I bit the bullet last night and started the upgrade from Windows 7 Pro to Windows 8 Pro. I’ve got customers asking me about it, so I thought that it was time to start learning a bit more. I have been using it on my Microsoft Surface RT tablet and it is a perfect fit for the keyboard/touch screen environment. It is amazingly intuitive and provides a level of interaction and capability for business use that surpasses other tablets. You can see my initial hands-on review here. Will it work in a traditional desktop environment though? I have my doubts. Read on to find out more.
I read somewhere that you couldn’t upgrade directly from Windows 7 Pro to Windows 8 Pro. I thought that this must surely be poppycock (bullcrap for American readers!) and I’m pleased to report that it is a total fallacy. I did shamefully little prep work on my computer as my PC is fully backed up to a network attached storage (NAS) drive every night. I put the Windows 8 disk into the drive and a couple of simple pop-up style screens later I was entering my Windows Key. The software then had a good look at my computer. It asked me to remove two things: Acronis TrueImage HD and Microsoft Security Essentials, as they wouldn’t be compatible. I did so and the upgrade asked for a reboot. I logged in, it carried on and I then left it for the evening doing it’s thing, hoping that it would be in a usable state come the morning.
I was mildly disappointed when I got to the office to find that something had interrupted one of the installation programs reboot cycles. I hit a key, it rebooted and within twenty minutes it popped up with a question. It was essentially “what colour do I like?” It then had a slider bar with a number of different theme colours. I think that this is one of the hardest questions I’ve ever been asked during a windows upgrade…..
…A few minutes later I played it safe with a light blue on dark blue theme, and clicked next. Microsoft then asked if I wanted to use the express settings. They looked reasonable, including a default option turned to on to prevent websites from tracking your browsing movements, so I accepted and hit next. Five minutes later I put in my normal Windows password, followed by the email address/password linked to my Microsoft Live account. Hopefully this means some seamless Skydrive integration. I’ll find out later. Before I knew it I was presented with my usual desktop on my right hand monitor but without the start button. On my left hand monitor was the new start menu interface (the GUI formerly known as Metro!)
At the moment the two monitors almost feel like they are on two computers, but with a huge amount of flexibility between them. The one thing that I find slightly weird is that the App version of IE10 looks very different to the Windows 8 desktop version of Windows 10. I actually prefer the new one as it is aesthetically more pleasing.
- In the new interface on Internet Explorer 10 put the mouse to the top or bottom of the screen and do a single right click to get the tabs and address bar to pop out. Or select Windows Key + Z
- Windows Key + B pops up the traditional desktop
- The start menu and windows 8 interface will open on whichever monitor you last opened it on. The other one will show the traditional desktop
- Holding the mouse in the top or bottom right corner of any monitor will popup the search bar showing any charms and also the clock
- Holding the mouse in the top left corner of any monitor will pop the last application that you had open on it and allow you to switch to it
- Holding the mouse to the left hand corner of any monitor and sliding it down the left hand edge will cause a pop out to appear showing a pictured list of the open apps for you to switch between
- Holding the mouse to the bottom left corner of any monitor will allow you to select the new start menu on that monitor (all of this rapidly becomes intuitive once you know it is there)
The Windows 8 interface on a desktop doesn’t actually feel like you need a touch screen to get the most out of it. This is largely because of the speed and responsiveness of it. Once I get used to it I get the impression that I will be more efficient on the new interface, and I don’t think that will take long. I like the fact that with multiple monitors one of them by default shows your traditional desktop, so the environment is instantly familiar, however if you only have one monitor a quick press of Windows Key + B will quickly drop you back to the desktop whenever you need it. The upgrade was easy and straightforward, it also isn’t too expensive if you get one now: £24.99 from Microsoft, go here for more info: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-GB/windows/buy Do note that if you are using Windows XP or Vista then you wont be able to do a straight forward upgrade and will have to reinstall, so more effort will be required. I would recommend considering it though as Windows 8 is a much faster operating system then previous version. Of course the easiest way to migrate is to buy a new PC and then transfer your files across, that way you get a new computer, a new operating system and also have an old copy of your files kept on your old computer if you should need them.
For reference I ran the upgrade on a four year old Core 2 Quad PC with no trouble at all.