A review of the Microsoft Windows 8 operating system

I’ve recently installed Windows 8 on my PC and have decided to write a review about its new features and what it’s like.

In this review I’m going to write about the layout, the interface, apps, personalisation, navigation and how it feels on a desktop. Let’s start with the new features.

 

The new features on Windows 8

Windows 8 brings a whole host of new features, such as the new start menu. When you boot a Windows 8 machine, you don’t log in and go straight to the desktop, instead, you are taken to a start menu with all your apps on it.

From here, you can access the desktop because it is now an app, which means you can open and close it like a Word document for example. You can also pin apps to the start menu, the same as you could pin programs to the old start menu in previous operating systems. This gives you quick and easy access to any apps you may need or use often.

Goodbye programs, hello apps

Moving on to apps now and to get rid of any confusion, “apps” are the new “programs” that can be executed from the start menu.

So for example, Internet Explorer is no longer referred to as a program, but as an app.

You get all of the new apps pre-pinned to your start menu, including; Desktop, Maps, Weather, Internet Explorer, Store, Photos and Calendar, to name but a few.

When you start an app, you are taken to a full screen interface instead of a window and when you are done, you can close the app by grabbing the top of the screen and dragging it down to the bottom of the screen which makes this operating system feel a lot smoother.

However, even though programs are referred to as apps now, old programs like Microsoft Word, Notepad and Calculator all open in the desktop like normal, rather than a full screen app on the start menu.

How is layout different on Windows 8?

The layout of Windows 8 has changed from the layout of previous Windows operating systems. For example, it took me a while to find out where the “My Computer” button was and after what seemed like a lifetime I found it by right-clicking on the start menu and choosing “all apps”.

The new layout also brings new features into the interface such as a sidebar that appears when you hover your mouse over in the top/bottom right hand corner. From this handy new sidebar you can access the windows search bar, sharing, start, devices and settings.

The desktop interface is the same as it is in Windows 7, except there is no visible start button at the bottom.

In terms of personalisation, Windows 8 is definitely customisable and can be set to suit anyone’s tastes. The lock screen can have its own wallpaper set now, you can change the theme colour and set a pattern for the start menu and you can still have your own profile picture for your account.

Compared to using Windows 8 on a tablet PC, the desktop version is exactly the same but you obviously don’t get the touch screen capabilities that you would have on a tablet. This operating system is definitely designed for tablet PCs, as many of the features indicate and it also feels a lot smoother when using it on a tablet because of the touchscreen functionality. However, that’s not to say that Windows 8 isn’t good on a desktop, as you get a completely different experience with this new operating system!

Windows SkyDrive

Now to talk about the new SkyDrive app. SkyDrive is a new app in Windows 8 that lets you synchronise files to a cloud storage space on the internet. From here you can enable other users to be able to sync to this information from their pc’s and therefore be able to share the same information easily.

For example, you could have a OneNote folder for three separate users, but have each user sync to their own folder, or if these users were working on a project, you could have them all sync to the same folder and they could work on the same file all at once.

This data is saved using the cloud storage system, so it won’t take up space on your computer’s hard drive.

Summary of Windows 8

To summarise, Windows 8 feels similar to Windows 7 in the sense that the desktop hasn’t changed, but at the same time, the new start menu and apps make Windows 8 completely different.

It’s fun to work with as it has many features for the user to interact with and the whole idea of having apps that open in a full screen interface add to this greatly. You can personalise your version of Windows 8 by changing your profile picture, theme colour and now, the pattern and lock screen picture, which makes it feel a bit more personal than before.

The main change from Windows 7 is the new start menu and the apps, with everything else staying pretty much the same as before.

Using this operating system on a desktop isn’t that different from using it on a tablet PC, the only difference there is however is the touchscreen capability.

If I were to recommend this to anyone at the moment, I would say it is more for people who use tablet pc’s/touchscreen devices and for anyone who likes working with apps. Windows 8 may not be critical to businesses just yet, but that’s not to say that it couldn’t be useful to them.

Have you tried Windows 8 yet? Please tell me what you think about it in the comments below.

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