Friday, January 25, 2013

Hands-on with Windows 8 Pro - Part 1

Hands-on with Windows 8 Pro (part 1)

First of all future proof yourself and get your hands on Win 8 Pro Upgrade from Microsoft for just $39.95. This offer is valid until Jan 31st 2013 only and then regular price kicks in at $199.99.

After a lot of skepticism I finally took the plunge and installed Win 8 Pro upgrade on my Win 7 PC.
My skepticism on adopting Win 8 stemmed from various notions or fear-factors:
  • why fix it when its not broken: i already have Win 7 and its working beautifully, so why change and maybe fall prey to Vista-like-disaster? I was wrong!
  • its a fad with all that touch(iness) requirements, unnecessary $$ on new PC, new hardware, new touch monitor and accessories - Umm not really. I was wrong again!
  • it won't work or feel the same without "touch" - Wrong! I experienced the opposite (more later)
  • when was the last time I actually bought an OS at retail price? all that data backup, compatibility issues one hears? - Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! 
  • <aaiinnnhhhh> Time up! more than 3 strikes on fear-factors.
So, when I saw the offer of $39.95 upgrade offer to Win 8 with only 2 weeks left, I decided it was now or never (See my skepticism point# 2 & 4). Promptly backed up my data on external hard drives (not much as most of my stuff was already there) and said my final goodbye to Win 7. When I came to know that with Win 8 Pro one can switch to Win 7 like mode - I knew it would be point of no return for me. If I didn't like the Win 8 interface, then I would simply switch to Win 7 interface and stay there as if nothing changed! (See my skepticism point# 1 above)

Download of Win 8 Pro Upgrade is only 2 GB. Not bad even for a slow internet connection @ 12 Mbps download speed. 

Install of Win 8 was a breeze! Maybe 30 mins or less. Since its an upgrade, You have 3 options during upgrade:
  1. save your previous OS's programs/apps, settings, data
  2. save only data
  3. save nothing
I selected option 1 (couldn't let go so easily) and then changed my mind and picked option 3 with my eyes closed. Don't know what happened but apparently the intaller still somehow picked my previous option 1.
(Either that was divine intervention, or because I closed my eyes while selecting option 3, or a defect in the installer - I point my finger to latter of them all! Developers are developers! ;) )

Anyways, like I said earlier, the install was a breeze. It warned me during install the machine would reboot multiple times, so I just sat back and watched....a blank screen with a small blue windows tile logo and the dots going in circle in some rhythm. Very minimal on-screen status updates. No progress bars - just tiny dots going in circle - disappearing and reappearing.

Finally at the end it simply said "Ready 100%" and the screen blacks out one final time and then initial setup starts: Name the computer, choose/create windows user account (I used my hotmail account), Select your wireless network and password (none of the authentication type WPA/WPA2 stuff) and basic Settings (background image when you are not logged in, background image when you are logged in, color themes, speaker setup, resolution setup...) Just 4-5 selections - not more and Viola! Splash screen of signature Win 8 (Metro UI) comes up.

No congratulations page! No background music!! Simply in your face "Start" page - and it looked beautiful!
Tiles flickering with updates, you tend to touch the screen automatically to scroll to the right and then remember- umm... i need to use the mouse. :P

Before I go on - let me tell you my PC's configuration:
  • Intel Core2 Duo CPU T9300 @ 2.5MHz each 533
  • 4 GB RAM (maxed out)
  • Wireless 802.11 b/g Card
  • Some sound card w/ external speakers
  • Some graphics card w/ 512 MB onboard memory
  • 21" monitor (1600x1350 max resolution)
  • 110 GB HDD
Nothing fancy - aging hardware - no hopes for future hardware upgrades. (See my skepticism point #2 above)

The pre-installer checks your configuration to see if its compatible with Win 8 or not and it never complained   except for the fact that Secure Boot would not be possible (its a new feature on OEM motherboards in newer PCs) which kinda protects your OS from being tampered with later installation of software (which at some point in time try to overwrite Windows DLLs etc) - Who cares if you careful enough before installing malicious software off the internet without anti-virus scans etc..!

Like Win 7, the whole installation is touch-free, no questions asked! It identifies the hardware plugged in (wireless printer, USB card readers, wireless mouse/keyboard, iPhone 5 connected to USB port, external HDD from WD & Seagate connected to USB drives, ....)
One by one by one all drivers are automagically installed and my IPhone 5 purrs signaling all devices are ready for use and charging. 

HDD check shows it chewed up at least 50+ GB off my 110 GB so far! but then I remembered it had selected option 1 (save programs, data and settings) - so found the old OS files stored in Windows.old folder on the HDD eating up precious 15 GB - opened up Disk Cleanup utility and purged old OS files.
So in all basic OS install takes up around 35 GB of HDD.

I had recently purchased Office 2013 pack from Microsoft Home Use Program for $9.95 and had old MS Project 2007 and Visio 2007 from same Microsoft Home Use Program - installed all these s/w.
Installed Adobe Photoshop CS2 (out of support s/w) but Free from Adobe download site. Installed few other basic utilities, anti-virus s/w...At the end with "no personal data" as yet on my Win 8 PC - i am already out of 58 GB. Not bad overall.

Back to Win 8 Metro UI ....there's a lot to tell about!
So, I see these nice tiles laid out on the screen in various sizes and in some what do I do now? Hey! there's no "start" button on lower left corner! So how do I check what programs were installed? How do I go to Control Panel to check system settings? How do I check what devices were recognized and connected successfully? Printer - is it ready to use? what the C:\ directory structure as compared to Win 7 ?
What am I supposed to do now with all these tiles in my face some blinking w/ real-time updates of some sort...

...The panic starts to set in...but wait - let me savor this and post a pic of Win 8 on my facebook page first! ..Awesome! ;D