Two Months of Using Windows 8

Microsoft is changing its face. It no longer presents the well-known layout that we have come to expect in the last 20 years. This year marks its most profound departure thanks to a faster-paced Microsoft that pushes for innovation. Everything has changed, beginning with the corporate logo and website. In this year’s letter to shareholders, Steve Ballmer wrote: “It’s important to recognize a fundamental shift underway in our business and the areas of technology that we believe will drive the greatest opportunity in the future.” In the letter, he also announced that, in 2012, revenue grew to a record $73.7 billion. This is immense growth, considering the downfall that many are predicting with Windows 8.

I’ve been using Windows 8 on a daily basis since I downloaded it from MSDN on August 1. Unlike many of the users who complained about the missing Start Menu and other radical updates to the interface, I welcomed all of the changes. Modern innovation rests on the willingness to accept changes. Windows 8, which is coming to market on October 26, 2012, represents Microsoft’s shifting priorities in grand fashion; it’s not necessary to repeat what these changes entail as countless editorials, filled with personal opinion and speculation, have been written about the new face of Windows.

The Start screen replaces the famous button that sported the ubiquitous four-colored flag. Now the four primary colors have been replaced by a light turquoise, angular flag. Notwithstanding this visual update, the pleasant color scheme of red, green, blue, and yellow is present in the Microsoft logo. Looking at the 2012 annual report — and numbers never lie — these changes have so far inspired a sense of hope for even greater revenue.

As a life-long user of Windows, I understand the implications that change can have, especially on the less-experienced users. After all, they represent the large bulk of the consumer market. In order to avoid confusion, let’s define “less-experienced” as people who have no interest in learning advanced computer applications. They just want their devices to perform greatly as the one thing they believe is their function: to make their lives easier. Windows 8 makes everything easier, but doesn’t compromise on versatility.

Two Months of Using Windows 8

Since I’m always susceptible to change, I never question the ways that a new product version has changed from the old; change is to be expected. It’s a matter of impressions and how it feels. Windows 8 feels good to me, because it’s smooth and incredibly efficient with my hardware. For the record, I have a three-year old Vaio laptop, with no touch capabilities whatsoever. As someone who uses this computer extensively for a variety of tasks, including gaming, I can say that the performance gains with Windows 8 are more than just a feeling. They’re palpable.

With the Surface tablet, Microsoft is also expanding its foray into hardware beyond keyboards, mice, and webcams. It wants to focus on devices and services centered around the Windows and Office ecosystem, of course. Both have been renewed from the ground-up; not one brick has been left unturned in this venture to reinvent the company that made software a mainstream business. The result, I believe, is a great improvement across the board.

Unlike so many “power” users on Internet forums, the missing Start menu will not present as much of a problem as some proclaim. People aren’t completely intellectually limited, and are able to read some simple instructions. After a little while, it’s apparent that nothing has really changed, apart from the way to shut down the computer. This, I admit, will need some getting used to. The leaked Windows 8 ads already give an indication that Microsoft is aware that a learning curve must be diminished as much as possible.

On October 26th, the world gets its hands on Windows 8. Microsoft is very committed, proven by a slew of updates this week, including a massive 169 MB update. Yet the new operating system is only a small piece of the puzzle, as Microsoft also unveils the Windows RT Surface on the same day. The reinvention of Microsoft starts now, and after using Windows 8 for two months, I still believe it’s for the better.

Image: Microsoft

Article Written by

He's a writer and photographer living in Sweden. Technology, philosophy, and films are some of his other interests. In 2008, Maximilian completed a BA in creative writing in London. So, being a writer has been important to him for a long time -- although he prefers to be called a "storyteller."

  • http://twitter.com/KarlNU Karl Newark

    I’m approaching the end of my first week with the official build of W8 and I have to say it’s quite enjoyable to use, the”no longer Metro” interface doesn’t really cause any limitations, there are only two things I haven’t enjoyed, one is the control panel, there seems to be one in “tablet style” for simple options and the classic control panel for everything else, I just want one control panel with access to all of my options.

    My other issue is the lock screen, I think it’s really ugly, it functions perfectly of course, i just hate the look of it.

    • http://anythinggeek.net/ Colin

      What do you not like about the lock screen? It is just a photo with a clock and your notifications on it…

    • frostythesnowman

      “Blue” is supposed to bring more options to the modern UI’s control panel, thank goodness too because it’s a little low on options right now. I feel like having both is good, but one should never be forced to use the classic control panel in routine use because it’s a lot harder to use on a tablet.

      • http://twitter.com/KarlNU Karl Newark

        What is this “Blue” of which you speak?

        Hopefully Microsoft will add more options in Windows RT as RT users will not have access to the classic control panel.

        • http://twitter.com/DillonGBlair Dillon Blair

          “Blue” is Microsoft’s next Windows update due out sometime next year.

