Windows 8 Second Impressions

Windows 8 is like something that has never been before. To some its 2 oS’s in one, to  others its a mess. To me it needs time to be appreciated for what it is. I’ll admit I have been harsh on it before here exactly one year an a day ago, but I kept an open mind and after using the full release as my main machine I’m starting to see the benefits.

In the market there are two key interfaces. First up is the traditional desktop, all icons, and file manager and full control. To me its nearly always how I work, but I’m a techie. This has been used to drive huge profits for both Microsoft (all version of Windows), and Apple (all the OS’s since day dot).

The other way is also trumpeted by Apple and now Android. The app. There is no OS to speak of for the user, just loads of icons, that fire up applications, and when your done you go back to the beginning. This key change here is the move to touch based control from keyboard and mouse. You have probably seen enough 3 year olds with Ipads to know how easy this is to pick up !

Before I begin, here be a warning. Do not do an in place upgrade from Windows 7. It will not work, unless you are lucky. Took me 1/2 a day to recover from this. Start afresh and save time.

All MS has done is to combine the two, no more no less. This seemed to be a bit weird, but once you get used to it makes sense. If I want a rich outlook experience I fire it up, and work away, and integrate with SharePoint, and all the rest. If I want to quickly check emails, without mucking about with a web client, I just tap mail on the start screen. Simples. If I want a full active x rich web experience with toolbars, etc (not that I do, but some do), then there it is, and if I want a quick browse that’s there as well, with no fuss. So in all, its should be the best of both worlds (should).

The metro interface seems a little superfluous at first, and I spent most of my time in the desktop, pretending it was Windows 7, but then I noticed that more and more I moved across to the metro interface just to check x and y. With the active tiles sometimes I didn’t have to click anything !

My main annoyance last time around was the inability to close metro apps easily. Task manager sort of spoils the experience. Until I found the corners. The corners are everything in metro. Top left brings up the last app you had open. useful for jumping around, and importantly, the app you have just left becomes the “last” app. Bottom left is the best in my opinion. You get the start menu link, but more importantly if you move the mouse straight up along the left edge, you get all the open apps, which you can navigate to,  and you can right click and close as you feel fit. Still not as good as a big X in the corner, but easier than before.

Top and bottom right, do the same thing, they open the “charms menu”, basically settings, search, start, devices and sharing. This can be a bit fiddly but fear not Windows button and C are your friends. Then use the arrow keys and return to select. This is also context sensitive so if you are in an app and do this, you can search within an app. E.G. in IE, you get the internet search box.

Having used this for over a week now, I find that I don’t need to make the move to a touch device. This is opposite to what I originally thought. This OS is spot on for a laptop, and the fact it goes like a train helps.

Another tip is, when in a Metro app, it can be a litte frustrating at the lack of option buttons, and configuration choices. Just find a bit of blank desktop estate and right click. A pound to a penny you get what you need. Some of the apps needs sorting (Evernote – I’m looking at you !), but Rome wasn’t built in a day.

The app listing on the left. Too useful.


So there you go. The second impression. Better than the first.

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