Windows 8 Review
Windows 8, is basically 2 unique user interfaces pack into one operating-system (OS). The Windows 8 home screen features live tiles and had been referred to as Metro UI, that has been featured on Windows Phone 7 with restricted commercial but highly essential success. But the first of many problems starts a couple of seconds before getting this navigation menu: Windows 8 logs in using your Windows Live account, and automatically logs your laptop or computer in through the internet after the initial setup.
Anyone who bought a new computer since June 2 can upgrade for just $15, which can be less costly compared to annual upgrades to Apple computers. Otherwise it is $40 to upgrade, that is very affordable.
There is a few things that Microsoft has done, such as verifying online that you’re the right user – which have both daily users and experts worried: as they include another level of authority where it is not necessary. To avoid confusion, an internet connection is not necessary to log into a Windows 8 device. Users only need to be online the first time; they can also opt out by signing in with a username just for that computer/tablet, but then configurations stored on that particular device will not be stored to any other Windows 8 PCs you might have.
Gaming on Windows 8:
Many of the issues with gaming on Windows 8 been a result of graphics drivers, the software for video cards. The main thing to take away from this is that if you perform plenty of games and are interested whether upgrading to Windows 8 is advisable or not, the solution is it does not really matter. Because Windows 8 has Windows 7 built into it, 99% of all applications and games for Microsoft’s last OS will work with the new one.
When you bring up the Start screen you can begin typing to search for anything. As any Windows user will tell you, you can already more or less do this in Win 7, except here you don’t even have to find a search bar. The results will instantly appear on the right side of the screen. From inside the search results pane, you will see the results are split into files, settings and applications. Undoubtedly, this procedure of search is not obvious to new users, however, you only need to study it once. After that, it can very handy.
The Charms Bar is at its best for those who have some kind of touch device you can use. Charms Bar, which seems when you swipe in from the right side of the screen. Here, you will find shortcuts for the Start Screen, settings menu, a list of connected devices, search and sharing. Lingering on that last level, sharing works very similar as it does on other mobile devices, in order to say if you have some piece of content — point out, a Word document or a batch of photos – you are able to share them in all kinds of method. For example email, along with Facebook, SkyDrive, Twitter and any other relevant service you have connected to your Microsoft account. Once again, we’re used to doing this on our smartphones and tablets, but that is a pleasure in order to use a Windows PC the same exact way.
Charms Bar contains the shortcut to system settings. If you are inside an application and wish to see some options particular to that program, you will need to perform a different gesture entirely: swipe the top or bottom of the screen to bring up that menu.
In terms of switching applications, you need to use that Switcher gesture, but there are many built-in features designed to make multitasking a bit easier. For starters, Snap enables you to dock a window or application so that it takes up either a third or two-thirds on the screen. That leaves space for a second application, which you can snap in to the remaining space. That is really very similar to Aero Snap from Windows 7, apart from here the dimensions are in thirds, instead of half the screen. As in the Win 7 version of this function, you may not manually re-size these windows: after they snap into place they are going to take up a estimated amount of space (i.e., 1 / 3rd on the screen).
In Windows 8 you can mix up the specifications by sliding the border of a window over the screen. Say, for example, if you’re working on a Word document on two-thirds of the screen, with IE 10 sitting off to the side. You may be spending most of your time typing in Word, but if you have to do an online search, you are able to just put your finger within the border between the two windows, and pull it over so that now the web browser occupies more space. It is also worth noting that you could combine traditional desktop programs and Modern (previously known as “Metro”) applications. Sometimes, this can mean fewer jarring jumps between the desktop and more touch-friendly applications.
Snap is a trick you can pull off if you are using a touchscreen device or a traditional mouse and keyboard. Whether you’re using your finger or a cursor, you have to drag down on the app from the top of the screen before it can be docked into place. If you work with a mouse, you may also hover in the upper-left corner of the screen to show open applications. What you will see is not a list, per se, but several preview thumbnails — miniaturized versions of whatever’s happening in that window. From there, you can simply click a thumbnail to change to that application, you might as well right click to close one. Like so many other features in Windows 8, this seems less clumsy with practice, though even after months of testing, we find the swiping Switcher gesture seems smoother, more user-friendly.
