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Friday, August 10, 2012

1266. Should I upgrade to Windows 8

Steve currently runs Windows 7 and wonders if there is a reason to contemplate upgrading to Windows 8? Is there anything to be gained for most users?

We have had the pleasure to be involved with testing the new Windows 8 system. We like what Microsoft is doing. They are clearly looking at making the regular computer and the tablet be something that is easier to use.

Today if you have a computer laptop or desktop and you also have an iPad or Android tablet they are so different in how they are used and how the User Interface works that it is sometime difficult to quickly move from one device back to the other.

With the direction of Windows 8, Microsoft is trying to make the touch and feel of the computers (laptop, desktop, or tablet) be more like each other. Maybe the best of both worlds. 

If you have seen many of the CSI shows where people are sliding things across screens, Windows 8 will be using technology like this. Their new tablet computer from Microsoft is called Surface and is very exciting. Other manufacturers will have computers that specifically support the new Windows 8 features.

However I would wait until later in the year before I upgraded and you really need a touch screen or new Windows Surface computer to take advantage of the new technology.

And the good news is Apple will counter with new technology that will continue to make it all better for us the consumer.

Here are some specific reasons to consider upgrading:

1. Make the PC, tablet and smartphones easier to use.

Windows 8 will attempt to unify all of your devices.  aims to successfully unify all your devices, from your PC to you tablet to your smartphone. The current Windows smartphones however will not be able to upgrade to Windows 8.  You will need to uy a new Windows smartphone to use Windows 8.

You will be able to "Sync" your Metro UI between your devices.  Login credentials will also work across the PC, tablet, and smartphone.

2. The all-new Metro user interface

What is the Metro UI? The Metro UI displays Windows 8 applications on your home screen as a mosaic of tiled boxes of different sizes, shapes, and colors. These tiles represent everything from applications running in the background to incoming email and messages to shared photos.

The app tiles update in real time for events including Twitter messages and upcoming calendar events. Metro UI renders well on tablets, especially since if you own a tablet, you're already used to swiping between home screens. But on computers, you have to get used to scrolling sideways to get to the home screen where you placed the app you want to launch.

3. . More energy-efficient than Windows 7

According to some independent tests Windows 8 uses less power than Windows 7.  This is critical for your battery life.  It also shuts down ports you're not using rather than running them needlessly.

4. Speedier performance

Yes it is faster! The Consumer Preview version of Windows 8 has so far proven to be faster than older Windows versions in various speed tests. In many tests the boot time has been shown to be up to 25 seconds faster that Windows 7.

5. Easier to use with multiple monitors

If you decide you want a computer setup comprised of more than one monitor, then Windows 8 may be the operating system that will work best for you. Designed with multi-monitor use in mind, it lets you customize your taskbar settings for each monitor or open window. Microsoft even lets you customize a different desktop background for each monitor or stretch one image over multiple monitors. You'll also be able to run slide shows over multiple screen screens.

6. Limited third-party browser access

Recent reports indicate that Windows 8 RT, one of the platform's versions meant for use on devices with ARM processors such as one of the Surface tablets, could limit third-party internet browsers. Those of you who prefer Firefox or Chrome over Internet Explorer may be out of luck. This has yet to be confirmed as of this writing, but keep it in mind if you're buying a new Windows computer or tablet in the future.

7. No support for Windows XP by 2014

As of April 2014, Microsoft plans to stop supporting Windows XP.  You should concider upgrading to Windows 8 now.  If you use Windows Vista consider upgrading just because.  If you have Windows 7 it will be supported until at least 2020.

8. Flash in the Metro Web browser:

This one comes with a caveat: You don't get full Flash capability in the Metro interface's Internet Explorer, and you don't get it for all sites. Microsoft worked with Adobe to create a subset of Flash 11.3, and only sites on an approved list will be able to use Flash. But it should also note that the desktop flavor of Internet Explorer offers full Flash functionality.

9. Updated Windows Store:

Windows 8 is starting to take hold in the developer community, and particularly among major software houses. The Windows Store was closed the day before Release Preview launched, so what's new? The Store itself has undergone some tweaks, as detailed in the Windows Store Blog. Desktop applications, as well as Metro apps, can now appear in the Store, but you still have to obtain the desktop apps directly from their publishers via a link.

10. A little too techy oriented, perhaps. Maybe "Easier to use UI, supports touch screens, supports wide range of hardware, from tablets to laptops to desktop computers, includes integrated support for social media like Facebook and sharing from almost every application, new easy-to-use built-in applications for mail, photos, media; a touch-friendly interface for existing applications like Microsoft Office, the ability to easily refresh the installation without having to completely reinstall (so you can "start fresh" with Windows), completely customizable start screen. That should be enough. Mostly about ease of use.

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