8 Things You Need To Know About Windows 8

The rumor mill says Windows 8 is scheduled to be released in October 2012. Here are eight things you need to know before it comes out.

Windows 8 Comes In 4 Flavors
The two versions of Windows 8 for consumers will be Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro. There is also Windows RT (Windows on ARM) aka Windows that runs on a tablet. The fourth edition of Windows 8, Windows Enterprise, is for large companies rather than consumers.

PC Magazine has a nifty comparison of what’s in the three consumer editions. You can check out the Windows 8 feature list and Windows 8 Consumer Preview on Microsoft’s site.

Windows 8 Looks Different
As in, different from Windows 7 AND different from Windows XP. The new Metro interface is designed for touchscreens and tablets. Think lots of icons and no Start menu.

This is going to irritate people. Many small businesses and consumers have delayed implementing Windows 7 because of the changes in look-and-feel. To ask them to go through it again, one version of Windows later? My predicition is that people who never went to Win7 will go to Win8 when they buy new hardware, but people already on Win7 won’t want to re-embark on another upgrade.

Way to alienate your already-decreasing audience, Microsoft.

Windows 8 Has No Start Menu
See above. You would think after 17 years of training us to use the Start menu, Microsoft would want to keep it around. But no, it’s more important to compete with Apple’s iPad interface than to make computers easy to use.

Microsoft would argue the new interface does exactly that: makes Windows easier to use. Tell it to all the irate people whose daily workflow will now involve slamming their heads against the new Metro interface.

You can reconfigure Windows 8 to make it look more like the Windows we’re used to. But, in my experience, that doesn’t work well nor last long. You can configure Windows 7 to look like Windows XP too, but nobody ever does. You end up with a Douglas Adams-esque computer that is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike every other computer on the planet. Not good when yours crashes and you have to use a different one.

Windows 8 Will Not Include DVD Playback
Starting with Windows 8, Windows Media Player will no longer support DVD playback.

In reality, your PC manufacturer will probably provide a way for you to play DVDs. Then again maybe they won’t, if your manufacturer decides, as Microsoft did, that you should get your entertainment digitally (perhaps they have a financial interest in doing so?).

If you expect to pop a DVD into your computer and play it, you may find yourself having to find a third-party solution. If I were you I’d download VLC Player now.

Windows Media Center Will Cost You Extra
Oh, but if removing DVD playback isn’t enough for you, anybody who wants the video-rich features of Windows Media Center will have to buy it separately.

Most people will not realize this. All they’ll know is that their old version of Windows had features that their new version of Windows doesn’t. They won’t realize that their old computer had Media Center pre-installed. They won’t know what Media Center is.

Reinstalling Windows 8 Is Easier
Microsoft has made it easier to reinstall Windows 8 using procedures called “refreshing” and “resetting”. A refresh preserves your user data and reinstalls your operating system, while a reset reinstalls by out everything including user data.

I’m of two minds about this. Yes, it’s good to make it easier for users to get out of Windows hell – crashes, viruses – by reinstalling their OS. But the fact that Windows requires reinstalling so often that they’ve made it a feature? That’s almost laughably pathetic.

Legacy Apps Will Run In A Legacy Interface
A legacy app is a program designed for an older version of an operating system. When Windows 8 comes out, every Windows program not specifically designed for it will be considered legacy. This means that the special touchy-feeling interface of Windows 8 isn’t much good until people start releasing Windows 8-specific software. And when that happens, the way you’re used to doing things in your old programs will likely change.

You Can Upgrade To Windows 8 For $14.99
Another one from the rumor mill. According to this article, Microsoft will offer inexpensive Windows 8 upgrades to anyone who buys a Windows 7 PC after June 2, 2012. That’s not a bad deal, especially if you’re still on Windows XP. And you need to upgrade if you’re on Windows XP. It can’t be secured and is an open invitation to viruses and all manner of Internet threats.

What do you think? Will you go for Windows 8 right away, or are you holding off for a while? Share in the comments!


  1. http://Albatross says

    I will definitely wait for Windows 9. Not out of a sense of luddite intransigence, but because Microsoft walks with a limp as regards Windows OS “innovations.” Windows NT? Yes. Windows 2000? Meh. Windows XP? Yes. Windows Vista? Meh. Windows 7? OK. Windows 8?…

    Every other Windows OS “upgrade” appears to be a trial balloon, intended to be worked over by the public and then re-released in more proven form in the next version. So I’ll give 8 a miss and let other people bang their heads against its idiosyncrasies.

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