Microsoft Windows 8, The TechSpot Review

By on October 23, 2012, 3:46 AM

First, let's get something out of the way. Most of what's really new in Windows 8 relates to the Metro touch interface, which is Microsoft's biggest bet on this OS generation -- a bet that's risky but necessary given the company's lack of presence in the growing tablet market. This is also how the folks at Redmond have figured could give a needed boost to its smartphone business (“Windows everywhere”), which is well behind market leaders, iOS and Android.

This review is based on my experience with Windows 8 using a desktop, so I've been treating Windows 8 like most computer enthusiasts will: as a direct upgrade from Windows 7 on my custom-built machine, just like I did with Vista, XP, 2k, and other previous Windows releases.

As you've heard repeatedly in the past year, the new Windows Start screen replaces the Start menu, and that's a radical shift for the platform. A few months ago, we wrote an editorial about using the Start screen as a Start menu replacement. Feedback was overwhelming and evidently divided. I don't feel the Start screen is perfect on a desktop, nor is it a fully competent replacement, but once you settle on the idea and spend time configuring the screen to your liking, it's a viable solution for quickly accessing programs.

Read the complete review.




User Comments: 58

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Guest said:

"No Start button makes no sense."

The start button makes no sense, it should be renamed the home button.

Razer said:

Nice review you got there

Ravey Ravey said:

Can you say which link isn't working? They all seem to work for me but maybe I missed it.

It is working fine now but it was the link in the list with the "Feature" ribbon in the right hand corner.

1 person liked this | Guest said:

Good review. I especially agree with, "For such a customizable operating system -- heck, it even has two Settings menus, one in Metro and the usual Control Panel -- it's missing the option to add a Start button if you don't like the lower left hot corner to access Start" and this is why I will skip 8. It's not because it's a bad OS, far from it. It's because MS think it's okay to force customers to use software in the way they want me too. If I wanted that, I'd already be using Apple. Indeed, if 9 doesn't undo this attitude, I may switch anyway.

1 person liked this | jizzyburnizzy said:

I won't be purchasing Windows 8, at least not right away. Nothing about windows 8 really appeals to me as a desktop user. I hate the metro interface. I'll probably just wait and see what the first service pack will bring.

Guest said:

Purchasing three windows 8 pro retail licenses for my three desktop computers.

purchasing one upgrade windows 8 pro license for my lappy.

70$ per retail discounted price and 40$ upgrade price is too hot to pass.

maybe windows 8 sp1 will bring back start menu or something similar to it.

ReederOnTheRun ReederOnTheRun said:

A very fair and balanced review. Nice!

I'm due for a laptop upgrade, but I think I' going to see how the surface and the hybrid laptops are before deciding. I already like windows 8 a lot, but I can tell it'd be way better with a touch screen (for some reason I haven't had any problems adjusting to the new UI - probably because I heavily rely on keyboard shortcuts anyways, which are very intuitive on windows 8).

The only thing is that I wish they made it easier to cycle through open apps and windows. The keyboard shortcut for looking through metro apps is okay, but the shortcut to go through windows takes way too long. I think I can change the shortcuts, but I liked it better in OS X and Linux how you can hit the shortcut and immediately be taken to another window (instead of opening up all the windows, selecting one, and hitting enter to open on windows 8). Maybe there is a way to do it faster, but I haven't found it yet :-/

1 person liked this | CryVer CryVer said:

Metro... ...a bet that's risky but necessary given the company's lack of presence in the growing tablet market.

Mind if I ask why the Metro UI on Desktops was necessary? In my opinion Microsoft should have made two versions of Windows (UI wise), one for Tablets and one for Desktops. At least they could have given their desktop users the option to keep the Start Menu, and only use Metro on demand.

ragreeen2646 said:

Folks, There as several software programs available that adequately solve the lack of a start orb on the Windows 8 desktop.

Classic shell and another from Iobit (Start 8) come to mind. They give you back what MS decided to remove and also allow you to boot directly to the desktop.

Get over it, there are easy solutions available.

1 person liked this | CryVer CryVer said:

Folks, There as several software programs available that adequately solve the lack of a start orb on the Windows 8 desktop.

Classic shell and another from Iobit (Start 8) come to mind. They give you back what MS decided to remove and also allow you to boot directly to the desktop.

