Windows 8 and Skydrive

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Alan Kirk
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Windows 8 and Skydrive

Post by Alan Kirk » Sat Nov 30, 2013 10:38 pm

This is probably a "niche" issue since
(a) Most users have probably had the sense to avoid Windows 8 / 8.1 up to now (the only reason that I have it now is that I have a new machine which came with it and you have to explore the horizon eventually, so I overcame a strong inclination to get a Win 7 Ultimate so-called downgrade and said "eh, what the h3ll, let's try it"), and
(b) I don't know what the takeup on SkyDrive has been to now but I suspect that it's far lower than that piece of digital excrement Google Drive.

However I thought I'd put it up in case anyone else gets caught out by it.

SkyDrive in its Windows 7 incarnation worked similarly to Google Drive, except for the endless crashes, "unable to connect" messages and "Gods help you if you need to work with two Google accounts on the one machine even if you only want to use Google Drive on one of them" issues that the latter has. Which is to say that there would be a folder in your AppData directory which is designated as your SkyDrive folder, and all of the files in that folder (unless you specify otherwise) are synced with the cloud server and with every other device of yours which has the SkyDrive application. In my experience this worked pretty well. The only issue would be if two machines had the same file open, you'd find that one of them had been saved with the machine name as part of the file name and you'd need to sort it out later.

Unfortunately Windows 8 changes this model and buys into the BS that we will soon all work only when connected to teh Interwebz. That every single application and every single data file will be in the glorious cloud. That everything will be based on web apps only, no matter how large the size of the data set. (My then boss took us to a lunch with a consulting firm a year or two back and I had to listen to a highly paid consultant coming out with the same crud and avoid throwing something at him. That last bit was not a simple task.) I have a 2 hour commute each way each day. Of that more than 50% is in areas which have NO Internet connectivity, not one iota of it. Granted a lot of that is when I pass through regional areas, but there are plenty of dead zones within Sydney proper as well. In addition to which with increasing numbers of people using tablets to watch high bandwidth kitten videos on YouTube, exactly how many towers do you think the telcos will need to erect there, Mr. Consultant, if every single scrap of data and code that once moved between hard drive and memory now has to come down teh Interwebz, when you can connect to it? Hint: It will provide new opportunities in commuting because there will be so damn many poles that we'll be able to hang vines from them and commute to work Tarzan-style, probably while watching kitten videos on Google Glasses. Or perhaps videos of people colliding with cell towers while swinging between them on vines because they were watching kitten videos at the time. But in the meantime the reality is that if everything is in the cloud and in the cloud only, then unless you sit still in a spot with the metaphorical 4 bars of signal, you'll only work when your connection does.

It's therefore disappointing to find that with Windows 8/8.1 SkyDrive stores the files only in the cloud by default. There is no local copy. The local files only consist of "placeholders" which link you to the copy in the cloud. Consequently if you try to open them when you aren't on line, the attempt fails. Indeed, if you try to open them using some .Net methods even when you are connected, you'll still get errors. I can understand why they've made this change. In a theoretical world, it means far fewer syncing issues and less bandwidth usage to copy files between devices. Alas, this is not a theoretical world.

Yay Interwebz and our connected life.

The solution is to right click on the Skydrive folder and set it to "Make available offline". This returns it to the Win 7 style of working.
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Re: Windows 8 and Skydrive

Post by David Usherwood » Sun Dec 01, 2013 10:41 am

Interesting.
You may recall http://www.tm1forum.com/viewtopic.php?p=40452 - in May 2013 I decided to be brave and go for Win8/Office2013 on a new travelling laptop. Generally that proved fine, but note that I installed Classic Shell (http://www.classicshell.net/) to bypass all the Desktop crud. With CS in place W8 is simply a tightened up W7. In October I upgraded to 8.1, still using CS. 8.1 seemed to interfere with CS but putting CS in Startup dealt with that.
I also installed TM1 10.2 as it is 'supported' under 8.1. The one problem I have encountered is that Cognos Insight won't connect to TM1 - need to raise a PMR for that.
I looked briefly at Skydrive and decided it didn't do a lot for me. I use Dropbox for small stuff and have now gone to Bittorrent Sync (http://www.bittorrent.com/sync) for larger files - this stores nothing on the cloud and (thus?) has no storage limit or charges. It also works on Linux (and has IOS and Android clients). I do find it irritating that saving files from Office2013 defaults to Skydrive, but I have got used to bypassing that.
Any other brave folks out there working with W8?

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Re: Windows 8 and Skydrive

Post by Duncan P » Sun Dec 01, 2013 3:29 pm

Not Windows 8 but I do use Classic Shell on Windows 7 and I must say it is the best thing since sliced bread - a classic Win95 menu the contents of which I control and therefore can organise to suit me.

I had a customer once who described the latest version of the software we were upgrading him to as "the great step back into the future". Sound familiar?

