The forums are a-raging, fanboys splitting an already thinning fanboy line, and magazines tentatively putting themselves at either of two extremes: loving or hating Windows 8.
Well, the problem with those feelings is that, they come from MANY misconceptions, a lack of knowledge, and generally, just not wanting things to change (even though they don’t have to). Let’s go over some details that people “whine” so much about:
Lack of a Start Menu/Button
First of all, the “start” menu is still there in the form of a start screen but I know that a lot of you don’t like the lack of the button and the menu that’s been with us (in one way or another) for over 15 years. So, why don’t we add it back?
Wait..what? Oh yeah, you CAN add it back via a cute little program called “Classic Shell”, or “Start8” or “Pokki”. Let’s look at those:
So, Classic Shell is probably the coolest one out there. First, it’s free, and is officially supported on Windows 8 RTM. It also packs:
- 3 different menu styles from “classic” to “xp” and “vista/windows 7”
- has various different skins
- classic shell packs some other features like hot-corner disable, boot to desktop, etc.
Go ahead, try it out. You can basically bring your Windows 7 experience back.
Start8 is a button replacement made by those cool people at Stardock who brought you some other tools like fences and blinds. Well, so what does start8 pack?
- windows 7 – like start menu
- Modern UI start menu (basically an “all apps” view with a search view and some shortcuts).
- skin that changes with your desktop
- direct boot, disable of hot corners etc.
So Pokki is much different and very interesting, it packs not just a new start menu but some other things as well:
- unique start menu replacement.
- an appstore with extra apps to use
It’s definitely not a typical windows-esque start menu and that may be refreshing to some of us.
So if your friend is raging on about “Well, if it had a start button!” send him/her to this article and tell them to STFU because you CAN have that stuff!
Being Forced To Use Modern UI
No, microsoft does not readily offer a setting that disables hot corners, brings back your windows 7-esque interface, and disables boot to modern UI but, there are plenty of apps and hacks that WILL do that for you:
- http://www.howtogeek.com/108349/how-to-boot-to-the-desktop-skip-metro-in-windows-8/ <- a more technical hack
- aforementioned Pokki, Classical Shell, and Start8
So, out of the box, you may be forced to use Modern UI and this is done on purpose so that people are more likely to switch over to the new system, love it or hate it. But if you’re REALLY against it and are a hardcore Windows 7 lover (I don’t blame you), you can take steps to get out of that.
So again, got that raging friend? Point them here because seriously… these are the main topics of discussions of pros and cons of Windows 8. “Only if I could boot to desktop” they whine well there you go.
It’s basically Windows 7 with a Modern UI
Well, it may look like that. Remember Vista? Didn’t it kind of look like an XP with a small facelift? Or XP looked like 2000 with minor changes? and so on. Okay, okay, let’s backtrack. Here are the things that Windows 8 LARGELY improves upon outside of UI:
- Faster performance – It really is noticable especially on low-grade devices like my laptop. Upon installing Windows 8 over my W7, I noticed a significant boost. Also, the ability to decouple Modern UI and Desktop is great because while an app is taking FOREVER to load (eg. photoshop with a 200mb file), I jump into modern UI, experience no lag working with my apps there
- Cloud sync – basically save all your settings and personal data to the cloud and use it anywhere. This is really damn useful and I can’t tell you how many times (back in the days of XP) I hated reinstalling my computer just to spend hours reconfiguring everything back
- new task manager
- built in Security Essentials – renamed to “Windows Defender”, we finally have a GOOD built-in anti-virus program that updates with windows update. FINALLY, no need to think of McAfee, Norton or what have you
- multi-monitor support – that got upgraded with the ability to run Modern UI on one side and desktop on the other, or desktop on both. Also, taskbar extends to both monitors. Very badass
- iso mounting – YES. I use it quite often, love the fact it’s built in (similar to how zipping became built in)
- file explorer – much more attractive with context-related options. For example, if you have an image, you get an image menu. The explorer window is not based on the ribbon UI introduced in Office 2007. It’s very cool 😉
- windows store – like it or not, it’s a great place to get good apps (if you don’t hate modern UI). It has automatic updating, fast app installs/uninstalls etc. similar to how a phone works
- general UI update on desktop – so, the UI WAS updated on the desktop to be a bit flatter. To be honest, it’s a bit strange because you have an aero taskbar with a modern-like UI for windows. I might have to find some app to change this part (shouldn’t be hard, right?)
- upgrades here and there – check out what people have compiled in wikipedia.
Windows RT is crap, I don’t even know why they made it!
Because of ARM. RT is made for ARM and that doesn’t make it a bad system. RT, in fact, has some advantages over regular Windows 8. First, let’s discuss what RT is:
- a tablet OS with a UI that works on desktops, laptops, and tablets as well
- an OS specifically designed to run on ARM rather than on x86 systems
- a locked down OS that comes only preinstalled and cannot be installed separately on any system
Okay, we have that out of the way. For simple-minded folks, Windows RT is to Windows 8 like iOS is to OS X for a mac except (and this is the confusing part), Windows RT behaves and looks 99% like Windows 8. This puts people in a weird position of “Looks/smells like desktop but can’t run any regular windows programs on it!”. Yes, this is due to ARM which requires different software architecture.
So what does RT offer over Windows 8?
- well, ability to run on ARM processors and ARM devices which are generally cheaper than x86 devices and are generally used for tablets, phones, phablets and so on.
- it has a smaller battery drain. It’s specifically made to speed up your work and lower battery consumption
Okay, that’s all I know but those are the basics. Some people may feel ripped off and put off by this especially since tablets are now coming out in two flavors: Windows RT and Windows 8 with several hundred dollars between them.
One more thing to realize is that Windows RT is really all about tablets. What do you run on tablets? Tablet applications. What are those? Modern UI apps and those run both desktop-wide and tablet-wide which is awesome. You may not be able to access photoshop but photoshop isn’t made for tablet use (and for that matter isn’t fully available for Android or iOS either) but there most likely will be an app for it soon enough.
So why bet on Modern UI and hope that developers use tools to create those rather than fully desktop apps? Easy. Wait, yeah, ease of development. Modern UI apps are much easier to create and there’s also the prospect of easier distribution (Windows Store) and a wider audience. So unless an app is geared specifically toward desktop use (Adobe’s creative suite, programming tools etc.), you’ll most likely see a Modern UI app pop-up.
It’s expensive and cumbersome to update
Don’t make me laugh. So, first of all here’s Windows 8 pricing:
- $39.99 limited time upgrade to Pro download, shipped for $69.99
- $99.99 for a clean install of pro on your system
Should I get it?
Don’t care. It’s your own personal choice. I’m not here to be a fanboy. I’m not “pro” something forever and fight to death about it. I enjoy Windows 8, and that’s good for me. I enjoy a plethora of other platforms as well. I don’t use a Mac, doesn’t mean I hate it or find it inferior in general. Nope. I just have my wee $400 laptop with my wee Windows 8 to play my games on, write, browse and so on. Windows 8 gave me a little performance boost and made it more fun for me to work. That’s my take on it.