Although I’ve been using Outlook since June ‘13, I was never sold on it. I love the MS Office suite, but never really warmed up to Outlook. Thunderbird/Lightening worked a bit more seamlessly with my Gmail contacts and Google calendar, and I prefer the easy way Thunderbird handles junk mail with a simple click of a flame icon. Outlook had way too many steps to make it learn what is junk and what isn’t.
Although I did find a workaround to get Outlook to synch my contacts with Gmail, it was easy to find a fix with a Thunderbird plugin. I had to do a Google search to find an assortment of fixes (most of them weren’t free, but I did find one that was and worked well). Getting my calendar to synch with my Google calendar in Outlook was easy, but I would have to pay to be able to get a bi-directional fix. Since I use my phone and the web calendar when scheduling, it wasn’t that big a deal.
Despite dealing with the crappy way Outlook learns about junk mail, I was using it. I mean, it’s part of the Office suite, so why not use it. It wasn’t that awful…until I got the new computer.
So I set up the new computer, get all the fixes for Outlook to work the way I want and suddenly my sent mail doesn’t synch with my e-mail MAPI server. I called my server host only to have them tell me that it’s an Outlook issue. So I Googled the problem and found a fix that didn’t really work, and then Googled some more. I then found out that a lot of people who upgraded to Windows 8.1 are having the same problem. It has to do with Windows 8.1 and MAPI servers. Yeah, it’s a bit over my head, and there didn’t seem to be a fix that would solve the problem. So I began to think about going back to my old friends Thunderbird & the Lightening plugin. It wasn’t until I read a few posts from people who reverted back to Thunderbird and said they had no problems that my mind was made up.
I have to say that once I had Thunderbird/Lightening configured, it was like seeing an old friend. Using the flame icon to remove junk mail was a breeze and made me realize how much I hated wading through context menus to do this one simple task. The problem with sent mail not being saved the sent mail folder was no longer an issue. All was good with my e-mail.
Although Lightening is working well with my Google calendars, I will have to say that I’m having a bi-directional problem with Lightening. I can view my calendars, but changing them via Lightening gives me errors. I don’t know if this is because of Windows 8.1, but I never had an issue with it on Windows 7. Hopefully it will get fixed or I can find out how to fix it.
The time came to finally say goodbye to my beloved Windows 7 and say hello to Windows 8.1. Although it was exciting to get a new computer, I was slightly hesitant to dive into the new UI because of some of the negative reviews I’d read.
I can say that setup was a breeze and that there’s a bit of a learning curve, even for a tech enthusiast like myself. Changing the wallpaper was easy, but it took some swiping around and a Google search to figure out how to change the background on my lock screen. It also took a bit to figure out that the power button was hidden under Settings in the charms bar. Another hurdle I had was finding my programs on the start screen once they were installed. And yes, I felt very stupid once I figured out they were a simple upward swipe from the bottom of the screen.
I like how Microsoft incorporated the new ribbons into Windows 8.1. If you use Office, using the ribbon in the folders is intuitive. If you don’t use Office, it might take some hunting to figure out how to view the ribbon. I also have to give Microsoft kudos for making it easy to show file extensions for the old time users like myself. I’ll never understand why people wouldn’t want to show file extensions, but I’m old school.
So, once I had everything configured to meet my needs, I had to figure out that damn start screen. The first few times I looked at it, it felt kind of gimmicky, then I started to think of it as the home screen on my Android phone and tablet and it clicked, this is all the information you want to see when you first turn your computer on. So I started to move tiles around, resize some and remove others. I set up a tile to keep track of my stocks, one to display my Google calendar (I had to go to the Windows Store for the free Google app), show my Photos, Facebook, etc… The other section was for work, so it has my Adobe CC apps, Office apps, my business folder, etc… I’m telling you, if you give the start screen some thought, it will be your friend. Customization is a simple tap and hold, just like on your phone.
Now that I’ve been working with Windows 8.1 for about a week, I have to say that I really like it. I’m glad that I spent a little extra and got a touch screen, which is where computing is going anyhow, and it really didn’t take all that long to figure out where everything is.
The new Windows is very different. I like where it’s going and am more than willing to go along for the ride. It’s not going to win me over to a Windows phone, but I’m getting used to the start screen and find myself using it more and more every day. I now wonder how long it will be before we say goodbye to the desktop portion of Windows.