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on 8 July 2013
Well a lot of people are complaining that they cant install it...

NB: Some PC's/Laptops have issues with the upgrade, often due to an out of date or unsupported BIOS, so you'll either have to update your BIOS and try again or simply may have to give it a clean install and use the CD key you got with the upgrade which should work provided its the same version (ie. Pro). (NB> if you have no CD drive then download a copy and find a link for creating a bootable flash drive)

Most are complaining about the new "down with the kids" façade...

Get over it. If you don't like it then DON'T USE IT! The rest of Windows 8 is pretty much the same and 7 and Vista to use on a day to day basis.

There are other complaints about not finding programs easily...

Just press Start and type the first 3 letters of the software and hey presto there it will be.

Its not great but its not half as bad as a lot of people make out
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on 2 April 2014
For anybody who is using any previous version of Windows and considering upgrading to Windows 8.1, i hope you find this useful.

I am taking the time to write it because I am really tired of reading comments on tech sites that are deliberate attempts to deter people from upgrading to Windows 8.1 because they have an unhealthy level of brand loyalty to fruit, robot or penguin branded gadgets or software. This just creates `noise' that makes it difficult for genuine Windows users to see the real picture and make informed decisions about whether the upgrade is worth their money. I am sure my review will attract a considerable number of downvotes as a result.

I am an IT pro, I have used every version of Windows since the very beginning and along the way I have supported a variety of other Server and Desktop OS including OS/2, Linux, Unix and Mac. Currently I have to use Windows 7 at work every day and to be honest, I have grown tired of using it, it was great when it came out but now looks and feels dull, dated, slow and limited in comparison to Windows 8.1 (Never thought i would say that). It also lacks many features I now use everyday in Windows 8.1 and I often find myself attempting Windows 8.1 gestures, only to realise the gestures don't work because its Windows 7 I am using at work. By the way, my company (an Enterprise sized global company) only migrated to Windows 7 around 18 months ago so consequently would have no immediate plans to upgrade so soon afterwards and like many other enterprises will likely skip Windows 8/8.1 possibly even 9.

Since its debut in October 2012, my main desktop pc at home was set up to dualboot between Windows 8 x64 Pro and Windows 7 x64 Ultimate. However... from that date, I didn't boot into Windows 7 at home ever and just a couple of months later, I removed Windows 7 entirely. I installed the free 8.1 update as soon as it became available. My partners desktop and the media center in the lounge have been purely Windows 8, then 8.1 since the same time. We also have 2 Microsoft Surface tablets (Surface RT & Surface 2) and 2 Nokia Lumia phones with WP8.

Windows 8.1 works with all of my existing applications and games that run on Windows 7. I have zero compatibility issues with software. It also works with all of my hardware, however as with any new version of Windows, some manufacturers choose not to provide driver/software compatibility for products that are of a certain age on new operating systems. I recommend you check the hardware vendors websites before to see if your hardware has drivers/software available rather than be disappointed. Don't just rely on the "Windows Upgrade Assistant" that Microsoft provides.

The OS itself works great with Mouse/Keyboard just as well as Windows 7, it also works great with a touchscreen if you have one or are interested in purchasing one. If you are used to using keyboard shortcuts, don't panic, they have not gone away. It also works great with multiple screens.

Windows 8.1 has a great new user interface called "Start Screen" that is very easy to understand, it comprises tiles that provide you with dynamic information such as emails, news summary, weather, social media updates, photos etc. It requires very little time to understand the handful of gestures/keys/shortcuts you can use to interact with it. If you are mouse/keyboard only, I recommend a mouse with a scroll wheel so you can scroll the start screen and scroll or turn page on any scrolling/page turning modern apps without having to drag the scrollbar. For a very large percentage of people who are not IT experts, this is ideal for their use and if like my parents, many will not need to use the desktop at all. The Start Screen is customisable so you can group different tiles together (e.g. group all your news/interest sites/apps together or all your social apps together), you can label each group and you can resize tiles (5 different sizes). I tend to have the tiles that have the most useful dynamic content larger than the others, it gives a little more real estate for useful information I can catch at a glance. Customisation of the OS was a little coarse in Windows 8, but with some of the improvements in 8.1, that process became far more intuitive and refined. Apps that work in the Modern UI are sourced from the Windows Store (An app is pre-installed that allows you to browse, download and purchase free/paid apps). For people who use a pc for basic stuff (email etc) but also like reading news.. I think the News App and other alternatives available in the App store (Flipboard, News Bento etc) make reading about your interests and News much more convenient and much better than if you had setup RSS feeds. By default 8.1 is configured to boot to the start screen so for many users (less advanced users that do more consumption than creation/productivity) this is likely to be the best choice.
For anybody more advanced, IT professionals or people who use productivity software in their job, the new UI also has benefits. In my case I use this UI mostly for consumption of digital content, browsing web etc and for the other things I mentioned above. I particularly like seeing the weather, any new emails, news headlines and social updates at a glance before I head into my news app to see whats happening in the world, all whilst enjoying a nice cup of tea, it has become part of my morning and evening routine. There is also the added benefit that my Surface 2 tablet and Lumia phone has the same interface and all my stuff is syncd across all my devices without me lifting a finger.

As I am an IT Professional and user of productivity software, I spend most of my time on the classic desktop. Just like Windows 7 you can add shortcuts on the taskbar or desktop to your most frequently accessed stuff, if you choose, you can also `pin' shortcuts them to your modern start screen. Windows 8.1 enables you to boot directly to the desktop (instead of start screen) if you prefer. So if you don't like the new UI, you never have to see/use it. I prefer to boot to the Start Screen and click on the desktop tile when I am ready.

