I finally decided it was time to install Windows 8. Waiting until RTM was probably a good idea, just so I didn’t have to reinstall after GA. There will be a more detailed article to come, but I wanted to list some first impressions.
- I do NOT care for the Metro Interface. I get it, but I am not crazy about it. It is basically a replacement for the Start Menu, geared toward tablet use. The only advantage I see for it is that now there will be a consistent interface between the PC and the mobile device (regardless of the platform). This also allows Microsoft to get into the tablet market. Once you figure out how the interface works, its not too bad. The Start Menu was incredibly easy to use, but I also remember what it was like when they changed the interface in Windows 95 and how big of a change the addition of the Start Menu was. Funny how that comes back around.
- True to tablet and mobile form, Windows 8 tries to get you locked into using the system via some Microsoft account (Hotmail/Live/etc). This is not terribly surprising and is set to get you to link a Microsoft account by default. To create/use Windows accounts, you have to pay attention to the screens during the setup of the OS, as it isn’t exactly obvious. There will definitely be more on this later, as the initial configuration of Windows 8 is rather interesting.
- The addition of the ribbon bar in Explorer (now called File Explorer) is probably my favorite change so far. Rather than navigating through a menu to turn on the ability to show file extensions and hidden files, there are now checkboxes that allow you to turn these options on. Very easy. Also the ability to cut, copy, delete and rename files/folders is now right in front of you.
- The Task Manager now has a much cleaner interface that I really like. It certainly looks much cleaner than it did in Windows 7. I feel like even with the changes made to make Windows 7 pretty, the Task Manager just falls short.
- Powering down/rebooting the system is much less obvious because of the Metro Interface (this is really a sub point to point 1 about the Metro Interface). If you drag your mouse to the top right of the screen and select Settings, you can power the system down, as well as access the control panel and various other system parts. I thought the addition of a two click shutdown (Start –> Shutdown) in Windows 7 was much better myself.
- I also preferred the one click search, which was not a direct replacement for the run command of old, but it was pretty damn close. The Windows Key + R still works for accessing the Run command though, as do many of the old keyboard shortcuts (so far I haven’t found one that doesn’t work).
- One thing the Metro Interface can do is keep the “Desktop” cleaner of some of the clutter that is typical of some users. Desktop icons are still created as usual, but the Start Screen will allow for some ease of access to applications without having to navigate through a clutter of icons/documents.
- The boot loader changed again (and has since every version of Windows since XP). So far, I think I like this version the best, as it is a more visual representation and gives you a few more options to change the wait time for booting into Windows, as well as selecting the default OS to boot into.
- Note: This only applies to dual boot systems, which is how I am currently running. Note here, if you haven’t partitioned your system to separate your data and OS, its probably a good idea to do so, just to save yourself some hassle of backing up and restoring data in the future (as part of a multi-boot strategy. Multiple partitions does NOT replace a good backup strategy in the event of a disaster).
I’m sure there’s more to come. I’ve only been using this a few hours and have managed to be semi productive as a result. It’s still Windows, but it’s definitely a change from the last version.