First Impressions of Windows 8Jun30

Saturday, 30 June 2012 by haemoglobin

Recently I have switched over to the Windows 8 Release Candidate as my main OS at home and, despite all the negative words around the internet about missing start menu’s and the like, I’m actually quite liking it – I don’t feel like going back to Windows 7 at all!

What I Like

Here are just a few little things I have noticed immediately during my time using it:

  • Much faster to boot and reduced time to actually get started working on things than my Win7 setup.
    • Albeit this is a new install so hasn’t had time to accumulate things to slow it down like my Win7 probably has – but I believe MS has devoted a fair bit of resources to performance here.

  • Better multi-monitor support.
    • A different desktop background on each monitor (highly recommend the Bing Rotating Wallpaper by the way).
    • The taskbar stretches across monitors and can be configured to display the apps that are only open on the screen it is on.

  • Deleting a file in windows explorer sends it straight to the recycle bin without the annoying prompt. This is a good example of something that on the surface sounds bad but with some real thought, it’s more likely you aren’t making a mistake and don’t want to be nagged. If you did, just retrieve it from the recycle bin. Simple things make a big difference.

  • If moving / deleting files that are in use, it will display the name of the application that has it open.
    • Less need for applications such as LockHunter (although this is still a great tool and will probably have this installed anyway).

  • Metro start page replacement for the start menu.
    • In windows 7, I progressed towards typing the program I was looking for in the start menu, this is by far the most efficient way of finding an app to open. The Metro start page is no different – you type to find your application, however it is much more sleek/visual and very quick.
    • Searching for files here also has a very nice interface, and much better than the Win7 start menu for doing this.

  • Metro apps definitely have their own advantage.
    • To be honest I’m currently not sold on all of the out of the box ones such as mail & calendar and prefer to use the gmail pages directly for that, but others for example the Photos app is absolutely great. For the first time ever I have actually enjoyed going back through all my photos because the interface to do so is just so nice. The People app I will also likely use for contacts.
    • I’ve also recently installed a Metro twitter client which I think will be the best place to browse tweets, as I always preferred to run my desktop twitter app in full screen anyway, but it will also make it tidy and neat to have the metro twitter app docked to the side of the screen.
    • As above, docking metro apps in general to the side of the desktop I think is a great thing.
    • With two screens, it can be nice having a metro app full screen on one screen, and desktop on the other.
    • Aren’t we actually lucky that we can use all the same apps a tablet will have available, as well as full access to the desktop at the same time? That’s a first in my opinion.

  • Obvious and well talked about improvements to task manager to track the performance of the system.
    • I also like the Startup tab which keeps track of items that start with windows, and tells you how much of an impact they are having on your startup time.
    • File copy dialogs display progress using a chart of copy speed over time.

Keyboard shortcuts

Thankfully Windows 8 was also developed with keyboard shortcuts in mind. The full list can be found here, I tend to use the following (as well as all the usual shortcuts I have been using with Win7 in desktop mode):

  • Windows key: To take me to the start page and type the application I want to open.
  • Windows - D: I use this quite a lot to bring me back into the desktop – this happens fast.
  • Windows - I: To bring up the metro settings side bar.
  • Windows - X: Pops up direct links to desktop related features.
  • Windows - Tab: To navigate between metro apps (and close them by right clicking). 
  • Windows – . : To snap a metro app to the right.

I’ll probably eventually also start using Windows – C to bring up the charms bar for sharing between metro apps.

There are plenty of other extra things Win8 does that can be found around the place, including here, but these are just what I’ve noticed from my initial usage – which has so far been positive even for a primary desktop user.

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