Windows 8 Final Review (Tablet version)

I recently replaced my laptop with a Surface 3 (the 128 GB model).  While I was evaluating it, I had to shorten my write up by first starting with an evaluation of Windows 8.

In the mobile OS area, Apple’s iOS is simple to use and has a large amount of quality software in its App store. Android, on the other hand, is available on many devices ranging from cheap and simple to almost PC levels of performance. Windows 8’s big draw was its ability to run PC programs on a portable platform. While Photoshop Apps and lighter versions of our favorite software are nice, they are usually heavily cut down.

PC Performance.

Looks familiar...

Looks familiar…

Windows 8 has been on the market for about 2 years and in that time there were a lot of teething problems that had to be fixed.  As of right now, if the user stays within the guidelines, Windows 8.1 runs smoothly depending on the hardware.  I’ve seen benchmark tests that clearly show that it takes less system resources when compared to Windows 7. Nowadays, 8-inch tablets can run full Windows 8.1 quite smoothly. Of course, the big feature of Win 8.1 was legacy support for full PC applications. You can access any .exe application you’ve installed from Windows XP to Windows 7 and now 8.1. Applications like Photoshop, Chrome, and Steam are all able to run to varying degrees of success depending on their resource demands. When placed in a highly capable, compact device, Win 8.1 did seem to have the best of both worlds.

Some Missteps

Metro UI...not a lot of apps....

Metro UI…not a lot of apps….

Unfortunately, Win8 and even its current version, 8.1, still suffers from many problems that plagued it initially. What prevented this OS from being deployed on a wide scale on mobile devices was how huge the OS.  At around 30 GB, you have basically burned through the entire built-in memory of a Windows tablet. That made microSD cards mandatory, though they didn’t alleviate the problem much. If you can get part back, the learning curve for even experienced PC and mobile users is rather steep.  This was the main source of resistance for many hardcore users even today since there are two environments: Metro UI (more like a tablet) and Desktop (more like a PC).  While the Metro UI itself is easy to use (in fact easier on a tablet than a regular laptop or desktop), the Desktop environment produces very tiny text and icons.  The difference is, unfortunately, night and day and Microsoft and many hardware manufacturers have not done a good job optimizing the OS for various tasks and screen resolutions.

Unfortunately the App Store is still rather pathetic with very few first-party support from Facebook, Kindle, and Netfix among others.  You won’t find many triple-A game publishers here (well except for Halo) and Google (understandable as it may be). However a big portion of productivity software like Microsoft Office and other business-oriented software makes this great for those who work on the fly.  While still a “productivity OS”, the early hiccups and lack of software or hardware support makes this a tough buy. The only devices that could take advantage of this was the Surface Pro line and touch-capable laptop.

Early retirement.

Win8 is a usable OS. Unfortunately, MS was never able to garner the support they got with their previous OS like Vista, ME, XP, and Win7.  While it is nice to have a version of Windows that is designed for a touch-interface, the fact that it does does this with a half-hearted Metro UI with a desktop environment that still requires a mouse instead of a finger or a stylus.  The OS is very backwards compatible, but mobile devices rely on smaller apps to run and without first-party support, I’m nervous about using 3rd party apps that don’t have the functionality of their Android cousins.  And the sad fact is that I can do more with Android apps than the Windows versions, and most of Windows App Store require payment for basic features.  Full .exe applications get around that but many are not touch-optimized.

If you wish to upgrade your PC OS, I would have to say that, for now, stick with the tried and true Windows 7 OS, despite the age.  As for going to Windows 10, well many devices are getting free upgrades.   I hope that the upcoming Windows 10 will have less of a strain on the users than Win8 or Win8.1 when they first rolled out.  For now, wait and see…unless you really need a new laptop or Surface like I did.  Just make sure it gets a free update to Windows 10 if you do.

2 year run...

2 year run…

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~ by BlizzardTerrak on June 26, 2015.

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