Windows 8 Review

Windows 8 LogoI don’t get to decide just to skip an OS version, because as the expert I’m expected to know the product. Use whatever you like as I have no fight in the game – the paltry 3% margin on hardware isn’t worth the time. My role is simply to give clients the straight scoop versus the hype from the lame stream media. News outlets are bleeding cash, generally redistribute the same tired drivel with no fact checking, and misguidedly have seized on the notion that Microsoft is conservative/lost/boring. Worse yet, Microsoft haters started the Windows 8 sucks campaign based upon press releases even before Beta preview with moronic assumptions. The official release date for Windows 8 was October 26, 2012, but Microsoft Partners had the full version for a couple of months beforehand. How about getting some insight from someone who really uses Windows 8?

Myth

It’s been hilariously and widely perpetuated that Windows 8 is for tablets and touchscreens only. Nope. Wrong. In fact, a colossally stupid and stupendously false notion. While Apple is desperately trying to use a wigi board to contact Jobs to figure out what to do next, Microsoft beat everyone to the punch by completing the strategy to have the same OS on any device. Since Windows 95, no one has questioned the click Start, scroll up, scroll right, and scroll down again concept. When Microsoft added a tremendous search so all you had to do was type the first few letters of what you wanted, almost nobody found it. The answer was to give a full screen view, plus real-time updates of what is going on. You arrange the menu in the order that you like so everything is one click without scrolling. This modern user interface (UI) works well on tablets and smartphones. Much better than the how many swipes does it take to get to the app I can’t remember I wanted on an iPhone. Microsoft simply released Surface tablets first against iPad for a better interface, faster response, and central management for that security and privacy thing that Apple is arrogantly 10 years behind even considering. Just like Windows 8, Windows Server 2012 gives a full screen menu so you don’t have to scroll 2-3 levels down to get to your favorite admin console. Oh and yes, there is still a desktop – make it as tidy or cluttered as you like. When you pick an application from the Start menu and then finish what you’re doing, you are returned to a desktop just like you’ve been comfortable with for nearly 20 years. When you want the Start menu again, just move to the bottom right as always.

Verdict

For those of you who know me, let’s cut the bull and get down to the bottom line. Then if you want more justification, you can continue reading the other sections. The reality is that Microsoft will no longer support the 12-year-old Windows XP after this year, so you have 3 choices:

  1. Windows 8
  2. Windows 7
  3. Linux

Unless you have some applications that simply can’t support Internet Explorer 10, Windows 8 is the clear choice for a modern look and feel with at-a-glance productivity. When we’re talking about technology, no one can argue with faster and Windows 8 delivers the speed. I’ve already pulverized the myth about no desktop and explained that the Start menu is really a one-click productivity tool with added dashboard status updates of your interests. For the 80/20 rule, many features use well-known paradigms. However, there are some dramatic differences to learn for the next wave of computing, not just touch but voice (another Microsoft technology that makes Apple Siri seem shrill and challenged). See the Differences and Likes below.

To hear Gardner talk, the general population must have the average IQ of a Neanderthal and can’t comprehend the changes in Windows 7, much less Windows 8. Um the look of Windows 7 is a little more glitzy than XP, the Start menu is in the same place (bottom left), operations are smoother, and some things are named or arranged just a little differently. Come on Gardner, tell people the real game and don’t pander to the now broken concept of “we’ll stay one version behind”. You see Microsoft is the only major software manufacturer that has a published product life cycle of five years standard support with another 5 years extended support. New products are released every 2-3 years. So if you go to Windows 7 now, you’re out of standard support with no new features and only security updates – AND will be 2 versions behind in 2-3 years. Showing up in 2013 with XP and corresponding technology is like being there with only your fax machine and bag phone – very impressive for customers and prospects and you’ll surely strike fear into competitors. Once management or employees catch the zombie fever of the latest consumer fad like Apple right now, you’ll end up throwing out your one version behind stance anyway because fad products are only supported for a short period and generally only work well or at all with the latest stuff. If your organization is on Windows 7 now, stay there and you have time to learn and implement Windows 8 on new workstations. If your organization is on XP, going to Windows 7 is not a conservative choice, but a laggard choice since you’ll be so far behind that you’ll be upgrading again in about 2 years – jump to Windows 8. 

If you’re into high risk and betting the farm or in this case your livelihood and reputation, change everything and go with Linux. Folks, Apple is Linux. Google is Linux. There is nothing wrong with Linux, but it’s in a separate microcosm and will never be mainstream. Linux is either very closed and proprietary or incredibly open. Linux is the choice of the novice or wealthy or conversely the scientist or hacker that build their own MacGyver utilities. If you have a specific business need like crunching a lot of numbers for modeling or want to tinker with every bit and byte of a web server, then Linux may be an option. Or maybe you just want to browse the web and get e-mail on the couch, then an iPad or Droid tablet is a neat toy. For many, the high cost Apple switch becomes a failed experiment in frustration of alien concepts and arrogant interoperability. You see, Apple has a roller coaster history of brief notoriety and then fading into near oblivion. The Apple 7 year fad is nearly over. Even fan boys are tiring of being captured with barely incremental improvements annually at inordinately high prices for waning quality and prestige. Apple will have no concern about insolvency with tons of cash after 2014, but will have to take a cue from Novell or IBM to find new markets to be relevant in another decade. Back away from the Apple cult, or you’ll end up bitter and betrayed with bewilderment that you too can have body odor.

Requirements

Microsoft lists the following bare requirements for Windows 8:

  • Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster with support for PAE, NX, and SSE2
  • RAM:  1 gigabyte (GB) (32-bit) or 2 GB  (64-bit)
  • Hard disk space: 16 GB (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit)
  • Graphics card:  Microsoft DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM driver

A better rule of thumb is to have double the processor and RAM with at least 50GB of free disk space.

Different

Let’s face it. Windows 8 is innovative, but different. However, don’t forget the right-click, which is still the fastest way to do things in Windows. Right-clicking the Start icon in the bottom left gives you all the run, search, command, and Control Panel stuff for you pros so you don’t have to clutter the taskbar or start menu. Ctl-Alt-Del remains as a quick way to log off, change users, or manage tasks. Moving the mouse to the top right or bottom right, provides you another way to mange PC settings that are still shown in the bottom right by the time and date. Lastly, one of the little mentioned features is that you no longer need Adobe Reader since there is a built-in Reader. How about not having to do the annoying Adobe update that either destroys PDF associations or installs malware toolbars for your browser? Hopefully, HTML 5 will become mainstream soon and we won’t have the even more annoying Java update that seems to rarely work too. Lastly, multiple monitor support is much better with the Start menu and taskbar available on every screen. Everything else has more bells and whistles, but works basically the same way.

Likes

Feel the need for speed – in applications, on the web, and simply just the smooth transitions from screen to screen. And don’t forget about the faster boot time. The Start menu is innovative and dynamic. Oh, did we talk about how you can use your Windows Live ID to sync your settings on any device? Or what about Windows-to-Go where you can make a copy of your OS settings on a thumb drive and boot up to any Windows 8 PC with all of your settings? Search is actually improved with near instantaneous results for files and applications. Get the Windows 8 Pro upgrade for just $39.99. Lastly, the other main concept you should glean from this article is that Windows 8 is all about moving your focus to the content on the screen and reducing menu options for better productivity.

Feedback

I’ve mostly heard from a few customers that threw Windows 8 on an old notebook and were surprised at the speed improvements and the possibility to get another couple of years out of what would normally be a door stop. What are your impressions of Windows 8? Please enter your e-mail address to follow this blog and feel free to suggest any other reviews.

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