Friday, October 12, 2012

Why I’m Super Happy with Windows 8

So ya, I’m a Microsoft employee, so I’m assimilated right?  Yes and no.  I believe in Microsoft, I understand where we’re going and I have insight into the future (of Microsoft) that the average person would not.
imageBut with Windows 8, I held off installing it as my production machine until 2 months after RTM.  That’s unheard of.  With Windows 7 I was running it in production far before it even reached Alpha stage (which makes Windows 7 the operating system I’ve run the longest, ever).  I loved Windows 7 so much.  Finally it was fast, and I was super efficient, I knew where everything was.  It was the XP Bliss days all over again, but on a faster, more secure, more compatible, more more more system.  My home network was running flawlessly, and I didn’t have the time to deal with “problems” given I was ramping up on my job change.  I had seen videos of people struggling with where to find things and fellow employees even told me that they were having trouble with this or that. 
So, I got into my head that I didn’t want the change, and while I agreed with the focus Windows 8 had on touch, and tablets, I strongly disagreed with the use of the same operating system for stand-up desktops or laptops, that don’t have touch.  Why would you force users to go to the corners of the screen? What’s wrong with the mouse? It seems like Microsoft is trying to kill it (don’t we all try to kill mice?)
I have now been running Windows 8 for over a month, and I have to say, I absolutely love it, and cringe when I see people running on Windows 7, it seems so old to me.  And I have a Lenovo T410 without touch, and two 24” monitors attached to a docking station (also without touch). 
First the gripes I’ve heard, and why it’s not a problem:
The Start Screen
The way I think about Windows 8 is it’s an operating system, that opens up a set of tiles (which are larger icons, because the icons provide value without touching them.  They call these live tiles).  One of these tiles is called the Desktop.  This is a legal application that serves up the old Windows 7 desktop, so you can continue to run the bazillion of old apps you used to run, apps that need a mouse, apps that are designed for the “chained to your desk” way of life.  If you were paying attention in the Windows 7 days, you’ll notice you can “pin” all your frequently used applications to the task bar, and you can continue to do this in Windows 8, with almost no change (aside from the very initial launch or pin).  Yes the start button is gone, but it’s superfluous if you think about it.  I’m a pretty big power user, and I have 19 applications pinned to my task bar, and I probably only ever use another 2-3 that aren’t pinned, and there is plenty of room in the taskbar for them.  When I do need the task bar, I can either drag my mouse to where it use to be, and in a 1/2 second the start menu box comes up, or simply press the windows key that’s on pretty much every keyboard you can get these days in a designed for windows PC.  So Ultimately once I’m in my legacy desktop application (which yes there are new applications for, like Office 2013!), I *rarely* get out to the start menu
The Corners of the Screen
I’ve heard a lot of talk about “why use the corners of the screen?”.  I honestly was curious as to what people were talking about for 2 weeks, as I didn’t even need the corners of the screen.  With a keyboard you can do almost everything you could do with a mouse only and the corner of the screen.  I can see how they would be useful for your fingers, because they are quick task switching and allow you to search or get access into settings etc.  Useful with your finger, but not needed when using a mouse and keyboard
Focus on Touch
I think this is a great move by Microsoft.  Apple has really been the forerunner here with the iPad, moving the world to touch based computing.  I’ve heard that the mouse is just efficient.  This is because you’ve trained yourself to use a mouse.  My toddler can pick up the iPad and just use it.  She can’t do this with a mouse.  The focus on touch brings Windows 8 into today’s world where people are interacting with smaller devices in more intimate ways, and touch is essential.  Whens the last time you’ve sat on the couch and tried to use an external mouse and laptop?  With the desktop legacy app, you get the best of both worlds.  Additionally, for those of you who worry about this, a mouse with a scroll wheel, it’s super easy to navigate the start menu, and modern apps for that matter as well.
Now into what I like without the gripes
It’s Ridiculously Fast
It boots fast, it shuts down fast, it loads stuff fast, it’s always waiting on me, for once!  I thought Windows 7 was fast.  Windows 8 is as fast as they say it is.  In the words of Darth Helmet from Space Balls, it’s ludicrous speed!  I had some spare time to install Adobe Lightroom, Photomatix and ColorFX Pro, my photo editing suite (yes into the legacy desktop app), and noticed a huge difference in photo processing speed.  The same photo editing software and the same hardware with a new OS and I was amazed at how fast it was.
Roaming Profile Settings
Maybe I’m biased here because I have a few PCs, and in the past I’ve had a LOT of computers running (at one time I had up to 6 computers I was actively using), I sort of got used to not customizing Windows, because it just took too long to customize 6 PCs knowing they were going to be re-installed at a moments notice.  With Windows 8 all that comes down from the “Cloud”
Windows 8 is the most secure version of windows ever, yadda yadda yadda.  Every new version of Windows is the most secure version of Windows ever.  What I actually like here is the added security features, like Direct Access now leverages virtual smart cards, you can clearly log into your machine with different types of credentials, and integrated Microsoft Accounts! (formerly LiveID), I think this is the best part.  now I have one identity across all my stuff, which makes access so much easier, without the hassle.
The Windows Store
Sure, every tablet needs it’s marketplace, and Windows is no different.  It already has some awesome apps in it, and this means that I don’t need to store all the installers for all the apps that have purchased on a server somewhere in my house, they are all in the store, and when I go to install them, it’s always the latest version. 
It Just Works
I’ve installed it on 2 machines, one Lenovo and one HP, and all the drivers were there, and they just work, no hassle.  Plus the install on a non SSD computer was about 25 minutes
Touch & Keyboard Focus
I covered above why touch focus is great, but I didn’t mention that as a computer power user (if I may call myself that for a second).  I find that reaching for the mouse and using the mouse time consuming.  I’d rather just do stuff on the keyboard, as it’s faster (see the mouse is inefficient!).  Windows 8 facilitates this with the ability to type on any screen to start a search.  Plus they created a HUGE list of fast keys for you to learn and become more efficient with.  I suggest you start with WIN+I and WIN+X.
So there you have it.  I’m on Windows 8, and I’m loving it more than Windows 7, and I didn’t think I would.  If you’re looking for a new computer to go with Windows 8, (i.e. if you’re not going to do your own install from Microsoft media), I strongly suggest you look for the Microsoft Signature collection of PCs. They come with hardware optimized and approved by Microsoft, they come without bloatware that slows your PC down, and they come with pre-installed security, and support… but if you found this blog post, we all know you don’t need that.
I hope you enjoy Windows 8 as much as I do.  I can’t even wait to try it with touch!
[This is not intended as a marketing post.  This post is intended for all those people who ask me what I think about Windows 8, and what about X or Y or Z.  I can now send you a single link instead of having a super long conversation on what I like about Windows 8]


