Have you tried Microsoft Windows 8?

Jim Wynne

Staff member
Admin
#1
Over the long holiday weekend I built a new desktop computer and had a decision to make about what operating system to use. I had used Windows XP since its release in 2001 until a year or so ago when I installed Vista, which was given to me by a friend. I didn't want to install an ugly old OS on new hardware, so I was torn between Windows 7 and the spanking brand new Windows 8, which was released just a few weeks ago. I discovered that until the end of January it can be had for US$40, so I decided to take the plunge.

After using it for a few days, I have decidedly mixed feelings. The installation went off without a hitch, but I found that there was already 500MB of updates to be downloaded and installed. Not too surprising, I guess, given Microsoft's typical rush-to-market tendencies. The OS is very quick and snappy, some of which must be attributed to my new hardware. There are definitely some pain-in-the-arse aspects though, not the least of which is that the OS is primarily intended for touch-screen use.

At startup the first thing you see is the "lock" screen--see the attachment. This is, as far as I can tell, completely useless. In order to proceed, you have click (or touch) on a little icon that takes you to the login screen, which is pretty much the same as in previous Windows versions. Once past the login, you find yourself on the "Start" screen, which is another pain. It's filled with "tiles," some of which are live and show continually updated information, most of which is linked to MS products such as Bing and MSN. There's a desktop that's mostly the same as in previous Windows versions with the notable exception of the absence of a Start button. If you spend most of your time working from the desktop you'll find yourself having to go back to the Start screen a lot, and to the "Apps" screen from there. There's a lot of jumping around unless you fill the desktop with shortcuts to frequently used programs.

I think that as time progresses we'll see updates that make things easier for people who use a mouse and keyboard rather than a touch screen. At least I hope that's the case. Expect to spend a lot of time learning how to get around and how things work in Windows 8.

If you decide to take advantage of the reduced price at the link above, an "Upgrade Adviser" will scan your system and let you know what might have to be updated before installation, and what might not work at all. In my case, I have a Konica-Minolta laser printer that's now defunct, and my Acronis True Image 2011 backup software also won't work. I knew this going in, however. The printer was nearing the end of its useful life anyway, and Acronis was offering a $20 upgrade to the 2013 version--the only one that will run under Windows 8--so that was mostly painless. I strongly advise you to visit the websites of your hardware manufacturers and look for Windows 8 drivers before you install the OS. The upgrade adviser might not catch everything.

I'd be interested in hearing from Covers who have installed Windows 8, or got it with a new PC. I think that over the next few months there will be a lot of unhappy neophytes who get new computers with the OS pre-installed and don't know which way to turn. For myself, I'm mostly OK with it, and now have the current Windows version for the first time since 2001 :lol:.
 

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Jen Kirley

Quality and Auditing Expert
Staff member
Admin
#2
Re: Have you Tried Windows 8?

I always wait awhile to upgrade MS operating systems. I will probably wait for this too, until my next computer. I'll probably get a tablet when my choices include those having a system that will run an office program with Word that will handle the macros in the audit documents I use. Until then I must use my PC (laptop) on sites.
 

Colin

Quite Involved in Discussions
#3
Thanks for the review Jim. I am about to buy a new 'ultrabook' and many of the models I am looking at offer Windows 8. I am normally quite keen to upgrade to a new OS because, despite a few problems, I prefer to take the benefits it normally brings.

However, my son who is 25 and a web developer has been trying it out and he finds it not to his liking - in particular, he said that many of the actions required are not intuitive. Whether this is because it has been primarily developed for touch screens, smartphones and tablets I don't know.

Talking of ultrabooks, has anyone got one? If so, which make and model. My favoured option at the moment is either a Samsung series 5 or an Acer Inspire S3 or S5. Budget is not the only driver but I don't want to pay a massive amount just to get the extra portability.

I currently use a netbook for running presentations and training courses, which is great but a bit too small for general work. I use a 15.6" laptop for report writing when I am auditing but I think I could drop down to the 13.3" screen size instead of lugging around the bigger piece of kit.
 

Sidney Vianna

Post Responsibly
Staff member
Admin
#4
Talking of ultrabooks, has anyone got one?
I am still carrying my laptop around...be aware that some manufacturers are coming out with a ultrabook/tablet hybrid, which can be very handy specially in confined spaces such as Ryanair seats....:tg:
 

Wes Bucey

Quite Involved in Discussions
#5
I sympathize with incompatibility of W7 or 8 with printers and software. I have a perfectly good B/W HP laserjet (with about 20,000 pages worth of toner) with zero availability of drivers beyond XP - so I keep an XP laptop and "shoe leather modem" files to it on a thumb drive from my W7 machine when I have a grunt work print job. I use a wireless color HP laserjet otherwise.

I am going to invest in software upgrade to run my PhotoStudio software on W7 & 8.

One of my membership societies invested in a new W8 laptop and LED PowerPoint projector for our presentations - very slick, but I agree - not intuitive, even for someone as familiar with W7 as I am. It seems very fast, but that may be attributable to 4 gig of RAM on the laptop. The day I used it, the battery died in the remote device and it uses TWO of those coin shaped watch batteries. I had to signal someone to click the keyboard while I stood up front to talk - very difficult for the operator to distinguish between "signal" and hand gestures accompanying the presentation.
 
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Colin

Quite Involved in Discussions
#6
I am still carrying my laptop around...be aware that some manufacturers are coming out with a ultrabook/tablet hybrid, which can be very handy specially in confined spaces such as Ryanair seats....:tg:
Sidney - that's scary, the advert for the Lenovo Yoga just came on TV while I was typing. By the way, that laptop is bigger than a Ryanair seat!!! But then, he wants to do away with seats altogether.
 
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Wes Bucey

Quite Involved in Discussions
#7
I am still carrying my laptop around...be aware that some manufacturers are coming out with a ultrabook/tablet hybrid, which can be very handy specially in confined spaces such as Ryanair seats....:tg:
Sidney - that's scary, the advert for the Lenovo Yoga just came on TV while I was typing. By the way, that laptop is bigger than a Ryanair seat!!! But then, he wants to do away with seats altogether.
I remember when "portable" computers first came out - they were only "portable" for guys like Arnold Schwarzenegger or Hulk Hogan!
 
#8
The next time Microsoft puts a reasonably finished Windows version on the market will be the first, so I'll wait. I have long since grown wary of being their unpayed guinea pig.

I suppose it makes more sense to install it on a new system, but upgrading from a perfectly good win 7 setup? Not a chance...

/Claes
 
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T

True Position

#9
Talking of ultrabooks, has anyone got one? If so, which make and model. My favoured option at the moment is either a Samsung series 5 or an Acer Inspire S3 or S5. Budget is not the only driver but I don't want to pay a massive amount just to get the extra portability.

I currently use a netbook for running presentations and training courses, which is great but a bit too small for general work. I use a 15.6" laptop for report writing when I am auditing but I think I could drop down to the 13.3" screen size instead of lugging around the bigger piece of kit.
I purchased a Samsung Series 9 NP900X4C-A01US and it's excellent. It's actually thinner then a Macbook Air while being a 15.0. I'm getting regular 8+ hour battery life on wifi. Only complaint is the viewing angles aren't as wide as I'd like.

There's a 'used' Windows 7 version (Mid 2012, ivy bridge) in 'Like New' condition from Amazon warehouse deals for $909.78. My personal history with Amazon Warehouse deals suggests this is something someone purchased and immediately returned. I once bought a laptop for someone that way that still had the anti scratch plastic still attached.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/B0083S3NC8/ref=dp_olp_used?ie=UTF8&condition=used
 

Jim Wynne

Staff member
Admin
#10
Thanks for the review Jim. I am about to buy a new 'ultrabook' and many of the models I am looking at offer Windows 8. I am normally quite keen to upgrade to a new OS because, despite a few problems, I prefer to take the benefits it normally brings.

However, my son who is 25 and a web developer has been trying it out and he finds it not to his liking - in particular, he said that many of the actions required are not intuitive. Whether this is because it has been primarily developed for touch screens, smartphones and tablets I don't know.
There is a lot about 8 that's non-intuitive. For example, if you run regular Windows applications, the the little icons at the top left for closing or minimizing the program are there, but in Windows 8 "apps," they aren't, and there's no telling how to close them without a lot floundering around. You can get back to the Start screen easily enough, but the app is still open. It turns out that you have to move the mouse cursor to the upper left corner of the Start screen, where a tiny representation of the app screen appears. You then have to right-click to close the app. This is a something that's clearly designed for touch screens, and little or no consideration was given to people using a keyboard and mouse.

After using 8 for a few days I find myself more comfortable with it, but the comfort comes at the price of doing a lot fumbling around in the dark trying to figure out how things work. My suspicion is that when a lot of people get new computers over the holidays, there are going to be a lot of frustrated people and MS will have to make some adjustments.

There are only two versions of 8 available: Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro. It's difficult for me to imagine that there will be many businesses that are interested in adopting the OS due to the steep learning curve involved. Many businesses are still running XP because it's stable, it works and people are comfortable with it. In about a year and a half MS will stop supporting XP altogether, and it'll be interesting to see what happens in business computing.
 
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