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5 Things to Know About Windows 8
The release of Windows 8 is coming next week, and it looks to be a be of a turning point for Microsoft. Should you bother upgrading when it comes out on October 26th? What new stuff does it bring to the table? Will you even care?
Let’s break it down.
1) It’s Cheap
Gone are the days of $150 upgrades for Microsoft Windows upgrades. Windows 8 Pro is only $39.99 to upgrade from XP, Vista or Windows 7 when purchased online from Windows.com. If you want a copy the old fashioned way, you can order a DVD upgrade for $69.99. This promotional pricing is set to run until January 31st, 2013.
What If I don’t want to wait to buy a new PC?
If you buy a new PC before the release of Windows 8, you may be eligible for a discount on an upgrade to Windows 8. One thing to note that this is on qualifying systems only, and the prices varies by region ($14.95 in the USA).
2) Three Versions, Simple… Sort of
Microsoft is simplifying things a bit here. You’ll have three versions to choose from.
Windows 8 is what you’ll find on most machines.
Windows 8 Pro includes a few extra features for the “business or tech enthusiast.” It includes features such as encryption, virtualization, and domain connectivity.
Window RT is the one that will cause the most amount of confusion. A special version of Windows made for ARM processors, and one that won’t run the regular Windows XP/Vista/7 applications you currently use. These devices will likely be thin and lightweight low(er) cost tablets made for touch and extended battery life. It will also include special versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote.
3) Touch is In
Microsoft has gone all-in on touch with Windows 8, and you’re about to see a bunch of Windows 8 tablets as well as laptop-tablet hybrids coming around in the next few months. The interface works well by touch or by mouse and keyboard, which is saying a lot.
This is Microsoft’s chance to catch up to Apple who has ruled the tablet market with the iPad, and market something that is more powerful as well as the same interface whether on a laptop/desktop or tablet.
4) Introducing Window Store
First there was the App Store, then Google Play. It was about time that Microsoft jumped on the built-in store bandwagon. The promise of the new store is of easy software installation and more security. In case you’re wondering about how many apps, one Microsoft VP is saying there will be 100000 apps in the store by Feb 2013.
5) Start Menu is Out, Start Screen is in
What was once called “Metro” is now the “Windows 8 UI” (user interface). Very catchy Microsoft…
Built around squares of “active tiles” that can act like widgets that update with live information. Things like the weather, news tickers, and an e-mail icon that previews your newest messages for you.
Either way, one of the biggest learning curves for testers has been how to learn to live without the Start menu. I’m sure people will get over it. It was pretty silly that you had to click “Start” to shut your computer off anyways.
You’re also going to get the “ribbon” most famous from Microsoft Office all around Windows 8, as well as the “Charms Bar” for settings and sharing.
So the price is right, and it should be a no brainer for upgrading your Windows 7 computer. Faster and lighter than Windows 7, with some new features to boot. Expect a learning curve, as there are some major changes compared to what we have grown accustomed to in the past 20 years.
If you happen to be in the market for a new travel laptop, there are some nifty options that are just around the corner. We’ll have previews of a few over the next few weeks.
As for competition, you can thank Apple for the price cut, the emphasis on touch, and the new Windows Store. It will be interesting to see if the unification of tablet OS & desktop/laptop OS helps push past the dominance Apple has had with their iPad.
Do you plan on upgrading to Windows 8 or buying a Windows 8 laptop?