I’ve already told you guys about my woes getting Windows 8 Pro installed on my main PC. Beyond that, though, how are things working so far?
I won’t bother with the full, in-depth review, because we’re not a full-blown PC site. And although Windows Media Center is a free upgrade for Win8 right now, my activation code hasn’t arrived in the emails, so I haven’t had a chance to check it out. Reviews of the rest of the OS are all over the web right now, and they’re highly contradictory, so before you jump in, do some serious reading.
I’ll be frank: I’m still trying to get used to the completely discombobulating learning experience, because Win8 is about as radical an overhaul as Win95 was, and I’m not quite the spring chicken I was 17 years ago. But I think these three images pretty much sum my my experience so far. At first I was like:
Because, really, even when you ignore the Metro UI, a Windows desktop without a Start button is just a total mind-you-know-what. Stumble your way around the new interface for a few hours, though, figure out the navigation, get a handle on how it all works, and you kinda hit this point pretty quickly:
So, wait, you mean that from the desktop, I can just type the name of the program I want to run, and its icon is highlighted? Winning! I’m even starting to warm up to Metro, because despite grumblings that it plain sucks without a touchscreen, I’ve found scrolling around with the mouse scroll wheel to be incredibly intuitive. Yes, Windows 8 is confusing at first, but let yourself roll with the changes, and you quickly realize that a lot of them actually make things a heck of a lot easier, and there’s way more integration between the desktop and Metro than there ever was between the desktop and the old Media Center interface.
Granted, I still stumble for a minute when trying to remember how to get to the Control Panel, and I’ve got a long way to go in customizing my Metro UI to look just the way I want it. But once you get the hang of where to go and what to do in Windows 8 (and really, it does take a few hours), that’s when this feeling kicks in:
Because, more than anything — more than UI concerns, more than confusion over changes from the Consumer Preview, more than Gabe Newell’s ranting about Windows 8 as the death of PC gaming — what stands out about this new OS is how blazingly fast it is. I had just about given up on my nigh-five-year-old PC, but with Windows 8, it feels like a new machine. And I don’t mean in a sort of “I just re-installed Windows and cleaned all the shit out of my Registry” kind of way. Even the day I bought this machine, PaintShop Pro took nearly 20 seconds to finish loading and get that durned splash screen out of my way. Under Windows 8, I’m editing photos in less than ten seconds. Civilization V loads faster. Hell, even the OS itself loads faster, and doesn’t get bogged down by processes that load at startup. Even with the gobs of crap that launch with Windows on my machine — Steam, Google Talk, Mirage Remote Media Sync, URC PSX Link, Nvidia Settings… I could go on and on — when I booted my PC this morning, it was awake and ready to rock in about eight seconds.
Windows 8 is worth it for that alone. Of course, even you absolutely, positively hate Metro, you can load programs like Start8, which give you your Start button back and go a long way toward replicating the UI of Windows 7. I think, for now, I’ll hold off on installing such enhancements and give vanilla Win8 a shot. The more I play with it — and the more I work on it — the more I like it.