Now there is one element that has been entirely changed. That is the Start Button which was omitted from Windows 8, reintroduced in 8.1 but with different behaviour. If left click it in 8.1, it will by default take you to the "Start Screen". If right clicked it will present you with a list of power user options. What it doesn't do if you left click it is present you with the "Start Menu" which was the scrolling list of stuff you have installed and other options that was present in Windows 95 through to Windows 7. This is apparently what most of the negativity has been about and to some extent I can understand some genuine Windows users who like this method of launching applications would have preferred to have a choice. To cut to the chase, the Start Screen does provide an alternative `launcher' that is flexible to allow mouse/keyboard or touch input. For those that cannot survive without the start menu or feel it will take them longer to adapt, there are wide range of "Start Menu" software packages you can install free or buy for a small fee. "Classic Shell" is an excellent free start menu package and another very highly rated package is "Start8" by Stardock @ £4.99. That's right, like always, with Windows there are still multiple ways of doing the same thing so you can always find one that suits your usage style. Unfortunately though a significant % of the complaints about this are not from Windows users, they are from people who on tech sites are positively commenting everything from Apple, Google or Linux and attacking any article related to Microsoft. Quite a lot of other improvements have been made to Windows, the most beneficial new features for home users small business users are:

1. Improved Security - Baked in Antivirus, improved Smartscreen filter (to prevent phishing attacks), Secureboot (prevents bootkits infecting your bootsector that can re-infect your pc after removal of malicious software) and modern apps from the Windows Store - These run in a sandbox so are inherently more secure than traditional desktop apps.

2. Family Safety - Baked into the OS allowing parents to have control over what their children can see online and ability to limit use to certain applications and within certain time periods. Previous versions required separate download and it was part of a Windows Live package. Not something that I use, but I am pretty sure responsible parents would want to restrict their children from accessing porn or other inappropriate content. In older versions I think this was part of Windows Live Essentials which was an optional download, I don't have kids so somebody may correct me on that point.

3. Windows Store - Simple and safe method for acquiring free apps and purchasing paid apps.

4. Continuity of Support from Windows Updates - This is now particularly important for users who are still using Windows XP (about 38% according to analysts).

5. Continuity of Application support, many publishers have cut or will cut support for XP. For home users this can be an annoyance and also a security risk. For business users, its both a security risk and a business risk.

6. Modern Start Screen - Whilst this is the most controversial point I list, I see it is a significant benefit. It provides a starting point where at a glance, you can see useful dynamic information from things such as... News headlines, Weather, Whats on TV, Emails/Skype/Social Media updates & Messages, Whats on online TV or added to streaming services you may have subscribed to.. this is without having to even launch any of those programs.. so it could be considered to provide a kind of dashboard functionality. It also is the modern starting point from where you can launch your most used apps (modern apps from Windows Store and classic desktop applications) as well as grouping them into logical categories, all without the unnecessary clutter of the old Start Menu. If you want to quickly see every app... one click or a downwards swipe and you can see and interact with the full list that can be sorted alphabetically or by other filters. In complete contrast, I find the old Start Menu in previous versions of windows to be horrendous for organisation and after installing quite a lot of applications or games, would quickly deteriorate into an unwieldy scrolling mess. What was particularly annoying about it was the fact it deemed it necessary to not only create folders for each program and insert the program launcher, but it also inserted Uninstaller, help, weblinks, registration into each. In my view help, weblinks and registration would have been better if accessed through the applications themselves and as Uninstaller is duplication of control panel/uninstall programs function, these things that caused this clutter were wholly unnecessary and could have been avoided. I also hated the fact that publishers would create duplicate folders... so for example.. instead of every game from Electronic Arts being in one folder called "EA" or "Electronic Arts", with each EA game I installed, I would get multiple folders such as "EA", "EA Sports", "Electronic Arts", "EA Games" and many more variations. Then inside each would be the single player program, sometimes multiplayer program launcher, uninstaller, help, weblinks, sometimes configuration utility, sometimes registration. This greatly multiplied the unnecessary clutter and required constant cleaning up to merge these folders and delete all the junk. I am so happy that this was removed, but I do understand we are not all the same and accept that some people were used to it and would have liked a choice to continue its use or if/when they choose to change to the modern Start Screen. If Microsoft deserves any criticism, it is for not allowing these choices.

7. Modern Apps (from the Windows Store) - not only inherently more secure, but certain apps like news readers like Bing News, News Bento and Flipboard (amongst many others) provide a much clearer, much more intuitive and much less complicated way for many users to access and consume the news or read about their interests.. visually they are like reading a newspaper or magazine where you scroll or swipe to change page/flip page over. I feel that this really lowers the barrier to usage of PC's for things that people care about and use. I accept that some apps have better Desktop versions that have far more options, settings, but for many home users, these things can be daunting to use, overcomplicated and unnecessary. My personal use is a mixture of both... at the beginning I was probably 95% : 5% usage in favour of desktop apps, after 18 months of Windows 8/8.1 and Windows tablets, I am more like 65% : 35% with my tablet use responsible for most of the increase although the steadily growing number of modern apps and some of the better quality ones is a factor too. Without the tablet use, I guess it would be about 80% : 20%.

8. Compatibility with new peripherals and better future proofing for compatibility - Many hardware vendors use End of Support Life of an OS as a catalyst for ending support of an OS, any new products they release often do not have drivers written for them.

9. Lower resource footprint than Windows 7 - OS, Apps and Games run faster on the same hardware.

10. Much faster boot, sleep, hibernate and resume times. My media center in particular.. resumes from sleep in about 1 second and faster than my 60" TV resumes from standby. Boot time from POST on Maximus VI Hero/i7-4770K/32gb Ram with SSD RAID0 is about 7 seconds until I am typing in my password, this is with quickboot options in UEFI Bios all enabled.

