Bottom line: The Microsoft Surface Studio is a big deal. In a time where many of us in the tech community believe the only companies can innovate are Apple and Google, Microsoft continues to show us that although they’ve been late to the game, the products they are delivering are top notch, work well together and are helping to drive and shape the industry. One thing that must be noted is that professionals have not been forgotten — way to go, Microsoft.
First and foremost, take any negative feelings you may have towards LEARNING, TRYING and EXPERIMENTING and please throw them out of the door.
On Thursday, October 25th 2012 Microsoft released an update to it’s desktop operating system — Windows 8. Not only can this operating system, from this point further referred to as “OS”, sufficiently run just as Windows 7 did it now offers many new intuitive features that can easily make your productivity skyrocket. Please note, as with anything you have those naysayers that seem to believe that this single iteration of the OS will be the end of Microsoft. I can proudly say that they are indeed wrong. This review will be broken up into sections that will be incredibly easy to parse through.
I downloaded by copy of Windows 8 Pro to my desktop machine that was running Windows 7 on Friday. Getting Windows is probably easier than it has ever been — now you can simply download it or request physical media. So, before you are allowed to download the OS you must first run a setup tool, which will ensure that all of your applications will work with the Windows 8. After these preliminary system requirement checks the the download begins, which weighing in at roughly 2 GB downloads pretty quickly in about 20 – 30 minutes. Now comes the easy part, let your computer do the work. Many are calling this the easiest Windows install yet; I can do nothing but agree. After the installation is complete and the OS does it’s initial boot you traverse through the setup screens (signing in, determining your Start Menu preferences etc.) and you are all set to enjoy your new installation.
All in all the process took about 1.5 hours from initial download, payment and first time boot sequence. After that you’ve never seen boot speeds this fast — but we will save that for later.
Windows 8 Desktop:
Many users, who probably have not even tried Windows 8, argue that Microsoft has neglected power users and are trying to abandon the desktop. Let me start off by saying: I am a power user, I sit in Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio for 8 hours per day, come home and use my machine to maintain websites, edit video/photo and more – we have not been neglected at all.
The desktop behaves in the exact same manner as it always has! The exact same way. Except now it has been completely overhauled; yet it still resides in the same shell. The task manager is very intuitive for users that geek out over processes and how much memory is being consumed by a particular program. It has a simple interface for a user just wanting to kill and application and an advanced look for those, whom like me, like to get a little dirty.
There is tab after tab available that will allow you deep-dive as much or as little as you would like and if you hate all of the details you can switch to the default with “Fewer details” as the lower left button indicates. In addition, make note of how much memory your PC with Windows 8 consumes because it is touted that it uses much less memory, which I can say is true. For example, Chrome is designed to run each tab in a separate process, which can be intense for an older machine — however with Windows 8 your memory will not wince Although, I don’t encounter memory issues since my machine sports 12 GB of RAM.
Task Manager isn’t the only thing that has been improved, File Explorer has gone from simple to a ribbon filled Office-esque beast, which depending on what is selected can handle just about anything you throw at it.
Speaking of improvements there is a slew of Administrative tools that can now be added to the Start Screen, which includes PowerShell, Services and Windows Firewall with Advanced Security just to name a few. These applications are not what you would normally expect to receive from a Windows installation — these are robust applications that are fully capable of doing their jobs with or without 3rd party support. Now, we all know that different vendors will create antivirus, firewall and anti-spyware apps that will take these features to the next level; yet, that is their specialty — Microsoft has done right by including applications that can get the job done just as well.
Start Screen and Windows Apps:
The first thing that you are greeted with after you sign into your new Windows 8 machine in the new start screen sporting the Modern UI from Microsoft. Is it intuitive? Yes. Is it easy to use? Yes.
Although the Start Screen allows for customization so that it may be setup however you’d like the first portion is initially for apps, which can be changed. Don’t worry your desktop applications are not lost; a simple right-click and “All Apps” will reveal this lovely screen below:
As you can see nothing is lost. The navigation might have changed but if you spend 30 minutes tinkering around and getting to know the new Windows you will be glad that you did. Also, an app that gets used rigorously by me and everyone else “Desktop” is always available for you to visit at anytime; however, sometimes you just do not need to enter the desktop realm to do everything and Microsoft understands this — that is why there are apps available that can take care of many tasks for you ie. MetroTwit for Twitter, Quick Note for short blurbs. In addition, these Windows apps can be pinned to a side of your screen for increased productivity. See below:
So, this is just my case with one monitor — just imagine you could be coding on one monitor, have your favorite website up in another and have your Twitter feed pinned on that same monitor. Windows 8 now has excellent built in multi-monitor support that now even extends the Taskbar; yet another improvement on the already present multi-monitor support found in Windows 7.