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Re: Windows 8 and Skydrive

Post by jim wood » Mon Dec 02, 2013 3:04 pm

Alan,

While you have the excuse of having a new machine, I have no such excuse. I bought the upgrade up to version 8 just so I could get familiar with. I'm now familiar with how bad it is. When I next need to rebuild my home machine I'll be moving straight back to windows 7,

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Re: Windows 8 and Skydrive

Post by David Usherwood » Mon Dec 02, 2013 3:50 pm

@Jim, as I proposed above, try installing Classic Shell. I'm running it as I speak, on Win 8.1, cutting TM1 code, and the only time I notice that it is Win8 is when I slide the mouse too far into the edges of the screen.

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Re: Windows 8 and Skydrive

Post by jim wood » Tue Dec 03, 2013 1:35 am

Thanks David. I'll give it a try.
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Re: Windows 8 and Skydrive

Post by Alan Kirk » Tue Dec 03, 2013 3:51 am

David Usherwood wrote:I looked briefly at Skydrive and decided it didn't do a lot for me. I use Dropbox for small stuff and have now gone to Bittorrent Sync (http://www.bittorrent.com/sync) for larger files - this stores nothing on the cloud and (thus?) has no storage limit or charges. It also works on Linux (and has IOS and Android clients).
I was quite happy with SkyDrive until the issue described above, and am again now that I found the solution to it. I'm annoyed that MS wasn't more "in your face" about that change since it's obviously a critical one for serious (and mobile) users to understand.

Don't know about Linux, and like I'll ever care about IOS this side of the winter Olympics being held in central H3ll, but there is a SkyDrive client that I use on my Android phone as well.

I get 7 gig free with it which is OK for what I use it for, which is essentially "the network you have when you're not on a common network". It lets me save and access the same files on personal desktop, personal notebook, work desktop and will on my work notebook if they ever give me anything later than Windows XP, sigh. (SkyDrive's client does not work on XP.) Since I often switch between writing code on my notebook and desktop it's pretty easy to have the code files on that and just open them as I need them. Although it's also used as a repository for various reference files. I'd have considered upgrading it to archive my photography but the largest plan is still too small, unfortunately.
David Usherwood wrote: I do find it irritating that saving files from Office2013 defaults to Skydrive, but I have got used to bypassing that.
You shouldn't need to; under Options on the Save tab you should find a checkbox for "Save To Computer By Default".
Jim Wood wrote:While you have the excuse of having a new machine, I have no such excuse. I bought the upgrade up to version 8 just so I could get familiar with. I'm now familiar with how bad it is. When I next need to rebuild my home machine I'll be moving straight back to windows 7,
If you really are still on 8 I'd recommend at least doing the upgrade to 8.1, which is a freebie out of the Windows store. Irritatingly it doesn't appear unless you have done certain patches on the Windows 8 installation. (And this information couldn't be placed in a prominent place in the MS Store... why, Microsoft? I wasted a good 15 minutes trying to figure out why I couldn't find the thing on the store.) It's unlikely that you'll be satisfied with the faux Start menu that 8.1 provides, but there's always the Classic Shell tool that David and Duncan mentioned. Until I looked at that I had forgotten how much of a step backward in many ways the Win 7 Start menu was; I'd just gotten used to it despite still having one machine on XP (which I don't use very much). The extra step to get to all of your programs in Win 7 leaves something to be desired and having your own folder structure straight off the start menu was really the best one.

That having been said... I'm still booting to the tiles screen rather than the desktop just to see whether it grows on me. My "Big" applications (Excel, Word, SQL Management Studio, Visual Studio 10) I've pinned to that to give me quick access, which works nicely with my touch screen. (I think I'd be less pleased with a non-touch screen.) Also being able to type the names of the applications straight on that screen without opening any search boxes has worked well for me so far; the search is smart (smarter than 7's was, but that ain't saying much) and brings it up fast. However there are some more esoteric tools from the SQL or VS suites that I tend to use periodically. They aren't used frequently enough to pin as a tile but are used frequently enough that I don't know how I'll feel when I need to try to find them among the grapeshot splatter that passes for the list of applications in Win 8, or trying to type the name when I can't quite recall what the name is. (Under 7 I'd just go to (say) the SQL Server folder and think "I need a utility that does XYZ, whazzit called again?, oh, right, that one, {click}".) Win 8 I'd be happier with if I could pin program group folders to the tiles instead of just programs.

The active content on the tiles... well, it has potential, but it's not there yet. You can't really customise what the tiles display but I'd love to see a "done better" version of this which offers tickers of news services customised to your preferred subjects, from your preferred sources; weather from your preferred locations; a ticker of specific list of stocks and indexes on the finance tile and so on.

My feeling about Win 8 at this point is neither joy nor hostility, but rather... ambivalence.
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Re: Windows 8 and Skydrive

Post by jim wood » Tue Dec 03, 2013 5:19 pm

Alan,

I upgraded to 8.1 on day 1. Without a touch screen the tile welcome screen is a real pain to use. For this reason I upgraded straight away and set it to boot to desktop. Since I did this I've windows easier to put up with but as David mentioned I still find it a pain in the arse when all kinds of crap flies in from the side when I get too close the edge of the screen. I can see that working really with a touch screen but with a mouse it's a pain. At least in Mac you can switch that off,

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Re: Windows 8 and Skydrive

Post by Alan Kirk » Tue Dec 03, 2013 5:30 pm

By coincidence, I spotted this article last night:
There are two obviously relevant points of comparison for Windows 8's adoption figures, and they're both so bad that it's very difficult to say which is worse.

