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.