Windows 8 has been out for nearly 2 months now and we have finally gotten to spend some hands-on time with the highly anticipated operating system. There are plenty of reviews out there that cover Windows 8, and we’ve already talked about many of its new features. So instead, we would like to share some of our key impressions that we have come away with after having used the OS for a couple of weeks.
What We Love
1. Live Tiles
We’ve had a passionate love affair with Live Tiles ever since they were first introduced on Windows Phone 7. Now that they have become apart of our everyday lives on our start screen, we’ve grown even more smitten. We have Live Tiles pushing updates for everything from the weather, to our horoscope. We love being able to have this information right in our face, without ever having to open up an app – unless we want too.
2. The Apps
It’s just barely been 2 months that the Windows Store has been open, yet it’s already chock full of Windows 8 optimized apps. And we’re talking about apps from the big players too. In particular, we’re especially enjoying the entertainment apps such as the CW app and Hulu Plus app which are really transforming our Window 8 Ultrabook into a second TV.
3. It’s Customizable
Previous versions of Windows have been very customizable with skins and wallpaper etc, but Windows 8 takes customization options to a new level. Each user can organize their own Start screen by apps and content by category. They can also set up their own Picture Password with special gestures for unlocking their lock screen.
If you’re someone who likes to multi-task, or perhaps someone who likes having a dual display set up, then you’re going to especially appreciate Windows 8′s Snap feature. Snap lets you run 2 apps side by side in a kind of one third layout. The idea is that many apps are designed to work in a Snap layout, so that you can have for example – your tweets in view and juxtaposed to the side of your web browser while you work.
5. The Hardware
We love the new form-factor PCs that Windows 8 is inspiring, especially the Ultrabook Convertibles, like the Yoga 13, VAIO Duo 11, Acer Aspire S7, Dell XPS 13, and Asus Taichi. Now if only they would all start rolling out more of them on to store shelves already! We’re also digging Microsoft’s Surface design, especially with its clever Touch Cover keyboard. All in all, we think that Windows 8 is going to continue to inspire fun new form-factors.
Microsoft is really pushing Skydrive integration in Windows 8. And why not, after all, with 7GB free, it offers the best value for cloud storage offerring from amongst its competitors. Best of all – it works on iOS, Android, Mac, and Windows Phone too, so you can easily access files wherever you go.
What We Hate
1. The Learning Curve
Windows 8 is pretty intuitive to use, but if you’ve been using previous versions of Windows, which you most likely have, it’s going to take a bit of getting used to. That is because the OS is quite radically different than its predecessors
2. Missing Start Menu
Maybe we’re stuck in the past, but we’re still having a difficult time getting used too not having the start button menu anymore – at least in Desktop mode. Fortunately, there is an app for that called Pokki! Pokki is a free app that adds a start menu to Windows 8 in desktop mode. Problem solved!
3. Just Say NO to Anything But Touch
Windows 8 is really best enjoyed with a touchscreen device. Without one, you’re really losing out on a big part of the whole experience – the gestures, the swipes…. So if you buy a new PC running Windows 8 without a touchscreen, it’s a pretty darn shame.
4. Tablet Pricing
Speaking of devices, we would like to see more affordable Windows RT tablets roll out so that Windows can adequately compete with Android. As a tablet OS, Windows RT shines with so much potential, but it’s going to be difficult to get it into many hands unless the pricing for Surface and other RT tablets get more competitive.
All in all, whether you’re ready for it or not, with its sleek and modern, touch optimized U.I., Windows 8 feels like the future. So the least you can do is head over to a Microsoft store and give it a try out for yourself.
Disclosure: Helena Stone is a Windows Champion. All opinions are 100% her own.