At some level, you are able to manage the appearance and feel of Windows 8. No, there’s no returning the Start button, but you can choose different color designs for your Start Screen. Toward the end of the Windows 8 improvement process, Microsoft included so-called Customization Tattoos — effectively, Start Screen backgrounds with patterns and borders. As long as you’re signed into your PC using a Microsoft account, this, too, will follow you to other Windows 8 devices you might sign into. Get another Windows 8 PC in the future, and it will show your paisley background once you sign in the first time.
Besides the Start Menu, you can personalize the appearance and feel of the lock screen. This includes the background photo, as well as which announcements are displayed. For example, even without entering your password, you can view upcoming calendar appointments, and also a peek at exactly how many unread messages or emails you have. In the PC settings, you may also choose to display detailed information for one of two things: your upcoming calendar appointment, or the weather conditions forecast.
Typically, the desktop should feel pretty familiar to Windows 7 users, particularly in comparison to that newly designed Start Screen. Still, there are many variations here, as well. For beginners, the Aero UI is not any more, that means windows no longer have a transparent border. Every thing here is flat and two-dimensional, not unlike those new Live Tiles.
In a approach that will please power users, Windows 8 also ushers in enhanced multi-monitor support, with the ability to display different desktop backgrounds on multiple displays, as well as have a single picture span those various screens. You also have the choice of widening the Taskbar throughout those monitors, or configuring it so that a pinned program only shows up on the same screen where that application is running. All told, it is greet development, though it might be nice if you could run Modern UI-style Windows 8 applications on more than one monitor at a time. Additionally, if you do have a multi-monitor setup, you will find it can harder than usual to pull up the Charms Bar by using a mouse.
Other changes: Windows Explorer is now called File Explorer, and bears the same Ribbon UI already used in Microsoft apps like Office and Paint. There are also now a File History feature, which stores versions of files just like Time Machine in Apple’s OS X. The Task Manager has also received a makeover so that when you first start it, all you could see is a list of open applications. Nothing about processes or memory usage; just a list of programs, and an “End task” button. Click “More details,” though, and you will see a half-dozen tabs, displaying you everything from performance graphs to CPU usage to running processes. Within the processes tab, particularly, you will find four columns showing CPU, memory, disk and network usage, with the resource hogs pointed out in a darker color.
People (Social Accounts):
The People application increases as an address book and a one-stop shop for social networking updates. Using the settings menu in the Charms Bar, you can link all kinds of accounts — things like Google, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Of course, the more of such services you connect, the more contacts will appear in your People Hub. All told, it works much like the People Hub in Windows Phone, in order to say everyone you know gets a contact card that pulls in all available kinds of contact — everything from email to a Twitter handle. Open your own contact card and you can update your Facebook status as well as post, favorite or reply to twitter posts.
Whenever you open People Hub you will see your contacts organized in alphabetic order, and you scroll from left to right to move through the list. As with the Start Screen, you may use pinch-to-zoom to reduce a long list. In such cases, you will not see every contact onscreen; just a tile for each letter of the alphabet, making it simpler to jump to a particular part of your list.
Also in the People Hub are Live Tiles for social networking / messaging notices, along with a “What’s new” page, displaying a horizontal feed that contains your friends’ latest Facebook and Twitter updates. Though the People Hub is easy to use in common, we tended not to rely on the “What’s new” stream, as a long list of social updates is easier to see in a vertical list than a horizontal one.
IE 10 Browser:
In Windows 8, you have not one, but two versions of the IE 10 browser: one for the desktop, and a more touch-friendly one that lives on the Start Screen. Both versions have a Chrome-like setup, having a single bar for URLs and web searches. Both also sync together, which was not the case in earlier builds of the OS.
