I loaded Windows 8 on my work PC last week. Although most of you know me as a Linux fan, I’m not a hater of other technologies, and I believe in the right tool for the job. Although it was an interesting experiment to run Linux (Fedora + KDE) on my work machine for a while, I was in reality spending most of my time inside of a Windows 7 Virtual Machine, using Visual Studio, SQL Management Console, VisionApp Remote Desktop and Citrix XenCenter. Since these are the main tools for my job, it simply made sense to abort the experiment and get on with life.
I personally liked Windows 7 just fine, and I find Windows 8 to simply be a natural evolution of that. Many Linux users hated some of the new Desktop shells for Linux such as Ubuntu’s Unity interface and the GNOME shell. Windows 8 also made some sweeping changes to the UI, but they aren’t as jarring as you might think. The biggest difference is the full-screen “Start Menu” (really a Start Screen now) that is evoked either by pressing the Super (Windows) key on your keyboard, or by moving your mouse to the lower left-hand corner where the start orb used to be, and the “Start” icon will pop up, and you can click it.
The Start screen is pretty customizable, and you can choose what apps are pinned there. You can pin Windows 8 metro apps, or simply shortcuts to desktop apps. I’m actually using (and enjoying) the Metro Mail and Messaging app, however I don’t like the full-screen Metro IE app (it’s simply not useful to me – I’d rather have the desktop version). Also, it’s worth noting that IE no longer sucks – I think IE 10 is a really nice browser, and I’ve thrown it into my browser rotation.
Scott Hanselman has a couple of great blog-posts here and here covering some neat tips-n-tricks kinda things you can do with Windows 8, as well as covering some of the changes to the interface and shortcut keys. I won’t cover them here, because his posts are much better than anything I could come up with.
Aside from that, Windows 8 is going to be a solid release – it’s not going to be the end of PC’s as many have predicted. Folks will simply accept the changes, learn the differences and move on. At the core level it is solid – and it’s fast. Did I say it was fast? Oh, yeah, and it’s fast too. (get the hint?).
Check it out with an open mind, and you will probably like many of the changes as well.