Windows 8: Upgrade or Avoid?

Today is the day many have been waiting for; the launch of Windows 8. In this post I’m going to run through some of the basics of the operating system, and hopefully give you a good idea of what you can expect from it.

Windows operating systems have had a turbulent history, and frankly have been pretty hit and miss. Windows XP was well received and a good servant to its users. However Windows Vista was slammed for its bugginess, amongst other issues, prompting the release of Windows 7 to atone for these errors. Naturally Windows 7 did its job and served as an updated, more user-friendly version of Vista. Its more of a service-pack than a true upgrade.

So all things considered, Windows 8 really has to do the business if it wants to keep its credibility and give users less of a reason to turn to Apple’s Mac computers. So what are we getting by upgrading to the new system?

As explained by Techradar there are 3 versions of the new operating system: Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro and Windows RT. Windows 8 acts as the standard ‘home’ version that most laptop and desktop users will probably be using. Windows 8 Pro will act as the ‘business’ version, and will most notably provide you with Media Center. Both of these versions run on Intel designed chips. Finally we get to Windows RT, which is certainly an interesting one.

I want to single out RT for a second, purely because it confuses me slightly. As stated by Techradar, RT stems from the RunTime programming framework Windows are using, though the acronym doesn’t officially stand for anything. Windows RT will run on ARM chips, most likely to feature in tablets and smartphones. One thing that users of RT might not be happy about is the lack of support in terms of apps, since this version does not allow you to install apps intended for Intel versions of Windows. Instead you’re limited to what comes on your new device and what Microsoft provides on the Windows Store. All I can say is that Microsoft aren’t exactly helping their cause to encourage sales for their new tablet Surface with this.

Let’s get back to the main attraction. What can users of Windows 8 expect by upgrading from 7? By the looks of it a very nice looking system. The user interface, called ‘Metro’, is touch-friendly; much more so than Windows 7. The start screen is particularly intuitive and is reported to adopt the same tile system used by the Windows Phone home screen. The ‘Charms’ feature explained in the article just linked to provides buttons for quick access to the start screen, search and share functions, among others. The search charm in particular will point you in the direction of the Windows Store; another feature of this operating system.

So Windows 8 certainly looks pretty and has high expectations for continuing the good work and user-friendly interface of its predecessor. However it only took a quick Google search to find numerous negative reviews of the new OS, even before its release. I guess only time will tell if the masses judge it the best thing since sliced bread, or the worst thing since Windows Vista. Personally I’m happy with 7 and don’t see any reason to rush into upgrading, despite Microsoft offering it at a mere £24.99 to users of an existing product.

Joe Topliffe

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