Windows 8, the new Windows Vista?
Windows 8 has been out for a good few months now and any new laptop or desktop comes shipped with the new operating system as standard and the biggest change that has had a lot of people worried (or intrigued if you are relatively computer savvy) is the new start menu. Granted, before I started using the operating system on a regular basis, I was absolutely shocked at the change to the start menu, even further more when I found out that Microsoft had even integrated the Metro UI (the new start menu) into the latest version of Server 2013! A few weeks prior to release, I was given the opportunity to download the full version of Windows 8 for free with me being a student. Part of me wanted to stay with Windows 7, an operating system which I felt, at the time, was about as good as an operating system could get, but another part of me wanted to download the new Windows 8 OS, experience it and then become proficient at it. After all, I felt that if non-computer literate users being chucked in at the deep end were to use the operating system and undoubtedly become proficient at using the OS through frequent use, there shouldn’t be any problems with me using the operating system.
New Windows 8 start menu
My first impressions were positive. You can link Windows Live/Hotmail accounts to your computer, these then act as your local computer account with the password as well as. Alternatively, you can just create a local account but if you want to link your e-mails as well as, you may as well just link your e-mail address as your local account from my experience. The customization of the operating system colours, especially on the start menu will float a lot of users boats. I imagine the idea behind this would be to ensure some uniqueness to a person’s device, because let’s face it, Windows 8 is directly aimed at the tablet market where tablets all look the same, especially the upcoming Windows Surface.
One recommendation I have for new Windows 8 users is to look up keyboard shortcuts, especially as there is no Start button per sé, some of which you can find at the bottom of this article.
I have spoken to a number of people regarding the switch from Windows 7 to Windows 8 and a lot of users are finding the transition a daunting step, much more so than switching from XP to Vista or even XP to Windows 7 but with the keyboard shortcuts, time and perseverance anyone can begin to use the new operating system as if you were a seasoned pro.
One major positive though is the compatibility with a large number of programs. I’ve found that most, if not all, programs I had running on my old Windows 7 installation work perfectly fine on my new Windows 8 installation.
During quite intensive usage of Windows 8 over the past few months, I have found a few niggles regarding website compatibility. As random as it sounds, where I live, we use pay as you go utility meters, meaning we top up our electric and gas supply with a card or electronic key which is topped up with credit when we go to a shop. Whilst my girlfriend was heavily pregnant, she began to find it hard to venture outside and top up the card or key if I was either at University or at work so our gas/electricity supplier (British Gas) supplied us with some really handy USB devices which the card or key insert into and you can top it up via their website without even leaving your home. Brilliant stuff we thought. It was until Windows 8 was put onto my laptop. The website isn’t compatible with the latest Internet Explorer 10, and to make things even worse, the top-up website isn’t compatible with Google Chrome nor Mozilla Firefox!! The only way around this was to create a Windows 7 virtual machine and do things that way.
Other websites are also still not compatible with Internet Explorer 10 so expect a few disappointments when browsing the Internet.
This article is very brief and touches on various areas of the new Microsoft installment of the Windows franchise and hopefully gives you a general idea of what you can expect. My personal opinion is this: Windows 8 is a bloody good operating system from a social media perspective and also where the tablet market is concerned. Should you upgrade? Sure, why not? I can assure you, the latest installment of Windows 8 is not another Windows Vista. Windows 8 is a fully bona fide operating system and it genuinely works!
Top 5 Keyboard Shortcuts (in no particular order)
- Windows key + C = Charms menu – Allows you to search through installed applications, browse through devices and change settings on your device*. This is also the area where you will turn your device off
- Windows key + X = Substituted Start menu – This is probably the closest you will get to the old Windows Start menu now. Device Manager, Control Panel, File Explorer and Run are all accessible here.
- Windows key + Tab = App switcher – This keyboard shortcut is a must know. One thing to keep in mind is that Windows 8 now has the ability to download Apps from the Windows Store. These act differently to installed programs. If you do not close down an App, much like a program, it will remain in the background, even if you think it has closed. The problem is, Apps don’t show in your taskbar. Using Windows and Tab allows you to close the Apps down by right clicking on the App you wish to shut down. One good thing about this keyboard shortcut is the ability to snap your Apps to the left or right of the screen which literally takes up a quarter. Ideal of have e-mails or other social media Apps running whilst writing a Word document at the same time.
- Windows key + E = File Explorer – Now there is no Start menu for you to go to Documents, and only a solitary icon on your taskbar, you may feel like one of your legs has been taken from you regarding the “explorability” of the operating system. Fear not however, as Windows + E opens up an Explorer windows starting at the Computer screen.
- Windows key + D = Desktop – If you’re in an App and want to quickly revert back to the Desktop screen, hit this key combination and you will be instantly transported there.
* – I use the word device in lieu of computer or laptop as Windows 8 is primarily designed to run on touchscreen devices such as tablets.