I use Windows 8 (well, 8.1 now), and personally I like it. Hear me out on this. I’m not a fan of the Metro interface by any stretch of the imagination, but do I ever see it? Nope. Windows 8.1 enabled the ability to boot directly to the desktop so you don’t need to deal with the Metro start screen. That’s annoyance #1, at least from what I gather from most people, anyway. The lack of a traditional Start Menu is item number 2 on the annoyance list. There are plenty of replacement apps out there to get your original Start Menu back, but I can understand that some people feel as though they shouldn’t need to deal with that. In fact, there are quite a few people that are equating Windows 8 to Windows Vista. In fact, HP has gone back to offering Windows 7 on their laptops. Windows 8 came on my HP laptop when I bought it, so I decided to run with it. It ran fine, no blue screens, and I never had to interact with the Metro Start screen.
I think the big problem is people see the Metro Start screen and instantly think that’s Windows 8 in a nutshell. They never give it a chance and only assume they get huge, monster tiles to interact with things, or they have to deal with that silly screen all the time. As I mentioned above, if you’re running Windows 8.1 (and you should be by this point), you can enable boot to desktop. Here’s how:
- After booting into Windows 8.1, click the Desktop tile to go to your desktop
- Right-click on the task bar, then click on properties
- On the Navigation tab, look for the option that says “When I sign in or close all apps on a screen, go to the desktop instead of Start”. Click the checkbox to enable it.
- Reboot. Boom, no more Start screen. You’re on your desktop now.
Another complaint, that I mentioned above, is the lack of a traditional Start Menu for Windows 8. If you click on the Windows icon on the taskbar from the desktop, you get a full-screen list of all of your apps instead of the small menu you are probably accustomed to. There is a search feature that allows you to drill down and find the application you’re looking for, but for a lot of people, they are used to their traditional Start Menu, and nothing else will do. Thankfully for those users, there are quite a few apps to give you a Start Menu you’re accustomed to. I’m not going into that here, as I don’t use any of them. What do I use? I use an open source launcher called Launchy. Alt+Space brings up a prompt where I can start typing the name of the application I want, I find it, hit enter and I’m running. No clicks, no anything else. It’s quick and easy for me.
The big question is, what’s performance like? All reports I’ve read indicate the performance seems to be better than Windows 7. I don’t have a baseline as my new rig was built with Windows 8. However, I’m building an exact clone of my rig for my partner, and she’s partial to Windows XP/7, so once that’s complete I’ll be sure to borrow her machine and do some performance comparisons.