  • http://www.bytehead.org/blog/ Bryan “bytehead” Price

    After playing with the Consumer Preview, I have decided to not upgrade to 8, and in fact have already gone back to Windows 7. Hopefully the release actually works with my hardware now, because the CP and the RP had issues with my chipset. If I were to actually get a good trackpad, then I might think about it. But I think Microsoft is pushing some things wrongly. I see no reason why using a touch screen and using a mouse are treated so damn differently.

    • http://anythinggeek.net/ Colin

      Interesting, I can’t stand Windows 7. After using Windows 8 it is so slow (in comparison) and ugly (personal opinion). The only device I have had problems on with Windows 8 is my sound card. But who needs a sound card anyway? It is always built into the motherboard.

      • http://www.bytehead.org/blog/ Bryan “bytehead” Price

        If you had to deal with hangs and reboots on a daily basis, watching your system fail as one app after another slowly decide to be unresponsive, you might think different. There was an issue with both CP and RP and Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge chipsets that exhibited this problem. Known even at the time RP was released. It’s been about the suckiest Microsoft beta I’ve ever been on, and I’ve been on a few of them.

        Any my experience was that Windows 8 was really no faster than Windows 7.

        • http://anythinggeek.net/ Colin

          No issues with me on i5 3570k Sandy Bridge. Also, Windows 8 is definitely much faster than Windows 7. Besides boot times (7 seconds as opposed to >1 minute) Windows 8 runs on even lower end hardware than Windows 7. For example, it runs perfectly on my netbook while Windows 7 was unusable. Windows 8 also increased the netbook’s battery life by about 4 hours.

          • http://www.bytehead.org/blog/ Bryan “bytehead” Price

            Yeah, I did notice fast boot time. Because I was booting so often. :P

            Application wise, I didn’t notice any speed difference. But then, I rarely used the Metro (or whatever they call it now) interface that much. Desktop apps were what they were.

            And it’s good to know that they (either MS or Intel) did fix the Ivy/Sandy bridge problem. I suspect that my issue with Powershell 3.0 (more of a pain than anything else for me) is also fixed, for Windows 7 as well. I’m STILL running 2.0. Maybe I’ll go ahead and upgrade that, at least.

        • frostythesnowman

          Enable Hyper-V in the advanced settings menu, solves that wierd hanging bug, or it did for my 3570K/Z77

          • http://www.bytehead.org/blog/ Bryan “bytehead” Price

            Now, if somebody could have gotten that into a cogent post that was in the first page of the Googles, that might have helped. As it is, it was happening too often, with zero resolution at the time.

          • frostythesnowman

            Confused me for a little while too, I thought it was my hardware having issues since I put it on a brand new computer and I never had such an issue with Windows 8 on my other computers with AMD and Core2 processors. I found it on the 5th or 6th page of search results, super hidden…

  • http://twitter.com/tWiZsHiZ sHiZ.us

    I actually embrace the Win8 UI. People complain about it because change is hard for a lot of people. Since the early 80′s, people have been using a Desktop background with icons on it, menu driven applications, and nothing has changed since. The only changes are transparent corners and edges. In my opinion, the desktop is dead. In a few years, the desktop, at least on Windows end, will be phased out in favor of mobile like applications. Don’t worry about the powerful application like Adobe apps and enterprise proprietary software, it will be the same app but formatted for the new UI.

    I will agree with some stating that Metro is not made for non-touch screen monitors. My predictions are that touch screen monitors are going to be standard like how flat screen TV/monitors are standard today. Remember CRT? If you are as old or older than Chris and I, you will remember the days of no mouse. Now, it is standard. In the next two years, you won’t be able to find a monitor that uses gesture and touch. In the next two years, I can see Kinect like devices on larger monitors and TVs built-in and touch monitors for desktop situations. Every laptop will be touch. This is our future, embrace it. Desktop will go away probably by Windows 10. In fact, it should not be called Windows anymore. In my opinion, the tiles on Windows 8 and WP8 looks beautiful and inviting. People will get used to it like how people had to get used to using the ribbon in Office 2007. Remember that?

    • Curtis Coburn

      I highly agree with you. Touch is the future. Tablets are a big thing, smart phones are a big thing and in a way those touch screens are becoming standard. The future is evolving today, and we are evolving into touch.

    • http://www.keelstech.com/ Lee Keels

      So how do you account for touch-typists?

      • http://twitter.com/tWiZsHiZ sHiZ.us

        Keyboards will still be around and Microsoft knows this which is why they are including a keyboard (for extra cost or included, we do not know yet). Unless a new keyboard UI comes out, I still like the feel of keys. On the road, of course, on-screen keyboard. In the office, touch screen keyboards. Of course, going back to what I am saying about, “people will get used to it,” that may be gone in the future as well. Siri for iOS has improved a lot. WP8 voice response seems promising. Voice dictation may become the thing of the future. Hand gestures and touch will integrate with it 100%. As these technologies improve, we may not even see keyboards anymore. Who knows. I embrace change and I am looking to forward to the Surface tablet, but I know it will be frustrating at first getting used to a new interface. At the same time, I will be excited about a new UI to play with.