There are, obviously, some UI variations. In the desktop version, though, adding a tab is as simple as pressing a plus sign. In the more touch-optimized version, you swipe from the top of the screen to expose open tabs, or start a new one. IE 10 has also a feature enabling you to either swipe or click an onscreen arrow button to proceed to another page, whether that’s the next page of search results or the next page in a news story broken up into nine pieces.
As far as content goes, IE 10 is HTML5-based, though the desktop version supports Flash and Silverlight also. In the touch-friendly version of the browser, only a few sites on the Compatibility View list support Flash. So, we can not promise you are able to run the site you want, but that Flash exceptions list at least includes popular sites like YouTube and Vimeo. And in addition to, with HTML5 being as common currently, you actually should not run into any issues.
Built-in Camera App:
Windows’ integrated camera application is simple: a full-screen frame (if you choose a 16:9 resolution), with a few options always visible at the bottom. Such as a timer, video mode and a “change camera” toggle (assuming there are front and back cameras). There’s also a “camera options” icon, but from there you can only switch the resolution or choose another audio recording option, if suitable.
Messaging is your native IM application. Right now, you can link it with Microsoft Messenger or Facebook chat. Though it would be nice to add Google Talk, the method that you can add your Gmail address in the Mail application, we’re not surprised that Microsoft has excluded the competition here.
Similar to the People application, Photos pulls in pictures from all kinds of sources: Facebook, Flickr, SkyDrive and your PC’s local storage. As a portal for viewing and sharing photos, it’s great. You are able to run a slide show, and use the context-aware sharing feature in the Charms Bar to easily upload pics to Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and other websites.
In addition, you can also share photos via e-mail. It is also easy to select photos to upload in batches: just swipe the top of the screen to expose the application settings, and then hit “Select all.” If you want to remove an item from the list, just uncheck it. Overall, the application is easy to use, though more editing tools can be fine. Also, we kept trying to select photos by pressing down on them with our finger. The truth that you can’t do this feels a bit unintuitive.
For now, Windows Phone games are not recognized in the way you can play some iOS games on both iPhones and iPads. It appears logical of Microsoft to sooner or later make its Windows Phone games available on Windows 8 devices, but for now, you will need to download different sets of applications for your tablet and smartphone.
Out of the box, Microsoft’s Music application includes free, ad-supported streaming, available in 15 markets to start. Though the games compatibility is still somewhat compartmentalized, this music streaming feature works across Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 and Xbox. Naturally, Microsoft has been in the business of selling music for a while, so by now its catalog is quite large at 30 million songs. If you want, you can buy Xbox Music Pass, an ad-free membership, for $10 per month. Under this plan, your songs will follow you from device to device, just like the rest of your configurations. Here, you will also get the option of downloading music and hearing it offline, which you can not do with the free, ad-supported service. Similar to iTunes, as well, Music includes a matching feature that takes music you already had saved on your PC and finds the cloud-based version.
Though it’s not installed on Windows 8 devices out of the box, you can download Microsoft’s SmartGlass application, which lets you stream music and video to an Xbox, using your Windows 8 device like a remote. It’s not unlike Apple’s AirPlay, though SmartGlass has the additional advantage of not being restricted to multimedia playback. You can also use it with Internet Explorer, in which case you also have the option of using an on-screen keyboard within the application.
Peppered around the Start Screen, you will find a handful of Bing-powered applications: Search, Map, News, Sports, Weather, Finance and Travel. Starting with search, the screen is so minimal that you have to tap to show the search bar. In the bottom of the screen are a handful of trending issues; you can always click more, and then scroll through them from left to right, as you would with other things in Windows 8. Maps has aerial and road view options, with a street traffic choice. By default, it will show your current location, though you can of course search for any point of interest you prefer. You can also get turn-by-turn directions, which appear as a banner towards the top of the screen that you can scroll via from left to right.
Scroll from side to side in the travel application and you will see featured destinations, panoramic photos and travel-related news stories. If you want more customized information, though (and you will probably), you can swipe down from the top of the screen to choose a particular destination, or focus on an alternative part of the travel-planning process, like flight- or hotel-booking.