11. Microsoft Account Integration - Sign into your pc once and you don't have to sign into each service separately. The account is tied to your Skydrive (now called OneDrive), People/contacts, Mail, Skype, Xbox Video, Xbox Music, Xbox Games and App Store. You can also associate your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, Email accounts (Outlook, hotmail, yahoo, gmail etc) and the result is you only ever have to sign in once, It has a little bit of linking to do the first time, it is very straightforward to do and takes only a couple of minutes but after that, you don't have to think about it again. Why is this a benefit? I am certain that less computer literate users find having so many different account credentials to remember is very `offputting' and is a barrier to many who would like to use PC's and online services.

12. Baked in Cloud storage.. You now have "OneDrive" (Previously called "SkyDrive") as a storage location just like your local or network storage. This storage is accessible anywhere from your pc (after logging in with your MS account) or on any PC via a browser or app (by logging in with your MS account). Same for your WP8 smartphone. I am not certain but I expect there are iOS and Android apps for Skydrive/OneDrive too. This is completely free. I personally like this because it is free but the main reason is because my data is not being scanned to serve me ads.

13. Deeper integration with Social - Whilst social isn't everybody's cup of tea.. it would be disingenuous to argue that hardly anybody would want this.

14. Vastly improved built in Browser.. IE11 is much faster, has hardware acceleration, is much more secure and supporting W3 standards.. This is coming from somebody who never used IE (until IE10).. except to download Netscape and later Firefox. I am almost embarrassed to say it, but i now use IE11 more than i use Firefox. I especially like the sync'd tabs across my devices and when I choose not to be tracked or to clear my data, It really does mean my data is deleted and I am not being tracked. Microsoft's business is based on selling software and services and in the enterprise, security and privacy is paramount. It is not based on monetisation from datamining to serve you ads.

15. Much improved search capability.. "Integrated Search" displays content from multiple sources... local storage, remote/cloud storage, web, apps all from one query. Something that google is now rushing to mimic with Android.

16. Much improved File copy although I still wish that it had gone further by providing functional parity with Teracopy, albeit with a simple toggle "More" to expand and reveal options allowing more control and "Less" to hide those options for people who don't want it. I see this as an opportunity missed, but hope it comes in Windows 9. Until then, I recommend anybody to take a look at Teracopy if you regularly shift large amounts of data and want more granular control.

17. Baked in Email thats easy to setup once with existing Hotmail, Outlook, Yahoo, Gmail etc email accounts.. It also is very clean and doesn't post ads all over your app or sneak what look like emails in your inbox (but are actually ads/spam) like Google does.

18. New Refresh and Reinstall features allow you to refresh the installation without affecting your files should you ever have the want or need to do so.

19. Settings to control data over metered connections - Great news If you have a download cap on your broadband or are using a device with built in 4G.

20. Flight mode - great for when you take your notebook or tablet - almost expected feature these days, its new to Windows 8.

21. Much improved stability and reliability.. To be fair, Windows 7 was never known for unreliability or instability but like every OS when it was first released, was subject to early teething problems. Whilst i am not suggesting that i had a lot of Blue Screen of Death events, i did have some. In contrast, in my experience of Windows 8/8.1.. I've had one BSOD, that was shortly after Windows 8 launch. What is noticeably better though is how i have not had to reinstall Windows since October 2012 when i first installed retail WIndows 8. This is the first operating system i haven't had to reinstall after several months constant/heavy usage.

22. Same experience across all devices.. Its not only about having the same UI on desktop pc, laptop, tablet, smartphone... but it really benefits in situations like when you buy a new pc, instead of having to set everything up again from ground zero, you only need to login to your microsoft account on first boot and hey presto... your settings that were stored in the cloud are now on that device. Same benefit in the unlikely event you want or need to reinstall windows. In my example, after purchasing the Surface RT tablet when it launched in the UK, I signed into my Microsoft account and my preferences from my desktop PC stored in the cloud were downloaded to my tablet, when I replaced that with a Surface 2, same thing again.. on first boot, logged in with my MS account and voila.. saved myself a lot of time having to do it all manually and only required a minimum of device specific settings to be adjusted according to taste. If anybody is also considering buying a Windows 8.1 tablet (whether it be Intel x86 or Arm based), keep this point in mind... you will see the bigger picture a lot quicker than just using Windows 8.1 on a notebook or desktop only.

23. Works fantastically well with Touch devices and Touch Screens, but works just as well with a mouse and keyboard, although I would suggest you use a mouse with a scroll-wheel.
Less universally beneficial or less known but there nonetheless...

24. Much more informative and useful Task Manager.

25. Native support for USB3.0 - i accept that most users won't notice this benefit they will just use it. Its simply providing accessibility to USB3.0 peripherals.. what's the point in investing in slower USB2.0 peripherals? After all, USB3.0 peripherals are slowly becoming default.

26. Baked in support for NFC, Miracast, WiFi Direct & 3D Printing - not everybody is going to use them today, but i certainly use WiFi direct sometimes and over the coming years I expect i will use the others.

27. Storage Spaces.. improved way for adding more disk space (use up your spare disks from old PC's) combining your physical disks into one logical disk in Windows that grows as you add more disks to it. My parents have no idea what C: Drive is and if I gave them a D: drive and an E: drive, they would be even further confused. I don't wish to appear condescending, I just think my parents are no different from a lot of people.

28. Automatic Forced Restart following Windows updates - Absolutely annoying in Windows XP, Vista, 7.. automatic updates would install whilst you were away from your desk, you would come back and find that Windows had restarted your pc. If you had been at your desk, you may have noticed a message telling you it would auto-restart in 10 minutes, but that you would have the option to postpone it for up to 4 hours. This was not good enough and numerous times has resulted in me (and countless other people worldwide) from losing work. Windows 8.1 completely fixes this issue by adopting a much more flexible approach to restarts after windows updates. It will now auto restart only after 2 days by default.. if you do not restart before then. I have never lost work due to this issue since installing windows 8, although I continue to have it periodically on my notebook at work (Windows 7) often on Patch Tuesday.

