I broke down and bought Windows 8 a few days ago. Took advantage of the $40 deal. A big reason for this is I received a Vivo Tab RT as an early Christmas gift. I’ll post more on this awesome device later.
What I Like About Windows 8
The Start Menu – The fancy new tiled start menu is pretty awesome on the tablet. One the desktop it’s finally grown on me. I like the fact that all the apps I use most just show up there, they aren’t hard to find and my desktop doesn’t have fifty thousand icons on it from all the installs I’ve done where I forgot to uncheck the “Add shortcut to desktop” option. Yes, the Accessories menu is hidden but I got to where I was typing what I wanted into the search box in Windows 7 most of the time and telling people to do the same.
The tiles make the system look a bit more appealing. I will have to see how well they work with some people who aren’t power users before I start recommending it to people. Though it looks pretty good.
The Apps – I like the apps that it comes with, especially the Xbox stuff. There’s an app called “Smart Glass” that lets you interact with the Xbox on your tablet. I haven’t played with it much but it has some stuff you can do with movies and music. You can also see your Xbox Live account and stats.
Compatibility – Windows 8 seems fairly compatible with everything. At its heart I think it is just Windows 7 with fancier menus. On my tablet I can’t run regular windows applications but so far I haven’t HAD to.
Synchronization With Live – It looks like Microsoft has done what Google did with Android and tied everything into Live. I really like how you can use your live account to sign on to your PC and if you change your password on the web somewhere, this propagates to all your machines. This could be a security issue in the long run but it is convenient. So make sure you use a super-strong password on your Live account. This also eliminates the problem of getting locked out of your PC accidentally as you can just change your password on your phone or other device.
I also LOVE how much it synchronizes between devices. This is really the best feature. It doesn’t do files so much, but settings, desktop backgrounds and all that are available on all devices across the board.
What I Don’t Like About Windows 8
The biggest problem with Windows 8 as far as I can see is that people who are used to the Windows interface up to this point might feel restricted by the tiles. It’s not intuitive where everything is at. As an IT professional I had a hard time actually finding the control panel on the Desktop version. You have to click in the upper right hand side of the screen and click “PC Settings” to get there. There’s NOTHING indicating what to click or where, I just stumbled into it.
If you go to the desktop it’s not intuitive where to click to get the start menu back. Now I know I can hit the Windows Key but practically no one I know uses that. You have to drag your mouse to the lower left hand corner of the screen to pull it up. The problem is that your first app on the Task Bar also is pretty much right where you have to click for the start menu. I still try to go into that app and end up in the menu. This is frustrating, and I could see this being a problem for many users, especially if you don’t have steady hands.
On the tablet the start menu isn’t as big a problem as there’s an Apple style ‘Home Button’ that lets you get back where you want to go. In fact most of the annoyances from a non-touch screen PC go away on a tablet, or a touch screen. I just wish they had fingerprint repellant glass.
I would find all this horribly unusable on a media center PC. Best to just stick with Windows 7 a while.
Granted most of these problems can be fixed with some user interface changes and tweaks by Microsoft, and it isn’t as bad as it was when the release candidate was all that was available.
My other complaint isn’t about Windows 8, but with Dropbox. I can’t use it on my tablet except through the Web interface, which is fine, but not terribly convenient. I have considered switching entirely to SkyDrive as they actually have web-based Office apps now that are pretty good. I’ve seen that Dropbox has submitted their app to the Microsoft Store, but it doesn’t seem to be available for my Windows RT tablet yet. I hope it is soon as I love writing and blogging on this thing.
Do I Recommend Windows 8?
For business use, not yet. For home use, it looks to be great for new users, and users who aren’t terribly savvy. If you’ve got an Xbox, it’s really not a bad idea to just bite the bullet and upgrade. And it’s $40 until the end of the year!
On new computers, I’d suggest a touch screen monitor, but it isn’t necessary. I’ve put it on my desktop at home and I’m actually used to things, and it only took a few days to get over the annoyances.
So if you want something easy to use, easy to read and what I like to call “grandma friendly” it really isn’t a bad idea to upgrade now.
I’d also recommend that you pick up a book on it if you aren’t someone who has time to dedicate to learning a new operating system through trial and error. I work with computers professionally, but I admit I will get a “For Dummies” book if I need to learn something quickly.