I am cursed with the need to be an early adopter. When new technology comes out, I need to have it right away. Such was the case last Friday when Windows 8 was released. I was downloading my copy at 6:00 in the morning.
Installing a new operating system the day it is released comes with anticipation and excitement. What new features will it have? How will it change my computing life forever?
It also comes with anxiety as compatibility issues and a lack of documentation is sure to plague the process.
Four days later, I have upgraded 2 computers and worked with Windows 8 for a few dozen hours. Here are my initial thoughts on the experience.
Purchasing Windows 8
Getting my hands on a copy of Windows has never been easier or cheaper. Microsoft is offering Windows 8 Pro as a download for only $39.95 through the end of January. They are also giving Windows Media Center for free during that same time period.
Without leaving the house, I had my copies of Windows 8 for a third the cost of previous versions.
As I mentioned before, I had 2 computers to upgrade and had 2 very different experiences.
My desktop computer is a hand-built machine that was running Windows 7 Ultimate. All components are no more than 2 years old.
There were some bugs in the machine so I chose to do a complete installation. One that wipes everything clean and starts from scratch.
Installation was a piece of cake. Very fast and relatively problem free. Most of the hardware drivers were installed automatically. In the cases that the driver wasn’t added by Windows, the manufacturer’s Windows 7 drivers worked.
Reinstalling the software has gone smoothly, as well. No compatibility issues like when Vista was released.
This is not to say that the desktop upgrade was perfect. My network drive and TV tuner are still not working. May need to wait on those until new drivers are available.
The laptop upgrade was another story. Getting the installation to complete on my 2 year old Dell XPS was difficult to say the least. It was little more than a paper weight for 3 days.
Finally, I found an online conversation where several people with the same laptop were getting the same error during installation. Luckily, one of them was brilliant enough to find the solution.
The fix was to get half way through the installation, force your way to a command prompt and delete 2 files using DOS commands. Needless to say, not at the computer skill level of your average real estate agent.
Once past that problem, the installation was a breeze.
Working with Windows 8
Using Windows 8 is very familiar, but yet foreign. Much like speaking to someone with a thick accent. Hoping to be adjusted quickly.
The Start menu that has been present in all Windows versions has been replaced. In its place is a new graphical interface called Modern. This has got to be the biggest obstacle to acclimating to Windows 8.
The Modern screen provides an easy way to access your most used programs, photos, calendar and emails. With time, this may be a favorite feature as it can be tailored to how you use the computer. For now, it seems clunky to have to hit the “Windows” button in the keyboard so much.
Windows is joining Apple and Google in the app game. Intended to change how you have traditionally bought Windows software, you now go into the Store from the Modern screen to buy apps.
Many apps are free. Even the paid apps are fairly inexpensive. So far, I find the Skype, Netflix and Hulu Plus apps to be my favorites.
The selection is limited at this point, but it should build over time.
Windows 8 is definitely a lot lighter than past versions. The installation download was tiny at 2 gigabytes. Start up is very quick. Overall, it seems much faster.
Nice Little Touches
Continuing with improvements seen in Windows 7, Windows 8 adds a lot of small changes that greatly improve the user experience.
Graphs showing how file transfers are going is useful. The notifications in the upper right corner when devices are added is cleaner than the old pop-up window that had to be closed.
Built for a Touchscreen
It is clear that the changes to the user interface are intended for a touchscreen monitor. In fact, many features are downright difficult to access with the Windows 8 gestures for touchscreens.
Opening the fly-out menu on the right side of the monitor is difficult with a mouse. This is even worse with a multiple monitor configuration.
The switching between apps and accessing their options menus are frustrating with a mouse but easy with a touchscreen.
After only 4 days, I am still forming my opinion on Windows 8. Sometimes it takes a while to enjoy something new. One thing is for sure, most real estate agents will eventually use this piece of technology as Windows still holds a majority of the market.