29. Support for DirectX 12 - Certainly a benefit for PC gamers and they are a very large user group, Stats from Steam indicate an already huge and fast growing userbase. DX12 will rollout to Windows 8.1 via an update sometime in 2015 - it will enable significantly higher graphic performance on the same hardware, it hasn't been confirmed whether this will be available for Windows 7, but my expectation is that it is unlikely. My opinion is based on previous Microsoft decisions on availability of DX10 and DX11.

For Enterprise IT Sys Admins, Power Users, the list is also very significant.

The only features that I used that have been removed in Windows 8/8.1 were:
Windows Media Center
DVD codec

These were removed as the use of Optical Media has deteriorated very quickly and the use of cloud services including storage and streaming services has grown at a staggering rate. The issue with including these for legacy purposes was the royalties that would need to be paid to the patent holders. Microsoft elected to remove this cost from everybody, but provided the option that for those that wanted to continue to use DVD etc, they could pay a small fee for an upgrade pack (cost is something like £7 - £10 and upgrade/purchase is online and initiated from within Windows 8.1). However, I took advantage of the free offer by registering Windows 8 before the free upgrade offer expired.

Admittedly, like every previous release of Windows or any other OS, there were some rough edges or missing features from Windows 8 on day 1. Most of these have already been refined or added in the Windows 8.1 update and there will be more updates that further add features and refine existing ones. These updates will be available for free in the Windows Store App.

All things considered, Windows 8.1 gets my highest recommendation.
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on 20 November 2012
I bought Windows 8 before it actually came out, and loaded it onto my laptop as soon as it arrived. I like the look of it and the speed of it, and I will eventually get the most out of it.....BUT..... at the moment, there are too many programs which have not caught up with it yet, and are incompatible. I have wasted a lot of time, trying to access and sort out office-type apps (databases etc) which are struggling. I have even downloaded a different browser to cope with online sites I used to have no problem with, but now go round and round and round in a loop on IE! Hopefully, updates will iron out the problems - maybe I should have been more patient and waited for the first few!

Here we are a few months on, and things are improving. I have few, if any problems with Windows 8, but find I tend to go through the 'old-fashioned' desktop to do anything!
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on 24 February 2013
I've been using Microsoft products ever since the DOS era and have always looked forward to the "leatest and greatest" Windows release.

Even Windows Vista is among the list of Microsoft Operating systems I used for quite some time. I saw the good things about that OS and recognized faulty drivers were the main culprit for the initial abysmal performance - I saw myself forced to switch back to Windows XP, but moved to Vista again when SP1 arrived and since that moment used the OS on a daily basis until Windows 7 arrived. For me, Windows 7 was an improved Windows Vista. I love Windows 7 mainly for its better system performance, Aero Snap features and improved task bar that greatly facilitates multi-tasking by combining the live thumbnail preview first introducted in Windows Vista with the grouping feature known from Windows XP.

When I surfed on the internet to learn more about the upcoming Windows 8, I found myself for the very fist time not looking forward to a new Windows release. I just didn't believe in the dual Modern UI/desktop paradigm and just could not believe Microsoft's decision to force the new Start Screen on traditional PC users. To me, the fact that almost instantly numerous "start menu replacement" utilities (both free and commercial) started to emerge proves that Microsoft made a very big mistake.

Fast forward to today. Last week I decided to give Windows 8 a fair chance. I still wouldn't allow Windows 8 on my desktop PC. However, we have a PC hooked up to our TV in the living room that we use for watching films and family pictures and listening to music. Media Center on Windows 7 offers just a fantastic experience for that purpose. I figured that Windows 8 with the new Modern UI could be a good candidate for replacing Windows 7 on our living room PC and I decided to buy a copy of Windows 8. That was a big mistake.

I experienced the following issues with Windows 8:
- The dual Modern UI/Desktop is confusing and inconsistent. Even worse, you can't get around having to use both. For example, there's no file explorer in the Modern UI interface so I have to switch to Desktop to open the contents of a USB stick. Then when I open a picture on that USB-stick, I am being sent back right to the Modern UI interface where the Photos app is opened.
- Windows 8 is unfinished. For example, I can change some PC settings through the Change PC settings menu in the Modern UI but when I want to change keyboard settings, I'm being sent to the Control Panel in Desktop.
- I had high expectations for the Music, Video and Photos apps bundled with Windows 8 but they're not even close to being a replacement for Windows Media Center:
* The Music app does not display album art embedded in my MP3's and does a very bad job of navigating through our music collection as it misses some of the filter options that Media Center's had for years
* The Music, Video and Photos apps do not support non-Windows networked locations. We have all our photos, videos and mucis on a NAS and were perfectly able to add content stored on our NAS to our Media Center libraries. However, the Music, Video and Photos apps only add content from your default Windows libraries (which can only be managed through Desktop - another annoying UI inconsistency!) and since those do not support non-Windows networked content (unless you sync that content locally) you're out of luck.
- The Music and Video app put a large focus on content offereds through cloud services rather than our own content which I personally find to be very annoying.
- I dislike the Charms bar. You need to navigate all the way up to the righthand top corner of the screen to have it show up and when you don't carefully scroll down vertically to select the desired icon, the bar disappears again and you have to restart the whole process

I'll be returning my copy of Windows 8 next week and switch back to Windows 7. No Windows 8 in our home...

I sincerely hope Windows 9 will correct the mistakes of Windows 8.

