such as me hate them for it.

There were people who shared your opinion about XP->Vista. Then 7 came out many of those people were happy to go from XP->7. So, I doubt 7 will be your final Windows OS... If they haven't pissed you off enough to move yet, you'll likely end up using Windows 9.

There is a big difference though in my opinion: vista was disliked because it lacked polish on pretty much every single thing (the uac spamming you all the time, features that were outright broken, etc ... it wasn't that I disliked the features, but rather that they didn't work and acted against me), and 7 was in a lot of a way a great polish on top of vista. Call it going the last 10 percent.

My dislike of windows 8 however is not on broken features but on the paradigm changes they made. I don't want to focus on one app fullscreen at a time, or be always connected and sync'ed, or use my computer as a tablet, that sort of things.

But let's be honest, if microsoft can pull a 7 with windows 9, I'm all for it and will eat my own words.

I saw an early review of Windows 8 that described it as an excellent advertisement for Windows 9. Every one of my customers (I do IT support in a rural area) has told me they hate Windows 8. One of my biggest jobs is getting hold of legal Win 7 installation disks for them. Me, I don't hate it as much as I did at first, but I'm still happier using Ubuntu.

Windows 7 will be the last good "desktop OS" from Microsoft. They're going to completely kill the desktop mode in future versions, slowly but surely. They will turn it into DOS, where the desktop is but a fading "app", and will bury it deep inside the Metro mode. I'm almost certain they will do this.

There are rumors that with Windows 10 and beyond they will also try to turn Windows's license model into a subscription model, which will completely kill Windows for just about any "regular consumer", and will turn it into a mostly enterprise OS, because only the enterprise customers will (probably) agree to that kind of model.

Consumers already believe Windows is "free" with their laptop purchase, and that they don't have to pay anything else after that. A subscription model will be a huge turn off for consumers, not matter how little it costs (even $1 per month).

We can only hope that before Windows 7 gets too long in the tooth, Ubuntu or some other multi-OEM OS (Android? Chrome OS?) will become popular enough in the mainstream, and mature enough, to make it a viable alternative five years down the road (I think they will be).

Unlikely. Metro software is extremely thin on the ground, and there's no indication that this is changing in the near term. Microsoft has a long, long history of goofball widget UIs (Active Desktop, Sidebar Gadgets, Metro, various Shell plugin technologies, and to a lesser extent MMC and control panel applets). Each in turn has had its moment in the sun before being marginalized or removed outright.

And by that time, if you're right and people actually jump ship, they'll be using something else (either Windows 7 or Linux IMO) and will demand that at their company.

So, Microsoft is taking enormous risks in all the markets: mobile, desktop, consoles... Well, they still have Office going well I suppose. For now.

They really do seem to have jumped the shark and it makes me wonder whether I'll still be using Windows at home and coding in the Windows stack in a few years.

The problem is that they are actively removing excellent features from 7. Not sprucing them up or adapting them to their cloud strategy - just outright removing them.

What has been removed from Windows 7?

A decent backup system that rivaled Time Machine (replaced with "File History" nonsense).

Loads more listed here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_features_removed_in_Win...

If you think that Win7 backup rivals TM, did you ever try to restore from it?

- The interface is lying. Last time I had 'system image' checkbox enabled and it only kept the totally useless image of the last backup, probably only a few hours back in the backup itself. All the other images were just stored locally.

- The pre installation environment used for restoring has barely any network drivers - you need to somehow come up with your own CD or USB drive for providing your network drivers, often needing to extract the right ones out of some subfolders that you draw from an unzipped setup.exe, since manufacturers nowadays often don't offer them separately anymore.

- The interface for logging in to your network drive is totally bugged. If you get a network error you will only recognize after you've hand-typed the location, user account and password (on different windows).

It's a total mess.

Yay someone else who had actually used it. This is the same experience i had which is why I'm glad they removed it and promote that fact in other posts.

On the other hand I have to say it's still better to have some sort of backup system, rather than bundling a synch and miscalling it a backup.

