While I have not had the chance to dig real deep into the admin side of Win8 today I wanted to share some lite reading from techradar.com and the link to go with it http://www.techradar.com/news/software/operating-systems/windows-8-vs-windows-7-8-ways-its-different-1025285. I thought they broke things down in a very fundamental way. I think the biggest challenge we as administrators face is “user adoption”, “buy in” from our customers. It goes a long way in saying it’s important you like what you work with. I am one of those. Most of this post will focus on the end user experience. One of which I am pleased with.
Major support for Windows XP will end in 2014 and the natural effect of that will be an increase in infections right along with it. Vista will have a life beyond that but generally speaking our peers won’t move to vista to take the performance hit just to justify a security release. 7 would be the logical migration. Even now companies are slowly migrating focusing more concerted efforts on their virtual platforms and storage upgrade paths. But what if you already have 7? What is the incentive to move to Windows 8?
To answer that question I’ll focus on day to day use from a home user perspective.
Installation was a breeze. Fast and easy, I was met with very few options. Microsoft’s apparent logic now is “the less options the user has the less likely they will be prone to hate us”. Installation on my machine which is a old Athlon Windsor 6400+ was snappy and soon I was brought to the much covered Start Screen. I found my tiles easily configured but I think I felt organically drawn to grabbing a tile and dragging it much like my finger has become a extension of me with my smart phones after all this time. I launch each app cycling through what I thought may be my lesser used apps. Weather was chief among these. I typically don’t utilize a weather app. I feel I have a good handle on the weather when I wake up and look outside. The app asked me for my location. Well why not I said to myself, Apple knows where I live, Google does, Facebook does, my isp does, why not give Microsoft the keys and drive. The app cycled and delivered my local weather after confirming my acceptance of location services. Next I choose the Xbox app. The Tile metro style update to Xbox launch screen was a welcome addition in my opinion and it became clear quickly that Microsoft’s intent was to streamline across their products the over all experience.I signed in and viewed what I had last played, which of my friends were online and what titles I may be interested in. Overall I really enjoyed the integration level. Microsoft also recently updated their glass app for IOS and in terms of relevance are still very strong with their console product.
Next I signed into their store app. I felt right at home being a Itunes Store fan myself and scrolled my way around the tile passerby applications. Each app executed was met with a screen explaining the app, it’s price and the platform it supported be it X86,ARM, or X64. This is very handy so the consumer can understand if your running an Win8 ARM device and you purchase a X86 app it will not run on your platform.
After spending time in the basic apps I explored the Charms Bar. The Charms bar is your handle on navigation and it is context sensitive meaning it can do different things in different apps. Your traditional control panel settings can be accessed here though they look different of course but simple.
Within the Search area everything is indexed and searching within context can look inside apps. For example a weblink you may have saved or a favorite within IE can be called here. Some may find this a reasonable replacement for the Start Button/Menu missing. Some may do this quickly and pin each and everyone of them to their start bar. I installed an application called Classic Shell to emulate the missing Start Button and there are at least a dozen but I’ll get to that later in my administrative review.
The desktop runs in an app now. It’s apparent Explorer.exe is depreciated here and the Start button is notably missing. When I first test drove this OS it was in early dev stage and barely functional. At that time the start button was still present and then pulled out prior to retail. Your legacy apps live in this space and the reality is that if it needs to be ran in a traditional desktop fashion this is where it will live. Pinning your apps both to metro(Windows Start Screen) and the task bar are both options. I think folks will be challenged at first with the absence of their start button but will easily turn away from it over time with the charms menu ready to rescue the isolated desktop adventure turned bad. Again charms is easy to get to here by rolling your mouse over to the far right of the screen or the edge. Apps on the left edge of the screen also have a menu for running applications so you can quickly bounce between running binaries.
All in all my experience for the end user was pleasant. I had no trouble running my vpn software and was able get connected and into my Win7 box very quickly. I’ll continue to test apps from the end user angle. The next time I post will be a compare/contrast to Windows 7′s admin functions and how 8 follows up or falls short.