My advice: before you decide buying Windows 8 yourself: go to a store and "play" with the OS on a display model.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 26 October 2012
Update 07 Nov 2012:

After 10 days of on and off use of Windows 8 final version I'm afraid I still can't say I like it. Windows 7 just works well for me and Windows 8 too often gets in the way. I can work round Windows 8's less than desktop friendly design but I don't upgrade just so I can "work round issues". I upgrade for increased features, performance or productivity. When I upgraded a few years ago from the awful Windows Vista to Windows 7 I was over the moon with how much better Windows 7 was. Windows 8 feels the opposite - like a downgrade from something that works to something that "challenges" you to get on with your work and keeps getting in the way. Yes you can work round its interface issues but why spend money and time doing this when Windows 7 works well on the desktop.

I've seen lots of comments by other users saying how Windows 8 is a massive performance boost. But this has not been my experience. Boot time is faster but otherwise it seems the same speed as Windows 7.

Perhaps its me? Others claim amazing boosts of speed - so I had a look on the Internet for reviews and one thing they do agree on is Windows 8 does boot faster.

However in terms of performance its largely the same as Windows 7 overall. Sometimes Windows 8 is faster, sometimes Windows 7 is faster.

Tomshardware website benchmarked games performance and said

"With A Couple Of Exceptions, Gaming on Windows 8 Is A Similar Experience

Aside from those couple of idiosyncrasies, performance under Windows 8 is indistinguishable from Windows 7. Any speed-up or slow-down would be almost impossible to identify during game play, and we expect compatibility issues to get patched quickly by game developers."

Website Bit-tech benchmarked a final release version of Windows 8 and found:

"All in all our benchmarks suggest that performance does take a hit when upgrading to Windows 8. The multi-tasking performance degradation is a particular blow to Windows 8, but one which the faster boot times do soften somewhat"

But you can also find reviews where Windows 8 comes out faster. I suspect the reality is the performance is overall the same.

Also Microsoft removed the pretty Aero interface and replaced with a plainer and less CPU demanding interface - which may well help performance. You can easily disable Areo on Windows 7 if you wish for a very slight performance boost.

I've also looked at lots of reviews to see the "amazing new features" of Windows 8. But to be honest there is nothing I've seen that's made me think - "WOW - that feature alone is worth the hassle of upgrading"

Overall Windows 8 is really Windows 7 but re-designed for tablets and smartphones.

Original Review:

Windows 7 - to copy Apple's marketing "Just works" on the desktop.

I've been using Windows for almost 20 years and Windows 7 is the best Windows for the desktop ever - reliable - easy to use and make your life easy and productive.

I've downloaded and installed Windows 8 on a spare PC and I have to say its the most stressful version of Windows ever!

Forgot everything you have learnt before and prepare to start from scratch and learn a whole new OS.

With each new version of Windows I found my productivity increased. With Windows 8 I found productivity hit rock bottom for a while as I re-learned how to do the things that had become second nature on earlier Windows.

I'm typing this on my Windows 7 PC after a session on Windows 8 and its good to be home - where everything is familiar and easy.

Windows 8 is very much a tablet operating system that can be installed on desktop and laptops but not specifically designed for desktops.

I've not tried Windows 8 on a tablet but I can only assume it works very well there.

Overtime on the desktop you will learn Windows 8's new ways and how to cope with it on a desktop. But it never really feels as natural or easy to use as Windows 7 was on a desktop.
Initially you'll spend a lot of time Googling simple things like "How do I minimise a window", "Where's the control panel", "How do I close a program"

For example when I first ran Internet Explorer and downloaded a PDF file on the Internet. This caused Windows PDF viewer to open. This is an "App" not a program - it uses the Metro interface. So it means no minimise options, no close PDF document options. It runs full screen and cannot be windowed.

So on Windows 7 if I want to open say 3 PDF documents and view them at the same time in separate windows I can do this easily. On Windows 8 this appears to be impossible - the default Metro app is full screen and can open only one document at a time - so no way of reading and comparing multiple documents.

There are ways round this ( install Adobe Reader ) and a quick search on Google will find a solution. But spending time solving these annoyances takes up time and reduces productivity.

Another "issue" that may confuse people is there are two version of Internet Explorer 10 in Windows. There's the Metro version and the desktop version of Internet Explorer 10. They both look and behave slightly differently. As someone who sometimes has to provide computer support I can see this is going to confuse some people!

This brings me on to the Start Screen - which has replaced the Start Menu. The Start screen looks a little Fisher Price in design but I thought never the less it might be useful as a way of quick accessing my most popular programs. The first issue - if you use Internet Explorer - is that as far as I can tell you can only add the Metro version of Internet Explorer to the Start Screen. The desktop Internet Explorer - the one most useful on a desktop - is not available via the Start Screen - you need to go to the desktop and then click the Internet Explorer icon. I did Google for a while to find a solution but couldn't. I also found the Start Screen rather limiting in terms of organising tile shortcuts to software. As far as I can tell you can't change the size of the tiles and while you can move them about only within certain "slots". Ideally I'd like 3 large tiles at the top for my most popular software and smaller ones beneath - but so far I've failed to figure out how to do this even after a bit of Googling. I guess I need to spend more time researching this but I've proper work to get on with!

And that's the way it is with Windows 8. Instead of doing boring work you initially spend your time much more fruitfully by Googling solutions to things that were easy and obvious on Windows 7.

An operating system should be invisible - it should let you get on with your work as quickly and easily as possible. It shouldn't keep getting in your way and forcing you to stop to look for ways round operating system issues.

