Top positive review
13 people found this helpful
Awesome internals under questionable UI
on 5 December 2013
The new UI that greets you when you first log on to Windows 8.1 definitely takes you by surprise - and takes time getting used to. It does make sense on a touch-enabled device, but very little on a traditional desktop/laptop. There are nice sides to it (weather app, easy searching and a few others) - but I still find Microsoft's decision to "impose" it on non-touch users rather pre-mature.
HOWEVER - the moment you switch to the traditional desktop mode, Windows 8.1 shines. It loads/shuts down faster, it clogs your PC memory less, there are many small tweaks here and there compared to Windows 7 and older. It's the "leanest" Windows version out there - absolutely no bloatware (and the few "New UI" apps can be easily uninstalled - compare that to Vista!).
Very easy and fast installation and initial setup.
More than 12 months into using Windows 8 and 8.1, I must say most of the above initial impressions still hold (to clarify - have been using it on 2 desktops and 2 non-touch laptops):
- I have never got to using 'Modern UI' apps, bar occasional use of Weather and News apps
- The OS has proved very stable and 'light' in terms of resource footprint
- Shines on new hardware, boots up and shuts down instantly
With version 8.1, Microsoft has removed the most annoying 'innovations' while keeping all the good stuff:
- You can now boot directly into desktop
- You can switch the 'Modern UI' into showing 'all apps' instead
- The 'Start' button is back - sort of; it takes you to 'Modern UI' if you left click on it, but gives you all the key options when you right-click on it
- The above 3 points essentially allow you to avoid 'Modern UI' 99% of the time if you don't like/need it, giving you an extra light and fast OS without forcing you to adapt to new UI
- 'Modern UI' apps have been significantly updated, which has made them somehow useful even on a desktop PC
- SkyDrive native implementation is so convenient that it is my default folder for documents now.
So, to sum up - if you are using conventional desktops/laptops, most likely you won't use the 'Modern UI' much - but in no way will it make your traditional desktop experience less efficient and productive. Treat it as just a new form of the now gone Start button, and it's a better form of it. Yes, you have to change the way you do a few things - but without that we'd be still stuck in the DOS era.
If you are using anything older than a Windows 7, go for it. If you are using Windows 7 - you might stick to it... However, it is obvious that touch interface is the way forward, save for desktops probably - there is no coming back to the old ways. So why not embrace the new Windows and master it earlier, rather than later?..
UPDATE: Standard vs Pro versions
You can find a detailed comparison chart of the two versions at Wikipedia. Arguably the main 2 differences are the lack of BitLocker and ability to join a Windows domain in the Standard version. If nothing of this rings a bell for you, then easily go for the much cheaper Standard version.