Get over it, there are easy solutions available.

Yes, there are some nice alternatives. Start8 is a very good one (I think), but I think that many are worried about how Windows is "evolving".

ReederOnTheRun ReederOnTheRun said:

Yes, there are some nice alternatives. Start8 is a very good one (I think), but I think that many are worried about how Windows is "evolving".

True, I'm a little worried myself, but I don't consider it relevant when deciding whether or not to get windows 8. I mean regardless of what they decide to do with later OS's, windows 8 is a solid upgrade for right now (In my opinion).

1 person liked this | Guest said:

I compared Win7 vs Win8 memory speed myself on my machine because heard 8 is how faster but the result is Win8 memory write speed is much lower than Win7 on my machine the memread is equal.

I think I believe for my eyes only.

Guest said:

Just one question really does GFWL work on 8 yet? Despite a lot of reformats different client versions and different games tried, only MS flight ever worked for me on win8 preview, none of my other GFWL games did.

Jan van Es said:

I agree with this good article, as I have the same experience with windows 8 for a couple of month. Still, I like to add some comments from my own experiences with windows.

I see the metro interface just as extra OS with extra options and possibilities, next to the use of the desktop, which is similar to Windows 7. It is like having two different, but integrated systems.

I do not like the windows start menu very much. In windows 7 I have replaced it with startmenu7, a free program, which looks much better.

I am not missing the start menu, as I am using in both operating systems rainmeter, a desktop customization program. With that I have full control over all programs, I regular use, and a lot of system information and programs, all on my desktop. Only irregular I am looking in the start menu for a little used program.

So I do not understand very well these complaints about the missing start button. The advantages of windows 8 are much larger than this missing button, in particular as you can customize the context menu at the lower left corner adding any program you like in various groups.

MilwaukeeMike said:

Thanks for the review.... one thing I've been waiting for since Win 95 was the ability in WIndows Explorer to see the size of a folder's contents without having to mouse over it, or right click and choose properties. I'd like to see it as a column when a folder is viewed by Details, just like you can see the size of files. Can Win 8 do this?

Staff
Matthew Matthew, TechSpot Staff, said:

@MilwaukeeMike, I'm still on the Consumer Preview, but stats don't populate in the size column alongside folders, only files. This has bugged me for a while too.

Guest said:

If you upgrade to windows 8 its only 39.99. I pretty sure its only a temporary deal for the next couple of months might make it worth it just to save all that money

1 person liked this | amstech amstech, TechSpot Enthusiast, said:

I won't be switching to Windows 8 until I absolutely have to.

It's not that I don't like it, but whenever I feel something is being forced I tend to stay far, far away.

Redondo said:

Are you serious? 85 score ? The most advanced consumer OS in the world and it gets 85 just for the Metro option than induces "confusion" ? There isn't a more complete OS other than Windows(as far as ordinary consumers are concerned). This is a solid 100 OS.

2 people like this | Guest said:

Mind if I ask why the Metro UI on Desktops was necessary? In my opinion Microsoft should have made two versions of Windows (UI wise), one for Tablets and one for Desktops. At least they could have given their desktop users the option to keep the Start Menu, and only use Metro on demand.

It's necessary because if they did what you were suggesting then the version for mobile would be ignored by developers like all Microsoft's previous attempts in that sector. On desktops and traditional laptops, on the other hand, they have complete dominance to the point where they can afford to put out something that people aren't completely comfortable with and developers would be ****** not to bother with it as Windows 8 will soon dominate the market the same way almost every previous version of Windows has, simply due to being the installed OS on new PCs.

Overall, good reviews, reflects my own opinion (having actually used Windows 8, which a lot of people commenting on it over the past year don't seem to have bothered with) that Windows 8 is overall a more solid, improved Windows 7 with a slightly mish-mashed blend of the two UIs. Despite that one disadvantage, Metro is hardly the nightmare that anti-Windows 8 nerds (mainly kids who've grown up post-Windows 95 and never had to deal with a paradigm UI shift before, as the rest of us have) make it out to be and Windows 9 will probably strip out the old desktop even further and result in a more consistent experience.

