Windows 8 Reviews: Microsoft Reinvents OS to Out Cool Apple, Android, Ape Mobile Technology
The wait is finally over: Microsoft launches its new revolutionary software, Windows 8, today. And while we're typically wary of any sentence that pairs "revolutionary" with "Microsoft," reviews of the new operating system seem to support Microsoft's claims. Windows 8 looks to embody the revolution Microsoft has been promising.
Starting from scratch, Windows 8 is Microsoft's attempt to redefine itself and attain the "cool factor" of Apple's OSX and Android's operating system. And from that standpoint, it already seems like a success. Windows has always been the friendly, albeit esoteric, work-minded nerd when compared to the competition. Sturdy, and dependable, but not much fun to hangout with or look at.
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In that regard, Windows 8 is a tremendous leap forward from Windows 7. The old start screen is gone, in its place a Windows-Phone-inspired patchwork of "live tiles" where apps are stored, and run live, constantly updating the squares and rectangles.
Everything in the new OS looks reimagined for touch-screen and mobile technology. And that's no mistake. Microsoft clearly wants to continue the trend of erasing the gap between the typical workhorse PC and mobile computing. The company is pushing its own Surface tablets, and encouraging tech companies to build more hybrid touch-enabled devices, as much to make a case for Widows 8 as they are to optimize its use.
As the reviews come in, Windows 8 is clearly optimized for use on a touch screen. And while there are bugs in the operating system, most seem like the kind of minor kinks that accompany any major product launch. The major flaw that everyone seems to agree on is the selection of tablet-enabled apps. Right now Microsoft's library is a wasteland. There aren't even apps for Gmail or Facebook, and Microsoft is a partner of Facebook.
"It's such a grand departure from Redmond's legacy Windows software that most users won't recognize it as Windows at all. And that's a beautiful thing."
"Several small annoyances remain for Microsoft to work out. But if you're willing to put in a little bit of initial effort to learn the ropes, Windows 8 is definitely worth the upgrade."
"The learning curve isn't too steep. The operating system is fun to use right out of the box, and it doesn't skimp on the key functionality you expect from the Windows brand."
"While I definitely prefer Windows 8 in a touch environment, it's almost as easy and pleasant to use with a gesture-enabled trackpad. By far, my least favorite method of using Windows 8 is touchless, with only a standard mouse and keyboard. But even then, it's not a bad experience."
"Live Tiles that show animations, a fully integrated search tool, and easy-to-adopt gestures for touchscreens and trackpads. These enhancements, and a host of other new features, are what make Windows 8 worth the upgrade."
"The touchscreen actions are a huge gain for usability, and the interface is gorgeous. I wouldn't go back to Windows 7 after using Windows 8; I'd miss the touch controls too much. I even caught myself trying to touch my MacBook Air's screen last night."
"Pros: Touch and trackpad gestures are intuitive and make navigating the Windows 8 environment a breeze. Snapping apps is useful for multitasking. Desktop gets its own improved tools like Task Manager and File History. Windows 8 is pushing touch and all sorts of new hardware experiences, which is good for consumers. Good price for online upgrades."
"Cons: Windows Store is still relatively low on apps. Ambiguity between x86 and Windows Store apps in Microsoft messaging and when pinned on Start Screen. Windows 8 will take effort to get used to, and not all users want to learn a new operating system and interface. Microsoft risks alienating legacy users. Several feature details still need polish."
"Windows 8 has now been around in public beta form for so long that it ought to be known and polished - unfortunately for Microsoft, it seems actually to be largely misunderstood and still, in little places, painfully imperfect."
"It is so different from what people have become accustomed to with Windows 7, Windows 8 is hard to compare. Is it an improvement? Definitely. Will people simply get cross? Possibly. Built in to Windows 8 is essentially all of Windows 7, hidden under a 'Desktop' tile. That means users can still run all the old software they're used to, from Adobe Photoshop to Apple iTunes. If you don't need all that, you can buy a tablet such as Microsoft's own Surface, which runs a cut down version of Windows 8 called Windows RT, but includes Word, Excel and PowerPoint. What it lacks is a decent mail client, but Microsoft says one will be along soon."
"For now, moving between different styles of interface is simply a fact of life, made all the more painful that good tablet apps are so much better in Windows 8 than desktop hangovers."
"there's such a painful lack of search options in some apps and such an extensive ability in others. Microsoft's idea is that you don't need to worry so much about filing - as in Gmail - but it'll never work until all apps are equal. That day will probably come sooner than we suspect; Adobe's Photoshop offers an excellent version for Android tablets already. But it underlines that Microsoft has had to take a leap here. It offers a whole new computing paradigm, but forces you to also use the old one at the same time."
"Nonetheless, Windows 8 should do well - it is an operating system rethought from the ground up, and integrates touch right into its very heart. Those live tiles are superb windows on the world behind them, allowing you to see your latest emails or your friends' latest posts to Facebook at a convenient glance. Swiping between applications feels sophisticated in a way that previously only Apple has managed to achieve."
"If, however, you have an existing PC that doesn't have a touchscreen, Windows 8 is more of an enticement to buy a new one than it is a reason to upgrade"
If you are going to buy a Windows 8 device now, I would recommend either a touchscreen ultrabook such as those by Asus with the Zenbook, or a convertible such as those by Dell, Sony or Lenovo which let you use it as both a tablet and a laptop.
"For new users, Windows 8 will sometimes be infuriating - how do you close a programme? Why are there two versions of Internet Explorer, one for desktop, one for Windows 8 proper? (Because Windows 8 proper is more powerful.) Why is there no Facebook app, when Microsoft is a Facebook investor? Why is logging in to a wired network different from a wireless one? None of these are crises, but all of them indicate that Windows 8 remains the future - it will certainly not be the present until Intel chips power it to its full potential. And by then, the software will have been polished and the apps library filled. January can't come soon enough."
"Windows 8 seems immediately familiar to users of its older sibling from a design point, and older PC users aren't locked out of the very reasonable upgrade price."
"The Windows 8 main interface will be familiar to Windows Phone 7 users - the tiled 'Metro' interface shows each app as a tile, which is easy for touch and mouse and keyboard interaction. The tiles also change to reflect live information, such as news stories, tweets, weather updates, you name it. This gives the OS a dynamic feel, very different to Mac OS X Mountain Lion."
"The raw performance of Windows 8 is impressive in reality, with an Apple-esque slickness to menu interactions, and super-fast scrolling. In addition, connecting devices is a pleasure, with the classic Windows USB recognition pause not featuring during testing.It's occasionally perplexing in use, but overall an exciting user experience, and sets the bar high for the next year in tech."