Windows 8 – What do we think?
Microsoft has finally released Windows 8 (Another inventive name!) and it is very different to what most PC users are used to. We asked our technical team to take a look, and tell us what they think of Microsoft’s latest release.
What Is It?
Windows 8 is the latest Microsoft Operating system, released to the public in October 2012
There are three versions available:
- Windows 8 – This is the equivalent to Windows 7 Home Premium. It doesn’t include Windows Media Player, and as it’s a Home version, you won’t be able to join a domain, encrypt the hard drive or log into the PC / Laptop remotely; however you are still able to connect out to a Remote Desktop.
- Windows 8 Pro – This is the Business offering, and replaces Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate. With Pro you can connect remotely from another computer, join a domain and encrypt the contents of your disk with BitLocker. Media Player is also available on this version.
- Windows RT – This is the version of Windows that runs on Tablets. You can’t buy Windows RT, it comes pre-installed on your tablet when you buy it. There are a few differences, but Windows RT runs, looks and behaves in much the same way as Windows 8.
What Platform is it for?
It’s been released on Laptops and Desktops, and is designed to look and act like Windows RT, so that you can work seamlessly across all the platforms, and appear to have one operating system for all your gadgets. It also looks very like the system used to run your Windows Phone.
It’s Different. Very Different. If in the past you have moved from Windows 95 to XP to Vista to Windows 7, you were safe in the knowledge that your trusty ‘start button’ would be sitting in the bottom left hand corner waiting for you. Well no longer, it’s gone!
While you can make some adjustments on your PC or Laptop and make Windows 8 look much as it did on Windows 7, on first view it can seem a little daunting. That said, it’s bright, colourful, and very up-to-date – looking much more like your smart phone than the PC or Laptop you’re used to.
Why is it good?
For most users who have picked up a smart phone and managed to find their way about, you won’t have too many problems using Windows 8. It looks and feels very like your touch screen phone or tablet, and works along the same principles, with tiles connecting to a person, app, website, playlist or whatever else is important to you - you can personalise the tiles to your taste and app usage, and you can click ‘n’ drag and resize to re-arrange. It can also sync with your Windows Phone or tablet, meaning that all your app data can be interchangeable and accessed from whichever device you’re using.
This means that what you’re looking at doesn’t vary so much between devices. Your PC looks like your Laptop, which looks like your Phone, which looks like your Tablet. You only have to get used to one type of operating system.
You also benefit from faster boot time, better battery life and huge improvements in security, and anyone who speaks more than one language or travels between countries will be delighted to know that you can switch not just the keyboard, but the whole Windows interface from one language to another without paying any extra.
What’s not so good?
There’s no getting around it, Windows 8 is a culture shock. For your average PC user, who is used to clicking on start, or a desktop shortcut, to get to the program you need, it will take some getting used to. It’s been designed to keep up with the ever growing TouchScreen market, it’s TouchScreen orientated, and it’s not great to use with a basic mouse and keyboard.
While you can upgrade your XP, Vista or Windows 7 PC / Laptop, Windows 8 won’t run on some older CPU’s, and the list of requirements is quite extensive, so you’ll need to double or triple check before you start. There’s also quite a lot that can’t be transferred between operating systems.
Our Top Tip would be to learn the shortcut keys:
- Windows key + Q: Search. This opens the search charm, set to whichever app you're currently using. You can quickly switch to a files search with Windows+F, or settings with Windows+W.
- Windows+C: Open the Charms bar
- Windows+H: Share charm
- Windows+I: Settings charm
- Windows+Z: Displays the app bar. This gives contextual options in each app.
- Windows+X: opens the admin menu, which appears where the Start menu used to be.
- Windows+D: Shows the traditional desktop. Press again to minimise all desktop windows.
- Windows+L: Locks your computer and displays the Lock screen.
Alt+F4: Close current app. Also, you can use your mouse to click at the top of an app and drag it to the bottom of the screen.
While very unlike to what you’re used to, Windows 8 is really quite impressive once you get used to it. It’s faster, more secure and more intuitive than Windows 7, and it’s handy to have a system that works the same way across all your devices.
Until 31st January 2013, Microsoft are running a promotion to upgrade your Windows XP (SP3), Windows Vista or Windows 7 PC or Laptop to Windows 8 Pro for a reduced cost, though you’ll have to check your System requirements carefully first. You can find out more athttp://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows/home
Best of all, Window 8 works just fine with our WorkPlaceLive Hosted Desktops!