Goodbye Acer Aspire R7 and Windows 8. Come back when you’re ready!

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After playing around with the brand new Acer Aspire R7 running Windows 8 for quite some time, I have decided to return it. While I don’t want to spend the time on a full-fledged product review, I do want to share the highlights of WHY I made that decision.

Aspire R7:

What I like:

  • The flexibility of the screen. The “Ezel Hinge” is a nice and mostly practical idea. Even though I actually only used the mode where the screen would cover the touch pad to be a bit closer to touch. I rarely used the machine in tablet mode – way too heavy and clunky to be a tablet. And the ability to flip it around is something I simply don’t need.

What I don’t like:

  • The Wifi module is very weak. I couldn’t catch the signal in my office room at home. Show-stopper. Known problem according to Google.
  • The R7 they had on display at BestBuy had a broken Space bar. It would only work if you hit it on the left 30% of the bar. While I don’t see that problem on my own R7 yet, I fear it can only be a matter of time until it breaks there, too
  • When you touch on the screen in an editable area, the screen keyboard pops up. Every time. Even though the OS (and the device. by checking how the screen is positioned) knows that I am constantly using the physical keyboard. That’s annoying.

I really want to focus more on Windows 8, though, so here it comes:

What I like:

  • The tiles and general touch features of Windows 8 are nice when you use it like you use a tablet. That, however, is rare with a laptop.
  • Search. Hitting the Win key to get to the start screen and then just starting to type, plus the ability to search in various apps or pages (Amazon, eBay, Google, Bing, Apps, Store, Wikipedia, …) is nice.
  • That’s … about it

What I don’t like:

  • Touch doesn’t make sense in an office setup where you have the screen higher up and external keyboards and track pads/mouses, and where you use it 8 hrs/day. Touch, however, is awesome for occasional and hobby use. No doubt about that
  • Windows 8 is definitely “not quite there yet”.
  • The mix of the new full-screen, touch-optimized look with the “old-school” windows feels half-baked. When I learned about Win 8 and the idea to have one OS for smartphone, tablet, and laptop/PC, I considered that a good idea. Something that ultimately all OS vendors would steer towards. Now that I’ve used a touch OS on a laptop for a while, I have to take that back. Touch simply doesn’t make sense on a machine that you spend a lot of time on. It is tiring. It makes you slower, as the UI becomes simplified, which isn’t what you need with professional use.
  • Traditional apps that have grown in complexity while you grew with them, now have a simplified UI. You feel dumbed down. Nothing for me, a professional computer user.
  • Compared to Mac OSX, it feels flaky. Not as smooth. Occasional flickering when switching apps.
  • The configuration of Win 8 is a joke. A gigantic, utter joke. Just this morning, when I opened the laptop after quite some time, I saw a note at the bottom of the login screen talking about a restart needed after some updates had been downloaded. A restart?? On a 2013 machine? OK, I thought, I’ll do it some time later. I logged in and saw the start screen. After 2 seconds, or so, the machine just started installing the updates and restarting, WITHOUT EVEN ASKING ME. Are you fucking kidding me???
  • By the way, how shitty must an OS be if it needs weekly updates that you can’t skip!?
  • Powerpoint 365 wouldn’t open a PPT file from my Mac. Not sure who’s at fault here, but I blame it on Microsoft, either way.
  • Outlook and email management in general is ridiculous. The Win 8-style Mail app is a toy, completely useless. And Outlook? I wasted hours trying to setup my 3 email accounts, 1 Exchange, 1 IMAP, and 1 POP3. It wouldn’t work. It complained about missing .pst files, it wouldn’t show the accounts even though they showed in the “email configuration” part of the control panel (which is hard to find, by the way – you have to know it’s there). Till today, I cannot use Outlook. I tried manually uninstalling it once. A support site shows pages of directions on how to do that (instead of just giving me a .bat file that would’ve done all the steps automatically). I really think I did everything I had to do. After re-installing Outlook, though, it still claimed my .pst files cannot be found and it wouldn’t start without them. Ridiculous.

The Outlook and email configuration issues alone made me want to throw this device out the window. If this is all that Microsoft can come up with after years of development, then good night. This is probably the last time I gave Windows a chance. That’s it.

Thank you Apple, for giving me a reliable, powerful, and beautiful OS I can get my work done with. An OS that doesn’t make me waste my time with configuration hell.

These are the last words I’m typing on the Aspire R7. Now going through a factory reset, then heading to BestBuy. Roger, over, and out.