Friday, November 1, 2013

Review: Windows 8

This blog post was posted from a Windows 8 PC! However, it was expanded and edited on a Windows 7 PC.

Windows 8 is released today on October 26, 2012. I went to my local PC World store to test it out. My first impression of it is that it is "different." It marks a radical difference from the Windows we use to know. Starting from Windows 95 up to Windows 7, the basic Windows interface looks pretty much the same: the start menu in the lower right hand corner and the desktop.

Boot up process

With Windows 8, the first thing you would notice upon booting up is that the BIOS splash screen is gone. So as the Windows start up screen. These are now combined into one. Windows 8 start up sound is disabled by default but if you turn it on, it sounds exactly like Windows Vista. Also, it boots up into the Metro Windows Start Menu (or as Windows call it Modern UI) rather tan the desktop. Note: For legal reasons, Microsoft wants users to call the Metro UI as Modern UI. In addition, if you want to go back to the traditional desktop, you have to click the desktop icon on the Modern Start Menu. That will throw you to the desktop, which feels like an app since it too can be closed by dragging downwards. There isn't any way to bypass the start menu and boot straight into Windows (well there are many ways but they are merely hacks as they're not "official" i.e. not supported natively)

Windows 8: A tale of two interfaces

Windows 8 feels bolted on. Settings made in the Windows 8 metro screen does not necessarily translate to the desktop app and vice versa. There are different settings for metro app. For example, when I log out of Chrome on the desktop app, it still signs me in in the Modern UI Chrome app. Also, I can't delete users from Chrome app.
I feel Windows is designed for touch as I find it easier to browse Windows 8 on a touch PC than with a mouse and keyboard. For example, with the Internet Explorer Modern UI app, to bring up the URL bar after it disappear, on a touch PC, you just swipe downwards. However, with a mouse and keyboard, I spent about 10 minutes doing various actions. I even consulted the PCWorld sales guys and he doesn't know. In the end of random clicking, I found that right clicking on a blank space in the app brings up the start menu. Another example is that to close Modern UI apps, you will have to click on the top and drag it downwards or press "alt+f4". I also do not like all the sideways scrolling that is involved in Windows 8.
Another chagrin I have with Windows 8 is that stuffs are thrown all over the place and it's hard to find it. Also, searching for the stuff is also one step longer Windows 8 search does not search files. There is an extra step to choose that. In Windows 7 to find the option to delete Internet Explorer history, I have to click on start and then type in "delete"--> Start --> Delete to find the option to delete IE histories.

In Windows 8, it's right hand corner (or lower right hand corner or the start button on your keyboard) --> Search. Then type in "delete" and select settings and then you will find the option to delete the history.Win8 Start --> Select Settings --> Delete
Step 1: Step 2:
Windows Explorer (or in Windows 8 lingo File Explorer) now sports a new ribbon UI. This interface was first introduced in Microsoft Office 2007. Gone are the menus. File Explorer with Ribbon showing:


File Explorer with Ribbon hidden (default):

I find this irritating since file options is hard to find. In Windows 7 it's tools --> Folder options:
However, in Windows 8 it's View --> Folder options

In the desktop settings, Aerosnap to view two windows side by side still work.

The option to switch apps remains as alt+tab. It can be used to switch between desktop and metro apps.

Windows 8 task switcher:



Windows 8 task switcher with metro apps and desktop programs running: 


Windows 7 task switcher:


However, aero switcher no longer present. Just in case you guys don't know what that is, this is aeroswitcher in Windows 7:


Pressing that combo brings up this screen:
Windows in Windows 8 feels flatter and more "digital looking." Unlike Windows 7, which sports a glossy look, the Windows 8 windows feels flat and bland. Here are the two Explorer windows shown side by side with the Windows 7 window on the left and the Windows 8 window on the right. Click on the image for the full view.


As well as a new Explorer window, Windows 8 feature a revamped task manager, which is certainly better than Windows 7's as shown.



Creating program shortcut is a pain in the arse. To do that, right click the app. A menu will open at the bottom listing the options available for the app / program. Click on the 'Open File Location' button. You'll be kicked out to Windows Explorer to the folder containing the app, and it will be highlighted for you. Right-click on it and select "Send To->Desktop (Create Shortcut)". You will now have a Desktop shortcut for your app!

Final remarks

Windows 8 feels faster and slicker, although I did manage to "freeze" an Internet Explorer window on the store PC (I think I broke it cause every time I bring up Internet Explorer, it freezes). However, it feels more touch orientated. Doing things on Windows 8 is a series of just trial and error. Files and settings are thrown all over the place and there is a steep learning curve. The user have to click various things before, a ha! I found it. Also, the upper right hand corner or lower right hand corner is the new start menu. Ther isn't any "visual" cue with Windows 8 unlike earlier windows. It's all hover and out pops the Window. Oh here's some advice of how to turn off Windows: to turn off, upper right corner, power, turn off. Or go to desktop and press alt+f4.

Note

I'm using Google Chrome rather than the native Internet Explorer since it's easier to simply junk all the settings after I use it. I feel it's more "portable" as I can easily sync all my settings to it and delete it in one go after I'm done. Also, it has Adobe Flash Player bundled so no need to worry about outdated Flash Player. In addition, it doesn't need admin privileges to install.

Hardware Requirements

Minimum hardware requirements for Windows 8
Criteria Minimum Recommended
Processor 1 GHz clock rate
IA-32 or x64 architecture
Support for PAE, NX and SSE2
x64 architecture
Second Level Address Translation (SLAT) support
Memory (RAM) IA-32 edition: 1 GB
x64 edition: 2 GB
4 GB
Graphics Card DirectX 9 graphics device
WDDM 1.0 or higher driver
DirectX 10 graphics device
Display screen 1024×768 pixels 1366×768 pixels
Input device Keyboard and mouse A multi-touch display screen
Hard disk space IA-32 edition: 16 GB
x64 edition: 20 GB
Other USB 3.0 port
UEFI v2.3.1 Errata B with Microsoft Windows Certification Authority in its database
Trusted Platform Module (TPM)
Internet connectivity

Useful links:

free counters