Windows 8 – After actually using it for 24 hours

My first impressions of Windows 8 were not very favourable as like most people, I am a creature of habit and change for the sake of change doesn’t sit well with me, so seeing the new Metro UI on Windows 8 for the first time when I installed the Release Candidate onto a PC for testing was a little bit of a shock to the system to say the least.

I had ignored Windows 8 for as long as I possibly could but being in IT Support it wasn’t long before some of our customers had bought a new PC / laptop with Windows 8 on it and ultimately I would end up having to support it, so felt that it was time to take my head out of the sand and swallow the pill, however bitter it was going to taste.

I had also read Mark Minasi’s recent newsletter about Windows 8 and the Surface Tablet (not something that is going to be purchased by me – I love my iPad / iPhone) and decided that perhaps it might not be quite as horrendous as I had first thought it might be.

So I took the already burned DVD with Windows 8 Enterprise on it home and popped it into my laptop and let it install (I decided upon a fresh installation for cleanliness, which is usually a much better way to install Windows).

Once installed, it took a little while to figure out where to find everything but after finding the desktop, customising it to add things like Computer / Control Panel / Networks etc, my favourite background photo of a Tornado GR4 flying past me at Biggin Hill Air Show, I already began to feel at home again and it wasn’t long before I had joined the office domain from home (via my LAN to LAN VPN), had installed Office 365, configured my various email accounts (you can never have too many!) and various other bits of software and was merrily using Windows 8 just as I had done with Windows 7.

Not sure I’ll ever get to like the Tiles on the Metro UI, but then I didn’t ever think I would like Windows 8, so watch this space.

Activating Windows didn’t work initially as it apparently couldn’t find the Internet, despite browsing working happily, so I searched for a solution and ended up using slmgr.vbs to get it activated using an Administrative Command Prompt (slmgr.vbs /ipk ABCDE-FGHIJ-KLMNO-PQRST-UVWXY followed by slmgr.vbs /ato).

The next problem I had was installing some software which needed to install .NET Framework 3.5.  Now .Net Framework 4.5 comes pre-installed on Windows 8, but to get 3.5 installed seemed a little tricky as yet again, it couldn’t seem to find the internet!  What the heck was going on?  Trying to add it again from Control Panel> Programs and Featrues> Turn Windows Features on or off failed for the same reason, so I was beginning to get a bit frustrated.

After a bit of searching using a well-known search Engine (that doesn’t rhyme with Ping), I came upon an article that allowed me to manually install it using the command prompt again!  Is there a pattern forming here or am I suffering from a ‘feature’ of the version I happened to download from Technet?

So, with .NET Framework 3.5 installed, I could complete the Office 365 installation / customization and install other software that wouldn’t install without it (Roxio RecordNow Premier).

I am now trying to install Skype, so search for it in Chrome (I stopped using IE a long time ago – despite being forced to use it on a few Microsoft sites otherwise it just doesn’t work) and it suggests I visit the Microsoft Store, which I do, then just type Skype and it finds the App.  I go to install it and it insists that I log in to be able to install it using a Microsoft Account which I find a little annoying.  I just want to install it!  So having signed in using my seldom used hotmail account, I am allowed to install it and off I go.

One feature I have just found is the ability to turn off the Live Tiles – excellent – most are now being turned off 🙂 (Sport / Finance / Travel / People etc) – I don’t like the constant moving tiles as it is annoyingly distracting, especially for things I couldn’t care less about.

Windows 8 Music is now happily playing my iTunes music, so that’s a useful feature and the added information about artists that is available for each artist is quite nice to have.

So – all in all, the rollercoaster ride that I thought I was going to have with Windows 8 hasn’t materialized and despite not being a fan of the Metro UI, I am not rushing to switch back to Windows 7.

If you are debating whether to make the switch to Windows 8 and are used to Windows 7, then there isn’t that much to be upset about as they are virtually one and the same, you just lost the Start Menu Flag and gain lots of pretty colour tiles instead!  Once you have worked out how to switch to the desktop using the Desktop Tile, you are back in home territory and should be feeling warm and cosy again.  My laptop isn’t touch-screen capable, so using a keyboard / mouse is what I am used to and although I now have to press the Windows Key more than I ever have before, I can get used to it.

If you are switching from Windows XP as I am sure one or two are, then it will be quite a radical change and may take some getting used to, but in all fairness, I would take the plunge as you won’t be disappointed (once you are a little bit more familiar with Windows 8).

Alan

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