Testing the waters

On one hand I like to be an early adopter and I have had a habit of embracing new technology quickly. On the other I lean on experience that tells me the grass isn’t always green on the other side. I was a windows XP fan for a seriously long time and anyone who has used Windows Vista will tell you that for all of the visual and aesthetic improvements that it brought, it consumed resources like they were going out of fashion. Machines that were once stable, usable, functional and reliable became slow, laborious, and at times painful. The arrival of Windows 7 was a sigh of relief as it was described by many as “Vista that works” or “What Microsoft should have released”, as it was far quicker than vista, used less resources (and therefore worked better on less powerful equipment) and has been a strong replacement for Windows XP.

As the family technologist, I am invariably the one who has to support and run not only the household computers and related equipment, but also those of my extended family and friends with this in mind, windows 7 has been faithfully and reliably providing a stable environment for some years across a plethora of equipment (and I would say that we probably have more than most in our household).

Since windows 8 arrived, I have resisted installing it (despite having purchased a few copies of it). However I have now decided to test the waters.

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Early signs…..
Unlike most people, I have the resources to allow me to install and try windows 8 on spare equipment without the pain of losing my normal environment (and data) if things don’t work out. I have taken the plunge and installed Windows 8 Pro with MediaCentre on a Dell Latitude and so far so good!

After a clean install of Windows 7 on a spare hard disk, Windows 8 performed a flawless upgrade finding and installing drivers for everything first time. Once installed, additional apps including Skype, Twitter and Chrome all installed from the Microsoft Store quickly and seamlessly. There are only two small observations that bother me so far.

The first is that I’m not us how I feel about windows using my email address and password to sign into windows. This creates an unease about authentication in my mind. You can disable it and have it operate more independently, however this will be at the cost of integration and ease of use. The second (which is not Microsoft’s fault) is that Google has removed support for ActiveSync – with the net effect that the google gmail connector in Mail is now broken and won’t allow you to integrate your gmail account to the system in the same way that you can with a hotmail or outlook account (to include calendars and contacts). This is a shame as I suspect that there will be a huge number of gmail users who would have seen the benefit of this.

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