Windows 8: First Impressions

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I haven’t really been waiting on Windows 8 and I didn’t have a pressing need to upgrade, but with all the advertising I thought I would take a closer look at the latest release of Windows OS. To summarize, I like this product far better than Windows 7 or any previous version.

I’ve been using Windows 7 on a MacBook Air for as long as I’ve had my MacBook. It’s worked well but I have noticed a few things: it starts more slowly than OS X, takes longer to come out of sleep mode, and generally Windows apps, particularly the Internet Explorer browser, are very slow. In looking over the Windows 8 features, the thing that intrigues me most is the merger between consumption design for consumers and business use. My life straddles personal and work, so having a single OS that helps me to create synchronicity and balance is appealing. But a few early reviews of Windows 8 indicated that the navigation would be radically different, so I was skeptical. 

Installation:

The install for Windows 8 went more smoothly than I could have imagined. I didn’t even check to see if my software would work with Windows 8. I just let it install all on its own. The only issue had to do with two pieces of software that would have to be reinstalled. Easy. After about an hour of installation, the install was complete and Windows 8 booted without an issue. I think this may be the easiest OS installation I’ve ever done. The only issue, and this was documented online, was that the MacBook Air trackpad wasn’t working. I was able to get the trackpad fixed with some effort, but in the interim used my USB wireless mouse, which my OS detected immediately.

New Looks:

The look of Windows 8 is completely new and has more of a feel like my reader app Pulse than an OS or anything like Apple’s iOS. All in all it is more visually appealing. The Start Menu button and task bar has been redesigned using tiles. The tiles introduce an entirely new interface for navigating information. I found the interface easy to scan and use. Windows 8 automatically detected my apps and configured tiles with the icons. Navigation to get back to the tiles is located in the bottom left corner of the screen. The top left corner of the screen is where you can access running apps, including the Desktop. And the top right corner is where you can find settings, search, devices, etc. All in all I felt it was easy to navigate without much thinking, despite my first impression that it wasn’t very intuitive. I also found it simple to find what I was looking for without having to search for answers on how to do something. Compared with previous software updates like Ribbons in Microsoft Office, Windows 8 did not require any additional reading or training, which is always a plus.   

Performance:

Everything about my MacBook Air is faster now. Internet Explorer is now as fast if not faster than Google Chrome. The OS launches more quickly and “waking” from sleep is as fast as OS X. Everything is just more responsive and fluid.

I took a big risk jumping right into Windows 8 but I’m glad I did. I would not want to move back to Windows 7. If you find your experience is different, I would welcome your feedback.

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