With the Windows 8 billion dollar advertising campaign and the building media hype surrounding its release, there are still a lot of unanswered questions. In seeking out the answers, our President, David Lewien, has been running Windows 8 since October 23rdand here is his take on the new OS:
Windows 8 is the most dramatic overhaul of the Windows OS in nearly 17 years. It is more different from Windows 7 than the sum of the differences between 95, 98, XP, Vista and 7 combined. I’ve embraced the change and after a few days, am enjoying it.
Windows 8 has one foot in the past and one foot in the future. The old desktop is still present but it is obvious Microsoft wants you to start using the “Metro” or tiled interface. It helped me to understand that the two are not intermingled. The apps you open from the tiled (“Metro”) interface are different than the apps you open from the traditional desktop. The best example of this is Internet Explorer. Two different browsers opened from two different locations. Once you understand this, it is easy to keep them separate or commit to using one over the other. The same dynamic is true of the other applications, like the built in PDF reader, the new Mail app, and apps for video, camera, etc.
Everything you need is still there, you just access it differently. I recall Apple die hards telling me “…Macs are so intuitive…” I didn’t find this to be true (perhaps because Windows was second nature to me). Regardless, it didn’t take me long to adapt to Macs and I can say the same of Window 8.
Like Macs, once you know how to navigate the interface, it is easy. Windows 8 navigation was designed for touch screens, if you don’t have a touch screen, you will just need to know certain tricks. Following are the shortcuts I used the most:
- Windows Key + Q = Search. Use the Search feature to quickly find anything you need, be it a contact, email, settings, apps, web pages and more. This one keystroke will get you through Windows 8.
- Windows Key + X = All of the configuration settings you need. IT guys and power users will appreciate this keystroke that gets you to Programs and Features, Event Viewer, Control Panel, Task Manager, File Explorer, Search, Run, Desktop and more. All the support and configuration essentials are here.
- Drag your Mouse to the upper right or upper left of the screen. In the upper right you get Search, Share, Tiles (“Metro”), Devices and Settings. In the upper right you can navigate through open windows by clicking the mouse repeatedly to see a preview of what is open or by dragging down the left of the screen to see the windows that are open.
- Close the new Apps by dragging from the top of the screen to the bottom. The “X” at the top of the window is gone. Just put your cursor at the top of the screen, a hand will appear, then drag it to the bottom. This closes the app.
Perhaps most importantly, everything is working in Windows 8. In fact, I think moving to Windows 8 was easier than re-installing Windows 7. I’m a fairly typical user so I installed Office 2010, QuickBooks, our quoting software, VPN software, printers, remote support software we use to help customers, and a few other applications. All installed without any difficulty and are running fine. I’ve only had to search for a couple of drivers, which I was able to find easily.
The bottom line is that if you are looking at Windows 8 for personal use or if you have small office with less than 5 people, Windows 8 will be a legitimate option for you in the very near future. If your business has more than 5 computers, it will be VERY important that you consider the amount of time your people will spend getting used to the new OS, compatibility with ALL of your business critical applications (CRM, ERP, Accounting, hosted and on premise, etc.), and test thoroughly with one or two users before you dive in. As always, Go West IT is happy to help you make the best IT decisions for your business.