Bart Roozendaal said...

I agree with 99% of your article. I'm begging my colleagues to switch to Windows 8 because it just is way better.

About the speed though, it's relative. Yes, Windows 8 in itself is faster than W7. But, in a typical situation you would have your Skype, Lync and a bunch of other apps that want to start up too. That still takes roughly the same amount of time. So, the thing that matters, the time between turning on the machine and being a machine that you can comfortably use, is just about the same. IMHO no real change in user experience there.

But, as said, that's the only 1% I disagree on.

Hoping for an equally stunning Microsoft Surface tablet experience,
-bart roozendaal-

Sean Daniel said...

Thanks Bart. I was only commenting that all of my photo editing software was surprisingly faster than it was on Windows 7. obviously different software packages will vary. I expected the OS to be faster, but these were 3rd party unchanged apps! I was surprised.

Anonymous said...

How do I block users from installing anything from windows store on company property with out having 2012 server?

Anonymous said...

Ever try to use desktop mode with touch with out a keyboard and mouse?

Its an attempt at futility.

Lets see.. IE 10 is useless in Metro, no plugins no java. Want to actual have useful websites you need to desktop mode.

I have a tablet that installed 8 on. The only thing it does semi well is play Mahjong with my GF. (Buggy)

Microsoft wants admin to use powershell so why on gods green earth did you include Metro in server 2012? Why are we also digressing to Novel/Unix days anyway?

Sean Daniel said...

Anonymous: I'm not sure how to prevent the use of the store in Windows 8

Anonymous: Sorry you don't like Windows Server 2012, I suspect Metro was added as some management will be done from these new tablets.

Denise Guillermo said...

I agree, Windows 8 is great for my tab! Just beware of spammy outbound calls from software call center, I've read a post about how one call tried to hack his computer without knowing that he is a Microsoft employee. Those agents are just trying to get the most out of you so watch out.

Eva Oliver said...

Before we decided to change the operating systems in our office computers, we analyzed and researched windows 8, after several tests and researches; we’ve finally changed it to windows 8.We’re glad it runs smoothly and compatible with our itil service management applications.

Jay Bentley said...

Windows 8 is probably the best OS that I've seen in recent years. It also made for the touchscreen platform so the use of computer peripherals such as mouse and physical keyboard can be omitted. The optimized system start up boost is a bonus, it could us dollars because we don't have to buy expensive SSDs

The Technology Centre said...

The reason I like windows 8 the best is its connectivity. Want to use it for home, give it a few details and you have your digital life at your fingertips. Need to access you work PC or network its easy. No additional software required unlike Android or IOS, making it easy for both IT and non IT people.

quantum said...

I always feel like I'm the only one in the office who likes Windows 8... I guess people can't handle change.

Muhammad Field said...

Guess, the Microsoft is simply good at it. You know, managing losses and handling their assets or things where they are good at. One effective key in handling businesses and becoming a known icon in the field.

Chou Fannon said...

Windows 8 has the best user interface that I've seen so far. And it can conform to several platforms, may be it smartphone, tablets or the combination of both. I tried all of its kinds in several platforms and I would have to give it a thumbs up.

Connor Kerr said...

Windows 8 is designed for the touch interface. Its main product that utilizes it best is the surface pro and RT. For better windows 8 experience try this two platforms.

Cheap VPS Hosting UK Service said...

I am using windows 7 but I haven't still used windows 8.What is big difference between win7 and win8.

Freya Davidson said...

My initial thought on Windows 8 is that it will be a bust. But when I experienced its interface, I know that I was wrong. I tried it initially on a desktop and it was good but when I tried it on a tablet it was superb. I can foresee the emergence of touchscreen monitors to accommodate this touch based OS.

Alex Annand said...

I think Windows 8 makes editing easier and faster. It's what I need for customizing pocket folders. It makes the job easier and less time consuming. Majority of the Windows users I know, didn't expect Windows 8 to be as good as this. I was impressed.

car hire madrid said...

I prefer Windows 7.

rent a car beograd said...

I prefer Windows 8.

GoldyVPN said...

I am a user of Windows 8 and I am quite satisfied with it and its characteristics.