2 people like this | Guest said:

Tried Windows 8, loved everything except the fact that the Metro interface is forced on desktop users, why the hell would you force me to have it???

if you have the pro surface then it makes perfect sense, the idea is brilliant there, when you use it as tablet, metro only, when you use it as laptop, traditional desktop

if you have only the RT tablet without keyboard, then go fully metro, its perfect

Microsoft, I dont have a touchscreen on my desktop, be reasonable and allow me to disable it, thats it! its so freakin simple, I cant believe you are screwing your OS launch so badly over something so easy to correct and that nearly everyone on the internet is requesting!

Guest said:

Windows 7 windows seem slower and not as snappy as Win 8? Tell Win 7 to stop animating and slliding windows and you will find it is as snappy seeming as Windows 8. With a default install of Win 7 all the animations etc., are on. Turn them off, you lose nothing except the delay in the opening of the windows. I do it to make my computer seem more responsive. Now it seems Windows 8 does it by default

1 person liked this | VitalyT VitalyT said:

Start8 component is just $5. I bought it, it is a better menu than MS could have done. With this there is no problem with Windows 8.

http://www.stardock.com/products/start8/

1 person liked this | spydercanopus spydercanopus said:

Removing Aero and Start menu and adding something akin to Windows Media Center instead really turns me off. It reminds me of Nero removing features and calling it an upgrade.

Guest said:

As usual, various computer store employees are clueless as to when windows 8 is available for retail in cagayan de oro, a city in southern philippines.

I have ask 2 weeks ago and again yesterday if windows 8 is to be sold on october 26, 2012.

microsoft is doing the right thing by selling its products thru its own microsoft store.

I only hope that the online version of microsoft store is also available for us in the philippines.

St1ckM4n St1ckM4n said:

The Metro Start Screen will never be close to equivalent to the start menu, until that 1-2 second animation lag is gone.

It just kills productivity completely. Faster boot times, more responsive windows? Gee, that's great, until the action you do most takes 1-2 seconds..

2 people like this | avoidz avoidz said:

Is Windows 7's instant window response not fast enough for you? The Start Screen and "apps" are bottlenecks for productivity on the desktop. Windows 8 is not for me.

psycros psycros said:

The Metro Start Screen will never be close to equivalent to the start menu, until that 1-2 second animation lag is gone.

It just kills productivity completely. Faster boot times, more responsive windows? Gee, that's great, until the action you do most takes 1-2 seconds..

To say nothing of trying to find what you actually want, because its somewhere in a vague, crazy-quilt screen full of crap instead of neatly tucked into a folder or sitting always ready on your desktop. Windows 8 is ten kinds of fail. Metro sucks. The ribbon sucks. Hiding vital functions and removing important features for NO REASON sucks. Microsoft has misread the market because its too busy believing its own bulls#*t.

psycros psycros said:

An 85 is awfully generous IMO. I'd say more like a 65. The multiple unnecessary barriers to productivity, such as the god-awful ribbon, are bad enough. Add the insult to good interface design called Metro, and incompatibility with about 80% of the programs currently on the market and you're talking about a paradigm shift...to mediocrity. Windows 8 will be the best thing that ever happened to Linux and OSX.

avoidz avoidz said:

Windows 8 will be the best thing that ever happened to Linux and OSX.

More like the best thing to happen to Windows 7, which may end up enjoying Windows XP levels of longevity.

Puiu Puiu said:

I miss the old search

I also find the always fullscreen part of metro to be the dumbest thing ever in an OS called Windows. Was it that hard to make apps windowed?

MrBungle said:

I miss the old search

I also find the always fullscreen part of metro to be the dumbest thing ever in an OS called Windows. Was it that hard to make apps windowed?

I agree, totally stupid... on desktop computers. On tablets the always full screen and touch makes sense. MS really should have made two separate operating systems.

Puiu Puiu said:

No need for 2 OS's, but

I agree, totally stupid... on desktop computers. On tablets the always full screen and touch makes sense. MS really should have made two separate operating systems.

No need for 2, just an extra button for PC's.

Windowed and resizable = something the competition doesn't have.

A missed opportunity which could cost them a lot.

1 person liked this | NTAPRO NTAPRO said:

Windows 8 has a nicer BSOD screen

Jack Reacher said:

Fools and their money are soon parted...

So, by the way, what was sooooo wrong with Windows 7?

Mugsy said:

Windows 8 was clearly designed with tablet & PDA users in mind. For everyone else, I'm not interested in an OS that turns my $5,000 rig into a $200 Tablet.

