Windows 8 Review

Windows 8

The Good, The Bad and The Improvement

Introduction

So I won’t deny that I went into Windows 8 very skeptical. In fact, I was expecting it to be terrible and fail horribly. Boy, was I surprised. After using it, I can easily say that it is the best revision of Windows yet, and here I will explain why.

The Good

There are a number of good things. Where should I begin?

  • Speed

    – Wow, is it fast. I have a Corsair Force 128GB SSD in my computer currently. Windows 7 goes from end of BIOS loadup to lock screen in 3-5 seconds. Windows 8 goes from end of BIOS loadup to lock screen in a second. It uses less processing power and less RAM so impedes your computer less. It wakes up faster, loads applications faster and overall outperforms in speed any other (modern) revision of Windows.

  • Task Manager

    – The improvements in the task manager are profound. The whole new look allows for much more information to be given, including ram and percentage of processor being used by each application, complete breakdown of CPU, RAM, Disk, and Internet usage/traffic and lastly, access to all of your startup applications, with the ability to disable each one individually.
    Application usage
    Breakdown
    Startup

  • Keyboard shortcuts

    – The number of keyboard (and mouse!) short cuts that there are is outstanding. I won’t list a whole list here, but there are a number of new (and useful!) shortcuts. The mouse has shortcuts too, to help you avoid the ModernUI if you so wish. Right click where the Start Hotbox is gives you a context menu of a number of useful things.

  • Personalizaiton

    – This topic is a little bit iffy. While Windows 8 gives you a number of new personalization capabilities, a number of people said that it just isn’t quite enough. The main concern is text color, however we will get more into this in The Bad. The great features are numerous:

    • Modern UI

      – Lots of customization here, background color and image and with a nice tool called OblyTiles, you can create your own fancy tiles.
      StartMenu

    • (Yes, I blacked out my desktop background)
  • Lock Screen

    – You can set your own image for it and designate what Modern UI apps can be running on it. Extremely nice/useful in cases such as mine. I live in a dorm with college students going in and out, and when I am not on my computer, I would rather they aren’t on it. Because of this, it is locked very often. With the Windows 7 lock screen, not only was it slow, but it just wasn’t useful or interesting. Now I have a nice image on it, with useful information such as the weather and how many facebook messages I have as well as the time.

  • Multimonitor

    – Since moving to college, I haven’t had two monitors, so I can only talk about this with what I have seen on the internet. Multimonitor support is great. Having one Modern UI app on one monitor, while running Desktop mode on the others, taskbar on each monitor showing what apps are on that monitor and better support for multimonitor backgrounds. Easily set up seperate backgrounds or extend one background across all your monitors.

  • Microsoft Account

    – This can be looked at in two ways, but I strongly feel that it is a benefit. With it, all your computer settings are saved, including lock screen and wallpapers, across each installation of Windows 8. This allows you to, if you so wish, have all of your Windows 8 devices having the same wall papers and lock screens. Of course, you can still change it on a device by device basis, but it allows for much faster setting up.

  • Modern UI

    – *GASP!* How could I say such a drastic and horrid interface is good?! Well, simply… it is a very useful addition. Metro apps such as weather, twitter, messenger and mail, once set up, are very handy if you lock your computer a lot. You can have this posting notifications on your lock screen. It has high amounts of customizability and organizational capabilities.

  • The Bad

    Now this is a section that pretty much everyone probably goes to a review to see. They expect this to be super long with lots of hate towards Windows 8. I am sorry to disappoint you, yes you, who came here to see hate for Windows 8, but it really doesn’t deserve the hate it gets. There are some bad things though, and they will be addressed here.

    • Windows Store

      – I hate the idea of this at the same time as liking it. I feel it is too restrictive and far too tempting. It is very tempting to release games on there and not Steam, while steam is a far better service, and yet Steam will never be able to be on it. It also requires programs to be written a very specific way to be allowed on it. It is terrible to find things on it, however with the smaller library of apps, it isn’t a big deal. In the future, however, it will become hell to use. Any app that is a desktop app on it, requires that you visit the publishers website, opening up your web browser so that you can get it from there, even if there is a Metro and Desktop version of it.

