It’s been 17 years since Windows 95 introduced the world to a new interface, which included a Start menu in the lower-left corner of the screen. The new OS took the world by storm, and enabled Microsoft to gain a significant lead over its biggest competitor, Apple.
Now, it’s 2012 and Windows 8 has been released. In what analysts and pundits are calling the most significant change to the user experience since Windows 95, the Start button is gone and replaced with an entire screen of tiles which blends what you might expect from a mobile interface with the traditional Windows desktop.
Whether you love it or hate it, Windows 8 is finally here. As Microsoft put it during the launch event in New York, it’s all in.
What to Watch for in Coming Months
The true test of whether or not Windows 8 will be considered a success starts now, and extends into 2013. The first few months are critical for Microsoft. It has to make it clear to the public that early impressions of the OS based on the Developer and Consumer Previews are worth reconsidering now that the OS is complete.
My own personal experience with the release version has been incredibly different from my foray into Consumer Preview. I’m willing to bet that a good number of people casting doubt out there would change their minds if they gave the new OS a week or two of frequent use.
As for the general consumer, change is a difficult thing to overcome. Change creates pain points, and that makes people want to consider alternatives. The media, early adopters, and tech pundits of the world are going to weigh in on the new OS over the next few months and ultimately set the stage for the general population. Is Windows 8 going to be a success? It’s anyone’s guess at this point.
Why Upgrading Early is Not Recommended for Everyone
Like any operating system update, there is an adjustment period for both developers and users. Upgrading your OS just because a new version is available isn’t necessary. My aunt asked me today if she should upgrade, and I told her no.
Why? Because Windows 7 will continue to work just fine for current users. Until you get a new computer, there’s no need to worry about upgrading. Honestly, that’s the truth.
Upgrade if you want to. Don’t feel obligated to do so.
I have a pretty wide range of software on my PC. I’m a gamer, video editor, and a music lover. All of my software transitioned to Windows 8 just fine. The only thing that didn’t carry over was Microsoft Defender, and that’s built-in to Windows 8 anyway.
A perceived break is in the missing Start menu. You can overcome this with third-party software, but the Start page really doesn’t seem that jarring after a while. I’ve already gotten used to it, and I haven’t lost any productive time doing so.
There may be some folks out there with outdated drivers and/or hardware which may find the upgrade difficult. You can see if your gear is compatible by heading to Microsoft’s Compatibility Center and seeing if your system has what it takes to run Windows 8.