Tag: Windows 8

We Take Time-Out From This Election To Talk About – Windows 8

Picture of the Windows 8 starter screen
Windows 8 Starter Screen

Sometimes you just have to try something new. Something new is always appealing, even though you know it is dangerous, and in the computer world, that means that you could lose your work, your data, and your living. New computer operating systems can be dangerous.

I have been using my new Microsoft Outlook.com email address. My Yahoo address is inundated with at least one hundred and sometimes three hundred emails per day, and I view my Outlook.com email as a reasonable alternative. In my Outlook.com mail box yesterday was a Microsoft offer to sell me the new Windows 8 upgrade to my Windows 7 system for only $39.99. This price was for download, only.  For $50, they would send the system DVD.

Forty bucks for a new operating system is a terrific deal. So, if I bought it, upon what computer would it be installed?

First of all, I didn’t want to upgrade my desktop. There is too much stuff to lose, and I had not done a full system backup in a long time. Secondly, I didn’t want to upgrade mynew Dell laptop for the same reason.

I didn’t need a new operating system for my three and one-half year old Toshiba Satellite laptop. I naturally decided to upgrade the Toshiba. All I use it for is to surf the net while my wife watches chick shows on TV. If something terrible happens to the Toshiba, it will make little difference.

The Windows 8 system is a two gigabyte file and it takes over a half hour to download. After the download, you have the option to install the system on your computer, load the system on a USB flash drive, or burn it on a DVD as an ISO file to be installed later. I chose the ISO file. Because of that, I have a DVD backup of the system.

The actual installation takes a lot of time, more than an hour. Prepare yourself with a cup of something hot, or a glass of something cold.

Windows 8 :

After the system installation, when it finally came time for the computer to boot, I was pleasantly surprised. Although I had seen pictures of the system, it looked even better in real life.

Instead of icons and menus, Microsoft Windows 8 is designed to be used with touch screens. In Windows 8 Microsoft uses tiles to represent applications instead of icons on a desktop. The tiles are little rectangles on the screen representing different applications, programs, and browsers.

As a matter of fact, with the Starter screen, you are not looking at your “desktop”. The desktop has its own tile so you can get to the stuff you had on your old desktop.

When you launch an application like Microsoft Word, the system automatically launches the desktop, and that’s where the program runs.

While working in one application, you may want to switch to something else, like a browser to look up the meaning of a word. That’s where you can get lost. Getting to a menu-like navigation system is really simple. Just move the mouse into one of the right corners of the screen and you can get back to the start screen to run that other application. The same thing is true about the lower left corner of the screen; it gets you the starter screen.

If you have other applications running, the top left of the screen will get you a chance to choose one of those. Don’t forget shortcut macros. By pressing ALT-TAB, you can whiz through all your applications faster than you can change windows on any other system.

The only problem with Windows 8 is that it is totally different from what you are used to using. Windows 8 is pointed to the coming flood of touch-screen computers, including several tablet and convertible computers. Touch-screens are the thing of the future. Just picture a world without mouse-related carpal tunnel. Fantastic!

Microsoft designed Windows 8 to be used with the standard input/output devices, too. The keyboard is still irreplaceable as a work device. There are some really good voice recognition systems around, but most people ignore them. As a matter of fact, within Windows 7 and Windows 8 is a very good voice recognition system. I could have written this article using that method. That’s one of the ways people in the future will write their blogs and books.

If you are ready for an adventure, you can give Windows 8 a try. I think you will wind up liking it. Just remember that it is really different, but not difficult. Don’t install it until you have a thorough system backup of your old operating system.

Why Get An iPad?

We waited, breathlessly, for our new iPad to be delivered. The iPad was a gift for my wife who is retiring from her public school teaching career this year. Our daughter has an iPad, and my wife really loves to play with it.

picture of ipad
New iPad

Around six o’clock on March 16, a big, brown truck pulled up in front of the house. Our iPad had arrived. Strangely, the delivery man was not our regular guy. Did UPS reorganize their fleet to handle the millions of iPad’s they would have to deliver on March 16?

When I opened the box, I had the same feeling I get every time I pick up an iPad.

Disappointment.

I have been an iPhone user for about four years, and the iPad screen is EXACTLY like the iPhone screen, only bigger. However, the iPad doesn’t have a cell phone built-in. The iPad doesn’t have a keyboard, either. So, why should anybody spend upwards of a thousand dollars to buy a computer that is missing essential components?

Oh, wait. There is a wireless keyboard for the iPad that costs $69.00. Plus, you can get a dock for the iPad for #$29.00 to keep the iPad upright while banging away on the keyboard. Hmmm… That’s OK. It is beautiful thing that you don’t have to use a mouse. The touchscreen is wonderful for navigation.

Including the 4G cellular coverage feature, the new iPad weighs in at 1.46 pounds (662 g). Nice! It is about half the weight of one of those ultra-light laptop computers.

When using the iPad to read my books, it is OK. In our  house we have two Amazon Kindle’s, one of which is the new Kindle Fire. The Fire has a 7 inch diagonal screen as compared to the iPad’s more than 10 inches. However, the Kindle Fire does as good a job as the iPad when it comes to reading a book. It costs less than half as much, and weighs about half as much as the iPad.

picture of Kindle Fire
Kindle Fire

When working means using a computer, I would rather have a regular PC with my 24 inch screen and full-sized keyboard. For reading books, I prefer the Amazon Kindle format. For entertainment, the iPad takes the prize for streaming video, playing games, and just plain leisure surfing.

There is more to come in the computer world. Much maligned Microsoft has improved their operating systems greatly since the VISTA disaster. Indeed, Microsoft 7 is a real winner, and has done lots to repair a damaged Microsoft reputation.

Windows 8 will be a game changer in the computing world. Operating systems are evolving into more usable interfaces between people and machines. Windows 8 makes use of touch screen technology, and extends the use of mouse and stylus interfaces. Laptops and desktops will be particularly blessed, and Windows 8 will drive the market for traditional computers for a long time.

picture of Windows 8 start menu
Windows 8

Look for some really decent laptops competing feature for feature with the Apple Macbook Air, and tablet computers running Windows 8. The new Microsoft system is more powerful than IOS5 which Apple uses for iPhones and iPads. Microsoft is not dead.

This gives us three viable systems for tablet computers and smart phones. The Google Android system is fantastic, and Apple has done a credible job with IOS5. Windows 8 will drive prices down, and feature content up.

We live in exciting times.

If you decide to get an iPad, you are not making a mistake. You will get a useful, high quality piece of hardware and software. If you cannot afford an iPad, there are plenty other devices out there, and in the future the device world just gets richer.