I am typically in the habit of upgrading my PCs to the latest versions of the operating system as long as the hardware is capable. With the release of Windows 8 last week, I was keen to try it out, at least as an upgrade to my Windows 7 Parallels Virtual Machine that I have running on my MacBook Pro. It also seemed like a no-brainer given the low price point.
The first couple of days have been quite good, but I have noticed some noticeable bumps in performance and speed. The installation was relatively straight forward and quick. The desktop is still there, so my old setup hasn’t changed. I’ve played with the metro apps a little bit, and that looks promising.
However, one annoyance is the multiple clicks now required to shut it down; seriously? Shouldn’t that be a simple thing to do? It used to be only two clicks before! Windows 8 absolutely needs some sort of touch interface for maximum results. Navigating through it with a mouse and keyboard can be downright clunky at times. Thankfully with my MacBook Pro’s integrated trackpad, that wasn’t a problem. As for older hardware, it might be a hard sell for the average computer user.
Microsoft is keen to get part of Apple’s pie as quite rightly, they are seeing the industry move to mobile-based computing as opposed to desktop computing. Rather than split the operating system as Apple has done, Microsoft has taken the all-in-one approach, offering Windows 8 across all their devices (although technically the tablets have Windows RT, and although this is a little different, it’s ostensibly the same from a user experience standpoint).
The jury is out as to whether or not this integrated approach will work; it may in the end because the hardware will eventually adapt to suit what Microsoft is doing, but for those using older hardware, Windows 8 is not a particularly good option. As an example, I have Windows 7 running on my 2008 iMac in boot camp at the moment. Windows 8 will run it, but do I want it to? To get the best effect, I would have to at the very least buy a trackpad, and I don’t see the point of spending that money when I have a perfectly functional windows version on this computer right now. It’s also the reason why Apple’s touch-centric Mountain Lion release this year was not a particularly good fit for my iMac, even though it can run it.
We are moving into the world of mobile computing, cloud interfaces and closed systems. With Microsoft playing catch-up, and Apple already there, I just hope we don’t see an end to the more customizable desktop experience. It seems as if Apple and Microsoft are pushing us away from that. Does that mean Google will be left as the only option for a truly open, customizable operating system experience? It just may be. At the very least, let’s hope that the choice is still available to us as we all move forward into this new world.