Every-other MS OS blows chunks. 95 good, 98 bad, 98se good, ME bad, XP good, Vista bad, Win7 good, Win8... one guess.

LNCPapa LNCPapa said:

Windows 8 really isn't bad IMO. I've been very anti-new-ui but since I put 8 on my gaming rig and forced myself to use it daily it's kind of grown on me even more. The hardest thing I've had to accept is that the Windows 8 ui is actually just my Start Menu already fully expanded... problem is I never really launched my apps from the Start Menu. I thought about why I didn't do this and it's because of the time and mouse clicks it takes to expand the Start Menu - sooooooo... now I am getting used to launching from the NEW Start Menu (aka Metro UI). The Task Manager is just awesome and the file transfer windows are great! Being able to easily see live disk performance/activity without any third party tools is nice as well. I've had great gaming performance with it so far and haven't run into any problems yet. Overclocking my monitor took some different steps, but I was able to get things back to the way I want them after figuring out that I just had to use alternate methods. So far, I'm pleased.

Guest said:

I am red green colour blind and this new menu just gives me a headache looking at it, I still use XP because it is clear and easily readable, much as I would like a better/faster desktop PC It seems very unlikely my updating to windows8

djforeman djforeman said:

Very nice review, but I would have liked to see more on performance, besides fast boot-up. For desktop users who leave their PC on all day (and night), it's task switching, window opening, file-access, paging and the associated work-related speed that make a difference. My system autoboots just before I wake up,so it's always ready anyway and I use AllOff to turn it off at sack-time.

gingerbill said:

I won't be getting 8 and hoping windows 9 gets back to being a desktop OS. Windows 7 will definetly be popular for a long while now.

Vollezar Vollezar said:

I still don't understand why they are pushing it as Desktop OS.

2 people like this | Guest said:

I'll be sticking with Windows 7. That is an OS designed to be operated optimally with precision input devices. Which means that screen space is utilized efficiently throughout the interactive experience. Whether it is the resizable windows and their minimalist menu tree toolbars, or the compact icon-laden desktop and windows workspaces, or the feature dense configuration and interactive menus from general programs. Such UI efficiency is also most immediately evident in the excellent Start Menu. This one button centralizes all the functionality of your OS into one location - all neatly organized and easily accessible. Your personal files, pinned and most frequently used items, all program tree, universal search, computer explorer, control panel, devices, network, help and shutdown. Any one of those functions can be easily launched WITHOUT obscuring your multiple windows and desktop workspace. Productivity, research, entertainment, communication or a multitasking combination thereof, whatever task I want to accomplish on my computing device I do not want the UI system to get in the way. It is this unobtrusive and non-constrained nature of the Start Menu-Windows-Desktop-Icons-Pointer UI system of Windows 7 which I prefer.

Metroblox 8 has a full screen interface that is archaic and constraining in capability to both users and developers by comparison. Even the 'live' tile feature is not new, desktop gadgets/widgets of Windows 7 and XP provide identical functionality without being intrusive. I certainly hope that this mess of a UI system is discarded entirely or made optional in the next Windows.

I find it ridiculous that anyone would dismiss the Start button menu as irrelevant. Such people do not make full use of the functionality it provides so they obviously have no need for it.

Vollezar Vollezar said:

One of the many frustrating things about Metro I found is that if you have multiple monitors you still can't leave any metro apps open (or start screen itself). As soon as you click on anything on the other screen it all minimizes.

For those who want start button there is a bit of help. IOBit has created an application for that. http://www.iobit.com/iobitstartmenu8.php. I am using it right now. It does not have the options as the original did,but it's a whole lot better than have to go to Metro every time you need something.

1 person liked this | Guest said:

LNCPapa said:

"Windows 8 really isn't bad IMO. I've been very anti-new-ui but since I put 8 on my gaming rig and forced myself to use it daily it's kind of grown on me even more. The hardest thing I've had to accept is that the Windows 8 ui is actually just my Start Menu already fully expanded... problem is I never really launched my apps from the Start Menu. I thought about why I didn't do this and it's because of the time and mouse clicks it takes to expand the Start Menu - sooooooo... now I am getting used to launching from the NEW Start Menu (aka Metro UI). The Task Manager is just awesome and the file transfer windows are great! Being able to easily see live disk performance/activity without any third party tools is nice as well. I've had great gaming performance with it so far and haven't run into any problems yet. Overclocking my monitor took some different steps, but I was able to get things back to the way I want them after figuring out that I just had to use alternate methods. So far, I'm pleased."

