windows 8

Yup, I’ve installed Windows 8 to replace the Windows 7 Home Premium Edition I’m running on my main workhorse.

windows versions

I’ve upgraded my notebook several times in terms on hardware (RAM, HDD etc) and I’m always excited when a new OS comes out. Windows 8 Pro 64-bit (my notebook runs 64 bit natively, though there’s a 32-bit version of Windows 8) has a lot of things that I like and having spent a couple of weeks with it, I’ve managed to single out 8 features that I love.

windows 8 install

It’s hard to go with just 8 since there are a lot of new additions to enrich your experience. Some are essential and some are just stuff that are just plain fun.

I write a lot, love to travel and have been blogging since April 2002 so I’ll keep my experiences on that personal level.

1. Start Screen

This is the much anticipated feature (in addition to Live Tiles) of Windows 8 and it takes some getting used to, but there’s no going back after that.

windows 8 start

This displays my most commonly used apps and I can see various messages flood in via Live Tiles in the People and Messaging apps, which I use the most. This way, I just have to synchronize my email, Facebook, Twitter, IM clients and it’ll all be integrated into one place.

I like to travel pretty randomly (without any plans and flying by the seat of my pants) and this feature allows me to just see what’s going on in Travel, check the Wikipedia app (stating local customs and faux pas e.g. not eating the doughy tops of khinkali, a type of Georgian dumpling and also pronunciation), pull out Internet Explorer 10 for bus/train schedules and all that while talking to people who’re there so I can maybe couchsurf.

That’s taking “keeping in touch” to a whole new level.

2. Enhanced Search

I love this feature coz it’s perfect for lazy people like me. Heh.

windows 8 search

Just type anything directly from the Start Screen and it’ll appear. I typed “Sky” in this case and SkyDrive pops up as one of the features so I don’t have to go rooting about for it. It’s really a time saver.

I can also expand the search to various areas (which is customizable) for it to trawl anything from Windows Store to the entire Internet. Nifty, this one, and handy for finding facts online by just starting to type on the Start Screen.

3. Snap apps

This is a godsend for blogging!

windows 8 blogging

Just hover your mouse to the left and out pops a list of currently running apps. You can actually drag one of those apps out so you have two apps on your screen. This can be resized as you wish so I can dedicate 3/4 of my screen to Photoshop for photo editing and the other 1/4 to WordPress on IE 10 to add the photos to my blog or reply comments.

…and yes, both of the apps work at the same time. :D

4. Easy Screenshots

This is just amazing and it’s how I took most of the screenshots you see in this post. Windows 8 nullifies the need for external apps or the old method of Alt+Print Screen -> Open Paint -> Ctrl+V to take and paste a screenshot.

windows 8 pro

Now I just have to press Win+Print Screen.

It takes the entire screen and automatically saves it in the Pictures folder. You can also use Alt to take the current window but the shortcut where you can just automatically screenshot the entire screen is a lifesaver (or at least a time saver) to me – I do it a lot when blogging, writing and emailing someone about a travel deal. :)

5. Picture Password

This is one of the things which I’ll put under fun to use. Heh.

picturepassword

You can choose your best vacation/clubbing/adventure photos as a Picture Password and draw gestures around it to enter your computer. It not only acts as a password, it also shows my favorite photo while I’m logged out.

6. Windows Store

You can download a lot of free and paid games and apps in here – anything from Angry Birds to Wikipedia. I also found a fun and free game called Ball Strike when I was in Singapore courtesy of Jim Saret (of Biggest Loser Philippines fame).

windows store

It just requires a Windows 8 device with a camera – which is common enough, even my older notebook has a built-in webcam. This is an augmented reality game that gives me a bit of exercise while I’m at home.

I can see it being a hugely popular house party game too. Heh.

7. Charms Bar

This is the uber sidebar that allows you access to everything from the classic Desktop that traditional users would instantly recognize:

windows 8 charms

…to instant share which I use to quickly share travel itinerary PDFs, photos and such via Tweetro (a Twitter client) or email.

It’s awesome and you just have to go to the right of the screen to activate it.

8. SkyDrive

I have personal experience of having my camera stolen while travelling before – all my photos from the trip were lost! Integration with SkyDrive, especially for my photo backups, is essential to me.

The cloud-connectivity that Skydrive offers is wonderful because I like to travel in places that are not necessarily tourist friendly.

skydrive

I’ve also had my HDD crash two times before – and some of my precious photos were lost forever! Now with SkyDrive, I’ll make it a point to do auto backups when I’m done for the day and leave it uploading while I sleep.

It works beautifully for documents too e.g. the blog posts that I write every day.

You know how important photos are to travellers and bloggers – it’s a pictorial chronological memory for me and I can’t stand losing it.

Now I won’t have to. :)

Do I need Windows RT, Windows 8 or Windows 8 Pro?

which windows 8
Here’s a chart to help you decide.

Windows RT
Windows RT is for people who wants a tablet-style easy to use OS where you don’t need new and existing Windows desktop software to work. It’s great with tablets and PCs where you want a user friendly experience – the new Start Screen is where you work from and all apps comes from Windows Store. As an added bonus, it comes with Office Home & Student 2013 Preview!

windows rt

Windows 8
Windows 8 is what most casual users will need – you’ll get all the new features in the Start Screen (actually all of the versions do) but you don’t have to work exclusively with Windows Store apps. The only thing you’ll miss out on is BitLocker. You can still use new and existing Windows desktop software as well as the apps from Windows Store – it’s the best of both worlds!

windows 8 versions

Windows 8 Pro
Windows 8 Pro is basically Windows 8 for power users or enterprise users. You get all the functionality in Windows 8 (like existing and new Windows Desktop software compatibility) and BitLocker for data protection as well as a host of networking features like Domain Join and Remote Desktop Connection.

windows 8 singapore

Windows 8 special promo info:
If you’ve bought Windows 7 PC from June 2 onwards, you can upgrade to Windows 8 for just USD 14.99 (RM 49.92). Login to www.windowsupgradeoffer.com (yes, this is a real Microsoft link, not some dodgy website) for more details.