    • First Attempt

      – First time anyone that has used previous versions of Windows will have trouble with Windows 8 if they haven’t done research in preperation for it. The new paradigm for its use really throws people off. Having to use the Charms Bar to shut down, the lack of the start orb, and other things will really confuse those that aren’t prepared. It will be especially daunting for people who don’t adapt to technological change very well. Still think a 1Mb/s router is the best for internet speeds? You may have problems with Windows 8. Change happens, and sometimes it is difficult to move with the change.

    • Ununity

      – That is a really off word. Well, it isn’t even a word, but describes this problem the best. There is no unity between Modern and Desktop. If an app has both a desktop and Modern version, there is no easy way to move between the two while keeping what you are doing. If I am running chrome in ModernUI mode, and want to bring that to the desktop mode, I have to copy and paste the URL from each tab in separately. Skype in Modern is missing a number of features compared to the desktop version, however if you have both installed, it won’t connect the two together. Making a call in the Modern app won’t let the desktop version know that you are in a call.. There is a huge split in the options between Modern and Desktop. There just isn’t any connect between the two. I believe this problems stems from the Desktop technically being a ModernUI App now.

    The Improvement

    You can always improve, and for some people that means adding old tools back, and for others, that is adding tools that haven’t existed. In this section, I will go over things that I feel could be improved to make it even better and things you can do to improve your experience with it.

    Improvement Ideas:

    • XBox Controller

      – The Modern UI is great for Tablets. That is what you hear a lot. Despite me saying that it is also a nice addition in general, just think about how nice it would be for HTPCs (Home Theatre PCs)! The Modern UI is very similar to the Xbox UI, however a full PC has a lot more capabilities than an XBox. Having Youtube and Netflix and Hulu apps also makes it very promising for HTPC use. Now, we have merely one problem. It has no support for an Xbox controller. What if you could use an Xbox controller (or remote!) to control the Modern UI (and Modern UI apps). Have the Xbox Button (The center button on the controller) be used as a Windows key, and you now instantly have a really nice controller for your HTPC.

    • Desktop Mode

      – This mode doesn’t force the Modern UI down your throat. Basically it would be a built in version (that is optional) of Start8. Would help those that don’t adapt to change well.

    What you can do to improve your experience:

    There are a number of apps that you can use to make your transition easier or to make your Windows 8 venture more enjoyable, here are a few

    • Start8 – This nifty little addon puts a start orb in its usual spot and makes it so that you never have to use the Modern UI if you don’t want to, however still allows you to enter it. It disables the hot corners though on the Desktop as well.
    • Classic Shell – Open Source version of Start8.
    • OblyTiles – Useful program to create fancy tiles in the Modern Interface for your applications, instead of having the ugly link tiles.
    • Picture Tiles

      – No link for this one, search for it on the Metro Store. This is a great way to add cool wide tiles that hold images. That is all they do, hold an image. When clicked, they bring you back to the app. It isn’t for usability, just to draw cool things on your Modern UI Start Screen.

    Conclusion

    In conclusion, Windows 8 is a wonderful step forward for Windows, however it has quite a bit of progression that is required to make it perfect. I hate to compare it to Vista, however I will have to make this comparison. Vista was a new paradigm in UI for Windows, while not as drastic as Windows 8, it was still something new, but it took Windows 7 to make it really fantastic. Windows 8 doesn’t have the problems of Windows Vista, being a janky piece of garbage, however it does have the problem of young and not fully fleshed out UI paradigm. It needs improvement, and a lot of people will be hesitant. This doesn’t mean it is bad, just different and young. It is a very positive addition to the line, not another black spot.

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    Blackout SOPA/PIPA

    So, if you are still a bit clueless about SOPA/PIPA, you may be asking, “What is SOPA/PIPA?”.
    Here is a good little cartoon to help explain it.
    SOPA problems

    Now that you know what the problem with SOPA is, what can you do to help? Go here, and sign the petition, and also, please make sure you contact your Senator and House Representative if you are in the U.S. This is an important problem that will not only ruin the freedom of the Internet in the U.S., but the whole world!

    PolyThinker

    NYU Poly

    And for that matter:

    • RPI
    • WPI
    • MIT (Even though they don’t call themselves so…)
    • Probably a lot more…

    is/are Polytechnic schools. Meanings, they are schools that train and teach in many engineering, technical and scientific fields of study, and have a high focus on these fields.

    NYU Poly, filling out the application for it, asked me one question in particular that was really interesting.

