Monday, October 29, 2012

Windows 8, first impressions by Korneel

Last Friday I bought Windows 8 on impulse. Mostly because I wanted to get rid of vista and a little bit because I wanted to review it later on. After using it on Friday and Saturday, I can give a few first impressions, but by no means a complete review.

First off, I did not disable the Metro UI from the start. I wanted to give it a fair chance, so I went with it and discovered some apps were really useful to me. For instance, the Mail app was able to configure my school mail account by itself, something no program was able to do for me before. And once you get the hang of how to work with all the UI, some apps are really useful and it al feels natural in use. But most of it is tailored towards touch screens, sadly. I don’t like programs that I don’t use to gobble up my RAM, so after opening a few apps, I tried to close them... and found out that Microsoft didn't really add a shortcut or option for that. So good old Alt-F4 it was. I can see why they did it, since the apps don’t take that much RAM, but still, I like full control over what my machine does and where it puts its efforts. After some time in the UI’s main screen and options screens, I installed an app. I installed Skype.

I really like Skype for two things: that I can see my girlfriend with it, while I’m playing on the main screen and it doesn't take up that much screen space on my second screen. So I wanted to see if Skype was still the same program in its Metro form. It wasn't  In fact, it became a screen Nazi, you either had all of it on your screen, or nothing and a pop up notification. This rendered Skype nearly useless to me. So next step was to remove it. Easier said than done. I had to Google that one. You simply do it via the Remove Software manager. Problem was, by then I had installed old Skype as well and it simply deleted both of them, old Skype and Metro Skype. This might be Skype’s fault, but it was kind of a nuisance.

The Windows key can be resurrected!
After that, I decided that it was time for change and I figured out how to get it to be classic windows again. Turns out they implemented a small program for that. The options are easy and clear, and after a restart, your Windows works the same as your previous one. They did include a option to not have the Start screen as your first screen after you log in, but I still get some seconds in that screen, no matter what. It closes down automatically though. You can also change what the windows button opens, the start menu or the start screen. I actually intend on using the Metro UI again, because it feels like something I could get used to. Overall the program is still well made.

After those trials, it was time to open up the partition that holds steam and all my games. I was very pleased to see that steam, even though it was installed on Vista, worked immediately once I clicked the program. It also automatically downloaded all the necessary DirectX files upon opening a game. I had noticed this before, but only between different Vista installations. needless to say, I was impressed.

The paste screen had a face-lift.
What also impressed my was the fact that Windows 8 installed the drivers for every single thing on my PC, by itself and during installation of windows itself. Microsoft has tried this before, and I know that when I installed Vista, that the installation did this too. However, it has never felt so smooth and flawless as now. Most of the installation went without a hitch, and even though I didn't install from a medium, but simply in Windows, it still resulted in squeaky clean install. Other things that I was impressed with include the overall look and feel of Windows, it’s so clean and simple. I also like the new task manager and the copying screen, those really stood out to me as a big improvement over the previous screens. Windows 8 is also simply fast. I admit, I have a SSD to speed it up further, but it’s a massive improvement from Vista and an improvement from W7.

That being said, I don’t really see the need of upgrading from W7. I don’t think that the improvements are that big over it. W8 is very cheap though at the moment. Cheap enough to say 'why not?' and frankly I don’t see many reasons why not. I actually like the thing, even though it has some flaws indeed, but there are workarounds for that. I also find the current lack of beta-like bugs and other child diseases to be very appealing as well. Also, the lock screen is gorgeous and useful!

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