The big new thing in Windows 8 has been of course, touch devices. But more interesting for myself as I’ve played with the Windows 8 Professional experience on various devices, both touch (Surface) and non-touch (PC) along with the Windows Phone 8 HTC8x that I have. I’ve noticed two key components that shouldn’t be big news for Windows enthusiasts who are always on the latest and greatest. Those two components are the touch based (metro) apps and the legacy non-touch environment.
Photo below is of my Surface Pro 128GB SSD, around $899 + Office 365 Home and Business Subscription at $99.00. Purchased on Microsoft Store. Best Buy was out of the Surface Pro (Intel/AMD chipsets) but had the Surface RT (ARM chipset). This is Microsoft.
My tablet, Microsoft Surface Pro, stylus pen included, dual cameras, one USB port and no DVD (expected with tablets), paid $99.00 for the keyboard extension that also doubles as a cover.
For me, the experience on my Dell Precision Workstation T7400, legacy (moving) platter hard drive, 4GB RAM, Xeon quad core 5450 proc @ 3GHz that worked great on Windows 7 just can’t handle the load demands of Windows 8 for what I use it for. The 4GBs were just not enough unless I wanted to go completely Desktop and not even touch, pardon the pun, the Start Screen. But I was curious and thought I’d play with the live updates on Start Screen (live tiles) which were cool. But what wasn’t cool was the amount of (free) apps I would install from the app store and the amount of disappointment when I realized that the app didn’t do anything different from what I could do on the desktop. Some metro apps are great though. Don’t get me wrong. For example, the built-in Weather, Money, and News apps are awesome. But with a little bit of work I can just use Internet Explorer 10 and just subscribe to RSS feeds and pin the Favorites Center. Internet Explorer is probably the best thing in Windows 8 because it’s built-in and has the best web experience with Microsoft websites, services, and HTML5 along with Silverlight. But for things like Facebook and Twitter I sometimes need to use Chrome because all the new compatibility and trust usability features in IE10 can’t do it all for all websites. If they target Chrome and not IE (so much anyway) then I’ll just go to Chrome for any demanding tasks on that website. Internet Explorer to me is just more secure and worth the usability snafus that come along with learning new technology.
I took a screenshot of one of my tile arrangements. Kind of nice on a touch device but I don’t recommend getting too in love with Windows 8 Start Screen until you get into touch. For non-touch users simply knowing the Start key with the Windows logo icon on the (Microsoft) keyboard is your best friend. But so also, is pinning items to Start menu, or knowing how to add icons to Desktop (legacy) apps is also a good thing to know. I usually pin a program to the Task Bar and pin any important highly used sites to the Favorites Bar in Internet Explorer.
Some of the really great things for both non-touch and touch devices alike in Windows 8 include live tiles, cloud integration, social connectors, one login, picture password, social media integration, search integration, the “geek” menu, file transfers UI graphing and pause button, hyper-v, updated Task Manager, ARM support, etc…etc…etc…
The biggest downside is they removed the Start button for Desktop (non-touch) users. They could have done a SKU that was just touch like RT and given an enterprise version and that would be fine. If there is one I haven’t installed it. But it sounds like there may be something out there. I’ll keep an eye out for that.
The second biggest downsides for me is the usability with things like social media, sharing content or device sharing, and the number of entry points that can take you from one world (Desktop) to the other (Start). The one very useful feature for those who don’t use the new Metro apps is the View in Desktop Version command in Internet Explorer.
However, from using the Surface and Windows Phone 8 there’s lots of potential benefits to using Windows 8. But what would I personally recommend? I would treat it as simple as this. If you’re not using a touch device and don’t have any burning desire or need to have one, then don’t worry about jumping the gun to Windows 8. But be aware that Windows XP ends support (end of life), this includes extended support, on April 14, 2014. That means that you must be on at least Vista at that time or you’ll be putting yourself at risk from both a security and self-help (support articles) standpoint. There won’t be any more security patches after that point, unless it was a real huge exploit, but I wouldn’t hold your breath. Therefore for companies I would make sure you are at Windows 7 or 8 by April 14th, 2014. That’s my professional recommendation. But also, don’t feel you need to be on Windows 7, if your company or home has computer(s) with Vista on it. But if you’re not happy with Vista in terms of performance. That’s where I’d thing about just going to Windows 8. Horrible sell, I know but Windows 7 is going to be harder to find and I discourage anyone from buying on eBay or even Amazon (although unlikely Amazon would let me down) unless it’s from an online merchant you really trust. So as of now, you’ll need to get on Windows Vista (latest Service Pack) or Windows 7 or 8 by the end of the year.
If you’re not buying a new device that comes pre-loaded with Windows 8, be sure to run the Windows 8 upgrade advisor, the Windows 7 advisor should still be out there.
I’ll try my hardest in the coming weeks to blog more in the future about migrations and cloud storage, Office 2013, SkyDrive, Office 365, Windows 8. But I’m also studying UNIX-like operating systems including my UNIX bible simply called Inside UNIX. Wow, this is the motherload, the war and peace of UNIX books but there’s probably a bigger one out there somewhere. I have FreeBSD loaded on a VM and playing with that also. Also, I’ll try to point out some cool new devices like the nook, Chromebook, Facebook phone, among others. SSD (solid state drives), smart phones, backups, infrastructure, and ARM processors to name a few will also be brushed upon. The smart phones probably more than the others. The iWatch would be another.