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windows 8 previewThe next version of Microsoft’s world-changing operating system is preparing to hit the shelves. I know what you’re thinking: “Already?” It seems like yesterday that Windows 7 was the newest and coolest, but yes, it’s true. Windows 8 is just around the corner and there’s only one question that should concern you. Is it worth the upgrade?

There are a lot of new features that are coming in this iteration of Windows, but change doesn’t always mean better; it just means different. Windows 8 is not just a bigger, better version of Windows 7. No, it’s trying to be a new beast altogether, and while there will always be a soft spot in my heart for Windows 7, some of the upcoming changes are quite good.

Windows 8 Release

windows 8 preview

Believe it or not, Windows 8 development began even before the release of Windows 7. Talk about looking ahead! That puts its birth some time in or before 2009. Over the years, there have been a number of preview versions released for public testing, including the Developer Preview (September 13, 2011), the Consumer Preview (February 29, 2012), and the Release Preview (May 31, 2012).

But as of August 1st, Windows 8 officially left development status and was shipped out for manufacturing. If all goes well, Windows 8 will be available for purchase on October 26th. That gives you approximately two months to decide if you want it. Here are some reasons why you might.

Faster Startup

One of the most irritating bottlenecks in a computer system is the boot up time. Ultimately, the time required to boot a machine is irrelevant; faster boot times don’t improve general performance. But wanting to use a computer and having to wait an entire minute (God forbid!) before it’s ready to go – that’s a pain.

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In Windows 8, the developers have created a hybrid shutdown mode that results in faster boot up times. This new mode combines the traditional shutdown with a core hibernation that allows you to start with a fresh new user session without needing to completely destruct and initialize a system from 0% to 100%.

Task Manager

windows 8 release

Compare the Windows 8 task manager with any past iteration of the Windows task manager and you’ll see that the comparison is worse than apples to trucks. The new task manager is a massive improvement that makes it useful for more than just force-quitting unresponsive programs. You can now do so much more.

The developers have designed the new task manager to be quick and efficient. With a single glance, you can absorb the information you need to know (CPU usage, RAM space, etc.) and act on that information immediately. Not only will you be using the task manager for clearing broken processes, you’ll be using it to improve your PC’s general performance.

Windows Explorer

windows 8 release

This point is going to be an area of great disagreement, but I believe that the new ribbon interface for Windows Explorer is going to be useful. Now, don’t get me wrong – if you’ve read any of my software reviews on MakeUseOf, you’ll know that I’m a strict minimalist. So why do I like the new Explorer?

Because most users of Windows are not me. I navigate my computer more by keyboard shortcuts than mouse clicks, but that’s because I have a background in computers. For the average user, spamming keyboard shortcuts is undesirable, which is why the ribbon is so great. It puts everything out there while minimizing the number of mouse clicks necessary to perform actions.

What if you don’t like the ribbon? Have no fear. Disabling the new ribbon interface is so simple. Do it once and you’ll never be bothered by it again.

Improved Security

If you think about the improvements in security from Windows 3.1 to Windows 95 to Windows XP and beyond, you’ll see that personal protection has come a long, long way. It’s hard to believe that we’re any more secure now than we were then, especially with all of the Trojans and worms and malware flying around, but we really have made some grand steps in the past few decades.

Windows 8 improves upon that security. Based on the principles of Microsoft’s new WinRT API, the interactions of Metro applications with the Windows operating system will be limited. Ultimately, this means as much mitigated damage as possible from malicious software.

Refresh & Reset

windows 8 preview

As someone who loves to customize his rigs, I tend to do a lot of full reinstallations, whether it’s my phone, my computer, or whatever else. One of the biggest pains of Windows is the difficulty in reinstalling and restarting with a fresh, blank OS. Even after doing them so many times, a reinstall could take me upwards of 2 hours. With Windows 8, this may all be a thing of the past.

The new feature is called Refresh and it acts as a partial reinstall. In essence, a Refresh will save an image of your computer modules, reinstall the Windows kernel fresh, and then reinsert the other components of your system. This means you don’t lose any of the apps or user data – only the OS starts anew.