One thing I don't get in this whole ordeal though: Doesn't Skydrive store previous versions and deleted items like Dropbox (I've never used it)? From experiences with Dropbox it's still not what I'd call a backup (too much can go wrong when synching), but I at least expect it to preserve versions and deleted items, such that in normal operation one can undo everything. If MS has omitted that I really don't understand what they're thinking.

SkyDrive's Recycle Bin stores files until you run out of space or until 30 days is up. So you might randomly be able to recover a deleted file.

That list reads more like a changelog than a list of removed features. For example:

> The Aero Glass theme is replaced by a new theme with a flatter visual appearance in line with the Metro design language. Aside from the taskbar, the new theme uses fewer transparency effects than the previous Glass theme.

In other words, unattractive, resource-intensive, usability damaging transparency effects are out and simple, efficient, usable flat design is in.

>unattractive, resource-intensive, usability damaging

Subjective, compared to what, subjective

> simple, efficient, usable flat design is in.

subjective, subjective, subjective.

I don't know where this utterly moronic "flatten ALL THE THINGS" design meme comes from, but I wish it would die in a fire.

Flat UI, at least Microsoft's implementation of it, has a great deal of fail about it. It's hard to tell what's clickable and what's not, things are not organized in a logical or easy to reach manner, and on and on.

Have a look at this if you have about 20 minutes to spare. Someone goes into a great deal of depth on the 8 UX: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTYet-qf1jo

The biggest obstacle that tech journalist faced was his own perceptions on how Windows should work. I'll admit that when I started using Windows 8 during the CTP, I had concerns about the UX for most of the same reasons he mentioned, but I took the time to learn how the designers intended me to use the system before I took the plunge. What is interesting to me, is that most of the complaints he talked about were introduced in Windows 7 and even Vista - press the Windows keyboard button and type to search. That was the recommended way to start applications in Vista since the Start menu could be rearranged simply by installing applications. Want to open the Control Panel, [Win] + "control panel". This of course is a problem for everyone who has learned how to use a Windows computer since the Windows 95 era, and can't be bothered to learn new tricks, but as a tech journalist, was this really outside his abilities to learn? Windows 8 and 8.1 (I haven't tried the RTM release yet) are designed to favor a new class of touch enabled devices. Swipe down from the top of the screen to close Windows 8 applications. Swipe in from the right to show the Charms bar. Swipe in from the left to bring up the task switcher. These metaphors have a much more strict design language than previous versions of Windows. Printing is always* in the Charms bar under devices. It has a consistency beyond what Windows has offered in the past. The only problem I have with Windows 8 and 8.1 is the Desktop mode. *Printing in Desktop applications doesn't follow the same convention as the Windows 8 applications use; you don't use the Charms bar, you fall back to legacy patterns such as File -> Print, or [Ctrl]-p. Ripping the band-aid off quickly would have worked better because then everyone would have adopted the new interface out of necessity. Instead, users are forced to compare them side by side on a daily basis, doing little to wean users off the legacy interface. Coming from legacy Windows to Windows 8 presents some challenges, but approaching Windows 8 with new eyes, on a device designed to use this OS from the start, like a Surface RT, there is so much they got right. It is a shame that Windows 8 is holding users back more than it is ushering in a new era of computing. Microsoft would have been better off if Windows 8 was simply about touch... maybe call it something other than Windows, like Microsoft Touch, and then had left Windows 7 to run legacy apps only. Even something like Windows 7's XP compatibility mode that launched from a card would have been better than making users think that the Desktop was a shipping part of the OS. I can certainly appreciate that Microsoft's management didn't want to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs, but that goose is dying and we'd be better off if it went quickly.

Holy crap man, paragraphs are a good thing.

The biggest obstacle that tech journalist faced was his own perceptions on how Windows should work.

You mean, like it's worked for the last 10+ years? You don't jettison a decade of muscle memory and UI conventions on a whim. At least with 3.1 -> 95 it was more or less obvious that the changes were a step forward.

With their behavior in 8, the desktop UX, where real people are getting real work done, is made a second class citizen to the touch UX, which is primarily consumption oriented.

I think that, behind all the aesthetic complaints, is where a lot of the animus comes from.