  • http://anythinggeek.net/ Colin

    Yea, Apple sure likes rounding off corners..

  • Straybeat

    For me, I don’t like the fugly, boring interface. I don’t want to spend my time 24/7 looking at it. I don’t like Windows phones, or personally know anyone who does, and I sure don’t want it for my system. For the first time ever I installed Ubuntu Linux and am making a serious effort to learn it. Just like I did DOS, Windows and Unix at work. When the time comes that my Windows 7 is old and done, it will be Linux from then on. I’m no longer getting sucked into the never ending, overpriced MS upgrade machine.

  • sragan5

    I am a “visual” person. I can be lectured to or read about a subject and form a vague opinion about it, but whenever I can actually “see” whatever it might be up close and personal, only then can I make an informed decision about it. That is the way it has been with all the Windows flavors I have worked and played with, from 286 to my present Windows 7. I managed to miss Me and 2000, but I had and enjoyed all the others in between.
    Also, over all this time, I’ve had tremors, specifically “essential” tremors. So, although I had to quit the piano and drawing, I have been able to work with and enjoy my computers thanks to the mouse and keyboard connections. And although my tremors have somewhat worsened over the years, luckily that hasn’t greatly affected my ability to use my PC. Unfortunately, anything that is “touchscreen” is useless and extremely frustrating to me. When I move my hand off of the mouse and into the air, the tremors become worse and uncontrollable, until I set my hand down again. If I had any type of touchscreen monitor, besides all the constant finger and hand prints, I might do damage to it.
    It has been estimated that about 5% of the population worldwide has some sort of “movement disorder”. That comes to about 350 million people. 10 million of those people reside in the U.S. I don”t know how many of these people own computers, but I’m sure that a great many do. I’ve looked at the Windows 8 OS up close and personally, and it is not aesthetically pleasing to look at or to touch. I think that Microsoft has either failed to recognize the significant numbers of their customers who will be affected negatively by all of these supposed innovative changes, or they understand completely and are only focused on the majority who are not physically challenged. Microsoft reminds me of the largest pharmaceutical companies who develop many of their drugs not according to public health need, but according to profitability.
    If Windows 8 is being considered as the “path” to the reinvention of Microsoft, I don’t think I’ll be going down that road any time soon.

    • http://twitter.com/DillonGBlair Dillon Blair

      I don’t understand your issue. You can still use your mouse in Windows 8. What exactly is it that microsoft failed to recognize?

      • sragan5

        Truthfully, I guess the issue is significant and sudden change. Evolutionary change is easy. It doesn’t catch you off guard. You’re so caught up in the flow of time and change that you don’t even know that it’s happening until someone points it out to you. Like our opposable thumb. That is how all of the OS have been up til now…32 to 64bit, improved security, easier access, all necessary and, except for a couple of glitches, easy to swallow positive changes. But Windows 8 just slammed us in the face. At least for me it did. If I didn’t have the tremor issue, then the whole Windows 8 change would just be another OS that I would choose to miss out on (like Me and 2000). But as been pointed out in the article and through various comments, it’s the beginning of the touchscreen revolution. Not so easy for me and others. But you’re right, besides a touchscreen, a mouse is an acceptable option with this very unattractive and not so sensational new OS. But not to worry, because I won’t be upgrading or buying it. And as far as “what Microsoft failed to recognize”, that would be it’s core customer base who, with or without all of their challenges, though still loyal Microsoft fans, are not “futurists”, but are sort of “very comfortable the way things are” and “set in their way”…ists. Like me.

    • frostythesnowman

      Then use your mouse, problem solved. I use a KB/Mouse with a non-touch monitor, Windows 8 is a pleasure to use. I feel like a broken record telling this to people, but it’s true, the idea that you must use Windows 8 with a touch-enabled device is complete and utter BS.

      • http://anythinggeek.net/ Colin

        Yes, I agree 100%. But I must ask are you staying in Metro all the time or using the desktop? I prefer to say that the Start Screen is only a replacement to the start menu unless you are using it on a touch device, in which case it becomes your primary UI. Metro is still great with a keyboard and mouse but IMO is to simply to start an application and get out.

        • frostythesnowman

          I use the desktop mainly, with commonly used applications pinned on the taskbar. The Start screen is where I have most major applications pinned in a logical arrangement, desktop ones separate to the Metro ones. Finally I use Mail as my one and only Metro application.

