16 August 2012 – Why do I start off with the date? Well today is the day that the highly anticipated Windows 8 RTM has been released to MSDN subscribers. From tomorrow Volume License users will also be able to download and install Windows 8. As an early adopter of almost all new tech the very first thing I did this morning after leaving early to get to work extra early was download the ISO from Microsoft, install a new hard drive and load up Windows 8. After what seems like a very quick install and data restore I am now up and running. I did run the Betas for a while but never gave it too much time as the Betas are never how its really going to be.
My first surprise was when I tried installing Microsoft Security Essentials… Apparently Windows 8 comes with a beefed up version of Windows Defender and you get an error when installing.[quote]Your version of Windows includes an updated version of Windows Defender that provides the same level of protection as Microsoft Security Essentials, along with other significant improvements.[/quote]
So what’s new?
There’s that small change called the Metro!
If I had to try explain the whole Metro thing I guess it would be like this. Take Windows 7, put it in a bubble and then place that bubble in a bowl, now open an app from the start menu in Windows 8, now place that in a bubble and put it next to the Windows 7 bubble in the bowl too. Keep doing that and eventually you will end up with a bowl of bubbles or as Microsoft call it the Metro. That bubble Windows 7 I spoke about earlier, is now called Desktop in Windows 8. If you open Desktop it almost feels exactly the same as Windows 7 minus the start menu. What will take some getting used to is the whole bubble thing. Opening Chrome from my desktop opens a completely different chrome that I have in my Metro, however I can definitely see the benefits of this, you can have all your work stuff wrapped up in one and use things like Facebook, train trackers and news feeds in a completely separate environment.
The App Store
This is not really anything new to anyone who has not been hiding in a cave for the last few years. It may be new to your main operating system but it definitely feels right and almost like its “Natural”, if it was not there it would be noticeable. The Store is smooth and quick, unlike the Xbox it actually feels quite well laid out and easy to navigate. I have not purchased anything yet but I’m sure the temptation will get to me sooner or later and I will end up with some Angry Birds or something like that.
The install of Windows 8 was very quick, the setup of windows 8 was very quick, the customizing of Windows 8 was very quick, things seem to be very smooth and well….quick. This could of course just be that it has not yet had the chance to be completely overwhelmed by paid or sponsored programs that HP, Dell and every other manufacturer will load it with, and I did not have to spend 2 hours removing utter rubbish and bloatware that is not needed.
Clicking on the Metro button or pressing start will open up the Metro. If you start typing the name of the program you want you will immediately see a list of Apps / programs that match your typing. So start typing “Chr” and you will see Chrome pops up, pressing enter will launch that program Simples!
This is not me ringing a bell, this is a warning sound to Google. Windows 8 seems to be gearing up to make people use Bing more stealthily and it will be interesting to watch how Bing search starts to increase over the next few years as uptake on Windows 8 grows. If you are not computer savvy and just go with whats given to you then chances are you are going to start using Bing and not even know it.
This is whacked! Your search bar is now at the bottom and hides away, tabbed browsing is different and I just don’t like it. Thank goodness I use Chrome and Firefox. I will however give IE a fair trial over the next few weeks and report back later. Right now though there is too many other things to look at.
Windows Aero was that glassy look and see thoroughness of windows. The shiny has gone and been replaced with crisp clear lines, pretty much like Win 3.11 in HD. The change is definitively very welcome for me, I like clean, organized and structured. Windows 8 gives me the ability to pretty much make the Metro (Start) exactly how I like it and I can even choose which icons are live.
I have now mentioned apps a few times, its this far down on the list though because its only something you will see every now and then, when switching programs, looking for something etc. There are these little squares called Tiles, some of them are “Live” and are aptly named “Live Tiles”. These are much like Androids Widgets, they are tiles that display live information to you without you having to open it. If you want more info simply click it and the app then opens in full. I find that the weather, Facebook and stock ones particularly useful, hopefully there will be some transport ones soon that will alert you of impending doom (traffic) on the roads or rail before setting of home.
This is a very strange one because everything seems to be very image driven and the default image viewer is a little bit clunky to say the least. I would almost describe it as a library rather than an image viewer, viewing an image is kind of simple but closing it and getting back to where you started is a complete pain. I ended up installing Picasa but even then its not fluid enough for my liking. It also took Microsoft about a billion years to include Nikons NEF support. If you are a photographer and want to view your NEF thumbnails then hold off, the camera codec pack is not supported on Windows 8. I can live without it but it does feel like a step backwards. Once Picasa is installed you will need to right click your JPG’s PNG’s etc and make Picasa your default viewer just to stop the built in image viewer trying to take over.
I use Skydrive, Dropbox and Google docs quite a lot, Now I have remote access too. You can give windows 8 the ability to access documents, photos and video etc on all your other PC’s too (limitations do apply) I need to look at the security and accessibility of this in a lot more detail but if its all good this is going to be an absolute diamond. no more remote desktoping onto the home / work PC because you forgot to upload to Skydrive or thought it was not needed.
So would I deploy this to an organization now?
Are you insane? I’m not sure there are any CTO, CIO, IT Director or any other IT person that thinks its worth deploying right now. If I had to put this on a users computer, IT would have to start employing doctors as we would have people suffering heart attacks as we deploy. I’m not sure people have fully grasped the concept of what a window is yet, never mind the fact that Google is not the internet and Internet Explorer is a browser. We still regularly come across people who think the Monitor is the computer.
I do however think that once Microsoft release Surface and people start using that, then that’s when this whole Windows 8 will start coming into its own. If you are going to deploy and I truly believe that to move your IT forward you will have to, you need to start planning now. This will be a several year plan that will require slight changes and subtle manipulation of users and their habits in order to achieve the end goal, Whatever, Wherever, Whenever!