The Active Network
ActiveWin: Reviews Active Network | New Reviews | Old Reviews | Interviews |Mailing List | Forums


Product: Windows 8
Company: Microsoft
See Pricing
Review By: Andre Da Costa

with Byron Hinson, Robert Stein contributing


Table Of Contents (45 Pages)
1: Introduction
2: Pricing, Editions & System
Installation, Setup & Upgrading
4: Initial Impressions
5: Daily Usage & Application Compatibility
6: Desktop
7: File Explorer
8: Start Screen Apps
9: Internet Explorer 10

10: Networking & Connectivity
11: Windows Store
12: Gaming
13: Advanced Features - Part 1
14: Advanced Features - Part 2
15: USB 3.0 Support & Security
16: Performance & Reliability
17: Support Services & Activation 3.0
18: Other Features
19: Conclusion & Online Resources

The bulk of my time though in Windows is spent mostly on the Desktop, or what is known as the Windows Desktop App in Windows 8. Meeting the new Desktop App, you will be in for a little awakening, I donít want to call it rude, but the furniture has been moved around and replaced, put it this way, 15 years of seeing something in the same place, is no longer there. Well, itís there, just not immediately visible to the naked eye. The Start Menu no longer exist which many might already know from using the Release Preview, but so is the Start button. The Start button is there but the way it works is this; you can access it either by pointing your pointer to the left hand corner of the screen and click it or hover the pointer to the right hand corner then click Start on the new Desktop Charm bar. The Desktop Charm Bar displays access to four common buttons; these include Search, Share Contract, Start and Settings button.

Search Ė used for searching the system such as personal files and apps.

Share Contract Ė integrates with the new modern interface based applications utilized when sharing information, for example, sending photos using Mail App or another appropriate app.

Start Ė Accesses the new Start Screen interface.

Settings Ė Quickly access system options such as System Properties, Power Options, Network, Messaging, Brightness and Volume Controls.

The biggest complaint so far among early adopters is the in inability to quickly access Power Options. Yes, I agree, it is definitely out of sight. Personally, thatís not a problem, since I rarely shut down my computer. In fact, I have my system unitís power button set to hibernate the computer when I press it. I can go for up to a month hibernating. With Windows Updates ability to postpone non-critical updates until the end of the month, restarting is even rare. Another reason why shutting down Windows 8 might become less of a need is the type of systems that will be coming online later this year. Windows 8 will target a new class of devices based up on the SoC standard which features principles such as Connected Standby, which is a low power mode that allows Windows to continue receiving updates and instantly awake from deep sleep while remaining energy efficient and lasting for days or weeks, especially if itís an ARM based device. The point is, Microsoft is making Windows more appliance like and Shutting down should not come across as such a big deal. There are workarounds for it though, as I previously said, you could set the Power Button on the system unit of your machine to shutdown Windows when you press it, create a shortcut to shutdown or do it through the command line.

The Taskbar in the Windows Desktop App is solely for hosting your favorite apps and working with open applications, nothing more, of course the functionality like Jump List are still there. Some functionality has been removed such as Flip 3D while Aero Peek is not visible anymore. If you want to access your Library of applications, you do it by going to Start Screen or Pin them on the Taskbar or search for them. Application launching in Windows 8 is surprisingly fast. I can have Microsoft Word or any other app up and running in seconds if I launch it from the Start Screen UI compared to opening it from Start > All Programs.

Working with Windows 8, you can feel that it is in a stage of transitioning, I look at Windows 8 like I look at Windows 3.0, Program Manager and DOS. The Start Screen is similar to Program Manager in the sense that Microsoft is building an environment around an operating system, but unlike Windows 3.0, Windows 8ís Start Screen is actually the future of Windows User Experience, like it or not. Windows Desktop App is the new Command Prompt; it is like DOS in Windows 3.0 where you go to launch your old legacy DOS apps like you did in the 90ís. Do I like this idea? Well, I have been in the process of adjusting to it since I have been using Windows 8 for a while now, but of course itís a drastic departure.

The new Charm bar menu which conveniently list menus for Start, Settings, Share, Devices and Search makes it easier to operate in key parts of the Windows 8 user interface. The Settings menu for instance provides quicker access to the Power Options along with general PC functions such as Control Panel, Personalization, PC Info (System Properties) and Help. The thing about the Charm bar on the desktop is how you have to access it, the quickest way I find is through a keyboard command (Windows + I). When using the mouse, it is not so obvious, since you have to hover the mouse pointer over the right top or bottom corners (also known as hot corners) of the screen to bring up the Charm bar, not intuitive to be honest. Another thing if you want to access some power user features, you might be a bit lost at first if you are not told where to look. For instance, if you want to open Command Prompt with Admin privileges, you might search for it through the Start Screen, right it and click ĎRun as administratorí from the App bar (which appears at the bottom of the screen). In the Windows 8, Microsoft has added a hidden contextual menu just for such Power User features, when you right click the left hand corner of the screen, a menu pops up with common options for Command Prompt, Admin Tools, Control Panel, Run, Windows Explorer, Network Options many common tools you would normally have to dig through the Start UI to find. Very convenient, but not easily discoverable and I must say schizophrenic in a sense, since you will be moving all over the UI unless you have developed a good memory map of how the Windows 8 UI functions.

The Charm Bar makes a world of difference, for basic things like accessing Power Options. Earlier previews of Windows 8 were rather quirky and I will forgive it for what it was. The final version of Windows 8 still requires a little effort because of how the interface is geared towards touch. When you bring up the Charm bar, you donít even click Start to access Power Options; instead, you must click Settings then click in the Power Options list box. Two steps too many, I have worked around this by creating Power Options for shutting down my machine much quicker. If you are keyboard command savvy, you can quickly access some options like Power Options by pressing (Windows Key + I). I think the Windows Team should have added a Power Options menu to the right click Context menu you can access when you right click the left hand corner of the screen. In a sense, I still donít like the setup for Power Options, it is indeed easier to work withÖcoming from previews, but for a Windows 7, Vista or XP user, it is definitely an unrefined departure.


 ę Daily Usage & Application Compatibility File Explorer Ľ



  *   *