November 4, 2012
I’ve heard so much about Windows 8, Microsoft’s most recent version of its popular operating system. I have read some of the reviews and some of the comments on those reviews. I’ve tested the Consumer and Release Previews in virtual machines to see the new interface. But I knew that I would never know if I would truly like Windows 8 until I upgraded my Windows 7 Asus laptop to use Windows 8.
I downloaded (by clicking on the “Download Pro for $$$” button) and ran the upgrade assistant. It told me that four programs were incompatible with Windows 8, but I wasn’t using two, and the third was Microsoft Security Essentials, which is replaced with a better Windows Defender. After uninstalling the incompatible programs, it asked if I would like to buy Windows 8 Pro, which I agreed to and purchased with my credit card (if also has the option for paying with PayPal). After asking a few questions about saving my data and settings, I told the upgrade assistant to start installing Windows 8 immediately.
The upgrade assistant then took a short time, perhaps about ten minutes, to prepare my computer for the upgrade. After that was done, my computer rebooted and I was already greeted with the new Windows 8 logo. I was surprised that it had already changed those files, actually. I waited for a bit while the spinner kept going around in a circle, then eventually treated to messages such as “Getting devices ready” and “Getting ready” under the spinner. After another reboot and once again at the boot screen, this time with the message “Moving your settings.” And that’s why I’m happy to have upgraded from Windows 7 to 8, since I lost nothing in the process except for those four programs I had to uninstall.
After getting ready and moving my settings, Windows 8 asked me to personalize my experience by choosing a color scheme, pick a wireless network to join, use its “Express settings,” sign in with my old login password, and then prompted me for information about my Microsoft account. After it had created my account, I was told “Hi. While we’re getting things ready, check out the new way to use Windows.” Windows 8 wanted to show me that moving my mouse into any corner would do something. After getting my computer ready some more while fading the background between several colors, Windows 8 installed some apps and then brought me to the new Start screen. This was nothing really new to me, so I knew how to get around the interface in a limited way.
I’ll be honest and say that I’ve grown accustomed to having the Start button in the lower left-hand corner of my screen. Most Windows users have. Removing the button may seem like a pain, but Microsoft made that corner the hot corner for accessing the Start screen, so all of my apps and programs are available to me right there. I had to move some things around, remove useless tiles, and add a few links, but the interface of the Start screen looks very clean and neat, as any simplistic interface should. Live tiles are intertesting, since they are able to offer live content to me at a glance.
Of course, I was relieved to have the classic desktop availible to me. Most of my programs aren’t from the Store, so they need the desktop to work. A few changes here and there, but there isn’t much to learn once to figure out where some of the controls have gone (they might be in the Charms bar). Most programs worked the same as they did while I was using Windows 7, and I did not notice much change in the way I had to interact with them. Graphics changes, mostly. In the first hour, Windows Explorer kept crashing every minute, and I was getting very frustrated. I did some googling, and it seems that Mozy, my chosen cloud-based backup program, was still displaying the virtual drive, which appears to be incompatible with the Windows 8 shell for now. After following some instructions, I was able to clear up that annoying problem and get to work customizing this newly upgraded machine.
Pros vs Cons
I know that some people might be looking for the list of the pros and cons while trying to make the decision to upgrade their own computers. So, here it is:
- Simple interface doesn’t distract from content
- Better animations, even for older computers
- Compatible with most Windows 7 computers
- Cheap price for an upgrade
- Works with touchscreens or a mouse and keyboard
- New interface with no Start button
- Extra keystroke to get to login screen
- Settings have been moved to new menus
- You’ll need a Microsoft account for the Store and syncing services
All things considered, I think upgrading my computer from Windows 7 Home Premium to Windows 8 Pro was a good idea. I get to keep the programs that I’m used to using while being able to use new apps at the same time. The interface changes are not that difficult to learn and understand, and make some improvements over what was offered by Windows 7. The looks are simpler, and Microsoft has made it very easy for all types of developers to get involved building apps for Windows 8. A unified interface between devices should make the transition easier for those that may buy a Windows 8 tablet or phone in the future, as all three types of devices use the same interface and core code.