Should I upgrade to Windows 8 or NOT?
Windows 8 or not? That was a question that I probably should have considered a bit more before I upgraded. But, since I don’t use Windows a lot, it does not matter that much. Here are some of the quick lessons that I have learned in the short time that I have been using it (about 4 hours). I arranged it into “The good”, “The bad”, and the “The ugly.”
- The price is MUCH more reasonable than previous upgrades. When I bought my new laptop, they offered a “special upgrade price” for when Windows 8 was released – $15. Considering that previous upgrades to Microsoft products are usually priced at over $100, I was convinced that this was a good deal. In truth, anyone with XP, Vista, or Win 7 can upgrade for $39.
- You can sync data across multiple Windows computers. If you have multiple Win 8 computers, a new Windows tablet, and / or a Windows phone, then you will probably like the ability to sync your calendar, music, photos, mail, etc across devices. Since this function has been available on the Google platforms for several years, it is high time that Windows should catch up but it is too late for me. By the way, there does not appear to be any simple way to merge the existing Google cloud (sync) data with the new Win 8 stuff. Neither does Win 8 data sync with earlier versions of Windows.
- The display is pretty. You can revert to a “kinda – like” Win 7 desktop but the default is a tiled version that is similar to the Windows phone interface. Although I had to re-install the driver for my ATI video card, the display is nice. Microsoft has dropped the “3D” appearance but the result is better IMHO.
- Boot time has been reduced. This is only slightly true. What actually is happening is that Hibernation is enabled by default. Still, for most users, it will be a GREAT change to see their desktop without having to go get a cup of coffee first.
- This version is touch oriented. I have been telling users for a long time that “touch” is the future of computing. Ubuntu enabled their “Unity” desktop a couple years ago in preparation for the touch revolution. Practically all current mobile phones use some sort of touch interface. Android and iOS (iPhone, iPad, etc) are exclusively touch based. All current tablets use a touch based operating system. Now, Windows is playing “catch-up” and even trying to change the game with their tiled interface. I am not impressed.
- Some hardware may not support it. There is an online installer to allow you to check if your hardware is able to support it. You can also use that function to download and install the upgrade. I just bought a mid-priced laptop a few months ago and it still does not support a couple of the advanced features of Win 8.
- New Windows 8 applications are full screen only. This is one of the really bad things that I don’t like. I am sure that I will discover the answer but as of now, I still cannot close one of these full screen apps. I have to leave it and go back to the “Start” screen. Maybe this is the intended action but I don’t like it. There is a way to display two apps at a time but my hardware will not support it. I suspect that they will later allow these apps to run in a smaller frame (window) like your legacy apps can now.
- There is no “Shut down” function. If you use the clunky charms / settings / shut down function, you may THINK that you have shut down your computer but you would be wrong. If you are like me and dual-boot Windows and Linux, when you get into Linux, you will not be able to mount the NTFS drive. That is because Win 8 does not (by default) shut down. Instead, it uses a type of hibernation that locks the drive until Windows is restarted. That is what enables the fast booting of Windows 8. If you use Linux and you need to disable this function, go to your power settings, unseen options, and remove the tic next to the fast boot option.
- The “Windows RT” version is sure to confuse people. Microsoft built a Windows 8 look-alike operating system for the devices with ARM processors that it calls Windows RT. This version will run the new Win 8 applications but, although it has a desktop screen, it will NOT run legacy Windows applications.
- There is no “Start” button. If you want to see a list of your installed apps to pick one (like when you hit the old Start button, then it looks like you are going to be disappointed. It just is not there. You can point to a corner of the display and the 5 “charms” are displayed where you can get back to the start screen and pick something there. Otherwise, sorry.
- The learning curve is HUGE! Since this is a total overhaul of how the Windows User Interface (UI) operates (from point and click to touch), it will be VERY difficult for some users to change – especially those users who operate on a desktop.
The bottom line is that this is a really nice – and needed – upgrade if you have a touch enabled screen. It is probably worth the upgrade for laptop users with touch pads (which can simulate some of the touch functions. For standard desktop users, it will be a difficult transition and probably should be avoided.
Our thanks to The Verge for help getting on board with Win 8. See their review here.
As always, we value your opinion. Leave a comment below and tell us where we missed the boat!