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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Musing on Windows 8

MS has released Windows 8 RTM and very soon the product will see a worldwide release . I have been using the Windows 8 Developer preview. Here is my personal take on Windows 8 Dev experience ---

Pros ---

Is arguably the fastest Windows version with supported hardware.
Security is built upon and improved since windows 7 days.
Over all RAM requirement has reduced (services and apps takes less RAM as compared to Windows 7)
Spot fixing and live repairing of NTFS volumes is very cool.
Power management features are very good.
Would make a good OS on tablets and on the go/live/connected laptops/ultra-books etc (lots of improved wireless connectivity options)
Metro UI or the simple phone'ish UI is good for new users/people used to mobile phones menus/system.

Cons ---

On older hardware you will have to manually install the latest drivers. I tested with a mobo that has as Intel G33 graphic card... unlike Windows 7 which installs the base driver Windows 8 does not only a basic driver is installed. So if you are planning to use it on old or even ancient hardware hmm... keep hunting fro drivers.

Metro sucks!!! Power users struggle with it (my personal opinion). It may be the next big thing in GUI but I have older hardware (no touch and pen input device)
The old Classic Desktop still rules for my personal usage.
Open GL drivers not working for Intel hardware
The compatibility wizard really sucks and does not work many times, many popular apps that work fine under Win7 do not work e.g Virtual Box , open arena games , zenmap , SilkyPIC
The teal/green colors are a eye sore
Too much online/cloud this cloud that... if your work primarily is on apps/progs that require live Internet net access only some times e.g Photo editing/video edition/accounting etc you are much better off with Windows 7
The new STOP error screen totally sucks and if you are a windows power user/IT admin... you will be at a loss as hardly any useful info is provided on screen

Mix bag issues ---

These issues can be a boon or a ban, depending who you are. A simple end user or a IT admin/geek!!!

The OS even though in beta testing is very stable, and rock solid.
Automatic repair to the FS works very well.
Dual booting with another non MS OS is NOT a good thing.

The volumes under NTFS are monitored via CRC FS filters and transaction logging... even if you have not encrypted the volume ... the entire volume is monitored via low level File System Filters and check sum. Copying files to the drive from say a Linux live boot CD or Linux installed on another disk (with full NTFS read write support) would still result in marking the volume as bad.. will result in data loss.

Installing any new prog/app from the Internet goes through strict review of the "application compatibility database" which is maintained and controlled by MS... and flags many proper admin/IT tools as harmful/incompatible e.g nmap, wireshark, virtualbox. On the other hand this feature alone will stop many end users from installing any spyware/trojan laden progs/apps accidentally. As it clearly prompts the user to delete the file. In my beta testing I was not successfully in submitting apps/progs to the white-list even once.

If the OS crashes the automatic recovery is very good and work without any user intervention. Normal end user would be happy with this. Power users/IT admins would feel the pinch as the OS tries to hide as much of it core components that we are use to e.g the registry , STOP errors, last know recovery option, critical log files/folders are now even hidden from the administrator account. One has to go do some real reg hacking and xcals magic to access them.

Anti virus in the form of Windows Defender is just a rehash of Microsoft Security Essentials, with the same core engine, (which is again based of the Forefront engine)... I am a big fan of MSE as far as a free antivirus product goes.. It may not be the best or even the lightest on resources.. but is a very good addon for a free product.

IE or the loved/hated Internet Explorer.. truth be told it has improved in many ways and is very fast. The stability has also increased a lot since the old days (but security wise it is still an open question) I personally avoid using IE for any personal use as far as possible. That being said long time users will have a good experience to look forward to.

On the business end IE will not die, not yet. Do not be fooled by HTML 5/web apps hype bandwagon -- Two Words "Active-X" many big and small company still rely and work with Active-X ... prime e.g begin the various Sibel plug ins which are hugely popular as a CRM/B2B/B2C fronted

If you are the type of person that like to tweak/hack/modify you OS too the teeth, or just to try out something new Windows 8 will kinda disappoint you. MS is locking down the OS more and more overlaying the OS with dumb On/OFF options like that another OS ;) Many low level utilities and prog/apps will not work as a result of kernel level changes, driver/filter changes and sometime pure superficial blocks in places. On the other hand the fundamentals and base that the OS is based on is very solid. In fact from what I have seen so far at the low level and kernel design. I am very excited to see and test out the next Server version based and expanded o the same technologies. Em.. Windows 2013 Advance Server anyone ???