Microsoft’s latest desktop operating system has been available to the public now for a few months and everyone asks me, “What do you think of Windows 8?” My answer is; I like it! Somewhat like Dr. Seuss and his green eggs and ham, I like it on tablets, I like it on desktops. I like it on laptops and on ultrabooks. I like it at home and I like it at work, I like it everywhere! Now that I have professed my undying love for Windows 8, let’s talk about it some, because I didn’t love it at first.
The first device I turned on running Windows 8 was Microsoft’s Surface with Windows 8 Pro. I admit that when I was presented with the beautiful new start screen filled with live tiles I was lost. Sure I could open an application from the live tiles, and swiping through the touch interface to show more tiles was easy for anyone who has used a touch device, but where were my menus, my tools, all the things I knew and loved about Windows that made me feel comfortable working with the operating system? It was frustrating to say the least; however, it would not have stopped an average user from starting up their favorite program and getting right to work. As complaints go, to this point that is my only one.
Windows 8 is smooth, and transitions between screens are clean and quick. I have used both touch input and mouse/keyboard input, and except for a slight learning curve related to the 2 different ways of interacting with the system both worked equally well. The Metro interface, which is what Microsoft calls its new look, is beautiful and very user friendly, if sometimes a little busy when looking at a lot of live tiles. What’s a live tile? Live tiles are clickable tiles that have replaced the shortcuts on the desktop. These live tiles display a continuous stream of fresh information from the application to which they are connected — for example, the mail tile information about new email messages as they arrive like the name of the sender or the subject line. The weather tile streams the current weather, temperature, and chance of rain. Live tiles are constantly changing and updating with the latest information for you at a glance.
In our highly internet- connected world, Windows 8 has been very closely integrated with the suite of cloud services Microsoft offers. Out of the box, Windows 8 wants to connect to a SkyDrive account in order to synchronize and save your documents and pictures to Microsoft’s online storage. Your SkyDrive account is associated with a Microsoft ID that you can use to log into your Windows 8 Desktop. When you connect your login with your Microsoft ID, all of your preferences, desktop settings, and backgrounds are saved to the cloud so that no matter what Windows 8 computer you log into you will always have your settings and display preferences.
With all the new features and changes to the look and feel of the operating system, Windows 8 still has what it takes to make you feel right at home. There is a desktop tile that will bring up a familiar Windows 7 looking desktop where you can put icons and shortcuts and run all your programs that you had on your Windows 7 computer. While the newest Windows store apps designed for the Metro interface are clearly the future of many of your favorite windows applications, they are not the only programs Windows 8 can run. Microsoft claims that if it ran on Windows 7 it will run on 8, and so far I have found nothing to dispute that claim.
If you are looking at buying a new computer, I would recommend Windows 8 for home or office. Windows 8 is as stable as Windows 7 and so far seems as secure as Windows 7 with Microsoft’s regular roll out of fixes and patches coming as expected. As with any new release of an operating system, I don’t recommend just upgrading your machines or replacing them with new ones running Windows 8, unless there is a support/compatibility reason or it is part of a planned hardware refresh or replacement. Feel free to call our office at 304.342.3535 with any questions you have, and we would be happy to help you decide if now is the right time to switch to Windows 8 in your home or office.