I have been following the development of Windows 8 from the get go, just as I have with most of the other Windows releases in the past. And I was excited about it being released to consumers in some kind of beta stage.
I had a good 8 month with it now from the Consumer Preview to the Release Candidate all the way to the final product and in general I like it. But let’s take it from the start.
Installing Windows 8 was a very painless process, especially when you are used to installing previous versions of Windows. Simply select the drive you want to install in on and it will do the rest.
I installed it on my 6 year old laptop, that recently got upgraded with a bit more RAM and an SSD drive and it is as fast as you can expect it to be.
Is it still called Metro? I got a bit confused with all the backwards and forwards. No it’s not. Call it Windows 8!
To get to the point – I don’t like the Windows 8 Start screen on my non touchscreen Laptop at all. When you have a lot of software installed on your laptop, there is a lot of scrolling left and right involved. I found myself reverting back to typing, which actually works really well. On the Windows 8 Start screen just start typing on your keyboard and all programs installed that fit the criteria will be sorted in real time.
I found that I spend a lot of time on the Desktop and I pinned all my frequent apps to the taskbar there, so I don’t have to go back to the Windows 8 Start screen.
One thing that I found really annoying are the Live tiles on the Windows 8 Start screen. At the office I still use messenger a lot to communicate with people that sit on the other side of the office. The Windows 8 messenger app comes with Windows now and is a native app that has its live tile and when you receive a new message you can see a little popup in the top right corner of your screen for a second. Now if you would have missed that and you are like me, spending most of your time on the Desktop, you won’t even know that you got a new message as there is no indication. Remember the old messenger app turning orange in the taskbar? So i ended up installing the old version of messenger.
I am sure it helps that I run everything of my SSD drive, but it seems that Microsoft really optimized everything regarding speed and I am liking it.
Windows Explorer is much nicer when you are copying lots of files all the time as you get a lot more information, you can pause and restart copy processes and if you run multiple at a time they nicely line up. The task manager is better structured and more intuitive and I personally like that Aero didn’t make the cut.
The Start Menu
By now you are probably aware that Microsoft retired the Start button in Windows 8 and personally I think it was a mistake for business use. I was ready to switch back to Windows 7 until i discovered a little app called Classic Shell (here). You might have noticed that I have a start button in my screen shots and that is Classic Shell.
It basically behaves like your current start button, but is highly customizable. Since I installed it, I haven’t looked back. It also disables the Windows 8 Start screen on startup, but you can turn that off if you want.
You get all the new features of Windows 8 with the feel of Windows 7.
All up I am enjoying Windows 8 now that i found a way to get my start button back (and I am not the only one, Samsung included their own in some of their Win8 laptops) and I was able to turn off the Windows 8 Start screen.
Now I am not saying the Windows 8 Start screen is wrong, I am saying that it works on touch devices, but not on Desktops that you would use for business. I had a chance to try it out on Microsofts new Surface tablet and it works well there as it is easy to swipe and “pin” programs to a quarter of the screen etc.
If you have had your own experience, please let me know in the comments what you think of it.