It’s a similar story for Bing Sports: when you first open the application, you will see a featured story, followed by other articles. You will also see schedules for every in-season sport. Swipe from the top of the screen, though, and you can pick a certain sport. You can also select favorite teams, and see news stories and schedules that only relate to them. Bing News, meanwhile, is personalized in the sense that you can view particular sources, in addition to a main home screen with top news in every classification.
The weather application is a geek’s haven, with a mix of hourly forecasts, maps and graphs. You can include an area manually, or let the radios on your device figure it out. Finally, Bing Finance does just what you would expect: it shows top market news, together with overviews of the major indices, though you can also create a customized watchlist making it simple to check on your stocks at a glance.
When Windows 8 went on sale recently, Microsoft said the Windows Store was home to 1000s of applications, though it declined to provide a precise number. For now, there are no first-party applications for Facebook and Twitter, which remains true on Windows 7 also. Dropbox, ESPN and PayPal are all coming soon, according to Microsoft. Other notables, like the AP, Box.net, Pandora and Slacker, have been available for a while already. The operating system which is going to ship on millions and millions of new PCs. Developers like Facebook would be wise to develop something for Windows 8 posthaste. Still, in the first few weeks or months of having your Window 8 device, you might find yourself making do with less familiar options, or just loading up the browser version of the application.
Browsing through the store feels like using any other Windows 8 application; you will start off by viewing recommended applications, along with tiles for new releases and the top free applications. Keep scrolling to the right and you will see applications separated by category, such as social or entertainment. If you are less in the mood to meander and more in the mood to discover something particular, you can search in one of two ways: you can swipe the Charms Bar and select the Search option, or you can just begin typing.
Once you find an application that strikes your fancy, you can read an overview, together with a summary of permissions you might allowing the developer. You may also see a list of supported languages and check which processors are supported. Finally, there’s a tab for reviews, which you can sort by newest, oldest, lowest rating, highest rating or most helpful. Payment methods in the Windows Store include credit cards and PayPal. Once you purchase an application, you are able to install it on up to five devices at once.
According to Microsoft, Windows 8 requires 1GB of RAM and 20GB of free disk space. Other system requirements include a 1GHz processor that supports PAE, NX, and SSE2; 1,366 x 768 resolution; and DirectX 9 graphics. If you are upgrading your present machine, you can be running an OS as old as XP with Service Pack 3. Heads up: Microsoft warns that if you’re upgrading from XP or Vista, you will need to re-install your applications.
Specifically less clear is whether your current laptop’s trackpad will support Windows 8 gestures. Some existing PCs will benefit from updated drivers that let you perform all the Windows 8-specific motions from your trackpad, however, we can not make any assures there.
However, you can buy a PC with Windows 8 or Windows 8 Pro installed, Windows 8 Pro is currently the only version of the OS available for purchase as a standalone piece of software. From now until January 31, Microsoft is charging consumers an upgrade price of $39.99, provided they download the software. If you’d like to purchase it as boxed software, the price is $69.99. Microsoft says it will provide additional pricing information at some later on date.
If you can install Windows 8 on an older Win 7 system and use it solely with a mouse and keyboard, the market is filling up with touch-friendly PCs made to be used with Windows 8. These include traditional notebooks with touchscreens, and also dockable tablets, all-in-ones with articulating displays, slider PCs and convertible laptops as their screens can twist and fold back into tablet mode. Generally, there were strongly suggest any of these over a PC that doesn’t have a touchscreen.
In case you have an old system whose touchpad will not support Windows 8 gestures, you might want to stay with Windows 7 till you will absolutely ready to buy a new PC — without that touch input, many of those new features will be lost on you. For those who have touch-friendly hardware, Windows 8 is very simple to use than you may have feared. It is tablet-style applications, multitasking features and desktop enhancements add up to a balanced combination. It’s an OS you can use easily on a tablet, but with features like Snap, Switcher and File Explorer you might well be more effective than you ever were on an iPad or Android slate. Just don’t lose faith as you’re climbing your way across that learning competition.
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