Wednesday, December 21, 2011

First glance: Windows 8

imageI finally installed the Developers Preview of Windows 8 onto my netbook (HP Mini 200) last night after much deliberation and several stabs at getting a variety of Linux distros to work with this netbook, and am quite happy with both the performance and ease of use.

The disk image (iso) is a whopping 2.8GB for the 32bit version, while the 64bit version is 3.6GB. Once downloaded, you can either burn it to a DVD or convert to a bootable USB key. As my netbook doesn’t have a DVD-rom, I used Linux Live USB Creator to make a bootable USB key from the disk image. You will need a USB key/memory stick with a minimum of 4gb of storage.

The installer is reminiscent of the Windows 7 installer, with a few small changes, and you are offered the option of configuring your Live account as your primary log-in account – obviously gearing up for the tablet-market.

The tablet-style home screen is easy to navigate, but a desktop view is also available for those of us who like some things old school.

What is glaringly missing is the old start bar. When one clicks on the Start button now, the view switches between the home screen and the desktop.

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The control panel – that has, admittedly been evolving massively over the last couple of versions of Windows – also now reminds one more of the settings screen in both Android and IOS than the Control Panel of old. And it is pretty, and it is good. But don’t fret, the old school control panel is still available.

So far, all the apps I have installed were automatically pinned to the home screen. Right clicking on the icon allows one to unpin the app – so one can still keep the home screen clean – and this applies to the apps that are installed with the OS.

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Those already using tablets may find this version of Windows easier to use, while I think those who are still attached to Windows XP may resist conversion quite vehemently. Performance, however, is a massive perk, so if you are running a netbook and would like to get a bit more out of it, I would happily suggest giving Windows 8 a try – just be sure to read the minimum requirements and ensure that your machine matches the minimum at the very least.

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