Friday, March 22, 2013

Windows 8 review with windows 7

Even the previously disappointing Modern UI-style (formerly called Metro) apps such as Mail, Calendar, Messaging and People are slick, sleek and far more functional.However, there is still work to do with these apps and Microsoft knows it - it released a major update to them on 10 October and several other updates subseqently.

Windows 8 represents a fundamental shift in the way Windows works and is far more touchscreen-orientated for use on tablets as well as traditional PCs.

The vast majority of apps in the Windows Store will run on both. Microsoft has even confirmed it will offer Flash functionality for IE on Windows RT (at least on what it calls the "initial delivery of Windows RT PCs").
Windows 8 doesn't include the desktop Office apps that will be bundled with Windows RT either and of course it runs all the x86 desktop apps that won't work on RT. It also has the optional Windows Media Center.

You need a 1GHz or faster CPU (it also needs to support PAE or PAE-NX Physical Address Extension for new security features in the Windows 8 kernel), 1GB of RAM (or 2GB for 64-bit systems), 20GB of hard drive space and a DirectX 9 graphics card with WDDM driver.

If you want to use the Windows Store to download WinRT apps, you need a screen resolution of at least 1024 x 768, and if you want to snap two WinRT apps side by side, that goes up to a minimum of 1366 x 768.

How much of a previous Windows system you can keep when you install Windows 8 depends on which version you're upgrading from; upgrade from Windows 7 and you can keep programs, Windows settings and files; upgrade from Vista and keep settings and files. Upgrading from Windows XP only gives you your personal files.  

This option only appears with Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro; if you happen to have the Enterprise version, you have to be upgrading from another Enterprise edition of Windows and the previews of Windows 8 were all Windows 8 Pro so the only option is a clean install.
A button asking if you want to upgrade and keep apps, settings and files does show up when you run the installer from Release Preview, with the warning that this only works on 'supported versions of Windows' but the installer then told us that indeed, it couldn't upgrade this version of Windows and we had to close it and start over. Again, you won't see this if you buy Windows 8 normally, only if you're looking at the evaluation or MSDN version now.

If you're installing Windows 8 Enterprise, you activate it once it's installed (and the system for that was still being set up when we started testing, so it wasn't seamless but this what you'll see as a normal user).
With Windows 8 Pro the installation is the same experience as you'll get if you buy a Windows 8 upgrade; it checks your system, tells you what you can keep and which programs won't be compatible (and helpfully removes them and then restarts the installation) and you enter your product key as a normal part of the installation. 

Scanning a fully loaded Windows 7 system with a lot of apps installed and many gigabytes of files takes around ten minutes, then another hour (or on a really loaded system, two) to set up Windows 8 with all your compatible programs intact. If you're doing a clean installation without keeping any applications, or an upgrade where you just keep files and settings, it's far faster.
On a variety of PCs it took ten to fifteen minutes from starting the installation and entering the licence key to get to picking the colour scheme and choosing whether to accept Express Settings or customise the setup.
One of the items under Express Settings is the controversial default of turning on the Do Not Track setting in Internet Explorer 10. Choose Customize and you can change that, but there's an on-going argument about both what Do Not Track means and how websites will treat the IE10 setting because it is the default. It's clearly marked and you can easily change it, but advertisers and some ad-funded organisations remain unhappy.
After this you can set up a local account or log in with a Microsoft account like a Hotmail address, which synchronises settings with any other Windows8 PCs you use and give you access to the Windows Store.
While Windows 8 finishes the setup, which takes a couple more minutes, you get a brief onscreen tutorial showing you how to move your mouse into the corners of the screen to open the charm bar; if you have a touchscreen, it also shows you how to swipe for the charm bar but only if you have the right screen – so an older tablet PC with only an active digitiser only shows the mouse tutorial. If you've picked a colour scheme, the tutorial uses that for the image of the screen, a little thing but it's a subtle way of making it feel more like your PC.
Once the mini tutorial has played a few times, the setup screen starts switching between various different colours – presumably to show you the other colour choices as well as reassuring you that it's still working. Everyone who has an account gets to see the tutorial when they first log in, making good use of the short time it takes to create the desktop the first time. (They don't get the colour show though).
If you do an upgrade install starting with Windows running, you'll never see the option to set the language for your keyboard or settings for date and time formats. If you boot from USB to do a clean install, you're asked to choose these settings but that's it, apart from Express Settings.
In neither case do you get to choose the time zone; Windows 8 either keeps the current timezone if you do an upgrade or sets it up automatically based on the language of the installer for a clean installation. A UK Windows 8 image kept the UK time even on a clean installation; a US image set the timezone to Pacific when we did a clean installation. (And as always, you can change that quickly enough inside Windows without needing an admin account.)
On a Sandy Bridge Core i5 with an SSD, fifteen minutes after putting in the USB stick, we were running RTM, ready to activate and trust the PC to get settings synced from the Release Preview install setting showing up – like SkyDrive photos and our Hotmail calendars. 

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