For example in I think Windows 7 Microsoft introduced the ability to Pin large icons to the Start menu. I used this to pin my 5 most used programs. So now I have 3 quick ways of launching a program. Either via a large icon on the start menu. Via an icon on the desktop. Or via a pinned icon on the task bar. I used a combination of all three because I have a lot of software installed and it worked great for me as with a mouse I could quickly open my most used applications. Now with Windows 8 I have no start menu - we still have icons on the desktop and the task bar but lost the Start menu. That's not progress for me - that's a step backwards. Also the Start menu pinned icons let you mouse over them and you'd see your last opened documents ( or pinned documents ). So in a few shakes of a mouse I could mouse over Excel icon and then mouse over one of my most used spreadsheets and open it. All done very quickly and easily. Now in Windows 8 I need to go to a desktop icon and launch Excel. Then once in Excel go to the recent documents menu and then select the document. So what was easy and quick in Windows 7 is now a little more work in Windows 8. Doesn't sound a big deal but all these little things that help speed up your use of the system help and mount up when you do them a lot. If in a fit of madness I was to upgrade my main desktop to Windows 8 I'd lose these little shortcuts and as far as I can see not gain a whole lot in compensation.

Eventually Microsoft will kill off all former versions of Windows and the Windows 8 way will be the only way. My plan is to keep using Windows 7 for as long as possible! The only reason I installed Windows 8 on a spare computer is as well as writing software I also have to provide support for it - and eventually my customers will be using Windows 8 and so I need to know how to use Windows 8.

I really wish Microsoft had released a Windows for tablets and a separate Windows for desktops. They are quite different devices and have quite different interface requirements. By creating one Windows for tablets and desktops its created an operating system that just doesn't quite work as well on desktops - I think Microsoft have prioritised the needs of tablets.

Having said all this while I personally haven't taken to Windows 8 I'm sure some people will absolutely love it. I use Windows at work - I'm a software developer - and therefore need something productive for content creation. But if you use it mostly at home for content consumption - say browsing the internet and sending the odd email - then it may well be you will love the new Windows 8.

One thing I would recommend to make life more bearable on Windows 8 is learning some of its new keyboard shortcuts. There's a lot of things that can either no longer be done on a mouse or for which using a mouse is more challenging.

On the plus I've found Windows 8 installation to be very smooth and trouble free but no better than Windows 7. Windows 8 also seems fairly rock solid - no major crashes or issues. Again no better than Windows 7.

And eventually it does become easier to use and more productive - not as easy to use or productive as Windows 7 but certainly better than the initial shock you get on first running Windows 8.

********************************
Summary
********************************

Apologies if this review is a bit of a long ramble.

To summarise:

1. Going from an earlier version of Windows to Windows 8 is a major shock to the system

2. A fair bit of re-learning is required. Depending on your skills level this might take a few hours or a few weeks.

3. Time spent re-learning Windows would be fine if at the end of the learning you find yourself working more productively. But even with time while Windows 8 becomes easier to use it still feels like someone tried to shoehorn a tablet OS on to a desktop. It just requires a bit more effort on a desktop than Windows 7.

4. So essentially you end up spending time learning something that ends up not being quite as good as what you already had!

5. Windows 8 seems very stable and was easy to upgrade. But no more stable than Windows 7.

6. There's no massive new features in Windows 8 that make you think "I really must upgrade just for that new feature"

7. It loses some features. Would you like to play a DVD movie? Not on Windows 8 you won't unless you pay for an upgrade! Start button? Not without buying some new software to bring it back

8. You can simply ignore the new Start Screen - though it will keep popping up when you do certain things every so often whether you like it or not.

9. Ignoring the Start Screen you have the same desktop as Windows 7 - but no Start menu. I actually found the Start menu useful! So for me its removal is not a bonus

10. I've not found a clean Windows 8 to be any faster than a clean Windows 7. But I am running them off a fairy fast computer with SSD drives

A one word summary "New Window 8 - like Windows 7 but with no Start menu and everything in new places".

If you have been using Windows before and often thought to yourself - "When will they get rid of that damn Start menu" then Windows 8 is your dream come true! Personally I found it very useful....

*******************************************

Useful keyboard short cuts which I found off the Cnet website include:

Charms
Win+C: Open charms
Win+Q: Search charm
Win+H: Share charm
Win+K: Devices charm
Win+I: Settings charm

Search
Win+Q: Search apps
(tip: an even easier way to search apps is to just begin typing from the start screen)
Win+W: Search settings
Win+F: Search files
Windows 8 Apps
Win+Z: Get to app options
Win+.: Snap app to the left
Win+Shift+.: Snap app to the right
Ctrl+Tab: Cycle through app history
Alt+F4: Close an app

Desktop
Win+D: Open Desktop
Win+,: Peek at desktop
Win+B: Back to desktop

Other
Win+X: Open system utility settings menu
Win+PrntScrn: Take screenshot and save to Pictures
Win+Tab: Open switch list
Win+T: Preview open windows in taskbar
Win+U: Open Ease of Access Center
Ctrl+ESC: Start screen

Learning some of these keyboard short cuts does make Windows 8 a little easier to use.
7878 comments|370 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 5 November 2013
How on earth did W8 escape from the product evaluation labs? Using a tile interface is fine for phones and tablets - so be honest and call it Windows Mobile - but as an upgrade from Windows 7 on a desktop/laptop it is totally daft especially if you don't have a touch screen. This is like going back to MS DOS with one simple graphics screen to work with! Even if you upgrade to 8.1 (free) you only get a wee start button back, no programs menu. And if you don't know where the 'charms' are you'll be hunting the internet to find out how to close apps and shut down the PC.

Having said all that MS have actually upgraded the much more user friendly W7 under the W8 covers. SSD's are recognised and installed effortlessly (no TRIM or other special set up required as in W7), as was all the hardware I had to throw at it including USB Wifi which I had to struggle with on W7. When used with a fast start motherboard and SSD, the Windows log on screen takes only a few seconds to appear from cold, and after log in the awful tiles are available almost immediately. Another redeeming feature is that there is a desktop tile, which takes you into the familiar multi-tasking, resizable, cut and paste Windows. However you'll have to create your own program short cuts unless you want to pin everything to the taskbar.