    How are you a ‘PolyThinker’?

    Now…. I had trouble answering this question at first, so to help me come up with an answer, I decided to look it up. I came across this on there site:

    PolyThinking Defined

    • noun
      1. an innate capacity of analysis or problem-solving characterized by a healthy suspicion of obvious or widely-held conclusions
      2. an act of thinking in parallel that optimizes how the brain processes information
    • verb
      1. to conceive of technological, scientific, mathematic, visual, and management approaches that illuminate deficiencies in existing approaches
      2. to make micro or macro advances in a field of study that have ripple effects in multiple fields

    Well… I had come up with a nice, good answer to this question, and wanted to put it in… and well… There was a 500 character limit, the length of a status update on Facebook, 3.5 times the length of a tweet on Twitter. There is NO way I can answer this appropriately in such a short space. So of course, what do I do? Cut out plenty of it, and give a ‘good enough’ answer to it, and come on here to blog my full answer. 😀

    A Polythinker is someone who has the innate capacity of problem-solving by being suspicious of widely held conclusions, and think in a parallel manner that optimizes the thought process. Whenever someone tells me that this is a fact, and that I should trust them on that case, I ask, “Why? Why is this true? Could you please prove it to me?” I solve problems the long way, and then make short-cuts after I realize that the widely-held conclusion is true or false. I think about problems in a multitude of ways, to conceive of a solution to them, and combine all the thoughts together to create the conclusion. I look at a problem with both how it would appear to an outside source viewing the intended end result, and of different ways of going about solving the problem. I then break apart how it is supposed to be, to find the branching ways of thoughts to see the fastest and most accurate way of solving said problem.

    Oops

    So, just thought I’d share this with you all…

    Today, I had decided that if I am going to be spending all my time on my laptop looking at web pages and text editing, I might as well do it with a nicer and faster operating system than Windows. So, here I am, getting ArchLinux to install on my laptop, planning to dualboot it with Windows so that I can still play games on my gaming laptop in case need be, and what do I stupidly do? Oops… I wiped my hard drive entirely… You know, of ALLLLLLLLL my homework and work for one of my classes, and of Windows entirely, and all the games on it. Of course, I didn’t think about backing all that stuff up, or looking into dualbooting… So NOW, not only am I stuck with ONLY Archlinux on my machine, which I am still having problems installing, but I am also stuck having to redo everything for the class that I am already doing the worst in… Yeah, I had all my homework due on Monday completed, and what do I do? Delete it… Yeah, that is how smart I am…

    Well, good job, me…

    Anyways, going to go finish installing this operating system, and then seeing about redoing that homework, and maybe… oh I don’t know, put it into a drop box folder, instead of a folder on my desktop….

    Moral of the story, before you have the chance to do anything stupid… Back all your stuff up…

    Updates 10/29/2011

    UPDATE TIME!

    Game updates

    So today I just released an update of my game, showing off the keybind system (which still needs some work), a little bit of the gameplay (completely unfinished), and the settings menu in action. This video can be seen here.

    The things shown in the video include:

    • Options Menu
    • Saving and loading of options
    • Moving around in game
    • Editor Scene

    The music in the video was by Approaching Nirvana.

    The things I need to work on next are:

    • Shooting at objects
    • Limits to playing field
    • Keybinds allowing shift, alt, and ctrl modifiers with key presses
    • An appropriate options menu that is a whole lot more useful
    • Editor

    Tutorials

    This weekend I released 2 tutorials on soldering, where in the first one, I soldered 2 wires together, to teach the basics of doing it, and in the second I soldered together the MakerShield from the MakerShed.

    I also plan to put together a few more C# tutorials this weekend, and hopefully upload them all on Monday. There is just one snafu with that plan, which you can read in the next section.

    General Life

    Tutoring?

    That is right, I am getting tutoring from Meredith Scheff in a bunch of different things. We went over soldering these past 2. I already knew how to solder, but I couldn’t figure out why it wasn’t working as well as I had believed it should, and she explained why. This upcoming week, we are going over something awesome! Arcwelding! Yeah, you heard me right! Technically, it is MIG welding, Metal Inert Gas welding. We will be welding a little metal box together, which should be fun.

