Microsoft Windows 8 – A Year in Review

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I have been using Windows 8 since the day of it’s release last year and thought it was time to put pen to paper and give you my thoughts on it. There is a lot of debate around Widows 8’s new Start Window that replaces the Start Menu, so I will cover this as well.

Installing Windows 8 over Windows 7

To get Windows 8 I took advantage of the early upgrade special offer and picked Windows 8 Pro. There is no real reason for me getting Pro instead of the Home version except I like feeling like a pro. Since this was an upgrade I needed to clean up Windows 7 first to ensure complete compatibility. This was fairly painless and did not take long so I launched the compatibility wizard to check all was fine and it was!

Doing the upgrade this way took over an hour, but for most of that it was completely automated so I went off and did something else.

First Use

After the installation has completed, you will be prompted to set-up your first user. This can either be a Microsoft account that will give you SkyDrive access and will backup your settings online, or an offline regular account. Since I have a Microsoft account I opted to use it to login to Windows. To do this you will need internet access at first boot so it can confirm your details.

This is not too much of an issue since Windows 8 comes with all the drivers for 90% of network cards and Wifi adaptors. Once this was done and confirmed I was left with the new start screen but I was ready and waiting to test this out and finding my way to the desktop mode was easy (click the Desktop Tile).

Start Screen

I must admit to being a little cautious originally of this screen as I thought it would be the default way Windows 8 would work. I could not have been more wrong. Think of this as just a very large start menu and you will get along with it fine. I like the fact I can pin a screen full of “tiles” to it, both of modern apps and desktop apps. One of my favourite features (that is made better with windows 8.1) is the type and search function.

You no longer have to go to Start…find, you just go to the screen and start typing away and up pops what your looking for (with the exception of system apps – this is made better in Windows 8.1 but I will cover this later). What this enables you to do is press the start button on the keyboard and type “word” press enter and Microsoft word opens, type Chrome and press enter and Chrome launches and so on and so on. So you can see the benefit to this screen. It works with documents too, so press start – type in cv and press return and your cv document will open. No need to remember where you saved it.

Did you know?

There are several nice features for keyboard users in Windows 8 that I love, especially since I have two screens setup. I can press Windows Key + Left Arrow twice to move the active window to the left monitor. Press Windows Key + Left arrow once, move it to fill the left hand 50% of the current screen. Press with the Right arrow to do it to the right hand side, and up arrow to make the window fill the current screen completely.

But I Really NEED the start menu and button!

If you really cant get on without the start menu there are several choices to get one back and my two choice are:

Pokki Menu : http://www.pokki.com/windows-8-start-menu

An example of Pokki Menu
An example of Pokki Menu

 

Wincustomize’s Start8 – http://www.stardock.com/products/start8/features.asp

Both of these will give you back a style of start menu you can use with Windows 8 to bring back some familiarity.

Final Thoughts

Well now it gets to the point that I either recommend this or don’t. But it is not as simple for me as a yes or no.

When to get it

With all new PC’s and don’t look back.
As an upgrade for all multi-monitor setups OR touch screen setups

When not to get it

With single screen set-ups
With resistive touch screen setups
If you have a very small monitor
If you have a very very old PC

So that’s my thoughts and views on Windows 8.

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