Windows 8: The Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde of Operating Systems

Windows 8 is getting a bad rap. It does a lot of really great things, and in may ways is far superior to a beloved Windows 7 that liberated us from a bloated, buggy Vista OS. But it has a darker, more sinister side. Despite its many advantages, Windows does some devious things that have turned off consumers and tainted its image. Just ask anyone walking down the street if they like Windows 8 and most will wrinkle their noses in disgust. Many of these people have not even tried the new Operating System. Word is out: Windows 8 is a bad seed.

Or is it? Below are some highlights of Windows 8’s split personality.

Jeckll

Dr Jekyll: Windows 8 has a fully-functional antivirus built in. But if a user prefers to install antivirus software like McAfee, Symantec, or AVG, Windows 8 will turn off this built in protection and defer to the third-party product. Microsoft’s software will become active if there’s no third-party malware protection at all or if the software is installed but has no up-to-date virus definitions.

Mr. Hyde: Metro. The vast majority of people I talk to do not like the tiles. They’re bulky and irrelevant.

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To make matters worse, many programs, like Internet Explorer and Skype will have two versions–a Metro version and a Desktop version. They will look and act differently, leading to a lot of confusion.

Dr. Jekyll: Ridiculously Fast Boot Times. If you’re tired of watching the Windows load screen for two minutes, Windows 8 boots really fast. On a recent build with a solid state hard drive, Windows 8 boots up in less than ten seconds.

boottime

This graphic from a MSDN blog shows the major differences between the Windows 7 and Windows 8 boot process.

Mr. Hyde: Shutting down and restarting Windows 8 is a chore. Unless you followed our guide on how to add shutdown and sleep tiles to Windows 8, you will spend several minutes hunting for the secret charm section in the right corner of the screen, and then navigating through several menus before finding the option to power down your computer.

Dr. Jekyll: Windows To Go. Imagine fitting a computer in your pocket. With Windows To Go, you can load your entire corporate Windows environment on a flash drive and then run it from another computer–at home for example. The flash drive allows a user to access the Windows 8 environment and apps on a Windows 7 machine, and it is bitlocker encrypted, meaning you don’t have to worry about losing vital company data in a cab. Note: Windows To Go should only be run on flash drives certified for this feature, such as the Kingston Data Traveler Workspace.

Mr. Hyde: Mass confusion. Forget Metro, the Apps section is simply a blob of confusing icons.

apps

Even on a fresh install, Windows 8’s App section is a mess. You will spend most of the day organizing this section to have any hope of finding what you’re looking for in a hurry.

Dr. Jekyll: The Windows Store. This Apple-apps-like section makes it easy to download free and paid apps to your system.

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From games to music to movies, the Windows Store is a great way to enhance your Windows 8 machine. The Top Free section in each category will keep you busy for hours.

Mr. Hyde: Extra steps to close an app. Launch a game and try closing it. Good luck. The App will remain running, leeching away your memory until you find the secret corner that opens your running apps so you can then X out of it. If you have enough memory, this may not be an issue for you. Power users, however, like to have all of their system resources at their disposal and this quirk of Windows 8 is a sin.

Dr. Jekyll: Integrated Skydrive. In the past, Skydrive was almost considered a secret because Microsoft did such a poor job promoting this valuable feature. Skydrive is free online cloud storage and it is now integrated right into Windows 8, making it easier for you to sync your data across multiple devices.

Mr. Hyde: Poor discoverability. Hidden in corners are secret charms that–when hovered over–display secret menus. Huh. If you do not know about these secret hotspots, you will be dazed and confused. In the past, Windows always allowed even a novice user the ability to eventually find their way. The poor interface and lack of discoverability in Windows 8 will leave a lot of people frustrated beyond belief.

In conclusion, Windows 8 is a really good Operating System with a lot of great features. If you can get beyond its “flaws” and set the interface up in a way that works best for you, you will probably find you prefer it to Windows 7 over time.  Let us know your impressions of Windows 8.

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