A word of warning about the 8.1 upgrade. It's free and will appear in the Windows Updates - eventually! First you have to download and install tons of other upgrades before Windows lets you get access. If you go on the internet to expedite the process and locate the MS 8.1 free upgrade you'll come a cropper as I did. Going this route is allowed, but you'll end up with a Windows re-install which means your activation key is no longer valid. The only way out is the MS Tech Support in the USA, who can give you a new activation key.

One last point: Windows 8 seems to be stricter about everything. The activation key management is more strictly regulated, there are no real options about installing updates (take it or leave it), and they want your e-mail address as the login account. By default your settings are stored for free in the cloud, which means if you re-install, your previous settings magically re-appear once you're back on the internet. However if I need to recover my HDD, I'd rather have control and use a backup I've made and can connect physically without needing an internet connection.

Update 3 weeks later ...
Definitely stick with Windows 7 if you're using this for audio applications, video or gaming. There's a serious flaw in W8 as MS have re-written the kernel to allow power saving for mobile devices, but this causes high DPC latency. What that means is games stutter and sound playback has noisy drop outs. If you Google this you can do some tweaking to improve matters, but MS really need to fix this.
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on 9 October 2013
Having avoided Windows 8 for some time, in view of many dislikes aired in various magazines, I finally decided to give it a go before my Win XP pro stops being supported next Spring.The upgrade went surprisingly smoothly (about 1H 20mins) apart from a lot of fiddling to get Windows 8 to latch onto the shared network adapter from a Parallels VM inside my Mac, which is unlikely to be a problem encountered by most people who just have a pure Windows machine. One has to re-install one’s old programs, although personal files and folders are indeed preserved. (I keep a Windows system as well as my Mac because of some legacy programs that I need to use, and they run O K.)

I also installed one of those shell apps to emulate the familiar Win XP type of start menu and desktop. However, once you get used to them, the awful-looking Windows 8 tiles actually work well.

To do the upgrade it does help if you are, like me, an experienced user (though by no means an expert), and now that I've got used to it, the new installation overall works very well. It does look nice (almost Apple-like!). it’s said to be the quickest, slickest and most stable Windows OS ever, although I don’t think it necessarily outguns a well-maintained Win XP pro installation. Therefore I would encourage others, who understandably hesitate, to give it a go if you want to avoid the security and other problems that may come about once Win XP becomes unsupported. Incidentally the price from Amazon was much better than elsewhere, which is a bonus point.
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on 27 November 2012
Installed and removed the same night. Looks good and I suppose if I give it a chance it will be a good os. But I need to work and I have enough software to learn without relearning the os that I have been using for years
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on 29 May 2013
First of all here are my computer specs on which I installed Windows 8 Pro:

Vortex III labtop with: Intel® CoreTMi7 Quad Core Mobile Extreme i7-3940XM (3.00GHz) 8MB
32GB KINGSTON HYPER-X GENESIS 1600MHz SODIMM DDR3 (4 x 8GB)
NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 680M - 4.0GB DDR5 Video RAM - DirectX® 11
750GB WD SCORPIO BLACK WD7500BPKT, SATA 3 Gb/s, 16MB CACHE (7200 rpm)
Genuine Windows 7 (64 bit) Ultimate

Here are some of the major programs and applications that I have installed on Windows 7 which I want to bring across to Windows 8:

Microsoft Office 2013 Pro
Steam (with Skyrim and X3 Albion Prelude installed)
Norton Internet Security 2013
Cyberlink PowerDVD 10
Adobe Acrobat Standard 9
Serif Webplus X4
Iolo System Mechanic 10
Corel PaintShop Pro X2
Built in Fingerprint lock

The first thing I'll say about Windows 8 is that I have heard all sorts of horror stories about how different it is and how you can't find your way round it at all; that's a load of nonsense! Yes it is quite different in some ways but at the same time it is not all that different at all underneath it all, and you if you have a good feel of your current Windows then you'll get used to, and find your way round, Windows 8 vary quickly indeed.

KK, so the Windows upgrade disk arrived via Royal Mail this morning. The first thing I was surprised with was the packaging; small enough for the post man to shove straight through the letter box. Some products by some companies come in packages so big it seems you need a truck and two men to deliver it, and when you open the box you have a CD and a few pamphlets. However, Windows 8 comes in a vary small package, about the size of a double CD album.

What comes with the Windows 8 packaging? You get a small `Welcome' card with some vary simple instructions on it. You get the key for your product on a small card with a key symbol on it, and you get two DVD discs each in its own cardboard sleeve. One disc has a large `32' written on it and the other a large `64' written on it. One contains Windows 8 Pro 32-bit, and the other contains Windows Pro 64-bit. If you are not sure whether your current OS is 32-bit or 64-bit then put in the 32-bit Win 8 disk and if you have 64-bit installed you will simply be told to take the disk out and replace it with the 64 version. Simple. I installed 64-bit.

KK, for the installation of Win 8. How easy is it? Vary easy!!! Simply insert the disk and click `Run'. First thing it will do is to run a quick check to see if your computer/labtop can handle Windows 8. All being well the next screen you get is one asking you if what files and programs you have installed on your current OS that you want to keep, and you get three choices:

1. Keep all programs and personal files.
2. Just keep personal files.
3. Keep nothing (this will conduct a complete clean install of Win 8 - it will get rid of everything on your current Windows drive.

I choose the first option as I wished to keep all my current programs, games and files. (Edit: Please note that after upgrading in this way I created a system image back up and then re-installed Windows 8 from a clean install (option 1) to see if there was any different in the speed of the labtop at the end. I found it to be faster by conducting a clean install. The upgrade option 3 is fine if you want a nice easy time of it, but if you don't mind re-installing all your programs and personal files then I'd advise a clean install - it prevents any proplems with fragmented files with the upgrade.)

