30 Days with Windows 8


Okay folks, here we go, I’ve been meaning to blog about this for a while now, but right now when I have a ton of work to finish and it’s 4:30am in the morning so I have decided it’s the perfect time to blog about my experience with Windows 8 over the last 30 days. This is my non-techie, non-jargon-filled impression of the first 30 days.
I installed Windows 8 Pro somewhere around November 1st. The hardware is the same 5 year old hardware that I had blogged about here. There were some changes like RAM up to 4 Gigs, added a Creative Sound Blaster 5.1VX Sound Card (the on-board one’s gone bust) and a new Power Supply Unit. Now the fact is, I have an upgrade wish-list ready but I also wanted a Surface also! So the choice was really between Desktop upgrade and Surface RT. No points for guessing who won!
Anyway, I must say the software purchase process was reasonably smooth… Would have loved to use Direct Bank transfer (in India), didn’t quite workout but eventually was a able to pay via PayPal!
My machine was running the Win 8 Dev Preview at the time and I was under the impression I would have to install my Vista OEM version first, but the Update Manager didn’t mind and let me buy the Pro without a fuss.
I downloaded the ISO when given the choice (between ISO download or Internet Install. I inherently do NOT trust web installers and given an option select an ISO download ALWAYS). Once the ISO was downloaded I mounted it using Win 8 (Dev Preview) itself and ran the setup.
Couple of mistakes
1. I chose my location as India which set my Keyboard and Dictionary to UK by default. Folks in India beware. If you are used to a US style keyboard better pick the correct localization after selecting country. Getting it wrong on Setup means a lifetime of niggles. I have nearly fixed this but it still shows up when I create new accounts of setup new software.
2. I had nothing to save from my Dev Preview setup so I should have picked Save nothing when the installer asked me. This would have formatted the hard drive. Anyway, there wasn’t much to mess up on the previous installation so the setup went smoothly and I was up and running in about a hour or so.
Initial Impressions
(Now may I put a disclaimer here: These are initial impressions of the release edition. I have tried every Beta/CTP/Preview edition on Win 8 MS release over the past year.)
The Good
– For the legacy hardware it’s running on, it boots incredibly fast!
– After a complete Dev environment setup (using Express editions of Win 8 Developer, Web Developer, SQL 2012 Express and Office 2013 Preview) the performance is way better than my VMs or BootCamped Win7 installation on my 2009 MacBook Pro.
– I have adopted the dual personality Desktop easily and even though sometimes it involves a couple of extra clicks I am comfortable switching between Metro UI and Classic Desktop. All my important applications are pinned to the Task Bar, the rest I get to by simply pressing the “Windows” Key and typing out the name. This flow is exactly the same as I had in Windows 7. So nothing really changed for me.
– Driver Database: Excellent! Actually better than Win 7. It identified the legacy hardware like a champ. In fact there was a small Micro Wireless Dongle that I had bought for my Raspberry Pi. I couldn’t get it to work on the MBP on the Win 7 partition but Win 8 recognized it and got the drivers as soon as I plugged it in and had been using it ever since. So my desktop is also connected ‘wirelessly’. (the onboard Wireless is also working but I damaged the antenna wire so it’s connectivity is pretty weak).
– I found Windows 8 Apps for ESPN Cricinfo and Dhingana (Indian Music channel on the web).
– Visual Studio 2012 stopped acting like a colic child! It works and works and works till too many XAML Designers throw it off it’s kilter. I’ve noticed that after 3-4 Visual Studio instances things go downhill fast! Multiple XAML windows work for a while but may result in Explorer crash (and restart) or make the system laggy! Still the fact I can use Visual Studio reasonably reliable is a big win for me.
– The Upgrade Cost! At Rs. 1999/- It’s a steal and I plan to upgrade my Dad’s laptop and Home Computer eventually with it.
The Bad
– My Dad would need some handholding to shut down the PC! It wouldn’t have been so bad if they had a honking red stop ‘Live Tile’ on the Metro UI that initiated the shutdown process! Having to do it via settings is really a 1 finger salute to Desktop users.
– One BSOD doesn’t really qualify for a bad, but it’s still 1 more than I’ve had on Windows 7 in the last couple years. I hope it’s nothing serious!
– Default apps are incredibly barebones. Take this WordPress app (though not default) initially raised hopes of not requiring Windows Live Writer anymore but that was dashed when I started writing this blog!
That said I am actively working towards making my 2c contribution towards making the Windows 8 store a ‘richer’ place with more ‘goods’…
The Ugly
– Haa… Gotcha! Nothing is really ugly on Win 8 unless you are a Windows 8 Apps developer. That too I am actively working towards fixing 😉
In Conclusion
Haters will hate! The Web 2.0 media-sphere seems to have an unnecessary hostility towards anything Microsoft does and have already written Windows 8 off. I say screw them! As an end-user when you get Windows 8 on a new touch enabled PC, you will really enjoy your PC experience! Even without a touch device I am enjoying my Windows 8 upgrade. If you are buying a Windows 8 device for an older member of your family, do them a favor and spend 5 minutes to show them the new features, it won’t take more than 5 minutes!!!
Windows 8 continues to grow on me as Microsoft’s best OS release so far!
P.S. Hey WordPress, this is an incredibly shitty blogging app! Man up and get some real features in!
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