Two months with Windows 8 review

The desktop interface
At first sight, the desktop interface of Windows 8 looks very similar to Windows 7, the only major difference is the lack of the Start button.

Desktop bar

Instead, a tile that takes you to the new Start Screen appears when you navigate the mouse cursor to the lower left corner.

Start Tile

Also new in this area is the improved support for multi-screen setups, you can now show the taskbar on multiple screens, and each screen can even show its own dedicated taskbar.

One of the areas where Microsoft really dropped the ball is the location where they've hidden the sleep/shutdown/restart buttons. To access these features, you first need to navigate to the news Charms bar, which is done by moving the mouse cursor towards the right side of the screen or be pressing "Windows key + C".

Charms bar

After the Charms bar appears, you need to click the "Settings" button and the "Power button" to receive a selection menu that lets you choose between sleep, shut down and restart. Alternatively, you can use the traditional "Alt + F4" key combo. On tablets people will likely push the power button to switch the device to a sleep mode, but on desktop computers the lack of an easily accessible power button is quite frustrating, I don't understand why Microsoft refused to implement a simple power button in the Start Screen.

Charms bar settings

The Charms bar also gives access to search, sharing, a device manager and system settings, but I have to admit I rarely use this bar.

One of the interesting new power user features in Windows 8 is the administrative tools menu that appears in the lower left corner of your screen when you push the "Windows Key + X". It provides instant access to various management tools including system settings, power options, the event viewer, disk management, computer management, the command prompt, the task manager, search, the run menu, etc. Note that all options in this menu are pre-underlined, you can press "Windows Key + X + O" to run the Power Options, "Windows Key + X + A" to run the Command prompt in admin mode and so on. Pretty sweet addition.

Windows plus X menu

Microsoft killed off the Aero theme, all windows now have a flat appearance to unify their look and feel with the Modern UI and to save power on mobile devices. When you open Explorer for the first time you'll notice that Microsoft has also implemented a ribbon-interface in this tool. This is definitely an improvement and in case you don't like it you can hide it so you only see the menu bars.

Windows 8 computer menu

Another nice feature for power users is the highly improved Task Manager. It has become much more informative and efficient at showing you how the various computer resources are being used. The Task Manager now shows the CPU, memory, disk, and network utilization of each and every single process running on your PC. It also allows you to track app history and displays see a full overview of services running in Windows. On top of that, Microsoft also created a new "Startup" tab that that tells you the impact each startup application has on your computer's bootup time.

Windows 8 task manager

Microsoft gave its file transfer dialogs a major, much-needed upgrade. The new dialogs are much more informative, there's a graph for tracking transfer speed and the ability to pause and resume transfers. A separate transfer report is shown for each individual file transfer job.

File transfer

Added: December 31st 2012
Product reviewed: Two months with Windows 8
Reviewer: Thomas De Maesschalck
Score: 8.75/10
Page: 3/4

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About the Author

Thomas De Maesschalck

Thomas has been messing with computer since early childhood and firmly believes the Internet is the best thing since sliced bread. Enjoys playing with new tech, is fascinated by science, and passionate about financial markets. When not behind a computer, he can be found with running shoes on or lifting heavy weights in the weight room.

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