Thursday, February 28, 2013

6 Reasons why you shouldn't hate the Windows 8.

     A lot of people have told me :"If I get Windows 8 I will most likely disable Metro. I am probably going to hate it." I talked about in my last article, before I started using the final version of Windows 8 Pro, I used to hate metro, it was very unintuitive. The scroll wheel on my mouse didn't move down the menu like I expected it to and I had to hold the bar at the bottom and drag it over, painfully. Now, however, the Start Screen works with the scroll wheel as well as various touchpad gestures on laptops making it much more non-touch friendly. Although I wish I had a touchscreen on my laptop, I'm able to enjoy my Windows 8 experience just fine with a mouse and keyboard. The first thing you’ll notice, that is a little hard to get used to, is the fact that Apps from the Windows Store are full screen as opposed to windowed desktop apps, which are also available in Windows 8 (there are various multitasking features built into Windows 8 to make up for this). Once you learn the simple gestures and shortcuts that have been implemented into the operating system things are easier to manage.

1. Windows Store Apps:

  One of the great new features of Windows 8 is the Windows Store, in which you can find both Windows 8 Apps as well as Desktop style applications. So far desktop application listings simply direct you to the publishers website, Windows 8 Apps however download and automatically update directly from the store. There has always been a need for a one place fits all type store in Windows and now we have it. So far my favorite apps from store are Netflix and pretty much all the games Microsoft has published. Some of the classics have been given a much needed update, including Minesweeper which now includes an "Indiana Jones" type adventure mode.

Example of a Windows 8 App listing

Example of a Desktop App listing 

  There are many misconceptions about the Windows Store. First is that it will be bad for games, because of rating restrictions. This is untrue, games rated M and under are welcome in the store. The only exception is games with an Adult rating can not be in the store. A lot of the games in the Windows Store have heavy Xbox live integration and this is a great feature for multiplayer as well as showing off your scores to other people. Unlike Apple’s App store, open source applications are allowed in the Windows Store which means many free and open programs should be seen in the store. Others fear that Microsoft will limit what applications are in the app store, but this is simply not the case. The certification process is easy and automated, and the Windows App SDK allows you to make sure your app is certifiable. Most applications that exist will need very little changes in order to enter the Windows Store. A while ago I read a great article about someone taking Minecraft and proving how easily it was certified. You can read about that here.

2. Easier Uninstallation of Apps:

  I'm sure that if you're like me and you download various games and programs on your computer you find it annoying when you have to go uninstall them, having to find the uninstaller in the control panel and then click next 15 times and sometimes the installer doesn't even work. Well this problem is completely solved for Windows 8 Apps you right click the live tile and click uninstall and it's gone no clicking next or anything extra. Unfortunately the same process is not as easy for desktop applications if you click uninstall on a desktop app then it will simply open up the program manager in the control panel. I'm hoping in the future that this process will be fixed for desktop applications as well.

3. Multitasking with Windows 8 Apps:
Snapping Apps to left or right of screen.

A great feature in Windows 8 is the ability to snap apps to either side of the screen and use them while in another app or while using your desktop. You can continue to use your programs in the desktop while messaging someone on Facebook or another instant messaging service.

Resizing snapped apps.

    You can also slide the separating border between the apps you have snapped to either side either to take up 2/3rds or all of the screen. If you decide to take up the whole screen the other app or the desktop will hide on what I call the multitask bar until you decide to close it.

Multitask Bar

       The multitask bar appears when you move your mouse from the top left corner down the left side of the screen but, only when you have multiple apps open, for example your desktop and the messaging app. If you right click on any of the apps listed you are given more options but you can also drag and drop the application to snap to either side or drag it all the way down and let go to close it.

Dragging to snap an app to the left of the screen. 

Pulling the app down from the multitask bar and letting go to close it.

Closing a Windows 8 App.

     To close an app simply click and hold on the very top and drag down and let go. If you want to quickly switch between multiple apps just click the very top left corner without having to bring up the multitask bar and it will take you to the next app that's open or your desktop. Unfortunately to scroll through desktop applications you have to use the usual Atl+Tab shortcut. Windows Key + Tab does the same thing with the multitask bar.

4. Easy Searching and Sharing:

 Start Screen with Charm Bar showing.

   One of the key elements in Windows 8 is the Charm Bar this can be accessed at anytime by moving your mouse from the top right corner down the right side of the screen. The Charm Bar contains a Start Button, Search, Share, Devices, and Settings. It changes based on which app you're using at the time. For example on the desktop if you try and share there isn't anything to share from. If you try and share from in Sky Drive or another application with content it will let you share with Facebook via people as well as other apps you may have installed. The Settings and Search also change based on what application you're using.

A basic search from the Start Screen

     Searching for things on Windows 8 is very simple. You can either search through everything or search within the application you're currently running. If you want to search through every thing use the Windows key to get back to the start screen and simply type what you are looking for. You can then filter your search to a specific app or category. You can also search in certain applications in a similar manner like in the Windows Store. In some applications, like Netflix, you must press the search button located on the Charm Bar.

An example search in the Windows Store.

To search for something in the Windows Store, just like on the Start Screen, start typing what you’re looking for and it will automatically begin a search for you.
5. Improved navigation in Windows Explorer.

Basic Windows Explorer window.

   Windows Explorer has been an important part of the Windows Operating System since Windows 95. It's seen many changes, some good and some bad, but I would say that the newest version of Explorer has added some much needed features. The first thing you might notice is the tabbed setup of various available options. These tabs changed based on where you are. My Computer, Music, Pictures, and Documents all have different options that are displayed that help you complete tasks for those different areas of your computer. The options are also collapsible for when you want more space and don't need them. One of the smaller but very useful added features is the up arrow that you can use to navigate between folders.

CMD and PowerShell easily accessible in the file menu.

    For advanced users the added open command prompt and Windows PowerShell options are awesome. I use them on a regular basis. It even lets you open a command prompt directly as an administrator. Another thing that the new Explorer does is display options openly so that casual users will be able to do things they didn't even know there were options for, a lot of which were hidden before such as showing file extensions and hidden files.

6. Faster Boot and more memory for programs.
New and improved Task Manager.

Previous to Windows 8 booting your computer took forever! Every time I boot my computer into Windows 7 I wonder if there is something wrong with it because it takes so long. The boot sequence was completely rewritten to remove parts of it that were no longer needed or that could take place in the background once the computer was in a state where the person could use it. Of course if you are using an SSD booting will be almost instant. However my laptop that only has a regular hard drive boots at least 5 times faster than Windows 7 ever did.

    Windows has never been known for it's CPU and Memory usage. Vista being a prime example, using so much CPU and memory, there was almost nothing left for programs to run. Windows 8 has been optimized to use very little memory and CPU power so that your programs can be free to utilize your computer’s resources to their fullest.

    In conclusion I would just like to say Windows 8 isn't as terrible as people say it is. In the end it's preference of rather you like it or not. However, I hope that I have at least shown you a few good things about it so that you will give it a try and determine first hand if it's for you.