Oh, before the installation starts you'll get the option to download updates. I'd recommend you allow it to do this before it installs to ensure it is installing the latest drivers.
The next thing it will do is start installing. If it detects you have a driver or program installed that is not compatible with Win 8 it will help you uninstall it. Once that's done it will continue with the installation. You may get asked to restart your computer after uninstalling the program/driver but this is fine, just let the computer reboot. If, on reboot, you get an option on a black screen to reboot from disk by pressing any key, ignore this and just wait a few seconds and Windows will reboot. Once Windows reboots (it will still be your old Windows at this stage) the Windows 8 box on the screen will carry on. Here it will ask you if you wish to carry on from where you left off or if you wish to restart from the beginning. Choose carry on.
From here Windows 8 will install. Your computer may restart a few times (remember to ignore the `press any key to reboot from disc' if it comes up) in the process. Other than that you have nothing else to do for the installation other than go and make a cup of tea.

On completion of the install, which took from 0750 to 0840 on my labtop, you will be taken through the Windows 8 user set up. Work through these as you see fit, it is all vary self-explanatory.

So what is Windows 8 like? At first it looks vary confusing. Gone is the start menu in the bottom left of your screen and now you have loads of square boxes on your screen which are like gadgets. This represent various programs and services you have on your screen. How do you get a more traditional look to your Windows screen? Move your mouse cursor to the top right corner of the screen and you'll see a menu bar slide out from the right side of your computer screen with `settings' and `Start' among them. Click `Start' and a more normal looking Windows will appear.

How did those pre-installed programs I have work in Win 8? Fine! All of them run with no problems at all.

I have had Win 8 on my labtop now for about 3 hours and I am still feeling my way around but I will update with any information I feel may be useful.

My labtop seems a little slower in starting up but this may be simply to a new system `bedding in'; drivers updating themselves etc.

Oh, there is one annoying thing; you'll get a window pop up once you are up and running asking you if you want to install a new browser, yet unlike previous Windows incarnations there appears to be no little red `x' in the top right of the window to close it. Simply move your mouse cursor to the top edge of the screen, say in the middle part of it, you'll see a little hand icon show. Hold down your mouse key and drag the window down to the bottom of your screen and let the mouse button go, the screen should disappear.
It might be an idea for you to visit the website of the manufacturer of your computer at this stage to see if there are any Windows 8 drivers it recommends for your model.

Windows 8 takes a little getting used to but I do actually like it.

If you have any questions reference Windows 8 and/or its installation (bear in mind I have only had it on my labtop for a few hours now) then please ask them by replying to this review, and I will do my vary best to answer them.

KK, here are two things I noticed since reviewing this product:

I wanted to restart my computer but wait! There appears to be no shutdown/restart button!!! Move your mouse cursor to the top right corner of your screen so that an options bar slides out from the right of your screen. Select Settings and then Power. You'll get the options to shutdown/restart. There may be an easier way to do this, and if somebody knows then please let me know.

When Windows 8 boots up you'll see a screen with a picture of a tower thing on it. This is like the 'Front Door' if you like. On previous incarnations of Windows you'd be taken straight to the login page but with Win 8 you see this 'Front Door'. As soon as you see that screen you can click anywhere on the screen and you'll be taken to the login page.

It's now 24 hours-ish that I have had Win 8 installed and I have had chance to get to know it. Yes, it is a little confusing at first as it's so different but to be honest you get used to it vary quickly. It seems to have two modes that work hand-in-hand. The new tile screen and the more conventional desktop. As mentioned above you can move your mouse to the right side of your screen to see a slide out menu and choose 'Start' from there. Or alternatively look for the tile on the new screen that says 'Desktop'. Click on that to go to the more familiar desktop. Some of the default tiles you see on the new screen you won't need. Simply right click on them and a menu will pop up from the bottom of your screen. Click on 'Unpin from Start' to get rid of it.

When you are on the more conventional desktop and need to go back to the title screen move your mouse to the bottom left corner of your screen and you'll see the tile screen pop up, just click on it. Likewise if you want to then go back to desktop you can either move the mouse to the right and select 'Start' or simply put your mouse cursor to the bottom left corner of your screen and you'll see a tiny window pop up, which is your desktop shrunk down. Click on it and it will spring back up to fill your screen.

I also purchased Windows 8 For Dummies on my Kindle Fire to help me get to grips with this new Operating System, and it has helped me quite a bit. I have written a review for that book which you'll see by visiting the relevant page in Amazon (just click on the link).
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on 19 November 2012
To give windows 8 a try, while it was cheap, I downloaded and installed on a Netbook rather than to my PC. I am glad I did this as if I now had it on my PC I would be reverting to Windows 7 as fast as I could. The simplest of tasks has become a rumage in the corners in an attempt to find a menu that might allow you to do what you want.
On the Netbook, once installed I booted up to Windows to be presented with the APPS Screen. One thing I did not see before downloading was that all the Apps need a screen resolution of 1024 x 768 to run. The Netbook in 1024x600 so no apps.
Once you get past the App screen to the desktop you have something akin to Win 7 but no start button or start menu. To me this is a bit like having a donkey to help with the work and lopping one of its legs off. It just makes things harder to do and that little bit more irritating. I found and installed a third party prog that replaces the start menu, so here i am with a brand new operating system having to download a fix to make it function usefully.
All the dragging the top of the screen to the bottom to shut a window down is most likely as smooth as you like on a tablet but it becomes really f*****g tiresome using a finger on a touchpad while holding the left click button down and would wear very thin as a novelty using a mouse.
When you come to shut down your PC/netbook or whatever used to be a fairly simple matter of clicking on the start button and going to shut down but is now another rumage in a corner for; system settings - where else would it be, and shut down.
To my mind its a disaster. If you just want to play about on a tablet, look at a few web pages and send an email it might be fine. If you want a smooth work flow experience, even once its becomes familiar I feel its just not meant for the job.
Avoid or wait for Windows 9, I don't think it will be long.
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