The point being made is that those features have been removed from 8 and not from 7.

> The problem is that they are actively removing excellent features from 7.

... is a little ambiguous in reply to a comment saying they will stay on 7.

To be honest I am not seeing a lot of "excellent features" there. Except for the UI changes the rest seem to be mostly small miscellaneous stuff and some of them for the better.

Me too, and I never thought I'd be one of those people.

I can't believe that Microsoft would be so irresponsible for propagating the myth that file mirroring is the same as file backup! What an absolute recipe for disaster.

Yea this blog is wrong because they just removed the backup GUI. You can do a backup and image using powershell commands just like past Windows versions.

That's still user-hostile. Don't get me wrong, as a Windows sysadmin I love Powershell and use it daily to accomplish various tasks. I have no problem with rolling my own scheduled powershell script to perform a backup, but if if I have to write a script to back up my data I'm not actually using a 'built in system utility' so much as I'm .. y'know, writing a script to back up my files.

That's fine. As per windows since 2.0, you can copy files to another disk then using the GUI.

The GUI for system image is back in the final RTM version http://winsupersite.com/windows-8/windows-81-tip-use-system-... (also confirmed by multiple friends already on RTM)

Can also confirm. It's just like in 8.0 - lower left corner of the backup dialog.

This doesn't automatically do it on a schedule.

Can't really comment as I'm still on 8.0. For me it's enough that it's still there and can be scheduled as a PowerShell command (for files history I use Crashplan anyway) but I agree that if this is the case, it's pretty much hostile for consumer users.

Well spotted - http://www.howtogeek.com/167984/how-to-create-and-restore-sy.... Doesn't cover non-image backups of individual files and folders though.


That doesn't handle versioning.

Shadow copies, archive bit?

How do they get away with including SkyDrive in the OS without having companies like Dropbox up in arms? Maybe that's why they're calling it backup, since backup is arguably part of an operating system and has existed (albeit in other forms) on previous versions of Windows.

How do Apple get away with including iCloud in the OS without having companies like Dropbox up in arms? And they do call it "sync".

Apple can do what it likes because it's not using an existing monopoly to create another monopoly. That's the issue with Windows.

Microsoft used it's monopoly with Windows to edge out competitor browsers and practically killed Netscape's business. When you have a monopoly, there are special laws that apply only to you so you don't abuse the market.

I'm pointing out that it seems like MS is using its monopoly with Windows to edge out the Dropbox service.

That is extraordinarily incorrect.

Apple can be prosecuted under the same exact anti-trust laws as Microsoft, regardless of market-share, if they've managed to cause harm per the government's findings.

Using a quasi-monopoly to create another quasi-monopoly is not illegal. Owning a quasi-monopoly is also not illegal.

I find people are often extremely confused about anti-trust law and the actual laws (and relative lack thereof) related to monopolies.

Microsoft is not operating under a government consent decree any longer.

Microsoft using Windows to compete with Dropbox is not inherently illegal. It has absolutely nothing to do with market-share, it has to do with whether the government, on a case-by-case basis, decides that a company's actions caused harm, and it is purely a subjective decision.

Anti-trust law, I'll note, does not specifically or exclusively govern monopolies. The majority of anti-trust cases that have been brought forward by the government have nothing to do with monopolies.

In what instance would Apple be in danger under these laws? Regarding their desktop OS.

Why restrict them to the Desktop OS only? They've been very anticompetitive on the Mobile front.

Ah, yes. I was referring primarily to their desktop operating system because they have nothing close to a monopoly there. In regards to their iOS devices, I can see a case being made but Android still has a much larger market share than iOS.

Bigger thing is how iOS has only one browser that can be default and how other browsers can never be as powerful as Apple's. how is apple getting away with it, despite MS being punished for just installing a browser in their OS. Yeah MS is more of a monopoly in desktops, but Apple monopolizes iOS if we see it that way.

Every company "monopolizes" their own products - the problem for consumers begins when there's only one de facto product in a particular market (e.g. - desktop or smartphone OS). iOS is certainly not in that position in smartphone OS and it can be argued that Windows is no longer as dominant as it was during the antitrust trial.

