As I was writing my earlier piece on how Windows 8.1 is being successfully used in business, I couldn’t help but wonder what the big deal was. I go to meeting after meeting where fellow analysts are outspoken about how Windows 8 sucks, largely because it is different. But I’ve been on it for over a year now and when I go back to a Windows 7 machine, it feels like I’ve stepped back into the dark ages—and don’t even get me started on Windows XP, which now feels absolutely ancient. I remember the initial Windows ramp, and folks were outspoken then, too, about how much it sucked when compared to the old DOS command-line interface, but a few years later folks lined up to buy Windows 95. I get that people hate new interfaces, so I thought I’d write about my experience with Windows 8 to showcase that, once you get used to it, the grass is actually greener on the other side of this OS.
Clearly this was the signature part of Windows 8, and after I started using tablets, finally having a laptop with a touch screen helped prevent me from putting my finger through my laptop screen. Once you get used to using your finger on a tablet, it kind of feels weird to not use it on a laptop. However, I’m writing this on a desktop computer without a touch screen and I’m in Word using the old Windows interface to do it. Given, I mostly live in Word on my desktop and I play games now on tablets, so I’m not hit with the changes except when I need to go into a menu. Once I learned that the two-key command with the Windows Key and X gets me to the administration functions that used to be on the start screen—it took about 20 seconds to learn—I was good with the location changes. That one key sequence removed my frustration immediately.
Speed and Battery Life
Windows 8 is noticeably faster to boot, recover from hibernation, or wake up. I often have to run in to do an update or check on a post before I leave for a flight, and being able to rapidly fire up the PC and get into email has been a godsend. Coupled with the massive battery life improvement in Intel’s latest processors (Haswell), these two improvements are my favorites because they ensure that I keep working longer on a battery charge and get me into Windows quickly when I’m running behind the clock.
Out of all of the updates, the improvement to SkyDrive has been the most useful. I use a number of PCs, and now my passwords and files sync automatically between them and are always available on my SkyDrive from my mobile device. From work files to entertainment files, everything works and the apps I’ve purchased are now available on every machine, as well (as long as they are Windows 8 apps, old apps pretty much work the same as they always did). When I get a new PC in to play with, I just log in and all my settings start downloading and it takes literally minutes to bring up a PC where it took hours to do so before. The only remaining pain is that Office is still on the old plan, requiring a second log in and Sync process to start.
Now that I’m on Windows 8, well 8.1 now, I’m a happy camper. I rarely have to reboot a machine. I can move from PC to PC seamlessly, and I can access all of my files on my phone, tablet and my PC. This is a little easier for me because I have a Nokia phone, but I’m glad I made the move to Windows 8. Now, to be fair, even though I moved way back when Windows 8 launched, I really didn’t have that hard of a time with the new OS. Windows 8.1 made it even easier, but once I learned where everything was, I was pretty much OK. So maybe I’m missing the “don’t like change” gene. But, honestly, I like using Windows 8 far better than I liked the older versions of Windows so I just don’t get all of the drama. I don’t.