OK I have an MSDN subscription so I pulled the released Windows 8 Pro down and installed on one of the old laptops I have. While Windows 8 has a touch interface and would work well on a touch screen device it does work well in the older keyboard mouse interface as well once you get used to a few things. I am not going into how to install the OS, it is easy, insert dvd, reboot. Follow instructions.
First I put in my own start menu on the desktop. Easy as clicking the desktop tile on the start screen, then right clicking the task bar, selecting toolbars, add new toolbar. Then navigate to c:/Program Data/Microsoft/Windows/Startmenu. Then unlock the task bar, drag your new toolbar to the left and then lock the toolbar again. Yes it does get all new programs added to this start menu, no upkeep required on your part.
Next order of business do a Windows update, and make sure update is set to automatic and make sure your install is activated and verified, we don’t need to pirate Windows, it’s illegal, bad and if you can’t afford Windows then install Linux. Pirating software is just stupid. And for those people who think that my installing Windows 8 to use is wrong, the MSDN license says “Your use of Software is governed by the terms of the license agreement, if any, that accompanies or is included with the Software. ” and later in the same section, “If Microsoft makes any other Software available on this web site without a license agreement, you may use it solely to design, develop and test your programs to run on Microsoft products and services.” And when installing Windows 8 (not the previews) you have to agree to the Windows 8 license so yes if you have an MSDN subscription and your subscription allows you to download Windows 8 then the license is for the full use of it and not just development and testing. But is only for the use of the person who holds the MSDN subscription.
Next thing, make sure you have anti virus. If you want to save some money and some CPU cycles just use the built-in Windows Defender. Windows Defender in Windows 8 is also Security essentials as well as the old Windows Defender. It not only does malware but Anti Virus as well and has had some very good reviews. It updates the signatures automatically and you can run your own scans or rely on the built in real time protection. It uses a lot less cpu time than some of the commercial products and doesn’t sow you down as much while giving you equal protection.
OK that out of the way, some of the coolness. IE 10 in the “Modern UI” (Yes that is what they call it now) does do tabs, but not plugins. If you write an app in Java IE 10 in the new UI doesn’t open it. But you still have the desktop version where it will. In the new UI IE 10 right click anywhere not an active link and the tab bar slides down from the top and the address bar sides up from the bottom. Other things move your mouse to the top of any app running in the new UI and the pointer turns into a hand, left click and drag down and the app shrinks and you can slide it onto a second monitor if you have one to move it to the other monitor. OR slide it down to the bottom of the screen and let go once it appears down there and it closes that app.
Slide your mouse pointer to the right top corner to get the context menu, with things like search, share, start screen and settings. Side your mouse to the top left corner and a tile for your last open app appears, you can just click to return to that app, or keeping your mouse on the left side and slide down and get the tiles of all currently running apps, with the caveat that the desktop is a single app. The old alt-tab combo works to get a list of all running programs. Sliding your mouse to the bottom left corner shows the start tile which if clicked returns you to the start screen. The mouse wheel in any new UI app works scrolling any portion of the screen that has scroll bars, just be hovering over that portion of the screen. This includes the start screen so moving to see things that are off screen is as easy as scrolling a page.
Aero is supposed to be gone but there are parts of it still there. On Windows 7 if you don’t have Aero then hovering over the task bar icons for a program showed a list of the windows. If you have Aero running in Windows 7 then it showed you miniatures of the open windows. Windows 8 shows the miniatures that Aero produced for Windows 8 and Vista.
The Store: Yes Windows now has a store and there are a lot of apps in there. While consumer release is still coming the OS is available to developers and there are more apps coming but there are already a lot of apps there. I pulled down a couple for weather and WordPress and I am still thinking about what else I need. Open the store then use your mouse scroll wheel to side the screen back and forth to see everything. Each section has a big click here to see everything tile and a see the free apps tile.
A lot of people who are currently Windows power users are not liking Windows 8 but it’s no where near the problem that most of them make it out to be. Windows 8 is a solid and faster version of windows than anything since Windows 98. More secure, and is easier to use for most users. If you are using an OEM install it probably has a bunch of apps installed and an antivirus promo app. I would remove all of those to make the system run faster but remember to tell Windows defender to run instead. Once people get used to the new UI and where to find things they will use and eventually when the next big change comes scream that it’s not like the Windows 8 they have grown to love.
For me it is just Windows, an OS that works well for most office and work related tasks. The new UI is a change and is aimed squarely at non-power users. Power users will quickly find the built in shortcuts and features that they use and normal users will find the new UI easier to use and more convenient. No-one should require any training to use this OS just remember to push your mouse into the corners to get to other apps and right click the screen for context and app menus and you will do fine. If you are using a touch screen device it is even easier but that is another post.