I lost posts like these from users. Microsoft should recruit these people and put them into new advertising for Windows 8.

Best parts that would make excellent bullet points of the front of the Windows 8 packaging: "FORCED myself to use it daily". "The HARDEST thing I've had to ACCEPT". "Now I am getting USED to".

You could substitute some of these phrases into an interview with an incarcerated criminal and you wouldn't be able to tell the difference. Are they talking about Windows 8 or doing time in prison? Who knows?

Things to make you think. How many people reading these forums had to force themselves to use Windows 7?

I am not looking for an Operating System that I have to force myself to use. I am not looking for an Operating System that I can get used to over time. I am looking for an operating system that makes me say, "Hell yeah, I want that operating system because it does this, this, and this.

Humans can adapt to almost anything. But generally they only adapt when they have no other choice. Stop thinking there is no other choice. We the people, determine whether Windows 8 succeeds or fails. Use your power to influence the future. Don't adapt to something you have no interest in from the very beginning.

LNCPapa LNCPapa said:

You could substitute some of these phrases into an interview with an incarcerated criminal and you wouldn't be able to tell the difference. Are they talking about Windows 8 or doing time in prison? Who knows?

You could also apply those phrases to a student being taught in school or a person moving into a new job or a person learning to play a video game.

People cried and moaned about Windows XP when it came out because it was "too colorful and flowery" but now we're still trying to pry it from their cold, blood constricted hands because they hate change so much and refuse to switch to Win 7 because of this reason or that. The biggest hangup I've seen in technology is the fear of change. I've been working in IT and with computers in general for over 25 years now and I've almost always at least given the changes a fair shake before either accepting them or writing them off. I worked with someone a few years ago who was very upset to have to come to me for help on some AD related issues because he said he had been a Novell admin for over 20 years and now he has to talk to this "youngbuck". All I could say to him was "You should have kept up with the changing times... this is an AD shop and you refused to look at it at all since Novell is the only thing you thought we'd ever need."

Don't fear change or your time in IT will be just one or two generations and you'll be that old fogie that everyone calls "oldschool". I'll give it a shot and see if the millions in research that MS did actually does improve my productivity or enhance my experience.

Vollezar Vollezar said:

It's not the fear of change. It's that this OS isn't for desktops. It's for tablets. It's not an improvement to the previous version, but simply a change to the UI that enables it's use on the touchscreens. On the desktop computer it actually feels like a step down. When XP and 7 came out they were hard because there was just so much difference between them and their previous versions and so many more features that it was scary.

Guest said:

"You could also apply those phrases to a student being taught in school or a person moving into a new job or a person learning to play a video game."

Very good. And who would want to take that job or go to that school or play that video game if you did?

LNCPapa said:"

People cried and moaned about Windows XP when it came out because it was "too colorful and flowery" but now we're still trying to pry it from their cold, blood constricted hands because they hate change so much and refuse to switch to Win 7 because of this reason or that. The biggest hangup I've seen in technology is the fear of change. I've been working in IT and with computers in general for over 25 years now and I've almost always at least given the changes a fair shake before either accepting them or writing them off. I worked with someone a few years ago who was very upset to have to come to me for help on some AD related issues because he said he had been a Novell admin for over 20 years and now he has to talk to this "youngbuck". All I could say to him was "You should have kept up with the changing times... this is an AD shop and you refused to look at it at all since Novell is the only thing you thought we'd ever need."

Don't fear change or your time in IT will be just one or two generations and you'll be that old fogie that everyone calls "oldschool". I'll give it a shot and see if the millions in research that MS did actually does improve my productivity or enhance my experience.

Your so far off the mark on this one isn't even funny. It's not about fear of change. When I sit down at my desktop I ask myself one question. Does it make sense to take my precision-pixel-pointing device and ability to type 40/50/60+ wpm on my keyboard, throw it all out the window, replace it with my index finger, and expect it to somehow be better? Show me somebody typing a document faster with 1 finger than using 2 hands on a full-size keyboard. Show me somebody playing quake 3 or Warcraft 3 with 1 finger doing it better than they can with a full-size keyboard and pixel-precise pointing device. You cant!

