I know you are busy, so I’ll give you a straight answer. Yes.
That’s a surprise to me too, but after spending some time with Windows 8, I’d say it’s a required upgrade for anyone running a Windows machine. However expect a degree of confusion and frustration at first, but as I hope to explain, that’s a good thing, as Windows 8 is a genuine attempt to move forwards, not sideways.
The good news
The main reason to upgrade to Windows 8 are purely performance and security related. Windows 8 does provide a faster boot and better data transfer. After many promised increases in performance with new OS versions, Windows 8 actually delivers tangible benefits.
(Graphs from hexus.net)
Windows 8 expands support for embedded hardware security, and introduces secure boot and signed applications. These provide robust protection from boot time exploits and rootkits. Windows Defender provides out of the box protection from viruses and malware and the new operating system ensures that all security software loads first.
“After reviewing the layers of technologies used by Microsoft to protect Windows 8, it is our opinion that it is the most secure version of Microsoft Windows to date,”
Aryeh Goretsky – ESET.
I think there is enough innovation and performance in Windows 8 to make an upgrade good sense even if you are currently using Windows 7. And if you are on a previous incarnation such as Vista or XP, then certainly but you will need to check the system requirements closely or run the upgrade assistant which will profile your system and tell you if there are any incompatibilities in your hardware or running apps. Upgrading from Windows 7 to 8 was really easy with no disruption. Windows XP to Windows 8 might be a little more traumatic.
The bad news
Windows 8 seems to be a genuine attempt to provide an updated, contemporary user interface. As we’ve grown used to home screens on our mobile devices and the concept of apps, so Windows 8 attempts to bring these concepts to the desktop. It also provides support for touchscreen devices, but using the OS without a touch screen is fine although a few keyboard shortcuts really help, of which more later.
Expect frustration. The Start button has gone!
Your first experience with Windows 8 might be a little confusing as after login (which can now be done with a pin number) you arrive at the new home screen which is much more like the sort of thing you’d expect on a tablet or mobile device.
This is designed to pull together live information (social streams, email notifications) with access to commonly used apps and programs.
Windows 8 runs “apps” and “programs.” Whilst essentially the same thing (bundles of code) apps come from the app store, programs are downloaded or loaded from disk like in the old days.
Access to your patch of familiarity, the desktop, is possible by either clicking the “desktop” tile or pressing the Windows key, which will switch you between the desktop and start screen. I can see the logic of getting rid of the start button, as Microsoft try to pull together a good common user experience across PCs, laptops, tablets and mobile devices. It just takes a bit of getting used to. This is where a few keyboard shortcuts come in handy. These are the few that you WILL need:
- Windows key – switch between desktop (where the work happens) and start screen (where you find commonly used apps / programs.)
- Windows key + Q – Search apps. The new way to quickly launch apps / programs.
- Windows key + I – brings up settings, where you can power off the PC.
- Windows key + C – “Charms” menu – less useful, but provides search, settings and devices.
You can also access these features with mouse actions – move you mouse to the corners of your screen and see what happens. There is plenty more to discover with the new interface, but that will get you started, and hopefully help you avoid the frustration than many others have experienced. Take time to look at the new Photo, Video and Music apps – try the Smart DJ in the latter to streamed music similar to a band that you like. Visit the app store to download things like the Skype app which provide a beautiful new user experience.
Windows 8 is a good thing. If you can find it at a reasonable price, then it’s a recommended upgrade for performance and security reasons but do give the new interface time – it will grow on you and perhaps before long you won’t miss the start button.