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Product: Windows 8 (Windows 8.1 Upgrade)
Company: Microsoft
Website: http://www.microsoft.com
MSRP:
See Pricing
Review By: Andre Da Costa

with Byron Hinson, Robert Stein contributing

Introduction

Table Of Contents (45 Pages)
1: Introduction
2: Pricing, Editions & System
Requirements
3:
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: Windows 8.1
20: Conclusion & Online Resources

After 3 years of development which included an 18 month process unveiling it, 11 months of public evaluation and feedback, Microsoft will once again release a new version of its operating system called  Windows 8, the successor to the massively popular Windows 7 operating system. Windows 8 is a significant upgrade in the company’s history and represents a drastic departure from previous generations of the operating system. Deprecating 17 years of user interface technology and investment to nothing more than an app while advancing and investing in new technologies and user experiences to bring the Windows platform forward in a world where users have embraced mobile devices in most facets of their lives. Microsoft describes Windows 8 as Windows ‘reimagined’ along with other descriptions such as ‘fast and fluid’, Windows 8 does indeed live up to those words. The ActiveWin Team has been evaluating the final release over the past month and we have come to some conclusions. Read on to find out if this is a release worth upgrading to, especially from the mighty Windows 7.

The Tablet PC, a device heavily promoted and guided by Microsoft for many years. If you look at the Company’s role in tablet computing, you could pretty much say, it has been a long sought after goal of Microsoft to be successful in the market. Products such as Windows Pen Computing and the Windows XP Tablet PC in more recent times have been the early attempts by Microsoft to move Windows and computing beyond the traditional PC form factor (keyboard and mouse). They have all failed, failed in the sense that they just did not garner the same attention like mainstream devices, even the traditional PC form factor itself continues to be a remarkably popular product after 30 years on the market and it will continue to be strong in its traditional sense of system unit, display, keyboard and mouse. The thing is, the PC is not the center of our lives anymore, people are not stationary, they don’t believe in doing things in one place while the world passes them by. It’s all about real time communication, instantaneous activities from social networking, news, music, videos, meaning today’s society is measured by one thing, an always on, always connected culture. If you are not in it or attempting to be in it from a software developer or hardware manufacturer’s point of view, then you are pretty much irrelevant.

A few months ago I was reading Walter Isaacs biography of the late Steve Jobs and it detailed some of the important milestones around Apple Inc’s massive return to relevance and dominance, from the iPod to the iPhone and now the iPad. The iPhone was particularly the foundation for where we are at in today’s society when it comes to computing and mobility. If you look at what Apple did for the Smart Phone, it pretty much enlightened the entire industry, just like it did many years earlier with the Macintosh and Mac OS. One of the interesting points taken from the novel was Steve Jobs early introduction to Tablet computing from none other than Microsoft.

This guy badgered me about how Microsoft was going to completely change the world with this tablet PC software and eliminate all notebook computers, and Apple ought to license his Microsoft software. But he was doing the device all wrong. It has a stylus. As soon as you have a stylus, you’re dead.

Jobs went into the office the next day, gathered his team and said, ‘I want to make a tablet, and it can’t have a keyboard or stylus.”

From Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, 2011

And the rest they say is history. As Steve Jobs would probably say, Microsoft had the “germ of the idea”, but just did not know how to execute or implement it properly. The Tablet PC and future failed efforts such as Windows Mobile have really been strategic dead ends for Microsoft. A company that realized that, yes, this PC gravy train is just not going to continue the way it has forever. While the company has always tried to capitalize on the Windows brand in every way possible, by making the product influence other products, Windows has not had a significant change in its own philosophy. In fact, a lot of what happens with Windows has been about the PC and not what people want to do.

That’s pretty much what the iPhone and iPad did, it showed people that yes, you can put a computer in your pocket and have it do really amazing things for your life without feeling dictated to. You can have a tablet device that is just as natural to use with what you were born with and be able to feel comfortable with it without being tied to environments where a PC has traditionally thrived (cubicle, home office, computer lab or just tethered to a desk).

27 years after Windows 1.0, Microsoft has realized that the magic of software is more than just creating software. It in fact involves great hardware too and it has lead the company in the direction where it not only needed to rearchitect the heart of Windows for new architectures such as the ARM CPU, but also to really achieve design credence too which has ultimately lead to the idea that is now the Surface computer. A Tablet that clearly delivers the true essence of Windows 8 and where Microsoft believes the industry is heading. Windows 8 even takes platform to places it has never been before and we see this in the Windows Phone 8 release which finally brings a seamless end user and developer experience across device ecosystems. It’s a bold move and one that will definitely cause a stir amongst Microsoft’s most loyal industry partners. Sometimes, you have to make tough decisions and I believe Microsoft is making the right tough decisions here and those decisions will ultimately lead to success. How successful they will be will be anyone’s guess, but at least Microsoft realizes it.

Highlights

  • Windows 8 Developer Preview  Build 8102 – September 16th 2011.

  • Windows 8 Consumer Preview Build 8250 – February 29th 2012.

  • Windows 8 Release Preview Build 8400 – May 29th 2012.

  • Windows 8 Release to Manufacturer Build 9200 – August 1st 2012.

Goals

  • Deliver new hardware experiences across a wide range of form factors.

  • Signficantly improved battery life on mobile devices such as notebooks and tablets.

  • Fast Boot – Windows 8 boots significantly faster than Windows 7, in fact on an SSD, I can have Windows 8 up and running in 5 to 7 seconds.

  • Fully Touch Ready – This has been a miss on prior versions of Windows going back to Windows XP Tablet PC edition. Windows 8 features a smart, fluid and fast interface that is significantly engineered for Touch called the Start Screen. There is just no disadvantage when using it with Touch. You can swipe, pan, zoom and do all the key actions expected on a Touch device. Microsoft has also created a modern environment that will encourage third party developers to create touch ready applications just for Windows 8. These applications will not run on Windows 7.

  • Fully compatible with existing hardware and software. If it works with Vista or Windows 7, it is guaranteed to work with Windows 8.

  • Tighter Internet integration – Windows 8 features a holistic integration with services that deliver information right to your screen without much need for you to find and discover it.

  • The ability to sync information across multiple devices makes Windows 8 a truly Internet ready operating system.

 

  Pricing, Editions & System Requirements »

 

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