Microsoft have launched a new version of Windows, which the company says is the biggest update to the operating system in the last 17 years. Called Windows 8, many other operating companies are renaming it Windows 7 + 1, as although what you’ll first spot appears the new technology, underneath it all appears to be the old Windows 7 that you have been seeing since October 2009.
However, it could be that Microsoft have revamped this initial experience enough to provide the wow factor so that you forget any disappointment on discovering that not much has actually changed. But is this actually the case?
Your first experience when logging on has completely changed, as Microsoft has completely rethought this initial experience – the process by which we start interacting with a computer when its screen comes on – and replaced the usual ‘desktop’ with a series of large tiles or icons in which you swipe (with a finger, if you’re using a tablet or touchscreen laptop, or mouse) from side to side.
They call these ‘Modern UI’, and it is supposed to get rid of the fussy “Close” or “Minimise” or “Maximise” buttons. If you are particularly fond of using Windows 7 and are suspicious of change then you may find this new way of using large icons a little disconcerting, but I have to say that after a while, the new version feels much more normal and you’ll wonder why no one didn’t think of it before.
When you first log on you’ll see the “Start screen”, as Microsoft calls it, and it will only consist of these big tiles, and so completely replaces the desktop you first see on Windows, but don’t start panicking, it’s still there! It’s just hidden one layer down, and if you want to get to it you still can, by means of a tile called “Desktop”. Click or touch that, and you’re in Windows 7.
You can house whatever you want on the Start screen; they can be ‘live’, so that the weather tile shows the forecast, you can have an in-box tile showing how much mail you have not read yet, your Calendar tells of the next meeting … it’s a helpful, innovative experience. There are also many tiles/apps that you can download free or paid from the built-in Windows Store – which has only about 10,000 apps so far, but it’s growing fast.
It does take a bit of time to get used to using the ‘Modern UI’ apps but you’ll find that once you do it becomes second nature, and if ever you have the misfortune to have to use a friend’s pc, you’ll be champing at the bit to get back to your device with Windows 8.
It’s a great minimalist experience that shows you on one screen exactly you’re doing, without any of those silly Close or Minimise buttons.
There are people saying that the old pc is dead and long live the new Windows 8 with their Surface tablet. Well, we think they are halfway there with this technology. On the surface (yes pun intended) all is well, we love the huge icons and the ease in which you can use them. But the old news is that they still are reliant on Windows 7 and until that has been revamped, people will still be using their old pcs.