Because ios isn't 90%+ of a single market is why. It only exists on apple devices.

It really isn't an apples to oranges comparison (no pun intended). It also comes up as a security reason, which it both is and isn't. You're skipping nuances of things here by equivocating a browser install in an os.

Because iCloud doesn't compete with Dropbox. It isn't file storage.

How do any of those companies always get away?

Europe, we're counting on you!

Just did a little research: Anyone who feels competition is being killed can actually let the EU commission know about is so they can correct any problems:


Dropbox allows you to recover past versions of files; does SkyDrive allow you to do the same?

Yes, this post is very misleading. SkyDrive features both a recycle bin for deleted files and a version history option to restore from a previous copy.

The version history option is only available for Office files (.docx, .xlsx etc.), plus even if it applied to all files a local backup can still be useful. Forcefully disabling local file history for SkyDrive simply doesn't make any sense... there's no technical reason for it, and it neither benefits the user nor Microsoft or anybody else.

Yep, I just tested with a simple txt file and the changes were not versioned. New modifications were made permanently without ability to go back to a prior version of the text file. It does support versioning for office docs as you stated though.

Thanks; in which case, SkyDrive is a backup.

Unless your MS account is shut down.

You can only recover past versions of Office documents. The "Recycle Bin" only stores items until it is full or for 30 days.

It can't be relied on, basically.

This article is idiotic: Cloud synchronisation is not backup. If you think that, you are a wally, despite the vendor's promises.

This is a new feature they have added that allows sync between devices. It doesn't stop any of the old ways of doing stuff from working other than windows backup which was a piece of shit that didn't work properly anyway.

Sync is always notoriously problematic at the best of times so YMMV always with that approach.

Realistically, most people just drag stuff to a USB stick periodically and that's good enough for backup. That's how it really works.

OP here, I think I said it several times that SkyDrive is not a backup system, despite MS trying to claim it is.

Like DropBox, SkyDrive contains a version history of your files, including a way to recover accidentally deleted ones. Did upgrading destroy the version history too?

Just because you said it several times, doesn't make it correct. SkyDrive is mirroring and backup - changes in skydrive are versioned, which means that if an unwanted change gets mirrored you can revert it.

If you read their terms and conditions they say it's not a backup system as well.

People really need to read the SLAs etc.

I think you might have missed the point of what the author was saying. Check out the screenshot he posted:


Notice it says that your files are "automatically backed up to the cloud"?

Yes i saw that. It's true, but its not a substitute for a backup setvice. If it was, they wouldn't have the discontinuation of service and disclaimers in their T&C.

But you can understand how people could confuse "automatically backed up" and 'automatic backup', right?

"Realistically, most people just drag stuff to a USB stick periodically and that's good enough for backup. That's how it really works."

Most of my friends and colleagues say 'what is a backup?' when I ask.

So a sync to a skydrive account may be better than what they have already, but I think the OA was saying that Win 8.1 could have made a genuine backup easier to do and less 'technical', thus improving data safety.

Instead the Microsoft people chose a different approach. The OA thinks that once people lose files because of an infection or corruption of storage, and if those files are synced large scale data loss will occur, and users will blame it on Skydrive.

The users always blame everyone else for their extreme ignorance. That's IT for you as a whole.

I am a user.

I understand your point, but as the OA was arguing, the changes may render the Windows 8 'brand' toxic.

It's not the user's fault when a service deletes their data off of their drives. Sync without version history is a terrible idea.

Edit: but apparently this article is wrong and skydrive does have version history?

The point is that the author agrees with you, except for the part where they disabled the old built-in backup functionality...

The problem is that the old backup solution was crappy anyway so I'm glad they removed it.

The basic options were:

1. System image backup. Backs up your fucked system with fucked files.

Oh that's it. Not very helpful.

As before, everyone just buys 3rd party backup software, sticks it on a USB stick or doesn't bother.

So the SkyDrive setup screen declares that it will 'back up files to the cloud' while it doesn't, and there is no reliable default back-up solution that ships with Windows 8.1. I'd say it isn't so much the article that's 'idiotic', but how little Microsoft seems to care about providing ways to keep your files safe if you're using Windows...

just gonna point out that skydrive has its own recycle bin and file history, so you can restore lost/damaged files using the skydrive site.

Good news.

How many versions are kept?

Is it possible to 'revert' all files or do you have to do that file by file?

Quite a few, 10+ for word documents at least. I have no idea if its possible to revert all files, that would be a good function to have in the interface.

Yes there is. You can copy files to another disk. Third time I've said that.

you don't need an app for that.

It's also the simplest solution that fits in the head space of a user.

Linux doesn't come with a backup app either. You have some tools (dump/tar/dd) from which you can build one or you buy one in (bacula, Amanda etc). Same with windows (powershell, vhd cmdlets etc).

I don't think anyone holds up Linux as the gold standard for simple, built-in, user friendly, GUI-based, system essential utilities, and holding it up as such seems like a bit of a strawman here. I believe the gold standard for the above is OSX's Time Machine, which most consumers would probably prefer over manually copying files (manually versioned files tend towards a total mess over time IMO).

Minus the GUI though, you can build something that's functionally equivalent to Time Machine, and it shouldn't take much more time than it takes to read `man rsync`.

> Linux doesn't come with a backup app either

False. Most linux distributions comes with free backup tools included in default installation.

A less computer literate friend called me and asked if I can help restore his file. He regularly backed up his work file by dragging it into a USB stick, until one time he dragged the wrong way!

He lost his recent work which was a big deal for him, as it was a whole chapter in a book he was writing that he believed turned out really well..

I suggested using Dropbox instead.

I neither use skydrive nor windows backup, but the article had good point, saying skydrive is not a backup option on their terms and conditions to avoid legal problems, but then saying it will backup your files in the user interface, which one do you think people will see most? I like a software when it clearly says its purpose and don't confuse its users

You want to back up your personal files, not your OS. How can an OS make backup user hostile? Write your files to several external disks that you keep in different places, and maybe some online service, and that's it.

So.... spend 5 bucks a month and get a real backup service?

I get that it's underhanded for Microsoft to call this backup when it's just sync.... but honestly, for 99% of people, that's better than the nothing they have now.

Seems like plain old upsale, a little similar to Apple's pricing for extra storage on iCloud.

I don't bother with backups on Windows or Mac since I made the wise decision to backup every computer, Mac or PC using Crashplan to NAS and cloud.

I would have once been mad with this Microsoft feature removal. However, I've come to realize than neither Microsoft's or Apple's backup solutions satisfactory for my needs. Time machine is arguably better... until it decides to stop working. Since I've been on CrahPlan, no problems on any computer. I've had one laptop that shorted since then and it was easy enough to recover my files.

Really, most Windows apps are bad at backup, and it's not Microsoft's fault. Even Thunderbird is bad at it - what's wrong with a menu item called "backup" and "restore"?

Most apps fail because they store crucial data in various undocumented directories, plus the system registry. Even worse, some like to store critical data in hidden directories.

Backing up an app and its data, and restoring, on Windows should be as simple as a single xcopy command.

Did anyone else find it disturbing how the dialog box telling you about SkyDrive tries to hide the fact that you don't actually need to use it by make the "Don't Use SkyDrive" button not a button but clickable text? The vast majority of users will not even see the clickable text, and of those who do, they'll think it's not clickable, ensuring that millions of people will sign up for the service, even if they don't want it.

I'm going hold off on Windows 8 for as long as I can. For now I'm sticking with OS X and time machine.

For those who've missed it: http://prism-break.org/ has a few alternative OSes.

Personally, I've been on Ubuntu for about 8 years. I have never regretted it. But the more time passes, the less I regret it, if you know what I mean.

Your trolling on every thread, injecting random 'ooh NSA' comments, is just not constructive. Practically everyone here is more aware of the situation than you are.

Yes, download a new OS and Tor. That'll surely protect the network layer between X and Y!!!

Are you smoking again?

What? What I'm talking about is getting your freedom back.

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