    In my tutoring with her, we will also be working on a costume for next years Burning Flipside Festival, down in Apache Pass. I am making a Time Traveling, Victorian engineer. My Time Travel machine? A backpack! …Wait… wait… Did I say Victorian?! Yes sir I did! We want to make the whole costume be in a steampunk apparel, since I am having a major obsession with steampunk right now…. Ohhh ideas for my game!

    Schools

    Yep, it is that time of my life…. Applying to college! Finally growing up, eh? Well, I would list all the colleges I am applying to, but I don’t want to bore you, but wish me luck, my readers! I am definitely going to need it for a few of the colleges I am applying to!

    Also, Just saying, these college applications take up a LOT of time, so that is one of the reasons I haven’t been around… boy have I been busy…

    Schooling! (As apposed to SchoolS)

    So yeah, funny heading, but just wanting to let y’all know what else has been taking up my time! I am taking a pile of AP courses this year, and I can barely keep up with them while trying to get all the other stuff done that I am wanting to do, so instead of doing all that other stuff, I spend half my weekend pouring over my course work, while the other half, attempting to have a life. (A life? HA! Right….)

    Other fun or not so fun stuff going on

    Well, tomorrow (Sunday, 10/30/2011), TotalBiscuit is doing a WTF-a-thon, which basically means, in 12 hours, he is going to try and do the first 15-30 minutes of as many games as he can. He will be live streaming all this, and I hope to catch most, if not all of it, so that basically means I can’t have a life at all tomorrow. That will impeded on my ability to get those C# tutorials done that I promised early, but we will see if I take a break or 3 in watching to get stuff done.

    Another interesting thing going on in my life is… Well…. My life has been consumed for the past week by this awesome game by Trendy Entertainment called Dungeon Defenders. It is absolutely amazing, and I can’t get enough of it. Or at least, I couldn’t… I am starting to get bored of random searches, and since I have completed every level, all I have left to complete are challenges and leveling… And then of course Insane difficulty… I am really wanting to play the game with friends, rather than random people, because it is just SO much more fun.

    As for not so fun, well… I am in a huge rut right now, and it is kind of a nasty place to be… Just do note, there is some not-fun stuff going on in my life, and that is as far as I want to talk about it on my public blog… Love you guys anyways. 🙂

    And lastly, I’d like to conclude with wishing my schools band the utmost luck in the competition tonight in Atlanta! My friends (and enemies) in the band better do excellent tonight, otherwise I will be drastically disappointed!

    Updates

    Updates on the Game

    The screen does change sizes, and so there is a huge empty space problem currently. The current resolution in these pictures is 1280×800, which is quite big, so that is why the buttons and whatnot are so small, and there is a huge amount of empty space.

    Main Menu

    I plan to have a video or something playing in the background of all the menu’s, just something interesting, such as energy pulsing throughout something or something along those lines, not sure yet. The menu items (buttons, etc.) will be placed on top of the video, and the video will be under that bar below the title (which yes I know it just says SHIP GAME, I REALLY need a title for it…).

    Bland Main Menu

    Options Menu

    Okay, so it is missing sound volume, and a ton of options, but hey, you can’t even save the settings yet anyways! Tomorrow I will get saving and loading of settings in place, and then we shall see about all the different settings!

    Bland Options Menu

    Well, that’s all for today folks, next time I will hopefully have more!

    I am back, with a vengence

    Ok, so after having a long break from my wordpress, I am back!

    A few things I plan on updating on this blog are these:

    1. My tutorial series
    2. The game I am working on
    3. Anything else I am working on

    And to get it all started, here is some little information on my upcoming tutorials:

    The reason my tutorials haven’t been coming out very much lately, is because I have been working on a beginners introduction to C# tutorial series, along with being very busy for school. Being a senior, and starting to apply to different colleges, I have lost quite some time to do things, add in the fact that I have quite a few difficult classes that are very taxing, video tutorials are slow coming, but they ARE coming!

    In this new series that I am working on, I will go over what a Variable is, what a method is, what a class is, and how you can do a whole bunch of different things in C#. I will be making example applications on different basic features of C# and programming in general, and be making a hopefully easy to follow and understand series on the basics of programming in C#. I know for a lot of my followers, this is pretty useless, but I can’t tell you how many times I have been asked the question, “How did you learn C#? It is so complicated for me!” This tutorial series is designed to combat these questions.

    Anyways, that is it for now, and I will be getting back to the people that follow my blog with more things I am working on and any other interesting news.