Saturday, June 2, 2012

Windows 8 Release Preview

Windows 8 Release Preview (64 Bit)

Okay so this review is quite late for Windows 8, but the Release preview has just come out.The thing is I had installed Windows 8 CP using Virtual Box on the Mac and had found it was quite a frustrating experience. You really need to install this as a proper OS rather than a VM, and I also don't recommend using Metro for desktops.

So just recently, my KMS license of Windows 7 PRO ran out on my 6 month old Acer 522 Netbook featuring an AMD APU that can utilise 4 gigs of ram and has superior graphics to the Intel Atom.
So I had the options of going back to Windows 7 starter and lose 2 gigs of ram as well as a really watered down OS; pay $200 for Windows 7 Home Premium; install Ubuntu 12 or install Windows 8 until January next year.

Before I go on with my choice of Windows 8, I am really disappointed with what Microsoft did to the netbook market; by replacing XP with the crippled and much maligned Windows 7 Starter. To have to spend another $200 to utilise a proper OS (the upgrade cost to Windows 7 Home Premium) is a really poor money grabbing debacle, particularly when Mac users only pay $29 for a full upgrade to the next OS. This is something that Microsoft has to have a clear look at with their OS and not to sell so many SKU's at ridiculous prices.

Okay so I chose Windows 8 because it is free and Ubuntu had too many problems with sleep and graphics issues on my netbook.  Usually when I install an OS I would format the HD and clean install. I was lazy previously and decided to upgrade to Win 8 CP over the top.The install took a lot longer than what I am used to, but then I didn't have to reinstall apps and copy files over (copying 500GB of music is never fun).It worked perfectly. The second time round I decided to do a clean install and upgrade to 64 bit. Everything worked perfectly after install, no need to find drivers. The release preview is much smoother and far more polished than the CP and I have been very impressed.

I was pleasantly surprised how smooth Windows 8 ran and how quickly it boots up.  I was greeted with the Metro screen and was disappointed that apps won't work because my screen is 1280x700. Metro is designed for a 4:3 ipad type screen that has slightly more pixels with the width of x768. So because I was 48 pixels short in width I can't use Metro Apps.  It just seems to me that Microsoft is too Apple concious, and that they are restricting their OS excessively, whereas the whole reason I believe Microsoft became popular, was that it is more open to different formats, sizes and shapes!!

The Windows ORB & Windows Shortcuts

I was a big user of the ORB but as I also am a big shortcut user (which is one of the reasons why I like Windows), and I had a feeling that I don't really need the ORB. That so far has been true. All the Windows Key shortcuts have been changed which is frustrating, but I quite like the new Windows Key X shortcut as it give some great admin features, and the menu pops up to where the ORB used to be. For search I have to use Windows Key Q which takes me to the Metro interface. Most of the time I use the desktop interface which involves pressing the windows key after I log in (the windows key can swap between the metro and the traditional desktop).

The doubling of Metro and traditional desktop

Sometimes I notice there is a doubling of the interface between Metro and the traditional desktop such as bluetooth devices.  This has caused some issues as on occasion my bluetooth headphones haven't worked and I have tried removing and rea-dding the device and it has been confused. I had to uninstall the bluetooth driver and reinstall it to get it to work again, and I noticed that there are 2 places to add and remove bluetooth devices, which must be why the bluetooth is buggy. So far this issue seems to have been fixed with the Release Preview. Although it is annoying and disjointing as long as it works smoothly this shouldn't really be much of an issue.


You get this feeling that Metro is sort of tacked on to Windows 7 and that they have removed the ORB to make a statement that they are fresh new & innovative.  I feel that the removing the start/orb is alienating to the existing customer base, and I can't see the enterprise moving to the new OS. There are a few really good improvements to Windows 8 such as fast boot times and reimaging the OS from scratch, but they are even a smaller leap than Vista to Win7!! Some tech journalists have commented that they are deliberately forcing Metro on the desktop to get developers to write for the platform. I really think you should be able to disable Metro if you don't want it as it doesn't really make sense on the desktop.  I think Microsoft is to worried about Apple and the OS reflects this, it is more reactionary than innovative and they are making moves of desperation rather than anything that is well thought out.  I will most likely go to Ubuntu next year as hopefully the sleep issues and graphics will have been sorted out by then. The upgrade costs for Microsoft OS are way too expensive, which is particularly upsetting, as I have mentioned before with the crippling of Windows starter.

The key to the new OS is to use windows key shortcuts and pin your most used apps to the taskbar and you can search for apps by using Windows key and Q. The problem with this is that most users are used to their way of working, particularly with heavy mouse use, rather than more efficient keyboard shortcuts. Also as Microsoft is pushing Metro, most users will be unaware of the best way to use the OS for their productivity and will find metro disjointing. There is also a learning curve for the shortcuts as they have changed which will frustate users in the enterprise.

Even though the OS is very smooth, polished and pleasant to use unlike the diabolical Vista; you can't help but think there is something odd going on. That to me is Ballmer's obsession with the ipad.  Is it normal to use a 80 inch tablet as your sole device like Ballmer does? Hell No.  He needs to think outside of chasing the ipad market.

We need a whole lot of different devices for different tasks.  I use the ipod nano for example when I go running; the problem with the Ballmer mindset is that it is very narrow, which is why Microsoft fails to be an innovator.

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