Let’s talk about apps.
Are the over 700K like Apples App Store? No. Are there over 700K like Google Play? No. However, answer this question for me with the hundreds of thousands of apps that these behemoths tout — how many do you ACTUALLY use, everyday…. That number is probably slim. The Windows Store is growing to say the least; yet, judging just by my Start Screen alone you can see that they already have some pretty key players: Netflix, HuluPlus and Google Chrome — with more apps coming. In fact, upon the release of Windows 8 1000 new apps were added.
My Final Thoughts:
Microsoft, Windows 8 is daring, almost scary good and I absolutely love it. This OS is able to be used across multiple devices: tablets, desktops, phones; even the XBox 360 has adopted the Modern UI. Traditional Windows (Windows 7) is the core of this operating system, so with this iteration you get everything that you know and love about it with the added benefits of fast boot and shutdowns (20 seconds or less), lower memory consumption and apps that can not only increase your productivity but even remove extra steps. Want to search for anything on your computer? Apps, files, Windows Store — it can be done all from the search. Want to use all of your legacy applications you had installed before the upgrade? They’ll be there waiting for you. Want your external gadgets to work with the new OS? It will.
At a price-point of $39.99 for a limited time, there is absolutely no reason to not upgrade; with it you’ll get improved performance and productivity. Meet and Get Windows 8 [HERE]
For those of you who think this change is too radical and that this OS is so hard; do yourself a favor and give it a chance.
Microsoft has completely changed their image for this release, this is the new Microsoft they are here to stay and I like it.
The Microsoft Surface has been shown off to the world this week as a tablet with promise and one that could potentially be poised to take over a tablet market that is dominated by the Apple iPad and the Amazon Kindle Fire. However, could Microsoft actually pull off creating a tablet to bring it’s deserving mobile device running Windows 8 to the light?
- It is Microsoft, the same company that has held over 90% of the desktop market for years and many more years to come
- Unique interface
- Intel-based tablets will provide a true desktop experience in the palm of your hands; something that an iOS or Android device will never match
What are potential downfalls of the device?
- Price. The Microsoft Surface running Windows 8 Pro will be in the price range of Ultrabooks; which are out of the tablet market. However, the RT version should fall within the range of other comparable tablets; yet, the user will be limited to the Metro interface.
Bottom line: If Microsoft plays it’s cards right they could have a real winner on their hands. However, the pricing of this product with greatly determine it’s success.
Microsoft is really simplifying things this go-around and they are certainly making me proud. Not only is this a very anticipated release of Windows; it is rightfully so. Windows 8 will come in the following versions:
- Windows 8
- Windows 8 Pro
- Windows RT – for tablet devices; will come pre-installed and will not be available for direct purchase
All of the versions will have the metro interface (Windows RT will be limited to just metro) and will be able to run all metro apps. However, Windows 8 and 8 Pro will be limited to the desktop users that require use of the traditional desktop and metro to complete one powerful experience.
Not only does Windows 8 offer a lot of promise for the consumer; it almost offers more for enterprise. This is a REAL tablet that corporations have been waiting for — not some toy like Apple’s iPad. This will put a solution in corporate America’s hand that will allow it to run legitimate software on a mobile device, not just some fancy app with a work-around.
Microsoft has been hosting the Smoked by Windows Phone Challenge where the company is challenging that WP7 is faster than competing smartphones at everyday tasks. The challenge is hosted at participating Microsoft stores and winners can get a variety of prizes. In many cases that are posted by Microsoft the WP7 platform comes out victorious; of course. However, one brave opponent garnering a Samsung Galaxy Nexus running Android 4.0 won. How so? The task was to show weather from two different cities at the same time at the fastest rate. See example video below:
However, in this case for the weather showcase the Windows Phone was already setup to have two live tiles pulling weather information so by default it would’ve won; however, our friend with the Galaxy Nexus was prepared. The Android competitor had the screen lock disabled and two weather widgets by default which caused him to win and create a small uproar. The winner was even offered a phone and a laptop. Read more [HERE].
Bottom line: I am a fan of WP7, but this just shows that setting things up in your favor do not always constitute a win.