Monday, February 11, 2013

7 Reasons to Upgrade to Windows 8

Even though the cheap upgrade period for Windows 8 is past, there are still many good reasons to consider Windows 8. Being a Windows 8 user myself, I do not really understand the gripes I have heard from other users. I've heard many, but I just don't see them. I will agree that Modern/Metro UI is different, but using it for awhile has made it second nature to me. Also, Start8 by Stardock Software is worthwhile checking out if you are unsure of Modern UI.

My chief reason for upgrading was a blown Solid State Drive. It was a good excuse, and lets be honest here, that should be reason number one to upgrade.

Note: This list is not a ranking of best to worst reasons.

1) Faster install and startup

It might have to do with a smaller footprint or just plain better programming, but I barely had time to finish my coffee before I was booted in. Before Windows 8, I remember not just making a coffee, but reading a book or magazine as well. I spent too many hours at work waiting and wasting time installing Windows. Not so anymore, you can find many benchmarks of the install time. 

My results: 
12 minutes clean install on 64-bit
27 minutes upgrade on 64-bit
27 minutes in a virtual environment
28 minutes upgrade on my little 64-bit netbook
*time should be less for 32-bit

2) Small memory footprint

Windows 8 has a better scheme for memory allocation, so it can better decide the exact amount of memory it needs or doesn't need. The same goes for processing power. When Windows 8 sits idle, it actually appears to idle. More programs also have the ability to register as 'low priority,' which will let the system differentiate between low and high usage memory and allocate accordingly.

Hard drive size: You'll need about 16Gb or 20Gb for 32-bit and 64-bit respectively, but the final install size is 10.5Gb and 13Gb respectively.

3) Better Battery Life

If you run a note/netbook then you are concerned for battery life (generally). Compared to Windows 7, Windows 8 has better idle usage, puts unused peripherals and ports into low-power sooner, and makes sure RAM is not duplicated as often. that helps already.

In general Windows 8 can offer up to 20% more battery life in my experience, especially if you disable the cool graphics-dependant UI.

4) Faster System Recovery

System Restore used to be pretty good at rolling back to a previous state, but sometimes a full reformat was required for big problems. Windows 8 is a bit simpler... With the Refresh function, Windows 8 (in under 10 minutes) can reinstall a clean copy of Windows while preserving personal settings, system settings, and compatible apps. For technical reasons, you will still have to install pre-Windows 8 programs after the Refresh, but a list of that software gets saved for you! Alternatively, use Ninite.

5) Built in Anti-Virus

Windows 8 ships with the well regarded Windows Defender you might have used in Windows 7. It is a full fledged virus and malware protection suite, doesn't hog a whole lot of resources, and best of all it's FREE! Very nice. The fact that Windows 8 comes with antivirus is warming to me, because there was always that awkward moment of initial setup where I wondered if I wasn't already being attacked... Some people never use anti-virus (safe browsing is the key, I guess), but extra safety doesn't hurt. Don't buy antivirus... Most general users do not actually need paid antivirus suites.

6) Skydrive Integration and Account Sync

Between Office, Skydrive, and the new roaming account option, you can access the same PC anywhere! Well...almost. You can transfer files, settings, and profiles across computers with one login account.

7) Looks Good

Thought I'd save the most superficial for last. It seems that Windows is taking a style that is opposite to Apple. While apple favors straight lines and rounded corners, Windows also prefers straight lines but with angular and rigid corners (in other words, Apple likes squircles and windows like squares) . Windows 8 also cuts the crap with gradients and favors solid colors over layers of colors. When you apply new desktop themes, Windows will also try to match its colors accordingly, the outcomes are usually good. Because of all this, I find that I can have a computer to work on that is both easy on the eyes, but isn't depressing. That is a big bonus at work when I'm staring at a computer for hours straight. White text, black backgrounds, and grey windows aren't exactly 'happiness inducing,' but blasts of color can be overwhelming when you are trying to concentrate.

Convincing? Yes? No? Well, there are many other features, such as better powershell integration and usage and more xbox integration. The list flows on... Windows has had a release history of flip-flopping duds and successes, but Windows 7 to Windows 8 counts as two consecutive successes, in my mind.

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