In Windows 8: a Beginner’s Guide for the Bewildered — Part 1 of 3 and Windows 8: a Beginner’s Guide for the Bewildered — Part 2 of 3, we covered some of the aspects of Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro, and Windows RT, but one of the biggest hurdles Microsoft is going to face is the small number of applications that are available for its new OS. In comparison, both Apple and Google have had over two years to build up their inventory of applications and to secure developers for future applications. In fact, Microsoft is struggling with a tiny arsenal (in the low end of the thousands) while iOS and Android applications are in the hundreds of thousands and for any of us who use the Apple iOS or one of the Google Android devices, we know that it is the applications that make the device.
However, it seems that Microsoft is not discouraged by this discrepancy, claiming that the number of applications that will work on its new Windows 8 OS is increasing by some 500 a day. Unfortunately, that doesn’t address Windows RT, which doesn’t run legacy applications. This means that Microsoft Windows RT cannot attract consumers until it can provide more applications.
As I addressed in part two of this series, one of the most discussed features of Windows 8 revolves around its two distinct operating environments that one could conclude work against each other. In fact, I know that when I first installed the Preview edition of Windows 8, I was very confused. On the one hand, we have a Tile (aka Metro) environment that includes an assortment of applications including Internet Explorer; on the flip side, we have what appears to be a duplicate of the Windows 7 desktop (minus many of the features that we have known). If they were present, features like the Control Panel and Device Manager were a chore to locate. However, one of the most frustrating changes that Microsoft made was in eliminating the Start button. When the company did this, it originally stated that it intended to block any third party software that would even consider bringing a Start button back.
Its attempts to block this were frustrated, however, and I discovered an easy trick to finding the many tools we need to operate on the Desktop. To find it, bring the mouse down to the bottom right corner of the Desktop screen and right-click. This will bring up the following screen (as seen on my computer):
You will immediately notice some of the Windows tools dating back to Windows 95. It is like seeing an old friend once again and I, for one, am thankful that Microsoft has included it.
So what about anti-virus protections for Windows 8? Microsoft has included an application called Windows Defender in every copy of Windows 8 (including RT). It is similar to the Microsoft Security Essentials that the company provides free of charge for other versions of Windows. However, if you choose, you can replace Windows Defender with your own security protection. I installed avast! free edition without issue and it seems to be working just fine with Windows 8.
For those of you who are not huge fans of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, I can tell you that I installed Google Chrome without issue. I was also pleased to note that, when doing this, I was able to synchronize Chrome with my other Windows computers and Android devices without issue. The Windows OS automatically added a Chrome icon to the Live Tile environment, which works fine as well.
For those of you who install or upgrade to Windows 8 Pro, you can get a free copy of Media Center from Microsoft. That website will also tell you how to upgrade from Windows 8 to Windows 8 Pro.
I am using Windows 8 Pro RTM on my test computer and find it easy to use. Once one tweaks some of the settings and learns some of the tricks on how to use the hidden features, Windows 8 works very well. I will not be upgrading my personal Windows computers since I am very satisfied with Windows 7. I may change my mind at a later date, but for now I am sticking with Windows 7.
Here is an added bonus for those who choose to read this article. You can get yourself a free copy of Windows 8 for IT Professionals directly from Microsoft in .pdf format. The manual contains 147 pages of very useful information. Enjoy.
Comments are welcome.
CC licensed Flickr photo above shared by Filip Skakun