Nov 19, 2012

Windows 8 Experience

Something happened to the Windows 7 on my personal laptop a few weeks ago. A bit paranoid, I installed a trial of F-Secure which I thought was more reliable than my free version of Avira. It declared my computer clean and all, but that's when it went completely sluggish. And didn't recover from that even after uninstalling F-Secure.

So I decided it was time to reinstall the computer, and since I had a Win8 licence available, upgrade it was. Smooth experience! Nice and easy boot to installation media on a USB thumb drive, relatively fast clean complete installation and my Win8 was up and running. Even with the complete installation, since I did not format my C drive, my Win8 remembered my crucial settings, such as sleep times etc.

Next, I installed Office 2013 on my "Red". That I had already been using on my work laptop for some time already, and I like it! It's not that different from 2010, and I haven't needed apps too much yet, but I like the sleek new look and feel and the smooth touch while typing etc. 

I also went exploring in the App store, and got e.g. Netflix and Skype (which I actually do not use yet, for I am quite suspicious and reserved about the idea of connecting my Windows (Live) account with my Skype account) and some other apps on my laptop. It was so cool for a tablet user of two years already, to have that app experience on my laptop too!

All of what I need does not come as apps, though. Chrome, Keepass, Dropbox, Skydrive Explorer version, and, well, the Skype for desktop, and such. So I installed these the old-fashioned way, and truly, it did not take anything away from the tablety feeling I was experiencing. Rather the other way round! I felt like I was able to actually get "real" software on my new bigger screen "tablet".

So ok, it still is a laptop, not a tablet. Obviously, no touch screen - but alas! the gestures work nicely with the mouse too! Actually, they work better with the mouse than e.g. on some touch screens I've tried with Win8. But I started daydreaming of a Surface (with Win8 pro to have the desktop experience too). 

Some things do have me wondering, though, in all honesty. 

  • First, the Email app. It's quite cool in itself. I connected it to my gmail and my work mail and it works perfectly. But. When I want to add an attachment, I can easily access anything in Windows Explorer. So e.g. my Dropbox was readily available for the purpose. But what surprised me, was that I simply could not find a way to get stuff from my Skydrive without creating the connection to WinExplorer too! Seems to me like the Email app does not communicate with the Skydrive app. How can that be? If anyone has some insight to this, please educate me!
  • Second, pictures. If I have pictures in any random folder in Windows explorer, when I open them with the default (which I could change, of course) Pictures viewer, I have no way of navigating through the other photos in the folder. Puzzling. And the other thing I miss, is the Skydrive photo gallery application that alows to modify the pics too. I didn't find that anywhere anymore! Now there's no native app for even simple photo corrections (No, I don't consider Paint as such). A big minus!
  • Third, the music player. I have all my music on my D drive, shared with all users of the laptop to allow my kids access to the music too. But I found no other way of connecting my music files to the inbuilt Music player that to add the Music folder as a library in my Music library. Not too big of an issue, but sort of feels like an unnecessary workaround.
Other than that, I'm a happy Win8 user (and even those issues have been resolved in one way or the other, just not in the way I would've expected). I like the Start screen (and for those looking for the Search: simply start typing in the Start screen!) and I'm way past the original schitzophrenic feel I had when only fiddling with the preview on a virtual machine. I like the way it all wraps up, giving me the sleek and easy-going tablety feel and at the same time allowing extensive full time PC experience when needed.

As for the kids. I have three daughters in the house: 12, 11 and 9 years old. The eleven years old has been using her dad's MacBook quite a lot, the other two have mostly used Win7, and Win XP in their younger years. All three are fluent with both Android and iOS. They all have their own accounts on my laptop now too, naturally. I prepared the accounts a bit (pinned Office apps and chrome etc. in their Start screens too) when I set up their new accounts. All three tried out this new Win8 while I was still at work, they at home by themselves. Did they have trouble finding stuff? Nope. Any other usage problems? Nope. 

Their initial reaction to the Win8 Start screen, when they first saw me use it, was: "Hey, that's so cool! So do I have that kind of a Start now, too?" Yep you do. And they seem happy to use it.

Where's my Surface?

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