Monthly Archives: May 2013

Windows 8, better than you think…

OK, last year I posted a piece about Windows 8, and that I was not too keen on the changes.  I was wrong.  Now that I’m using Windows 8 full time, and that 3rd party software has come out to help with the transition I’ve completely done a 180 on my views of Windows 8.  A little credit to Microsoft, but only because they’ve built another incredible OS with Windows 8.  A lot of credit goes to the avid developers who stepped up to the challenges of Windows 8, and have transformed it into an OS worth every bit of your attention.

First, Windows 8 is obviously made for the new world of mobile computing, though not entirely as I’ve found out.  Over the past few months I’ve learned it does actually work quite well on the desktop with a keyboard and mouse.   And much better than I expected in the new Modern UI.  But I like most others are creatures of habit, and have built a style of work around the old desktop.  Great news!  It’s still there and still 100% usable as ever before.  And with improvements too!  But it’s a mystery to a lot of people as to how to use Windows 8 as if nothing changed.  It’s easy.

I recommend a few free software installs, easily obtained from http://ninite.com.  The first is “Classic Shell”.  This little jewel will bring back the old start menu, in any past format you prefer with a lot of tweaks if you want.  I still like the Windows 7 format, so I always choose that from the default Windows NT style very old setup.  The second is “CCCP” or “K-Lite Codecs”.  CCCP is a light install of codecs and most importantly the old Classic Media Player.  Once Classic Media Player is configured and associated with all media file types it will remove the need for the Modern UI media tools popping up on every video or song that happens.  K-Lite is more robust, but I prefer light weight installations overall.  Last install is Adobe PDF Reader.  Windows 8 is very cool in that it provides PDF ability inside the Modern UI.  But on the desktop, nothing beats the good ol’ Adobe Reader.  A few other small things may bring up the Modern UI from time to time, but there are programs to help that, and it’s easy to get back to the desktop if ever you need.  But, if you like a heavy mix of both desktop and Modern UI, check out ModernMix from Stardock.  A $5 program to put Modern UI apps inside desktop windows.

Some other free installs of consideration are Cute PDF for creating PDF files from everything, GIMP or Paint.NET whichever you prefer for graphics, Skydrive which has a Modern UI app but doesn’t integrate well on the desktop so the desktop program fixes that.  Auslogics defrag if you have an old fashion hard drive and not an SSD, and finally 7-Zip.  That’s my basic mix, but there are a lot to choose from.  Remember you don’t need Flash Player or and Anti-Virus in Windows 8.  Microsoft now includes those as standard fare in Windows 8.  Let them worry about these tools so you don’t have to.  Sure there are better AV programs, but the best AV today is not a program, it’s you and your Internet habits.  But that’s another post…

With those minor changes, which are not different than any other Windows setup in the past as everyone usually installs something if it hasn’t already been installed by Dell or HP or any other computer hardware OEM, you’ll find Windows 8 to really be the same good old Windows you’ve always known.  And of course with many newer features too, like better hardware support, better security, a more robust task manager and improved speed and reliability.

There’s a lot of people right now on the Web bashing the hell out of Windows 8.  And at one point I was one of those.  But, since Windows 8 has been released and a few 3rd party developers stepped up to challenge a few missing things, I now find Windows 8 to be the best Windows Microsoft has ever released.  Hands down!  All of the arguments of those that hate Windows 8 have been remedied.  If they can’t use Windows 8 now, they are no good at computers to begin with.  Being “old school” is not a problem, unless you make it a problem like so many otherwise good computer literate people are doing.  I for one am thankful that Microsoft continues to make Windows a very open and configurable OS.  One that’s easy to change and configure into the OS that I want it to be.

One of the biggest plusses to Windows 8 is that you get the best of two worlds now.  Windows 8 is mostly a change to a style of computing that has taken off for every other major OS vendor except Microsoft until now.  That’s the “app” world and mobile computing.  Where software is no longer sold as programs, but now as apps through a cloud connected store supported by the OS developer.  And giving the apps closer connection between the users to their app developers too.  To simplify things for me I still refer to old school software for the desktop as “programs”, and the newer software distributed through the Microsoft Store are now “apps”.  Apps are also much more safer than in the past, as Microsoft tests every app that hits their store before allowing it to be downloaded.  And the experience is easier than ever on getting new apps, installing them and keeping them up to date.  You can even get old school programs from the Store, but they are few in number right now.  Not sure why on that, but we’ll most likely see even fewer in the future.

So, if you meet anyone that says they hate Windows 8, then you’ve met someone who probably would not hate it, and just hasn’t spent any time with it.  In my view they are just looking for an excuse to complain about something.  100% of their concerns can be remedied quickly and easily.  So don’t buy into their smoke and mirrors routine about the bad of Windows 8.  They are wrong, just as I was at one time.  And, if they are a computer professional, I’d say they are just being a wimp of a computer professional.  Any pro can handle Windows 8 with ease.  If they can’t then they are not a pro.

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