Windows 8 – The New Schrodinger’s Cat?

There have been many questions about whether or not to upgrade to Window 8 or to keep working on Windows 7. I had read so many articles about how Windows 8 would be great and others stating it would be catastrophic, the end of Microsoft. I was beginning to think that Windows 8 was going to be the next Schrodinger’s Cat. Realistically though, I was never going to not install it. I mean, this is Windows 8 after all!

Finally, the time was right, my Dell Latitude E6420 Laptop was in need of some attention and I had a freshly downloaded Windows 8 Enterprise and Office 2013 preview from our TechNet Subscription and I had a spare machine to use for work in the meantime. What better time to upgrade than a Friday Arvo?

Preparation

First of all, I did a complete backup of my laptop to a network location, you know, just in case. I haven’t actually gone back to it as yet and chances are that I might never need to but as we all know, backup, backups and backups. All my user data was already on a Data Partition so I didn’t have to worry about that. Because of this, I was able to do a fresh install rather than an upgrade. I had created a USB Boot disk with Windows 8 Enterprise ISO using the Windows 7 Boot Tool. The last step was to copy my Change Log from my original PC to my Virtual machine so I am ready for the rebuild. Game On!

Install

I’m not sure what I was expecting but what I got stunned me. I was logging into my laptop in 13 mins. The Office 2013 (and Visio 2013) preview took another few minutes and I was done. Wow. Not only that, it had picked up all but two devices in my laptop. The devices missed were my internal 3G Broadband card and the Fingerprint Sensor (which involved arcane driver rituals at the best of times). I created my Change log and set to work.

Configuration

First up, setting up my Start Screen. I still only spend about 10-20% of my time in the Start Screen but I wanted set up the way I liked. I created the separate groups based on Action groups. I did read this advice on a blog whose source I cannot remember (if this was your blog article, Thanks so much, it helped a lot). The next step was to pin a bunch of my most used Applications to the Taskbar. So far, this is just the RDP client and the Office Programs. I haven’t really been into the Windows Store to get a lot of apps. I did get Minesweeper, Solitaire and Mahjongg. The lure of Xbox Achievements was too much. I did have to rearrange my folders so they would look a lot less messy in the Pictures App. It has a much neater hierarchy now and ties in better with my Facebook Pics, SkyDrive Pics and Pics from my Home Machine (via SkyDrive App)


Usage

I’ve been using it for a few days now and I pretty much have my patterns of work down pat. I still have the occasional moment where I go around in circles a bit but these are happening less and less. I still find all sorts of great new features here and there when I am doing stuff or when aI am trying to do something else. I did come across Scott Hanselman’s post on Windows 8 Productivity. In that article he shares a number of tips and keyboard shortcuts as well (Win+X is the most important one). A great bunch of tips there delivered in a good article that cuts through the complaints.

Another interesting article that I came across that I recommend people to read is an article by Kyle Wagner over at Gizmodo. His article – You’re Being Lied To: Windows 8 Isn’t Bad for Gaming discusses some of the more recent statements by those in the gaming industry that are calling Windows 8 a catastrophe. His speculation is that these people tend to make a lot of revenue on the distribution of games and see competition in the Windows Store affecting that revenue.

I spend most of my time in the desktop (Win+D) and using Desktop Apps. I have snapped the Music App to the side to keep my tunes pumping while I try and get in some uninterrupted work. Having spent a lot of time using keyboard shortcuts before, I probably have found this transition to be a little less jarring than a lot of more mouse-centric people have. The swapping between the desktop and the Modern UI Interface has been easier than I thought it would be. The best way is with an Alt-Tab to swap between Apps. If you want to swap between Modern UI Apps then Win+Tab is your friend.

Conclusion

There are a lot of articles saying that Windows 8 will be the end of PC’s, Microsoft and life as we know it. So many, that it reminds me of all the articles that said much the same for Windows 95, Windows XP, and Windows Vista and so on. Granted, there is an adjustment period to adapt to a new operating system. Some people may find this harder than others. In the end, only you know how you use your computer and you can adapt Windows 8 AND your processes to be more effective than ever. There are enough gains in Power Management, speed and functionality to be worth your time to upgrade

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