The first comes from Statista, the Germany-based online statistics portal, which compared the growth in market share for Windows 8 in its first year to that of its predecessor, Windows 7, in the year after its release in October 2009.

Windows 7, which won stellar reviews, took off on a steady upward trajectory, eclipsing 10 per cent market share in its first few months and nearing 20 per cent at the one-year mark.

Windows 8 started slow, continued to be slow, ticked upward a bit this past summer in the US, and - alarmingly - appears to have leveled off again in recent months.

It took more than half a year to hit 5 per cent adoption, and has still not achieved 10 per cent after a full year on the market.

Perhaps the most damning statistic, however, was the one The Next Web picked out from Net Application's latest report on operating system market share.

In the past month, Windows 8's market-share growth of 0.05 per cent was actually significantly lower than that of Windows 7 (0.22 per cent).

In other words, Windows 8 is actually falling farther behind its own four-year-old predecessor even today.
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Re: Windows 8 and Skydrive

Post by jim wood » Wed Dec 04, 2013 3:53 am

While I can understand what Microcrap are trying to do by lining up the os through all devices they have to keep in mind that no major business in their right mind are going to move their staff to windows 8. While I'm sure some do use it for work, it's a home PC os. I don't think the likes of Dell are offering it on their work based laptop lines?
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Re: Windows 8 and Skydrive

Post by David Usherwood » Wed Dec 04, 2013 9:12 am

Most of the Latitudes are Win7 but the 6430U I have is Win8 - note it's non-touch which is fine by me and underpins my disinterest in the Metro stuff.

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Re: Windows 8 and Skydrive

Post by Alan Kirk » Fri Dec 06, 2013 8:56 pm

Alan Kirk wrote:
David Usherwood wrote:I looked briefly at Skydrive and decided it didn't do a lot for me. I use Dropbox for small stuff and have now gone to Bittorrent Sync (http://www.bittorrent.com/sync) for larger files - this stores nothing on the cloud and (thus?) has no storage limit or charges. It also works on Linux (and has IOS and Android clients).
I was quite happy with SkyDrive until the issue described above, and am again now that I found the solution to it.
Consider this a full retraction of that statement. Microsloth has forked us over massively with Windows 8, the first operating to do the seemingly impossible and make Vista look good in comparison.

The key problem... well, actually the key problem is the fact that the damn thing doesn't sync properly under Win 8.1; there are hundreds of posts abut this in the MS Discussions group which I found after I just could not get a file that I put up to Skydrive on my Win 7 desktop yesterday morning to come down to the Win 8 notebook until I shut down the notebook and hooked it up to the same network as the machine that I uploaded the file on.

But aside from that, the key problem is that MS holds a gun to your head to get you to use a Microsoft Account login on the computer which I did not want to do, but did just to get the thing up and running. If you don't use an MS account then you won't have SkyDrive integration with your desktop. period. If you opt to use a Local account for your computer, the only way that you can access SkyDrive is via the web site, which is hardly useful for storing and accessing files directly from your applications.

In addition to which, it also makes it utterly frickin' useless as a tool for, as I described it, a network folder that you can access across networks. First of all, I can't imagine IT departments rushing to say "Oh yeah, no problem, we'll let you use your MS account as your login to our network" so sharing files between work and home systems goes straight out the window. And even if they did, I do not want to integrate my work and home life, though I'm prepared to allow an occasional limited portal between them like Skydrive. ) Second of all, it's equally useless for sharing the same files across multiple logins on a single machine. (For example, I would store the working files that I use for making TM1 Bytes films on Skydrive. In that way I could access them from the regular login that I have on the recording machine, the login that I use to record the films, and my notebook. Under Windows 8 I would not be able to do that, which is one reason why Win 8 does not go anywhere near my desktop, ever.)

So I stand by what I said about Skydrive under Win 7; it's a great tool. A tool that becomes completely useless under Win 8.1.

As for Win 8 itself; I've given it a couple of weeks now which I think is a fair shake. I can now declare it as the Worst Computing Choice I Have Ever made.

Friends don't let friends downgrade to Windows 8.
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Re: Windows 8 and Skydrive

Post by David Usherwood » Sat Dec 07, 2013 9:33 am

I'm sorry Micro$oft f$cked you over - but not completely surprised. To me, cloud storage providers do pretty much the same job. Switch to another. I've already pushed BitTorrent sync (not actually cloud storage, but delivers the same function) but I like that because of Linux support which I think isn't of interest to you. Otherwise W8.1 + CS is quite workable. (I have a PMR raised about Cognos Insight connectivity to TM1 but that's for the main forum.)

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