          Windows 8 on a non-touch device for me (so far…) is basically a significantly faster Windows 7 with a new more organized (IMO) Start experience and some nice updated tools (Copy dialogue, Task manager, etc).

          I feel that Metro will have a place on traditional desktop/laptops for smaller programs that aren’t necessary to be on the desktop, and that currently just clutter things. Mail is a good example of that for me, I don’t use it too much so having it tucked away is perfect.

  • CB

    Tried it, think it sucks. Luckily there are fixes to get a Classic Menu. No reason that couldn’t still be an option in Windows itself. Change is fine, change for the sake of change when it improves nothing is BS.

    • r.duncan

      There is a reason though. Think about it, a common law in business is that a big enterprise typically has about a decade before it is taken over by something else. The traditional desktop has well overstayed it’s welcome, and we are seeing profound changes with people switching to tablets and smartphones. Don’t get me wrong, the desktop is here to stay for a while longer, but if microsoft don’t make radical changes, they’ll soon be left behind, and hey, if you don’t like windows 8, keep with 7 or use linux, personally, I’ll definitely be upgrading on the 26th. And saying it improves nothing is wrong, there are plenty of changes beyond the metro interface, and lots of improvements.

  • DerekWyland

    For those who say Windows 8 is better than Windows 7 or whatever, let me get one thing straight. Better is a relative term. For what I am going to be doing (Mainly Web Development and running more than one program on multiple monitors) Windows 7 is the better OS than Windows 8. However, for what I do on a tablet Windows 8 could take up from what I do on my iPad. Overall, you really can’t say it’s better (Except for Vista & ME), for people need to achieve different things on a system comparative to some other processes as well. What I’ll need to do is different than the standard end-user will need to do. And when you mention the desktop, let me get one thing straight…if I have to pay money for something I should have gotten in the first place (That Includes DLC for Games) I do NOT buy those games. Main reason I’ve gone back to retro gaming.

    • http://anythinggeek.net/ Colin

      Actually, just by your first statement you are completely wrong. Sorry. Windows 8 has much better support for multiple monitors than previous versions and once you go to Windows 8 it is one of the many features that will cause people never to go back.

      • DerekWyland

        Could you please elaborate on how it has better multiple monitor support? I’ve gone to Windows 8 beforehand, but I’ve needed the ease of use between 4 different monitors AND about 6 different programs, and without the “Modern UI” it has been a lot easier on Windows 7. In reality Windows 8 was built for a single-screen tablet, not a single-screen PC nor a multi-monitor gaming/development rig. And please refer to the sentence for, “Better is a relative term.” What you find to be better to another may not be better, but will be in fact worse.

        • http://www.maxmajewski.net/ Maximilian Majewski

          I never say it’s better than Windows 7. I’m just saying there’s nothing wrong with it, and I like embracing the new technologies.

          • DerekWyland

            Sorry if it came as if it was targeted at you. It was targeted towards Colin. I also saw you never said it was better too, but I’m sick and tired of these kids who say this is better than something else (Anything is better than Vista and ME though).

          • http://www.maxmajewski.net/ Maximilian Majewski

            Oh, that’s alright. I was just adding my comment, nothing more. I agree with you. Every new software will be considered better, that’s how marketing works. What matters the most is that it keeps doing what it’s supposed to. :)

  • Guest

    Tried the developer’s version. Immediately got rid of it. Tried the preview version. Added a start button then tried to change that start button image. Win 8 crashed and would not reboot. Period. Kept giving me the same error and there was (literally) nothing I could do to bring it back. The problem was the new startup routine. It broke and I could NOT interrupt it.

    So, like, I’m gonna trust this thing in the future? That’s rhetorical because no, I am not. For non-tablets, the best that we can hope for is to make 8 work like 7 and THAT begs the question, uh, why?? Change for the sake of change is not useful and I, for one, will not waste my time

    • http://anythinggeek.net/ Colin

      Use advanced startup options in control panel to get access to recovery console, etc.

  • Jimmi Shrode

    I tried it and got bored. Problem’s galore. Boot to black screen. Problems shutting down completely. (I had to pull out the old Shutdown Shortcut on the darn thing.) and then there is that pesky waking up after closing the lid, the disappearing drive, etc, etc. The Apps aren’t that interesting. The games are lame. I got through without the Start Bar–figured it out. But I became bored with it because there is nothing that special about it. I need an App to call up a web page of MSNBC News? Rly? (oooold media on failed MS launch of internet.) I don’t have a touch screen. Why do I need one? I was bored with touch screens back in the old days. ATM’s and Catalog Computers in some libraries have had them for a while. The real gag is you have to shell out extra money just to get Windows Media Server and Media Player? *yawn* (Doesn’t Microsoft know that VLC exists?) I’ll sit Windows 8 out.

  • gbyers72

    Let’ just say….. That I’m glad I switched to Mac OSX and Linux :P