If you truly want a complete startover, then you’ll use the Reset feature instead. If a Refresh can be considered a partial reinstall, then a Reset is a full reinstall. You lose all of your data and gain a blank slate.

And so, with these five features alone, I’m excited for Windows 8. It might take some time to get accustomed to the new interface; after all, no one ever said change was easy. But for faster startups, more efficient tools, and improved security, I’ll gladly make the switch. Will you?

  1. G.Harrington
    January 24, 2013 at 5:13 pm

    The Metro interface is not just a bigger version of the Start menu at all. It's a touch-oriented interface that has REPLACED the Start Menu, but in a normal computing environment, it's clunky, more processor-intensive, and makes even the smallest tasks more bothersome. It makes me think of the old PSP front end, but less usable, more cluttered, and so fugly that it makes me want to slap its mother.

    The new task manager is superfluous, and the facelift ascends it to the same heights of eyesore as the rest of the new theme. I've never used Task Manager without first enabling several columns that provide me with comprehensive information for use in diagnostics and performance enhancement, but I can honestly say that the new features seem... extraneous.

    I'm playing around with a fresh new machine with Win8 installed... and it doesn't seem substantially quicker than my home PC. True, it boots a little faster, but if I were to strip my system down to look as utterly disgusting as the new theme, I'd be willing to bet my Win 7 machine would hold its own quite well, despite being an older system with slower RAM.

    As for security... it's generally user stupidity that leads to invasive software installation, and no amount of molly-coddling on the software front can account for poor usage/browsing practices. Heightened security for a new breed of apps is irrelevant, as the age old method of getting the end user to install a dodgy browser/Facebook/media plugin will not be affected by restrictions placed on Metro apps. In fact, it just amounts to a bunch of new security measures designed specifically to meet the potential security holes introduced with the new framework.

    Everything else is tablet candy. I can't see Windows 8 being widely adopted on laptops and PCs by serious professionals and corporations (which, admittedly, have been slow to let go of Windows XP in many cases), and personally, I think it's a major step backward from Windows 7.

    As for it's worthiness as a tablet OS... well, my Android does it better, looks better doing it, has less clutter, more customisation, and is easier on the battery (especially as I don't have a bunch of animated tiles draining battery and bandwidth to provide me with fugly updates loading en-masse from a factory-fresh boot, and pre-loaded bloatware is more avoidable).

    One good reason to avoid Windows 8? It's a desktop OS that thinks it's a tablet/smart-device OS, resulting in a schizoid chimera that takes a hulking step backwards in the aesthetic department, and contributes nothing to developmental progress but redundant-yet-obligatory changes to established operating methods.

    If they'd left the real Start Menu in there as an alternative option, I'd have been more accepting... but to remove it completely in favour of this new puke-inducing Metro interface? It's not possible for me to adequately express my disdain in a polite way, so suffice it to say, I do not approve.

    I've never hated an OS more than I hate OS X before. Now I can honestly say that if I had only a choice between OS X and Win 8, I'm afraid I'd be forced to cross the line and join the Apple crowd. Thankfully, I've still got Windows 7; in my opinion, the closest thing to perfection Microsoft have ever achieved.

    How could they get it so wrong?!

    • Joel Lee
      February 4, 2013 at 5:19 am

      Hey G.Harrington, thanks for your substantial comment. My response won't be nearly as long as yours, but I hope you don't take that to mean that I'm being dismissive. I appreciated reading your thoughts!

      With that said, please keep in mind that this article was written before Windows 8's official release. The OS had a lot of promise and that's what this article was meant to tackle: if those promises were true, then the OS would be worth pursuing.

      Unfortunately, the popular opinion is that Windows 8 fell short of its promises. In hindsight, it's easy to see where the OS went wrong and how it could've done better, but at the time of writing this article it was mostly speculation.

