So, it's been a little longer than normal since my last post, for a few reasons. I've still been recovering from my illness over Christmas, and being back at work has taken up a lot of time. I've been playing a little TSW and quite a bit of Skyrim too (my full thoughts on the game will be coming soon). There is another reason though, and that is I have taken the plunge and installed Windows 8 on my PC.
It wasn't something I was planning to do, but my wife decided to give it a go as the upgrade version is available from the Microsoft store at half price until the end of the month. After seeing the ease with which she upgraded I thought for £25 it would be worth a go, especially as the upgrade version allows you to make a boot disk and do a full, clean install (something I was planning on doing with Windows 7 at some point anyway).
It's always a slightly scary thing upgrading to a new OS, especially as I really rate Windows 7 (it's quick, smooth and stable, the best OS Microsoft have released so far). Anyway, it took me a day or so to back up all my documents, music, settings and the like.
The download and installation of Windows 8 itself went surprisingly easy and quickly. I made a boot disk (you'll need a DVD or usb stick with 3GB of space on it), and within 30 minutes or so the installation was complete.
I found the new Windows 8 interface to be very weird at first. Some people will hate it. It's not very intuitive for use on a desktop (though the full old style desktop built on the Windows 7 code is still available), though I can see how it would work well for tablets and mobile devices. Once I got used to the new Start Screen however I liked how I could access my media and social information quickly, and the live tiles are a nice touch.
It took me a while to get things looking how I wanted, and I have to give huge props to OblyTile, a brilliant piece of software that allows you to make Start Screen style tiles for links to any desktop program. My new Windows 8 desktop now looks like this:
Once I got used to switching between the Start Screen and the desktop then the new interface really started to grow on me. One thing that I initially found very disconcerting is the lack of a Start button on the desktop. There are several 3rd party apps that can be used to restore it, but after a day or so I found I didn't actually miss it that much.
So far all my software and games seem to be running smoothly and quickly. I still have a few niggles with the new interface, but I am slowly getting used to it and figuring out how to do things. The store is currently very poorly stocked compared to Apple's store or Google Play, but I expect that to improve with time. Programs do seem to boot and run very smoothly under the new OS.
So, is upgrading worth it? Overall I don't regret my upgrade to the new operating system, and I'm sure it will only improve with time. It has a lot going for it if you can get over the new interface. The Skydrive app offers a great interface and a generous amount of cloud storage (7GB), the music app offers a great free streaming service (that almost rivals Spotify), the Videos app offers a good store and streaming service. Social applications and cloud computing are really built into the operating system, and it's nice to know that my settings will all be stored and accessible from wherever I log in.
If you are currently using Windows 7 there is really no need to upgrade in my opinion. However, whilst the initial change in the way the OS works is jarring and slightly un-nerving, it soon becomes easy to use, and the system feels more connected to the internet at large. I'm actually surprised at how much I've come to like it.
Next time normal service will be resumed with my thoughts on The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, only a year after everyone else!
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