Windows 8 - personal experiences

I've taken a deep breath, and upgraded my desktop PC From Windows 7 to 8.  How did it go? Well, the upgrade process was pretty smooth. I made sure I had two full backups first though. You can never have too many backups - just once or twice I've come across corrupt backups that cannot be used. Then I stuck in my Windows 8 DVD and left it to its own devices for a while. All my software was smoothly kept running, and the upgrade also fixed a couple of problems that had appeared in my Windoes 7 installation. And I'm even coming round to liking Windows 8. I'm not going to describe what's technically new in Window 8 here - too many others have done that already.


People often say it's better to do a clean installation than upgrade your old Windows. I disagree. The upgrade pretty much is a clean installation anyway, and if you have a lot of software it saves days of reinstalling things afterwards.


First experiences:

I found I got an alarming error message whenever I tried to do almost anything as soon as I booted into Windows 8: "Extended Attributes are Inconsistent". Google told me that this was a problem with LAME (a bit of audio software) interfering with Windows' attempts to make a sound when it wants to display a UAC prompt (That's one of those windows that pops up saying you have to give permission to do something). The fix - disable the sound attached to UAC prompts in Control panel-> Sounds. Easy!


Using Windows 8

When I first tested Windows 8 over the summer, I decided I hated it. But, do you know what? I really like most of it now. I thought that I would never use the 'Metro' apps which are designed for touch screen tablets. But now I've tried them, they can be really good for some jobs - such as checking weather forecasts, or reading the news - where the News apps give a much more newspaper like experience than a web page. That is only two things theyr'e good for I admit.. doubtless a third one will come along later.

There are minor niggles, such as the well advertised complicated way of turning Widnow 8 off. We'll get used to that though in time.


What Microsoft should fix

I've made a short list of two things that they should change to keep me happy.

I like the new desktop changes, and I like the Metro apps (I know we aren't meant to call them Metro now). Even the Start screen works quite well, mostly. There's one problem which is that I have dozens of applications installed. On my old Start menu, many were filed out of the way in subfolders called things like "network utilities". On the new Start screen, these subfolders are all opened out together and the contents spread thinly, in much the same way that a bottle of milk covers the kitchen floor when you drop it- there are far too many icons to look at! Yes, they can be grouped under headings, but I cannot close these groups by clicking/tapping the heading.

Change no. 1:  Allow me to open/close groups of apps on the Start screen by tapping/clicking on the headings. You could call these features, I dunno, "folders".


The desktop in Windows 8 has no 'Start' button. You are supposed to go to the start screen and search. I can use cunning tweaks to add most of this functionality back, but most people don't know how to do this and aren't interested. The biggest missing thing is a way of opening Explorer - the file browser. There's no link to it on the Start screen, and the desktop "cmputer" icon does not display by default.


Change no. 2: Add a default "my computer" icon somewhere on the desktop taskbar, or even on the Start screen if you must.


What they don't seem to have thought of at all

I talk to a number of people who are elderly, only ocassional or unwilling computer users. While I've learned to use Windows 8's invisible controls in a few days, many thousands or millions of people are going to find it extremely hard to use a computer where controls they need are simply not on the screen.  Simple things such as finding documents and turning the PC off should not be completel hidden to new users.


Should I Upgrade to Windows 8?

For most people, then there is probably little point in upgrading; I don' t think there are any huge "must have" benefits. If you have a very new PC you can upgrade for about £15, and that might be worth doing if you feel like it.

If you have Windows Vista and hate it, then it might well be a good idea. Windows 8 will probably start faster, and be generally slicker.. and irritating in exitingly different ways!

For an older PC with Windows XP, it isn't worth spending money on upgrading Windows, and possibly the computer won't have enough memory, or the screen may not be good enough for the new Windwos Apps to work properly.

Some of you might want to upgrade just for 'fun' - to see what the new toy is like, and that's a perfectly good reason!