Windows 8, which will soon be available for public consumption, is being touted by its developers at Microsoft as the most important advance in Windows since the release of Windows 95. If this claim is true, then Windows 8 is expected to revolutionize our concept of an operating system just as Windows 95 did when it replaced Windows 3.1. In fact, Microsoft’s claim that Windows 95 has been a massive influence on the way society uses computers is absolutely correct. However, whether Windows 8 will have the same impact is as yet an unknown, but Microsoft is enthusiastic about its newest contribution to the Windows community.
Recently, my fellow contributor here at LockerGnome, Ryan Matthew Pierson, brought to the staff’s attention that our readership consists of 65.5% Windows users. In his report, he stated that while the percentage of Windows users accessing our website has seen a steady decline during the past two years, the fact remains that the majority of people still rely on Windows as their primary operating system.
Being a Microsoft MVP, I am fortunate to have received copies of Windows 8, the final release version, for my personal use. In testing the final version of Windows 8 on my test desktop computer, I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, I enjoy how fast Windows 8 starts, however, I find the new GUI (that was once called Metro), hard to navigate.
That being said, I am a geek who always relishes the opportunity to explore new and different options as well as to play with new devices. Because of this, I always keep a new hard disk on hand just in case the inevitable happens and the hard drive on one of my laptops suddenly ceases to function. With this in mind, you won’t be surprised when I tell you that this past Saturday, while my wife was gone for the day, I decided to play. I started by popping a new hard disk into my spare three-year-old Toshiba laptop system and installing Windows 8. I know at the time I was thinking that I would give the new operating system one more go in the hopes of finding something in it that I couldn’t live without; I had all but convinced myself that I would most likely be sticking with Windows 7 for the next few years.
As with my previous installation, this went smoothly and without incident. I even waited patiently while all of the necessary updates were installed and the new operating system appeared with the new interface. Once it appeared, I installed Google’s Chrome browser (which I synchronized to my other systems) and set up all of my familiar toolbar and bookmark settings. This I followed by popping on a copy of the free avast! anti-virus software for additional protection before venturing out on the Internet.
On the positive side, I am willing to admit that Windows 8 has a “snappy” feel to it and that it is very quick in responding to commands, keyboard strokes, and / or mouse clicks. In addition, as I have previously mentioned, boot time is less than half of what Windows 7 takes on this same laptop system. However, I know that — in my opinion at least — even on my new Toshiba quad-core with 6 GB of RAM, any version of Windows is very slow to boot.
After experimenting with the new operating system, let me admit that, after several hours, I actually started getting a handle on using Windows 8. In fact, though I have used Windows 8 in all of its previous flavors before the official and final release, I can now actually start to understand why Microsoft has chosen to take the route it has. I can even see how its new concept may completely change the way we use a personal computer. However, my newfound respect for this innovative operating system came crashing to a halt when my wife returned home and saw Windows 8 on what she now claims as her computer. She wanted the old Windows 7 back on and had no intention of learning something new. To keep peace in our household, I quickly obliged and restored the laptop to its original state.
After all of that work, I later took some time and gave some thought to boot time and why it is so important. Perhaps not surprisingly, I came up with one simple observation. Imagine if, when the Apple iPhone was first introduced, Steve Jobs had stood in front of his audience and been forced to wait a few minutes for the system to boot. For that matter, how many of us would be delighted if we were forced to wait for several minutes while our iPad booted? For any electronic device, this would be like sounding a death knell to its popularity since our impatient society demands instant gratification. We are consumers who demand quick access to our stuff, no matter what the operating system is or who makes it.
I personally believe that this was the correct area of attack by Microsoft, which needed to eliminate the slow boot times that have always been associated with the Windows operating system. In fact, by decreasing its boot time and integrating its newest features, Windows RT instant-on could help to propel Microsoft back into the tablet arena.
What do you think? Is Microsoft heading in the right direction?
CC licensed Flickr photo above shared by koadmonkee