A couple of days ago I started testing Windows 8 . The new Microsoft operating system has been promoted on every single ad around the world. The launch was some days ago and since some months we knew all new laptops and desktops were going to be shipped with Windows 8.
Before I start I need to comment you my installation experience: Although the installation process was really fast (I always do full installations and not upgrades), consider saving the ISO file into a USB device making it bootable (you can use Yumi Multiboot for this) or you can burn the ISO into a DVD disc in case something goes wrong and you need to reinstall…
In my case Windows 8 didn’t correctly detect the HD4000 onboard graphic card drivers and after the first restart, my computer was booting (I guess) but showing a black screen with the mouse cursor I could see when I moved my mouse. I´ve tried everything (believe me), with my iPad I researched on almost every blog and forum talking about something similar, and after understanding Microsoft disabled the F8 menu option to load (among other options) Safe Mode, I had no more choice than to re install the whole thing again. After the second installation finished and before restarting for the first time I downloaded all latest drivers corresponding to my Asus motherboard, installed them, and then I was able to restart OK.
Note: I find so bad that Microsoft decided to take away the Safe Mode booting option from startup. I am worried about the limited troubleshooting options we as IT supporters will have. All the guides I found online pointed to a way to enable Safe mode from within the graphical interface, when the whole point of it is to be able to choose this option before the GUI loads, because in fact, you have a problem.
Anyway I think its great to have improvements in operating systems. Systems that most of us have been using since initial versions like Windows 95 (that was 17 years ago). Since that time Microsoft wanted an “Apple like” menu on their OS and so they created the well known start menu. Through this menu you could access all programs, frequent programs you access, options and more and this more or less has been the way through until now. Microsoft decided to take away the Start Menu and replace it with a Start up Screen with a lot of tiles, which looks nice, if you use a tablet.
If you use a laptop or desktop computer you will feel lost with Windows 8, things are not where they used to be and I am afraid these odd move from Microsoft may backfire. I understand we have to give some time to understand how things work in Windows 8, but up to now, what I’ve noticed is that something I used to do with one click takes more clicks and memory to remember where it was.
Remember Microsoft decided to implement a Ribbon on Office 2007 onward because they said that most of the functions being requested by users where hiding inside the menus. Well, with Windows 8 they are just hiding things again. Microsoft should have let people decide if they wanted the new interface or not, letting them enable it or disable it at their own pace.
If they don’t bring an update to allow people to choose if they want the new interface or not the implementation rate will be really slow, specially on corporate. Companies don’t want to spend time supporting the learning curve of their users because of an upgrade. Microsoft will find itself (again) with an “old” OS like Windows 7 becoming the Windows XP of Windows 8 times.
Microsoft main argument for this changes is that they want you to have the same or similar experience with all devices, this is: phones, tablets, laptops and desktops. But its my believe that taking away the start menu on a device where you use a mouse and keyboard is a mistake. It really looks terrible a very big button on my screen that I will click with the arrow of a mouse that looks so disproportional to the button (tile) itself.
Also, I don’t like the idea of touching the screen of my desktop or laptop, I don’t want to see a lot of fingerprints and marks on it as I do see and tolerate on a more portable device as my iPad and mobile phone.
I created a video screencast with simple instructions on how to make Windows 8 show you the desktop instead of the Start Up Screen when you log on. You can check the post here.
So, for the rest of us that will still be using Windows 8 but want to bring some Windows 7 experience to our desktop, here are some tips I´ve tested and researched online:
If you really miss the start menu, I would suggest you to try Classic Shell, a free app that will give you the ability to add a Start Menu as in Windows 7 so you can use your software with ease.
Another alternative is Start 8 from Stardock, check out a video on what you can do with it here, be sure to check other Windows enhancements they have. I personally don’t usually use the Start menu once I have created a toolbar pinned to my task bar with all the soft I usually use, it looks something like this and it is very comfortable:
Files open in modern apps
The new “Metro” interface shows all apps designed for it in full screen and so options like minimize, window resize and closing are not there anymore. For example if you open a picture you will see it within the new Pictures App in full screen. You can control how different file types are opened by Windows 8 by right clicking on any file and selecting Open With, on this menu select which program you want to use and then hit the check box if you want the change to be saved for all this type of files.
Using POP email accounts on Windows 8 in Mail
Windows 8 Mail application doesn’t allows you to add a standard POP account. If you need to add one the workaround is to go to mail.live.com and add the account in Settings > More Mail Settings > Sending/Receiving email from other accounts. Or of course you can use any other mail client, but nowadays less and less people use a POP account.
Windows 8 no longer supports the playback of DVD movies (I don’t know why), but just get VLC Player or BS Player two excellent free programs that will save your playback for almost all your multimedia files.
Of course there a lot of more changes that I will show from time to time, this post is already much longer than what I expected and I don’t want you to get bored 🙂
So, my suggestion would be:
If you have Windows XP/Vista or 7 you might want to take advantage of the upgrade price of USD 40 (which will probably be higher after the promo which ends on 31/1/13). Microsoft doesn’t checks if you have a genuine previous version of Windows at any time of the purchasing process, so this might be the chance for you to get legal (if you weren’t) , and get the latest version of Windows. There is a workaround for its mayor downside which is the new Start up screen so you will be on a safe zone as the rest, I find (till now) to be very similar to Windows 7.
What do you think about the new Windows 8? Will you upgrade? Share your comments below.