If people truly feared change alone then Windows 7 wouldn't be the success it is today. What people fear is change for changes sake alone. This change from Windows 7 to Windows 8 is insanity. Its whacko. It's slapping a tablet interface on a desktop OS and expecting everybody to be happy.

"Yeah but why are you complaining, you can still use your keyboard and your mouse?" So why the hell do I need to even start using a single finger to do things on my desktop? I can do everything I need to do on my desktop NOW. I don't need Windows 8 to do anything new.

Using a touch-interface makes "sense" on a mobile device. So that people don't have to lug around a full-size keyboard and mouse. It doesn't make sense at home sitting in front of my 21.5" monitor. I don't hold my 21.5" inch monitor in my hands. It sits at least 36" away from my face. If I sat any closer than this to my 21.5" monitor I would start to go cross-eyed pretty damn fast. How many studies did Microsoft do with a classroom full of children holding 21.5" monitors in their hands and seeing how long they can hold those without getting tired? I can't believe I seriously have to explain these common sense points about why Windows 8 fails on the desktop.

And your classifying everyone who hasn't upgraded their OS as people who fear change which is not likely 100% of the people. If people use an operating system for 20 years it doesn't mean they fear change. It might actually mean they are happy with what they got and don't see the need for change. Which, currently, is where I stand with Windows 7, and even more so when I look ahead to the disappointing options that stand before me.

Rip out the retarded UI from the RTM version of Windows 8, release it in six months, as Windows 8 for Desktops, and people will be happy. People will stop bitching, It's not that difficult to solve this problem. If Microsoft wants to keep giving desktop users the middle finger, let em. I ain't budging from where I stand.

Puiu Puiu said:

You could also apply those phrases to a student being taught in school or a person moving into a new job or a person learning to play a video game.

People cried and moaned about Windows XP when it came out because it was "too colorful and flowery" but now we're still trying to pry it from their cold, blood constricted hands because they hate change so much and refuse to switch to Win 7 because of this reason or that. The biggest hangup I've seen in technology is the fear of change. I've been working in IT and with computers in general for over 25 years now and I've almost always at least given the changes a fair shake before either accepting them or writing them off. I worked with someone a few years ago who was very upset to have to come to me for help on some AD related issues because he said he had been a Novell admin for over 20 years and now he has to talk to this "youngbuck". All I could say to him was "You should have kept up with the changing times... this is an AD shop and you refused to look at it at all since Novell is the only thing you thought we'd ever need."

Don't fear change or your time in IT will be just one or two generations and you'll be that old fogie that everyone calls "oldschool". I'll give it a shot and see if the millions in research that MS did actually does improve my productivity or enhance my experience.

When XP came out it was actually a really bad OS. It took them 2 service packs to repair the bugs and major security problems and even then XP still had a lot of bugs. But nobody said that XP was a step backwards like we doing with win8.

I don't care if they put metro in, I can ignore it. I can install a 3rd party start menu. What people are complaining about are the restrictions. They put so many restrictions in as a insurance that people will use the new UI. They wanted developers to feel more secure when they invested money in new metro apps. This has failed! Now they have an OS will lots of restrictions that people hate and no good apps to make them think that those restrictions are worth the trouble.

jobeard jobeard, TS Ambassador, said:

Very nice review - - well written and the pics are a great help.

It also confirms my lack of interest

1 person liked this | DarkCobra DarkCobra said:

MS should have given the end user the option for the traditional desktop or the new Metro look. However, they pulled this same "no choice" nonsense with Office and that stupid "Ribbon" concept. MS is once again attempting to force feed what they want instead of providing choice to the end user.

Rather than learn a whole new MS system, I think I'm going to do what many others are going to do and simply learn the Apple OS instead. I predict Widows 8 is going to be a massive blunder and they will rush a Windows 9 to market just as fast as they attempted to erase Vista in an effort to return to an updated traditional desktop look . . . which was all that was needed. Most major companies are NOT going to spend a fortune having their IT department teach a whole new system to all the employees. They'll ride Widows 7 till support ends and if MS hasn't returned to their senses they too will be migrating to the Apple OS.

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