Windows 7 has long been one of the most popular operating systems. Without doubt, it is the most powerful version of OS that Microsoft has invented. With cool features, high performance, optimised security and user convenience, Win 7 has been a huge hit. But while still on the verge of creating a firm grasp on today’s desktops and laptops, Windows has decided to spoil the party with a newbie: Win 8. Although the final copy is not yet out, Microsoft had released its consumer preview following the developer edition a few months ago. In this issue, we will analyse various aspects of the latest mod and see if it outgrows Win 7.
Hardware & Installation
This review is based on the consumer preview edition and the final product is still under design. Yet users can more or less expect the same thing with no more than critical bug fixes and minor adjustments. For installation, you need to download the setup file that’s around 2.5-3.5 GB. But make sure that it’s not the only OS on your PC. The software hasn’t matured yet and is prone to crashes and irregularities. So a good idea is to run a dual OS with Win 8 as an alternative. With installation in order, the basic hardware infrastructure required is a 16-20 GB HDD space for 32 and 64 bit, 1-2 GB RAM minimum respectively. Since the new version takes a leap of faith by incorporating ARM under its new version, touch interface has been paid much attention to. So a touch screen is recommended to enhance your Win 8 experience. In spite of the huge installation size, installation time is significantly cut down. During installation, providing your hotmail account information helps you personalise the desktop, allowing it to import pictures, documents and data from your Skydrive. Similarly, you can pull data from other cloud facilities as well as Facebook or MySpace easily. As far as drivers are concerned, after the advent of the driver dictionary in Win 7, the latter version also detects most drivers automatically. Win 7 drivers are compatible on Win 8 too.
At first, it might be a bit disorienting to see the Start/Windows button missing. In the latest preview, the Start button is restricted either under the Windows button on your keyboard or is invisibly present at the bottom left corner of the screen. A mouse click at the bottom left screen or a touch gesture will trigger the start menu. Other invisible elements on the screen include the top left corner that pops up the Currently Working menu much like the Alt + Tab feature in previous versions. Windows + Tab will still work on Win 8 and does a similar of navigating between applications currently running. On the top right part of the screen (alternatively Windows +C), you will find a Charm bar, which allows access to your computer settings and quick file sharing on the internet. What is more impressive but equally touch-centered is the desktop panel. Win 8 comes with more flashy colors and even tidier screen objects. While these vibrant and larger tiles might attract the attention of many (tablet users mostly), conventional Windows users might be put off by the overly neat and space consuming look.
Metro & Non-Metro
In the beginning, the Metro interface was probably the most hyped element of Win 8. Though the interface is new and modified, it is not as impressive as one might have expected. It has put up a pretty outstanding show with the Metro tiles on the desktop, but still fails among keyboard and mouse desktop users, as beyond the Home Screen, there is not a great deal that Metro has to offer. The Explorer has pretty much the same old look with the addition of email, photos, friends and appointments pinned to it. Both touch interface users and keyboard and mouse users will be satisfied by the handling and responses to the myriad gestures available on Win 8 screens. It offers the conventional swipe system found on tablets, which can also be achieved using the mouse by hovering the cursor at the end of the screen. Apps and utilities has been better lined up and organised even while working. Navigating through open apps has become much easier. Still, the mouse scroll proves superior to the human swipe.
Another feature you don’t want to miss out is the Semantic zoom which helps fit a lot of content on the big and boxy desktop. Instead of flipping through tiles, you can zoom out to get everything in one place, without having to compromise the arrangement of tiles and also making necessary rearrangements much easier. Also, one thing that caught our attention is the intelligent multi-view layout that allows windows to automatically cover certain portions of the screen; for instance, it is always a treat to have your email queued up at the left strip on the desktop while you make your way through the media player playlist or work on your document. In achieving this, Metro apps have played a huge role. While these apps delight you with impressive screens and controls, you will feel betrayed when you fail to get the same response from apps not tied up to the Metro. From the developer to the consumer preview, one noticeable change has been seen in the on-screen keyboard which has grown both in size and intel. Amongst fun things to do is the picture login, which requires users to remember and draw specific patterns on a picture to log in, unlike a typical alpha-numeric password.
Win 8 definitely abides by the term ‘new and improved’. Indeed it has a revolutionary design but whether it will satisfy users is still a question. While it might receive accolades from the tablet user forum, this sudden transition might be a little too much to handle for desktop PC users. It isn’t a lot of fun spending the first few months simply learning how to use your computer all over again. Additionally, Win 8 software components and system fail to live up to its skin. As it stands right now, Win 8 must be in consideration for those willing to fire their tablets with some powerful software. For desktops however, it might not be the smartest choice.
Source: The Kathmandu Post