Windows 8 Review–The Joys…

I believe the only way to truly know the workings of an operating system is to use it as your primary OS on your every day PC. It is the best way to learn its weaknesses and appreciate its strengths; wow at its performance and scream at it lack of compatibility with legacy software or drivers.

I have been using Windows 8 on my primary PC for close to a month now, and yes, I have marveled at it. I have cried too. I am not too sure though, which I did more, but trust me, this operating system is a whole new cup cake to deal with. Right now, if you ask me how the transition from Windows 7 to Windows 8 has been, I will tell you this much…”It might be easier to move from Windows 7 to a popular Linux spin like Ubuntu, Fedora or openSUSE, than it would be to move to Windows 8!” For details on my joys, read on.

WinRT and the Metro-UI

Windows 8 for the most part, is what I would call a revolutionary system and not an evolutionary system – like what the transition from Vista to 7 was. The WinRT environment – or what is better know as the Metro-UI is nice, and clean. I like the way they have simplified some of the tasks and put things like application settings in large visible charms that are quick and easy to configure. It is also quite interesting the way some aspects of this WinRT environment have been ported into the ‘classic’ desktop environments with Back, Start, Switcher, Charms, and notifications being available throughout the system, whether you are on the Metro UI or the traditional Desktop UI.

The few preview apps available work well enough. It must be noted that the apps are still in preview and are only around 6 months in development so there are some bugs in them, but I will not dwell on those seeing as they are going to evolve to be better apps with time.

Install and Boot Times

So, apart from being wowed by the Metro-UI, the one other major thing that was really cool is the install time, and boot up time. On my PC, and from an optical media, Windows 8 took less that 15 min to fully install (and this includes time for typing in the product key plus going through the OOBE – out-of-box-experience). That is just amazing. But what is more amazing, is that from complete shutdown to lock screen where you input your password – 10 seconds. I kid you not. Ten Seconds. Its boot up time is lightning fast. I do not know how they achieved that but kudos to Microsoft for hacking that. Amazing!

Legacy

One other kind of obvious joy of windows 8 is the backward compatibility with legacy apps. I have not found an application (apart from maybe iTunes and QuickTime which just behave funny) that are broken when installed on Windows 8.  That is definitely a plus for the operating system. Also, power users would find it a plus to note that all their power tools (Command Prompt, Device Manager, Classic Control Panel, Computer Management, etc.) are still available in Windows 8, albeit a bit hidden.

Security Essentials

Now, another amazing joy of the system is – it comes with Security Essentials built in! For those who may not be in the know, Security Essentials is Microsoft’s own freely available antivirus. Windows 8 is the first version of Windows to ship with self updating software to protect itself against viruses and malware! The antivirus technologies have been bundled into Windows Defender and are kept kind of hidden away in the system but it does work. At least to some extent. It was able to detect and delete/disinfect infected files from a flash drive when I was deliberately testing this feature.

Now, as you can imagine, security firms are up in arms crying foul – as Microsoft might be killing an entire industry but as it turns out, there are benefits and non-benefits of having the core operating system ship with an antivirus but I believe the benefits outweigh the non-benefits. This simply means that over time, as people adopt Windows 8 and newer version of windows, you at least have some out-of-the-box protection against viruses and that is a good thing for everybody.

Please note that third party anti-virus and anti-malware can still be installed so the anti-virus industry is not dead yet. Details of the pros and cons of this development in Windows are a discussion for another post, so watch this space.

Core Applications

Last but not least, the one other thing that makes me smile about Windows 8 is the improvements they have made to some of their core applications. Windows Task Manager got a complete do-over and has two modes – simple and complex, and is much cleaner and intuitive to use. Windows explorer has not adopted the ribbon-UI that caused quite a bit of havoc when first introduced in Office 2007 but clearly, we all got used to it and now, it is in explorer as well.

The copy / moving function has finally caught up with the times and Windows has finally moved to the idea of just one copy window, instead of the several that could be created in earlier versions of windows.

Now, I know you might be wondering despite all these good thing about Windows 8, how am I surviving without with Start Button that has been a major feature of windows since Windows 95? Well, the simple answer to that is – ‘with difficulty’. Seeing as I am currently using Windows 8 as my primary operating system and I still have to work, I have experienced some major pains with this new operating system. Pains which I will detail later so do stick around for that.

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2 comments

  1. @jack – Microsoft says you need 1GB RAM and 1Ghz Processor for the 32 bit version of Windows 8 – those are the minimum requirements. But lets be real…You need at least 1.7Ghz to 2.0Ghz Processor and 2GB or RAM for 32bit Windows 8 and 4GB RAM for 64bit Windows 8. Also, forget about running Windows 8 on a netbook coz you need a minimum resolution of 1024×768 for running the full screen Metro-UI apps and most notebooks come with a resolution of 1024×600. Ready to upgrade?

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