Switching to Windows 8 Made Easier
A reader asks: 'I really need a new laptop computer, but all of them come with Windows 8 now. I've heard many negative things about Windows 8, but my friend says it's not so bad once you get used to it. Are there any tips or tricks you can share to ease the transition to Windows 8?' Actually yes! Read on for my tips on restoring sanity to Windows 8, and some surprising things you'll actually LIKE in Windows 8...
What's the Problem With Windows 8?
It's true that Windows 8 has been greeted by both pundits and consumers with generally negative reactions. Although there are some good things in the Windows 8 package, the radical change to the familiar desktop interface is what has so many people bothered.
Microsoft is clearly pushing the new "tiles and apps" interface that was first called "Metro", and is now the "Modern UI". This type of interface seems to make perfect sense on a smartphone, a tablet, and to some degree on touch-enabled laptops. It's understandable that Microsoft was aiming for a common experience across all types of screens, but forcing this brave new world on desktop PC users was not a popular decision.
Yes the tried and true Desktop is still there, but it takes an extra click to get there from the new "Modern UI" Start screen. And adding insult to injury, the Start button was eliminated from the Desktop interface. For users who are accustomed to using the Start button to launch programs, open files, and navigate to other Windows functions, this is a big deal. Maybe even a deal breaker.
Other gripes commonly heard from Windows 8 adopters include the confusion that arises when they have to deal with apps that only run in either the new or the old interface, and the hassle of switching between the two. One example is that there are now two versions of Internet Explorer, and they're slightly different in how they look and work. And then there's the fact that the tiled apps on the Modern UI screen will only run full-screen. Switching between them requires learning when and where to click (or swipe) and it's not never clear if you're closing or just hiding an app. Yes, it's Windows, but without the windows. Why, Microsoft, why?
An Easier Transition to Windows 8
The bottom line is that people who are forced into the Windows 8 world -- either by virtue of buying a new PC, or by heeding the warnings to upgrade from the soon-to-be-obsolete Windows XP -- don't want to learn a whole new interface. They want the familiar Desktop which has served them well for many years. Fortunately, there are some simple tweaks to make Windows 8 look and feel a lot more like what you're accustomed to, if you're a user of Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7.
By installing the free Win8 StartButton software, you can eliminate most of the Windows 8 annoyances in one step. Win8 StartButton will make the familiar Desktop your default Windows startup screen, bypassing the Modern UI. And as the name suggests, it also restores the missing Windows Start button, the Start menu, and other familiar menus and options. Win8 StartButton also comes with Media Player Classic, which has the ability to play DVDs, a feature that Microsoft removed from their Media Player.
Other options for restoring sanity to Windows 8 include Classic Shell (also free), and Stardocks's Start8 app, which costs $4.99. I'm not sure why you'd want to pay for Start8, when Win8 StartButton seems to do the job equally well. But Stardock also offers ModernMix, which will force those "modern" apps to run in a window on your desktop (instead of fullscreen) and graces them with a "close" button so you can actually close them.
Is Windows 8 Actually a Better Windows?
Once you get past the learning curve, or use one of the recommended apps above to make Windows 8 seem normal again, you'll discover something nice... Windows 8 actually has some compelling new features!
For starters, it boots faster than Windows 7. New tech that uses a combination of the traditional cold boot plus the hibernation feature found on laptops will get you up and running in as little as 7 seconds. And once you get to the Desktop, you should notice that Internet Explorer 10 and other built-in Windows apps are noticeably faster, too, thanks to more efficient memory usage under the hood.
The new Refresh and Reset features can be used to restore your computer to your ideal configuration, or return your system to its "factory fresh" state. You should also see longer laptop battery life with Windows 8.
There are quite a few security enhancements baked into the Windows 8 core, and you can also say goodbye to expensive third-party internet security suites like Norton and McAfee. Windows Defender, a repackaging of Microsoft Security Essentials, comes pre-installed on Windows 8. Just don't confuse this "Windows Defender" with another Microsoft product having exactly the same name. On XP and Windows 7 systems, Windows Defender was an anti-spyware tool that could be used in addition to your existing anti-virus protection. Why didn't they just keep the Microsoft Security Essentials name? Who knows.
Finally, Windows 8 has integrated SkyDrive (Microsoft's cloud storage service) into Windows apps, so it works just like a local hard drive. That's handy if you need to have access to files from multiple devices, or share files with other users.
So... now that you know that Windows 8 can be tamed, and is faster and more secure than Windows 7, will you make the leap? Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 16 Apr 2013
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Switching to Windows 8 Made Easier (Posted: 16 Apr 2013)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved