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on 30 June 2013
Upgraded from XP 32 bit to Windows 8 64 bit. You need to do a custom installation to achieve this. If you have some computer experience you can continue to use your existing files (but many applications will need to be reinstalled). I think it's best to install Win 8 onto a separate hard disk if you have one.

I like the new Windows. There is no Start button in the Desktop window, but think of the new 'Home' screen as one big start menu. You can find all your applications by typing a few characters into the search box, and they open up either in full-page mode, or inside the Desktop window.

Windows 8 has its own anti-virus and firewall, so no need to get a separate program to slow it down.

Review update - things I forgot to mention 1st time round:

* You are confronted with your 1st tough decision upon installing... should you set up a Microsoft account or a Local account?? Here's my advice:
Set your *1st* account up as a *Local* account, it is the admin account. You won't have access to any apps in the App Store etc. but the admin account does *not* need these features (App Store apps are installed per-user, not for the whole computer). Once ready, you can create your user accounts for all the users you need, and these are suitable as Microsoft accounts - all the new features of Win 8 will work.

* Win 8 had a built-in driver for everything on my computer - it's 6 years old, so not surprising. Old logitech webcam does not work, nor does bluetooth modem.

* I can dual boot with XP after custom-installing on a separate drive - I do not enjoy going back to XP, but it's there if I need it.

* I am resisting re-installing iTunes, it pretty much destroyed my XP performance, and I don't want to risk ruining Win 8 - which is smooth and fast enough, even on my old computer.

* If you previously used Windows Live Mail: You can install it again in Win 8, and point the mail store to your old location. It upgrades beautifully, and all you will need to do is put your passwords in again. All your messages, accounts etc will be set up. You need to export your contacts from the old installation and import them into the new version. Search the web for detailed instructions on locating and setting the mail store for Windows Live Mail. It needs .Net 3.5 and I could only install that from the Win 8 DVD, it did not work from the web - again, search the web for installing .Net 3.5 in Win 8.

2nd update:
Also worth mentioning Windows 8 has built-in parental controls, using Microsoft logins. For your children's login accounts, you can get detailed activity reports, and the ability to block various web sites and applications if you need to.
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on 9 May 2013
I have tried to love Windows 8. I installed it around 6 months ago now and I have followed it's bizzare and uncoordinated evolution. All I can say is Microsoft have massively misunderstood what market they are actually in, and have created the Frankenstein of operating systems - the body of one, with a wierd head badly-stitched on top of it.

OK, so to the review.

There are now two ways to do most familiar windows tasks in windows 8. The 'modern interface' way - in which everything is cartoonishly-large, and at low resolution, in order to fit the tablet you aren't using this on (yes, I know...). There are two browsers, but like Cletus, Microsoft has named both its children the same (in this case Internet Explorer 10). If you are in the 'modern interface' (formerly 'Metro'), you get a version of IE10 designed for the tablet you aren;t running Windows 8 on. It's freakishly large and only runs flash via a whitelist (pre-approved by Microsoft), so most of the multimedia web doesn't work properly. (STOP PRESS: This has just been changed via windows update as Microsoft begins what *MUST* be a series of u-turns on this weirdest of all operating systems). If you are in the traditional desktop, well then you just run 'Internet Explorer 10' (I know) and it acts like it always has..
If you try to 'tile' windows in the 'modern interface', well, you can only tile two. That's because only two windows fit on the tablet that you aren;t running Windows 8 on...

Of course there's no start menu on the desktop. That's because Microsoft wants to to think of the 'modern interface' as your new start menu. A start menu designed to work beautifully on the tablet (you know - your tablet - the one you aren't running windows on).

Truly, I despair. Why couldn't microsoft have detected the platfrom and given a system that boots straight to desktop (or that uses desktop versions of the photo viewer, the browser etc) when it detects that it's on a non-touch system? Is that so hard?
Instead the system is built for touch. yes - that's right, built for touch-screens (currently less than 20% of the total market, and less than 5% of the desktop market). So Microsoft introduced a product that creates extra hassle for 95% of its users - hmmm. In addition, it's tied in very closely with the microsoft app store and the open-web. that's because its many thousands of big corporate users, with windows on very desktop, use the - er - oh - no they don't...

Microsoft's canceled tablet manufacturing orders, Windows 8 product-line creator's departure, reduced sales forcasts and the like surely only can tell a story of less-than-stellar success. If your core users are introducing third party software to get the start menu back in their droves, does that not tell you anything?
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 23 July 2013
The price from Amazon was the best I can find so I grabbed a copy and thought surely it can't be as bad as they say...

A lot has been said both here and elsewhere as to how good it is. Personally I found it to be the worst OS I have ever used used and I go back to the DOS days! I am not writing this as a Mac vs PC argument simply that Microsoft has gone from a fairly good Windows 7 to an OS that I have to use Google for in order to achieve basic tasks. I couldn't even work out how to shut down without having to spend some time searching Google for the answer. Intuitive seems to be a word missing fromt he product specs when Microsoft put this together. Operating system software should be relatively easy to use requiring little in the way of resorting to the manual - especially for day-to-day tasks and Windows 8 simply fails, for me, in this respect.

Otherwise it installed easily on my iMac using Parallels and Bootcamp. Best to be prepared to invest some time getting used to the new way of using Microsoft's latest. The 8.1 update is reported to address most of the problems but I clicked on the 'Upgrade Now' button last night only to be taken to the 'Store'. The 8.1 option was nowhere to be seen just games, apps etc., Tried this a few times before giving up. Will get a coffee ready for another search later!.
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on 11 March 2014
Be careful when buying this as it is a definite UPGRADE and not a new o/s to be installed on a blank disk. I tried it on a blank disk only to be informed when all the software was installed that the licence key would not work. Enquiries with Microsoft revealed the situation that the disk on which you install this upgrade needs to have a qualifying o/s in place. Luckily I had an image (created with Macrium - great program) of the drive I had removed from my laptop (I wanted to keep the Win7 installation intact on the old drive) so re-installed the old image onto the new disk then simply fired up the laptop, inserted the Win8 upgrade disk, and ran the install program, ending up with a fully working Windows 8 PC. Painless. The beauty of this product is that, unlike previous Windows upgrades, it keeps all of your software in place apart from that which is incompatible with Win8. I am not going to talk about Windows 8 other than to say I have been using for over a year and have gotten used to it. If you need a "Start" button then download and install Classic Shell which gives all the look and feel of Win7 whilst keeping you up to date with the latest features of Win8.
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on 4 October 2013
We upgraded our laptop from Vista.

Good points
- A bit faster, and the laptop seems to run cooler.
- Some of the overly-pretty but inefficient features, such as opaque window borders, have been removed.
- Massively improved move/copy function
- Easy to use better backup system, File History (we were using Cobian before). .

Not so good points
- The upgrade process failed catastrophically, so attempted to revert to Vista, but failed with that too.
So I had to take out the laptop disk, copy user files onto my other PC, put back the laptop disk and format it, reinstall Vista, then upgrade to Windows 8, then copy back all the user files - 3 days work. The reason for this is unknown, but all is well now.
- I'm using a mouse, so the touch oriented apps approach is a nuisance. However, that's the future, so I wanted to get some experience of it. Waiting keenly for 8.1.
- File History only backs up libraries, initially a limited set. I need to back up Thunderbird emails/profiles, which are in Appdata. The solution is to put Appdata in a library, but it did not work at first. After some detective work I found that File History was trying to back itself up,as it keeps its own data in Appdata. I excluded the relevant sub-folders and now all appears to be working fine. Note also that it seems to be important to set up the backup disk as non-indexed, as some other peoples' problems seem to be connected to that.
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on 28 May 2013
I was dubious about Win 8 at first especially as I loved using Win 7 (I'd considered it the best Windows operating system since the first one I'd ever used back in 1989 (Win 3.1), so wasn't sure it was worth upgrading to Win 8, but I was forced into it because five of the Win 7 codes I'd purchased ended up being rip offs plus the full version copy I'd paid through the nose for had been blocked due to a mistake by the vendor.

I'd previously purchased an OEM copy of Win 7 Pro for a rebuilt computer and a full copy of Win 7 Ultimate for over £170 (via Amazon) for my main gaming computer. Unfortunately I had to return that because the 64 bit disc was missing - my computer had 16GB of sysRAM, so a 32 bit version was useless; besides, the full version was supposed to have both copies included. I was then sent a buisness edition by mistake, which I didn't realize at the time. When I reinstalled Win 7 a year later following a HDD crash, my code was refused activation.

On contacting Microsoft, I was told I was a home user and not entitled to use the buisness edition. I wasn't able to get a refund (Amazon were of little use in helping despite purchasing it via Amazon), so ended up buying a code cheaply online (cost me £35 for the code only - I didn't need a disc as I already had one). Once it had been verified by Microsoft, I went ahead and purchased two more Ultimate versions and two Pro version only to find 18 months later that they were non genuine copies (why it took Microsoft so long after initially saying they were genuine I'll never know). It was this that prompted me to purchased three copies of Win 8 at only £39 each (The codes I'd purchased cheaply had cost me around £175 plus another £170 for the Full version coopy with discs making a total of £345 for six useless codes that I can no longer use. Grrrrrr.

Anyway, initially I had trouble navigating the new Win 8 start screen, but it only took me a few hours of getting used to it plus placing a couple of shortcuts to my user account and other useful folder locations onto the desktop. (Which ultimately I didn't need once I became a lot more familiar with the Win 8 interface). I then installed Start Menu X which gave me back a better Start button and explorer than the original Win 7 ( I got it free via the Giveawayoftheday project), plus it also enabled me to boot straight to the desktop rather than to the new Start screen (with Start menu X you can swap between the traditional desktop with start button to the new Start Screen by clicking on the win key that all keyboard have these days (apart from Mac's of course).

So far after several months of use i've had no trouble using Win 8. The only thing I really miss is Aero. I thought that was really aesthetic, but I'm hoping some intrepid developer with create an app to add that soon. :)

Don't believe what many are saying about Win 8 being another Vista or Win ME, its as good if not better than Win 7. I think the lack of a Start button and not booting directly to the desktop put a lot of users noses out of joint, but within weeks of being released, there were programs available to counter this. Overall Win 8 is far better value for money than any previous version of Windows. Microsoft are intending to upgrade the new operating system so that you can configure the operating system to boot directly to the desktop and place a familiar start button if you want it and without having to resort to purchasing applications from other developers. Sooooo! apart from the lack of Aero, you can now purchase Win 8 Pro cheaply, that is as good (or will be soon) if not better (apart from lacking Aero) than Win 7. Yeah!!!!! I'm so pleased I purchased it.
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VINE VOICEon 25 October 2013
For me, the pros outweigh the cons.

With Windows 7, my laptop kept freezing every few hours and occasionally had to be rebooted to get started again. By a matter of luck I eventually saw an error message that the problem was due to the video driver. I updated the driver and the problem was much less frequent but still occurred. I decided to try Windows 8 and hoped the "hanging " would be cured. It has ! This is down to the driver writers rather than Windows 8 but I will accept the improvement, no more hanging laptop (fingers crossed). Also, the removal of some eye candy has meant Windows 8 boots much faster than Windows 7.

Cons: For me, as a laptop user the "Modern UI" interface with its clunky apps is a complete nuisance. Once I boot the machine, I press windows-D to jump to the conventional desktop and use my existing applications. A configuration option to boot straight into the old desktop would be useful. The only useful facility in the Modern UI is the search facility which has made "Start" redundant since I can type in the first few letters of any application and launch it from the Modern UI - the only time I use it and am not irritated by it.

So for the price I paid I am satisfied by Windows 8 but only because my machine is more stable and boots faster.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 24 January 2014
Windows 8 is a funny old beast. In some ways it's very good - on a mobile phone for instance - but in others it's a royal pain in the butt.

I always upgrade, simply because to fail to do so will eventually leave you trailing in the wake of ever more advanced computer systems and I'm not ready to give up on this yet. However, like everyone else that has W8 my feeling is that it's okay, but not as clear or simple as the older versions. And I say that fully understanding that human nature is such that we like the familiar and naturally tend to hold onto it. However W8 makes what was simple, more complicated. What was wrong in having one screen that has all you need on it? Yes, the tiles are funky and of course do work well on a mobile. They almost work on a tablet, but on a PC they are a waste of time. The reality is that everyone immediately heads to the desktop like always and uses that as the default. Only now you have more than one step to get there.

On the plus side, W8 is fast and slick. Start up times are fast, especially with a system designed for it and using an SSD.

In the end it's a good product that works well. I just find myself slightly frustrated with it and it lacks the easy appeal of W7.
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on 19 July 2014
Now with the Free update to 8.1 combined with a Samsung 840 Pro SSD this gives my old Centrino Duo Processor Intel(R) Core(TM)2 CPU T5600 @ 1.83GHz, HP Compaq n6320 great legs with normal stuff like Office (Excel, Word, etc). The insistence on using the apps page has receded and the fact that getting in and out of programmes is more mouse friendly. It acts as a remote terminal for my works which this old business machine (seems improved with our 802.11ac router giving good speeds with the HPs old wireless adapter) does with no discernable delay. It mustn't be mistaken for a heavy lifter though, all format conversion, games like BF3,BF4 etc. and movies are still done on my i5 machine.

This was value at the upgrade price of £40 but now at the current Windows prices I cannot recommend it as a Ubuntu replacement (what I used to do to my obsolete software). I think that Microsoft missed a trick here. I hope that codename."Threshold" due in 2015 will be the XP for the late 2010s.
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on 24 June 2013
I'm reviewing the product and the delivery of it (the 5 stars), not Windows 8 itself as that's widely open to personal preference as I'm sure you're aware. Delivery was prompt and it's an excellent price.

Now, aside from the 5-star review for the delivery and price, I will say this with regards to Windows 8: If you're used to XP or Windows 7 (or even Vista. Yuck!), you're in for a bit of a shock in terms of usability. The UI is clearly heavily geared towards a touch interface so if you're using this on a laptop with a trackpad / mouse then it's not as good in terms of usability compared to Windows 7 - which in my opinion is an excellent OS.

Things seem to be dotted around everywhere and I had to Google where the shutdown / restart button was(!). Easy now I know where it is, but it's so far detached from previous Windows incarnations that I'm baffled why there isn't a "Here's what's changed" welcome screen when you first run Windows - especially considering this is an upgrade version.

I'm a software developer and only use Windows as a virtual machine within Parallels as a 1st-point testing platform (I have "real" machines that I uses as a final testing point, but it's not as convenient) and can confirm that it runs fine under Parallels 8 on a Mac if that's what you intend on using it for.
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