Windows 8 …… A Users View

 

I have been using Windows 8 for a month or so and can’t decide if I like it or not.

I ran a clean install initially of Windows 8 but I could not find some of the drivers required for the integrated devices, so I installed a vanilla version of Windows 7 and then upgraded to Windows 8 Consumer version and all devices are now successfully installed.

It has some nice features but seems to me a bit of a halfway house between tablet and a desktop interface. I have a touchscreen desktop so should be an ideal user of the Metro style design. However, I have found myself using the mouse most of the time even when negotiating the tablet like features. I personally don’t think that a touchscreen on a desktop or a laptop for that matter is going to be widely used. If the desktop is an all in one maybe positioned on a wall then I see it as a usable option, from my experience using a touchscreen when in a desktop environment means you are always at the wrong angle for making accurate touch gestures. Touchscreen on a laptop may work better but again I only think it works well with a laptop that can be transformed into a tablet!

You start of using the touch environment but pretty quickly I found myself moving to the desktop environment. Although, with Windows 8 the desktop environment has no Start button which I think is probably going to cause a headache for a number of users, especially as the Start button in Windows 7 had become easy to configure and worked well.

 

To open Programs you have to either use the Metro interface or use the search facility available by moving the mouse over to right hand side of the screen. The Metro screen comes with standard tiles on the main Start screen and you can add Apps to this area simply by right clicking on the screen selecting All Apps from the bar at the bottom of the screen, then right clicking on the App of your choice and pinning it to the Start screen. This idea works well although I did find I was putting all my programs on the main Start screen which quickly becomes cluttered. Windows Key Shortcuts work as well and they are pretty useful.

To switch between Desktop and Metro Style you can move your mouse to the lower left hand corner of the screen or you can use the trusty Alt-Tab. Click on the upper left hand corner of the screen and you will see  the Apps you have open, you can then open, close or snap the App to the left or right hand side of your desktop. Move the mouse to the right hand side of your screen and you will see another set of options, to allow you to change settings, shutdown, share Apps or search for Apps or items on your computer. The options revealed by clicking on settings changes depending what screen you are on at the time.  When you have an App open you can close it by moving to the top of the screen the mouse changes to a hand and you can drag the App to the bottom of the screen and it will disappear.  You can also access the following screen from the settings menu to configure your lock screens, synchronizations. notifications etc.

The Live Tiles aspect of Windows 8 is a nice idea and when you log in it’s nice to see updates appearing on Tiles without having to do anything. I think this feature will be popular especially with the Live Notifications available from all Tablets and Smart Phones now.  Setting up Mail option in Metro seems to be lacking functionality. I was able to set up Google Mail ok but have been unsuccessful connecting to my Hotmail account which is weird, the only other option available is to add your Exchange Account, so I have been unable to set up any other POP or IMAP accounts, which I do find frustrating, maybe this will change on the official release.

The Message App worked well and popped up when someone sent me a message from Facebook, I preferred using the Windows 8 App interface to the Facebook one!

I have been to the App store by clicking on the Store Tile and downloaded and updated a couple of the free Apps. That all worked well although, obviously there are limitations, several Apps are listed but on attempting to install them you are informed they are not available yet.

I have noticed a fair bit of screen fragmentation when switching between Metro and Desktop mode, whether this is down to speed of the PC or something that needs improving from the MS end I don’t know? but I would expect the Desktop I am using (64-Bit, 4GB Mem, 3GHZ Dual Core) to be able to handle the transition without leaving parts of the previous screen visible.

So far I have not found much difference in response times from Apps/Programs, browsing the web or writing to disks etc. I have found that Windows 8 is faster to Start and Shutdown than it’s predecessor.

I like the lock screen where you can select the picture of your choice. Once set you swipe up the screen when locked to reveal the logon screen which can either be a normal password entry or a picture password, which means you use three swiping gestures on the image you have chosen to unlock the screen. The picture password works well and you do have to be  precise in your gestures to unlock the machine which I guess is no bad thing.

 

So far I have not had any real problems with the operating system. I like the look of Windows 8 and will keep this post updated as I continue using this as my main system.