Windows 8 is the latest operation system (ie. Windows version) from Microsoft. Installation of Windows 8 is quick and easy and takes less than an hour. It is based on large buttons designed with touchscreens in mind but cumbersome and obstructive when using a mouse. Your older desktop programs show on the new start page that replaces the start button : but then opens unceremoniously in the desktop. You have to use Window's recommended user account control settings or you will not be able to use the app store or indeed some ‘Apps’ unless you turn it on. This okay for families on a shared computer but not when an adult wants to monitor but not restrict what their older child does on their personal computer
Despite making huge changes graphically, essentially Windows 8 is a touchscreen version on Windows 7 , with no changes to Paint, Notepad , WordPad , Sound Recorder or even the Calculator , which has not changed much since I was using windows 98. In this review I will look at its features and see whether, at £40, it's worth your money.
Media-wise Windows 8 for computers powered by AMD or Intel CPU's use the same old versions of Windows Media Player and Windows Media Center which, as in Windows Vista and Windows 7 will not come in the cheaper Windows 8 Starter (Which only comes on netbooks in the UK). I would suggest the free VLC media player. Switching between the 'Metro' and 'Desktop' Modes is awkward and can happen by accident. Windows 8 struggled to work with many older programs and the Windows 8 RT Edition which comes on tablet PC's powered by ARM (Most of them) as opposed to AMD or Intel will not run any old Windows programs or include the desktop mode. This only has a few programs so far.
The charms bar is activated by 'swiping' your finger across the top right of the screen or (as I did) strange witchcraft with your mouse. This enables you to 'Search' for programs. This replaces the listing system of Windows Start Menu. It also gives you ‘Share’ and 'Devices' buttons as well as 'Settings' which links to the control panel and the Personalisation menu (not in Starter Edition).
One of the best changes Windows 8 makes is introducing the ribbon interface from Microsoft Office to Windows Explorer (AKA My Computer , My Documents etc.) allowing you to easily share, email, fax or burn to disc (DVD , CD , BLU-RAY) . However, you may have noticed something else has changed. Remember those pretty 'Areo' effects which meant all of the windows were slightly see-though? These have been removed in the interests of making Windows 8 work on no more powerful computers than the ones that were needed for vista. That means that anybody on Vista or Windows 7 could run this on their current machines, as could most XP users; but without a touch screen would you want to?
(screenshots provided by William Bates)