Otherwise, if you have a PC and would like to install or upgrade to Windows 8, you can purchase it at USD 39.99 (RM 122). Login to windows.my for more details.

The offers end on 31st January 2013 so get your upgrade today to take advantage of the promo prices! :D

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17 Responses to “8 features I love about Windows 8”

  1. I can already foresee myself having a tough time familiarizing myself with Windows 8. I hope it’s just as user-friendly as the XP. I already have a SkyDrive hooked to my Hotmail account. Do you think it’ll be affected?

    I know how it feels losing the one and only copy to pictures. I lost the whole collection of North Shore and Auckland pictures when my thumb drive just decided to die on me. >.<

    • Hello Ciana! :)

      Well, it’s just as easy as the previous versions of Windows coz there’s always the familiar Desktop mode to fall back on. I’ll say the new Start Screen is even more user friendly and you can always revert back to the familiar interface if you want.

      …and don’t worry, SkyDrive will not be affected – it’s a cloud based storage system, which means everything you put there is can be accessed from anywhere in the world!

      Just use your Hotmail account to login.

      Yeah, it really sucks losing photos – which is why I’m heavily using SkyDrive now so I always know my photos will be safe. :D

      Sorry to hear about your experience in NZ. :x

  2. oooooooo really cool features but how to buy windows rt? would it be cheaper than 50?

    • Hello Joanna! :)

      Yeah, I really like some of the features – especially the one that allows you to snap apps so you have can have two apps side by side.

      Unfortunately, you cannot purchase Windows RT. It’s a version of windows that comes with new tablets.

      However, you can purchase Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro, the former is what most people need – it’s only less than RM 50 if you buy it during the promo and it has more features than Windows RT e.g. you have the usual Desktop environment that you’re used to. :D

  3. Ooo…I love this! Boss just gave me a kosong laptop and I think this gonna be a perfect gift for it.

    • Hello Yee Ling! :)

      Nice! You have a new laptop! Yeah, that would be perfect – I installed Windows 8 on my old laptop running Windows 7 Home Premium and it runs just fine!

      I bet running it on your new laptop would be even better.

      Hope it helps, I had to think hard of the 8 tips that I like the most (instead of 10 coz I wanted the number to be 8 for Windows 8). Haha!

      Cheers! :D

  4. Wow if you didn’t mention it, I wouldn’t know about the screen capture function!
    This is cool! :)

    • Hello Charmaine! :)

      Yeah, I found that *really* useful – it’s an easy way to take screenshots and more importantly, save them, without third party apps. It’s great for taking all sorts of screenshots where previous versions of Windows were unable to natively.

      Cheers! :D

  5. Looks like so much fun but I bet an old lady like me will take some time to familiarise with the new layout and all!

    • Hello Merryn! :)

      Nonsense! Haha! You’re not an old lady, you’ll be fine, my parents started using Skype earlier than I did. Heh.

      Anyway, if you don’t like the new Start Screen you can always revert back to the Desktop – that’s what I do and I suspect what most power users do. The new features are great for user friendliness though and people who don’t want to tinker with a lot of the technical stuff.

  6. Finally Microsoft has got Search done right with Windows 8! I’ll get it just for that.

    • Hello Chris! :)

      Haha! Yeah, the search now encompasses everything, much like what iOS users are used to, especially on tablets, where it’s a very useful feature indeed. I like the structure of Windows 8′s search compared to the iPad though – the categories are broken down on the sidebar instead of down along so you don’t have to root through the bottom for non-local searches.

      Cheers mate!

  7. I am happily a mac user…Windows kinda baffles me.

    • Hello Missy! :)

      Heh! I reckon that’s what the new Start Screen is for – to make things more user friendly. I’ve used all sorts of OS from Linux to Android and I only use Windows for my primary work horse coz you just can’t beat the apps and games for that (depending on what you do of course – graphic designers would beg to differ).

      It would be hard for me to change to another operating system for my main computing purposes, same as you, I guess.

      Cheers! :D

  8. No choice, I guess. Have to keep up or we’ll have new stuff that we can’t open.

    • Hello buddy! :)

      No worries, most of the new apps would work with your existing version of Windows. It’s meant to be reassuring the other way e.g. so that new users would still be able to use existing programs e.g. backward compatibility, which is very important.

      Third party developers would try to make their programs usable on a wide variety of platforms and OS’s e.g. games would always try for the minimum system (hardware) requirement.

      Don’t worry if you don’t feel like upgrading now, you’ll still be able to use all the programs, no problems. :)

      It’s meant more for backwards compatibility, for new users on Windows 8 to be able to use existing programs.

      Cheers mate! :D

  9. Windows 8 has lots of improvements, I especially like the work they’ve done on improving performance (CPU multimedia optimization, multitasking) but it has also gone backwards a bit. Without touch-screen it’s sometimes a real pain in the ass to use due to extra distance (and clicking through menus) you have to go with your mouse to access something. And that “snap apps” thingie… It (like some other features) don’t offer any customization and you are forced to use the 1/4 + 3/4 division and for apps like the web browser it’s just too small and hurts productivity. Basically over-simplificated.

    All in all, it’s nice to see Microsoft got around to develop their OS to today’s standards, but I’ll be sticking with the Win 7 for now :)

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