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Belated Windows 8 Review

I’ve told a few peo­ple that I don’t real­ly see any advan­tage to Win­dows 8 over Win­dows 7. I have to eat my words now.

Before I put Win­dows 8 on my four-year-old HP lap­top, I checked with HP to make sure that it was 8-com­pat­i­ble, and they said it was. AFTER I did the upgrade, I learned that they aren’t putting any Win­dows 8 dri­vers out for it! So some of the hard­ware func­tions don’t work prop­er­ly. The hard­ware man­u­fac­tur­ers say, “We only deal with HP, go to them.” Now, I was dual boot­ing with 7 any­way, but hadn’t actu­al­ly boot­ed into 7 on the sys­tem until this week. And dang, it’s slow in com­par­i­son, even with the prop­er dri­vers. I thought that maybe dual boot­ing was part­ly to blame — not like­ly, but maybe.

Because of issues with my employer’s soft­ware, I’ve decid­ed to ded­i­cate the lap­top as a work-only com­put­er, and that means it has to run Win­dows 7. I’m fin­ish­ing up a clean install of 7, then I’ll image it, and every time the work stuff caus­es a prob­lem, I can recov­er and move on quick­ly. Any­way — I was right. Before I blew away the 8 par­ti­tion (recent­ly upgrad­ed to 8.1), I timed how long it took to boot. And I just timed the boot on the clean 7 install. Even though I had been using 8 for maybe six months, with­out all the prop­er dri­vers, it boots three times as quick­ly as 7. (Both OSs are Pro-64 bit ver­sions.) For what it’s worth, I am boot­ing from an SSD with both — that, of course, makes more of a dif­fer­ence than ANY oth­er upgrade.

So yes, Win­dows 8 IS a pos­i­tive dif­fer­ence on a sys­tem that can han­dle it. I haven’t found any­thing that I can’t do com­pared to Win­dows 7 (except access my employer’s VPN, and that’s due to their restric­tions). I do find the lack of the start menu to be a nui­sance, but it’s eas­i­ly fixed with the addi­tion of Clas­sic Shell or one of the many oth­er util­i­ties designed to fix that prob­lem. I am told that 8 does not play well with vir­tu­al machines, if that’s impor­tant to you.

I don’t have a touch screen and haven’t missed it. I nev­er use the Metro inter­face for any­thing, and I’m whol­ly unim­pressed with the native Win8 appli­ca­tions. I don’t like the app store. I don’t need my com­put­er to be like a phone or tablet, but it seems that’s where things are con­verg­ing.