Thursday, 25 October 2012

All-in with Microsoft: The first few hours

It has begun. My Windows 8 experience begun in earnest with an install to a brand new 256GB SSD. I'm currently dual-booting with Windows 7, but plan to ditch the old OS as soon as I've pulled across everything I need.

For this first update, I'm just going to list some of the niggles and surprises I came across in my first few hours exploring Windows 8 as a replacement for my Windows 7 desktop.

  • Starting off with a positive, I absolutely love the multi-monitor support in Windows 8. I run three displays as extended desktops, and have always used Ultramon on Windows 7 to provide taskbar and wallpaper functionality for the second and third displays. Windows 8 takes care of that out of the box, and does so quite elegantly.

  • For some reason, I was under the impression that Metro was locked to your primary display. This is not the case. Every desktop has the same corner zones for Start, Charms and task switching. When you click to open the Start screen on a display other than your primary, the Metro experience opens up on that display. It also resizes to the display's resolution (I have three different-sized displays).

  • Furthermore, if you open a Metro app from the Start screen on any display, the app will remain open on that display while you carry on working on the desktop on other displays...

  • ...which would be awesome if there were any Metro apps worth using. I haven't yet dived into the store for third-party apps, but the standard apps are barely functional at best, and downright buggy at worst. I'm going to dedicate a whole post to railing on them very soon. What I will suggest is making sure to update the apps from the Store before you start using them, as that will at least take care of some of the initial bugs... 

  • the hour that I spent trying to figure out how to connect to my account from the Mail app. Once the mail app was updated, the account showed up automatically (which I expected from the outset as it's tied to the Microsoft account that I use with Windows 8). All I needed to do then was to go to the account settings in Mail and check the option to sync Email from that account.

  • The new desktop stuff is all great. The new file explorer, the file copy dialogue and new Task Manager are fantastic. Once the newness of Metro wears off and I largely ignore it (save from the odd decent Metro app, video playback and the Start screen), I can honestly see Windows 8 being a joy to use.

I'm still waiting for my Surface to be dispatched.


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