      In addition, a lot of your negativity towards Windows 8 is personal preference. That's all fine, but I'm sure there are Windows 8 users who would debate you on every point (I'm not one of them). Just some food for thought. :)

  2. Muz RC
    November 29, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    does windows 8 support vpn connections?

    • Joel Lee
      November 30, 2012 at 10:33 pm

      Yes it does. Google for "Windows 8 VPN" or "VPN on Windows 8" and you should see a few tutorials on how to set it up.

  3. Somaiya Ebrahim
    November 19, 2012 at 6:56 am

    i love windows 8. I think the UI is beautiful. Good job Microsoft :)

  4. Contest Winner
    November 18, 2012 at 5:07 am

    If it really is more secure and safe from malicious activity, then that would be enough for me to make the switch. Im a paranoid pc'er. A computer running an os w/ the ease of windows and the secure feeling of a linux distro would be nice.

  5. Nikhil Chandak
    October 29, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    Windows 8 is amazing
    its tablets are also released

  6. phillip w
    October 19, 2012 at 2:42 am

    I used a couple of the different pre release versions and after switched back to windows 7. I found it much harder to do what i wanted, As for being faster for power users such as myself with the latest hardware and SSD drives i didnt see a difference in the start up from a complete shutdown. Your article is useful though and interesting. Will be awhile before i upgrade though as the benefit to me is very minimumal in the way i use my computer. I dont use tablets nor do i want to use a windows phone but it seems to me that is what is pushing the new metro UI to make desktop users want to use something familar when they use a tablet or phone.

  7. Luis Garza
    October 9, 2012 at 1:06 am

    Yeah just installed windows 8 yesterday and quite like it. Like how fast it is no more worrying of having to wait to restart computer when I can do it and be up and running in around 30 seconds. Like the new task manager and almost all programs have worked.

  8. CoolHappyGuy
    September 24, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    Reason #6: For those -- like me -- who have recently purchased a new WIN7 computer. You can obtain WIN8 for $15.

    I'm not sure if I need/want WIN8 but $15 for a new, legit Windows OS?! Looks like a no-brainer to me.

  9. bonioloff
    September 24, 2012 at 8:08 am

    Great points, this is what i need to consider whether use Windows 8 or not...
    So many review that confusing, but this one give you a clear picture how is Windos 8 works for you..

  10. Eng Waleed
    September 23, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    very interested to try it..

  11. susendeep dutta
    September 22, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    These features will surely make people and tech enthusiast upgrade to it.

  12. Lewis Golden
    September 22, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    I am satisfied with Win7 and xp. I would prefer not to be pushed into Win8

  13. Darren Reynolds
    September 22, 2012 at 11:58 am

    I really like the refresh option. At the moment I'm leaning towards upgrading to Windows 8. Thanks for the article

  14. Vijaynand Mishra
    September 22, 2012 at 10:31 am

    Window 8 wow

  15. Ben
    September 22, 2012 at 9:13 am

    I've been using W8 for a couple months now, and it's alright. Opening multiple Windows Explorer windows is a bit more annoying without the start menu, and I still don't have a "Hide Labels, Don't Combine" option for my taskbar (have to use a registry edit), but I'm switching over.
    Sure, some parts of the UI are a bit of a mess, but I like the other improvements, like the Task Manager, Copy-Paste pane, or Explorer Ribbon. The main reason I put up with the W8 UI is because I know shortcuts, like Windows+i to access settings and shut down quickly.
    Another huge bonus is that it has the same hardware requirements as W7, but seems to run even faster - which is nice for both my lightweight netbook, and my monster of a gaming rig.

  16. Rashelle Puno
    September 22, 2012 at 3:49 am

    will surely try win 8 for my next laptop purchase...

  17. Dimal Chandrasiri
    September 22, 2012 at 2:58 am

    I'm currently using windows seven in my PC. nd I have lot of development tools like Visual Studio 2010, Eclipse, NetBeans nd stuff.. will they work in windows 8? or do I have to switch to new versions that is compatible with W8?

