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Test Driving Windows 8

I finally have had some time in the last few weeks to try the newest version of Windows, (Windows 8 Consumer Preview).  I do not own a tablet, and I believe that would be the optimal test platform, (more about this later).

The test machine is a Dell Inspiron Model 1501:

  • AMD X2 64 bit processor
  • 2GB of RAM
  • 15″ LCD Screen
  • 250 GB SATA Hard Drive, (my old Macbook HD)

This machine is at the bottom end of the “official” hardware requirements from Microsoft.  I felt that it would be an honest test of the new OS’s capabilities, since it runs Windows 7 Pro quite well.

When I went to download the CP from Microsoft, I was shocked to find a 32 bit version of Windows 8.  My understanding of the move to 64 bit everything, was that Windows 7 was going to be the last version available in 32 bit.  Since even the least powerful current Intel Atom processor is both dual core and 64 bit, this surprised me. (Note:  Since I started writing this article a few weeks ago, I have now downloaded and installed the Release Candidate version of Windows 8.)

The biggest difference, (and complaint), from end users is the “new” Metro desktop.  While I’m sure that this would be something “really neat” on a tablet, it is absolutely a royal pain in the ass on a desktop or laptop computer that doesn’t have a touch screen.  On the bright side, there are several 3rd party add-ons, that give you the traditional “Start” button back on your desktop.  The upshot is that you CAN make this version look and feel like Windows 7.  As a person who has to support large numbers of desktop and laptop computers, making existing users comfortable with change is never an easy task.

With the official release of Windows 8 in the fall of 2012, end users in the home market will probably not have a choice to “downgrade” to Windows 7 like they did when Windows Vista was introduced.  The fact is that home market end users are always the ones that get stuck with the least amount of choices.  Since most businesses are just now migrating to Windows 7 from Windows XP, I don’t see a huge rush to adopt Windows 8 into the business market.

Conclusions:

  • While I understand that Microsoft had to build an OS for the tablet and smartphone market, the desktop and laptop market is already being well served by Windows 7.
  • Most end users are going to wonder where their programs and start button are.
  • Businesses will NOT be upgrading to Windows 8 anytime in the next few years.
  • Only time will tell if Windows 8 is a move forward, or just another piece of crap from Microsoft like Windows Millenium and Windows Vista.
  • Just like Windows 7, users may find that some of their existing software does not work with Windows 8.