I have been running Windows 8 Pro on my non-touchscreen laptop for over a week now and I think that is enough time to let the dust settle and get used to the biggest change to a Microsoft Operating System since Windows 95.
So how does it fair? It’s certainly no Vista, as some in the tech circles have been saying, however, it doesn’t feel as polished as Windows 7 either.
The speed improvements are certainly welcome, with much improved boot times, while the whole system feels noticeably snappier. Internet Explorer 10, both metro and desktop versions, bring Microsoft’s browser up to speed with the competition, and it finally has spell check! Bad spellers rejoice!
File transfers have a much improved dialogue, allowing you to pause the transfer and view a performance graph for how fast it is going. The ageing task manager has been given a much improved layout and look.
The ribbon on the explorer also works surprising well, showing contextual commands depending upon the task, such as for extracting zipped files. It’s easily kept minimised to so it doesn’t take up too much space.
The start screen isn’t a bad change in practice. You can still perform the majority of functions the start menu provided, which I found myself using less and less anyway in Windows 7. The biggest problem with the start screen is the way in which it interacts with the desktop. With the desktop, effectively being just another app, you would expect tight integration between the two. No such luck.
The right click menu that I use to sent emails, doesn’t accept the mail app as a default, saying no mail app is installed. There is no metro version of the file explorer. The desktop IE and Metro IE remain confusingly separate and the share charm doesn’t allow you to share anything from the desktop.
Other similar niggles arise when using a dual monitor setup. The start screen doesn’t extend over two displays, whilst trying to hit the corners for the aforementioned charm bar or the start button becomes a total pain in the arse.
The metro apps look nice. They present content in a similar fashion to the way the Xbox has done, content they are trying to sell it should be said. The music and video apps handling of user content is downright atrocious, presenting me one long list of videos on my computer with no organisation whatsoever. Not good.
The ability to use your Microsoft account to sign in and bring your Xbox, Hotmail, SkyDrive and any other Microsoft accounts with you is perhaps the strongest aspect of Windows 8, with Microsoft finally bringing about the integration of their vast array of services to bear. This is what we have been waiting for and for the most part it works quite well. Microsoft certainly have a compelling ecosystem.
All in all it does feel like an operating system trying to sell you something above anything else, which given the low price and the fact that it is aimed at the iPad consumer crowd is not entirely surprising, however, it is sometimes a bit much.
Hopefully, Microsoft will be quick to issue updates to address some of these issues. However, you cant help shake the feeling that Windows 8 is merely a stepping stone for the next version of Windows that will bring a more refined version of Windows, whatever that may be.
Thanks for reading,