I have tried Windows 8 a couple of times since its launch but to really see what it can do I decided to use it as my sole operating system on a daily basis for a week. So it was to be used for internet browsing, social media, invoicing, blogging, updating the website and anything else business wise I could throw at it. This is not meant to be a review of Windows 8 (there have been plenty of them already) but rather how it coped in my business environment.
As I do a lot of my work within virtual environments I decided to install Windows 8 within Oracle Virtualbox with ‘only’ 2 GB of RAM. Installation was a breeze and soon enough I had the now familiar login screen. I don’t like the fact you have to login with a Windows Live ID but since I have one it was not an issue.
Now onto the bit a lot of people hate – the new ‘Metro’ UI. Personally I don’t mind it as I soon learnt that if you pin all your most used programs to the Start Page accessing your programs is very fast (press the Windows key at any point takes you to the Start Page where all your program shortcuts are). While we are at it I don’t miss the Start button either. Moving the mouse to the top right of the screen to access the search function becomes second nature when you do it a couple of times, however there is a problem if you don’t know exactly what you are searching for. If you are used to using Control Panel on earlier versions of Windows then this should not be an issue (just search for Control Panel and you get the familiar Control Panel screen with all the settings) but if you are used to just browsing for the setting you want to change then you might become unstuck.
The underlying feeling with the new interface is that all the good stuff from previous versions of Windows is still there and functions the same way (eg Control Panel) but there is now a completely different way to access it. People don’t like change (I hated the new interface when it came out) but over time you get used to it.
Now onto the internet where I do most of my day to day work. Internet Explorer 10 is fast and pretty easy to use however there were times when certain webpages didn’t render properly. I personally prefer Google Chrome so I downloaded this instead. Installation again was a breeze but initially Chrome ran a bit slow. I had to tweak some settings to get it to run faster but since then everything has been fine.
For word processing and spreadsheets I use Libreoffice rather than Microsoft Office since I am an opensource fan and after a week of using it on Windows 8 I can say there have been no issues whatsoever. It opens up quickly and has not crashed once (which is rather nice). I have also installed and used GIMP for photo editing (adding images to my website) and again it has worked flawlessly. The one program I did have issues with was Skype. The new Skype interface was confusing and wanted to use the entire screen once opened. This will take some getting used to. One thing I will ask is it just me or is Skype less reliable now that Microsoft has taken it over? The reason I ask is that I have had a lot of connectivity issues over the last 6 months which I don’t ever remember having before.
On the hardware side Windows 8 has been fantastic recognising all my usb devices without any glitches and even my HP Deskjet A printer was installed with no fuss (Windows even found and installed the driver without me having to do anything).
Oh I forgot to mention the start up time is very quick too but Microsoft could place the shutdown button in a more convenient place.
I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface on what Windows 8 can do. I have only really used it for one week and in that time I can’t really expect to use or tinker with every setting or menu. From what I have seen so far I think Microsoft is on a good path.
So what is the overriding verdict then? For my daily usage Windows 8 has been fantastic. It has done everything I could want it to do and more. Would I go out and purchase it? Probably not and the reason for that is it doesn’t offer anything dramatically different (apart from the new interface) than Windows 7. Here Microsoft has a big problem. Windows 8 on a tablet or laptop with a touchscreen would be a very pleasant experience indeed but on a ‘traditional’ laptop or desktop there is no real WOW factor. Yes it is very good operating system in my opinion but so is Windows 7. People are more comfortable with the old interface and will continue to use that instead. Watch out for Windows 7 becoming the new XP.
About the Author
Hi I am Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows and Linux based IT Support, laptop repairs and computer repairs to both business and personal clients in and around Stirling.
For a list of what I can offer you why not visit my website www.comtech247.net where you will find a list of my services, testimonials, blog and much more!!