More than three years after Microsoft released the subdued but well-received Windows 7, they’re back and going big with Windows 8. By now you’ve probably heard mixed reviews. Well, I’ve been putting it through its paces, and I can say: you’re either going to love it or hate it.
Starting from the login screen you will quickly notice there is a new way to enter your password. Picture password allows you to trace a password from any picture on your PC. Once you are logged in you will notice the start menu and task bar are no longer hanging around at the bottom of the screen, and your desktop is now the start menu.
The new design is clearly geared toward tablet users, but I found the layout works just as well with mouse and keyboard. On the desktop your applications are laid out as tiles similar to that of an iPad, easily navigated with a mouse or swipe of the finger. When you launch an application, the app takes up the entire screen, and the menu items are hidden. A swipe gesture will bring up the tool menu and show you the options for the app, another swipe will hide them.
You can also swipe your finger from the right side of the screen to bring up a new Windows 8 signature feature: charms. The nice thing about charms is if you are working on an application or website you can pull up the charms and quickly share the information with others without leaving the page or application. It’s convenient, and because it’s consistent throughout all applications, it allows for increased ease of use, especially for the less technical users.
Should you take the plunge into Widows 8? Overall, I like what Microsoft has done with the new operating system. It’s clean, attractive and built from the ground up for touch devices. Dare I say, it’s actually fun to use. On the other hand, there’s little gained out of the gate for tech savvy users. Windows 8 is appreciably neat, but the upgrade can probably wait for your next machine.