Windows 8: a Beginner's Guide for the Bewildered -- Part 2 of 3As I mentioned in Windows 8: a Beginner’s Guide for the Bewildered — Part 1 of 3, Windows 8 comes equipped with two distinct environments. One of these is the Desktop environment, which is a clone of the Windows 7 environment minus the Aero theme and the now almost infamously missing Start button. The second is equipped with Live Tile, an environment that mimics a Windows Phone operating system. Amazingly, both of these systems are like conjoined twins. They are both enclosed in the same body, but act independently. This is especially noticeable if you wish to surf the Internet, since each has its own browser and you cannot share any data between the two. Now, in my opinion, this is extremely odd if one has purchased the OS with the intention of enjoying both environments.

In contrast, the Desktop side of Windows 8 uses a typical Internet Explorer screen that allows one to see, at a glance, which pages they have open by merely viewing the tabs at the top of the screen and then clicking on the one they wish to bring up. On the other hand, when one chooses to use the Live Tiles environment, that version of Internet Explorer will completely fill the screen with the selected webpage. In this case, you need to either right-click the mouse (anywhere on the screen) in order to see the tabs or, if you are using a touchscreen, swipe your pinkie down from the top of the screen to reveal the thumbnails of all open windows.

After installing Classic Shell 3.6.1, which put the Start button back into Windows 8 Pro, I opted to revert the Internet browser back to how version 9.0 functioned. The unexpected result was, no matter which Internet Explorer icon I used (either from the Desktop or Live Tile), both opened the same browser. So no matter which one was chosen, both would save the exact same history, bookmarks, and other settings. One word: nice.

So how do you go about upgrading your Windows 7, Vista, or XP machine over to Windows 8?

Actually, after paying the surprisingly reasonable price of $39.95 without discs or $69.95 with discs (to be mailed to you by Microsoft), the installation is as simple as downloading the new operating system to your computer. During the installation process, Microsoft will check your system for any compatibility programs, uninstall any offending programs, and install the new operating system.You can find all of the information you will need directly from the Microsoft Windows 8 website.

For the program to function efficiently, Microsoft lists the following hardware requirements:

  • 1 GHz processor or faster
  • 2 GB RAM and 20 GB available on the hard disk
  • Screen resolution that supports 1366 x 768
  • DirectX 9 graphics processor
  • If you wish to use touch, a PC that supports multitouch

Another oddity with an upgrade to Windows 8 is its claim to support an upgrade from a Windows XP machine. At first I couldn’t imagine this since most Windows XP machines are fairly old and the hardware would be unable to support a newer operating system. However, I then recalled that some newer machines that had been designed to run Vista also came installed with Windows XP for those who chose to keep using the older OS. In this case, it is plausible that the machine could operate with an upgrade to Windows 8.

However, in my personal opinion, the minimum operating requirements that Microsoft lists are unrealistic. In fact, I would think that those specifications would severely affect the user’s satisfaction, but I can also testify to the fact that the unit I am using to run Windows 8 Pro (which boasts a 3.0 GHz dual core processor with 4 GB RAM), flies.

Now comes the unknown entity: Windows RT. In fact, this operating system is truly an unknown and while we do have some fairly reliable information from reviews posted in blogs and news sources, the jury is still out. Let me be explicit: I am not talking about the hardware used in Microsoft’s stellar Surface tablets, which appear to be well-built and designed. I am talking about the operating system RT. This operating system is not Windows 8 or Windows 8 Pro, so how will Microsoft explain the major differences to consumers? How will those first consumers respond to the product when they come to realize that the RT version of Windows will not allow them to install the full version of Office? Surprise! Anger! How do you think you would respond to what you may see as a betrayal of your trust in the product? Let me know what you think.

Comments are welcome.

Source: Microsoft

CC licensed Flickr photo above shared by Filip Skakun