    • Joel Lee
      September 22, 2012 at 4:29 am

      I almost guarantee that all of those software packages will introduce compatibility with Windows 8, otherwise they'll lose a lot of customer as the world slowly moves towards the new operating system. Will some of them be compatible right away? Maybe, though it'll depend on a program-by-program basis.

    • Santos
      September 23, 2012 at 11:13 am

      That has always discouraged my upgrades...the fact that I'm forced to wait for my software to become compatible. It seems much more convenient simply wait until my current computer needs to be replaced before upgrading.

  18. Andrew Kim
    September 22, 2012 at 2:19 am

    I didn't know that the ribbon could be disabled. Thank goodness!

  19. Saumidh Mhatre
    September 22, 2012 at 12:11 am

    After using for a week in virtual machine, I really started loving the live tiles. They are really very helpful. Also the new copy-paste, task manager are really good. Will surely upgrade to Windows 8.

    • Joel Lee
      September 22, 2012 at 4:28 am

      Good to know that there are people out there who are starting to like the live tiles!

  20. Daniel Klein-Ridder
    September 21, 2012 at 11:42 pm

    I tried Windows 8 for about one month and I think it has the potencial for good sales. The new Metro interface is simple to use and for normal users the features of this UI is adequate. Power users will use the Metro interface only as "new start menu" and won't see any differences to Windows 7.
    Otherwise I'm very curious about Windows 9 (?). Microsoft has 2 possibilities: They can change completely to the Metro interface or they can persist at the Win 8 solution with a normal desktop and a separate Metro desktop.

    • Joel Lee
      September 22, 2012 at 4:28 am

      Changing completely to Metro will set off a riot! Haha.

  21. Curtis C.
    September 21, 2012 at 11:17 pm

    Love the dual boot screen. Now way easier to customize.

  22. flower king
    September 21, 2012 at 11:12 pm

    I like the booting optimization :)

    • Joel Lee
      September 22, 2012 at 4:26 am

      Yep. That's one of the features that I'm looking forward to. :)

  23. Sherwin Atienza
    September 21, 2012 at 10:51 pm

    Wow, nice article been looking for information about this... thanks

    • Joel Lee
      September 22, 2012 at 4:26 am

      You're welcome. Hope it helped.

  24. Colleen Werner
    September 21, 2012 at 10:36 pm

    I'm still using Vista (I know I know shut up). I'll be getting a new laptop in the next year or so, so this was a bit helpful, I guess? OK.

  25. Seppe
    September 21, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    when I use Windows 8, I'm always thinking: "Why am I not using Windows 7?". I can see the advantages for non-experienced and/or tablet users, but it's just not a winner for me.

  26. z
    September 21, 2012 at 10:04 pm

    With the Ribbon, remember the neat ^ in the right corner to minimize the Ribbon, then build your screen with the Quick Access (I assume will be available) for what you use most

    • Joel Lee
      September 21, 2012 at 10:36 pm

      Yes! The ribbon can be disabled for anyone who doesn't like it.

    • Sebastian Hadinata
      September 22, 2012 at 2:20 am

      Thanks for pointing it out.

  27. Pranshu Agarwal
    September 21, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    Frankly, I think that the new Metro Apps layout is a pain. I have used the Consumer Preview version of W8, and it actually takes a lot more pain to get around your computer. My work is usually centred around my files, not my apps. Personally, for me I want to access data and file on my PC and let the OS decide which App to use , rather than me having to open the App and then through it, open my file.

  28. illegal3alien
    September 21, 2012 at 9:59 pm

    After using Windows 8 for over a week now (via MSDNAA) I can say that new start menu isn't a big deal. Instead of a little menu in the bottom left you press the Winkey and open a big menu. You can either click the tiles or type in what you want. The rearrangement of settings is still taking a little to get used to, but you basically just type in what you want and change the option to settings over on the right to find what you need.

    • Joel Lee
      September 21, 2012 at 10:36 pm

      Yes! What a lot of people don't realize is that the new "Metro" look is actually just the Start Menu with a different look. It'll take some time to get used to, but change is always a bit disruptive like that.

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