At home I run 2 physical XP systems; 1 VISTA laptop; and several VMs: NT 4.0, XP, VISTA, Win Server 2008, Win 7, and Win 8. I am going to have to move the physical systems off of XP at some time and want to understand what my options are. This article and the links at the end gave me useful information about Win 8 upgrades and Microsoft OS policy changes.
Comparing the Win 7 and Win 8 VMs, I don't find Win 8 bad. My desktop is 3600 x 1920 (3 Samsung SyncMaster 2443 monitors rotated into Portrait with primary system connected to Digital and backup system connected to Analog inputs) which probably helps. I installed Win 8 on one of my INTEL 510 Series 120GB SSDs to see what it would be like on a physical system. It booted quickly and ran very well. Of course, it did not have the years of crud that have accumulated on my XP systems. Have not make up my mind but the $40 upgrade looks attractive to me.
I have been using computers for 48+ years (every desktop Win OS from 3.1 and Server from NT 3.5) and have learned not to be afraid of change or quick to reject the unfamiliar.
God Jim, you sound older than me (only my 44th year) unless you were programming in school.
Nevertheless, I still think that W8 (as provided) is totally unsuited to a desktop PC, especially with 3600x1920 worth of real-estate to play with.
Once you get in amongst it and turn it back as close to W7 as possible, it's hunky-dory (or will be as soon as they put MC back again), but who needs a phone UI blown up to that scale ?
(Actually I worked with one guy for whom it would have worked out-of-the-box, but he was registered-blind and for normal terminals and printed matter he used a CCTV camera with a close-focus tele lens that blew up text to foot-high characters. I expect he would have liked it. (thinks - maybe he's on the development team now !!!)
I'm 67+ and retired but on retainer from my employer of 20+ years and do pro bono programming/webmaster work for non-profits. My programming career started with a course I took as a college sophomore in 1964. It was Fortran IV on a cutting edge IBM 7094. That course and the fact that I already had a security clearance got me a part-time job on a university naval weapons development project. My mentor for the three years that I worked on that project nurtured my love of computers. He was a mathematician/programmer who I will never forget. Every job I had after that was programming.
None of my desktop is wasted. My monitors are shared between my two desktop computers that have identical hardware. Each computer has its own trackball and the keyboard is shared with a USB switch. Each weekend I clone my primary system SSDs and HDDs to the backup’s drives. When I boot XP from these clones it starts up without complaint. Win 7 and 8 may not be so nice even though I own two licenses for all the software that I run. I also take offsite backups on large HDDs and daily backups of my current projects.
I use TightVNC to connect from my primary system to my backup over my LAN. This means that the clipboards of the two system are synced and file transfers are simple copies with the TightVNC utility. Both computers have 3600x1920 desktops. The monitor Source switches let me dedicate a whole monitor to either computer independently. TightVNC lets me view the other desktop in a local window and VMWARE Workstation Unity allows me to view VM applications in a window on the desktop. I have upgraded to Workstation 9 which allows connection to remote VMs but I have not tried it yet. To stay sane, the taskbar on the primary system is on the bottom and on the backup it is on the top. Virtual machines have unique desktop colors and taskbars on the left. Every desktop has a background describing the system and is updated with SysinternalsSuite Bginfo.exe.
I don't plan to upgrade my physical system’s XP until near the time when Microsoft drops support for XP on April 8, 2014. Until then Microsoft will have thousands of programmers working thousands of hours to get Window 8 right on desktops. But, I will still have the option to go with Win 7.
Sounds like you've still got a full time job just keeping all that lot sync'd and backed up.
I see you are the eternal optimist regarding W8. When the DP came out, we all tried it here and mostly immediately implemented the registry hack to put the start menu back and make the desktop default.
We all said "they'll have to make that a simple switch by the time it hits the shelves. They're no fools, they're bound to realize they can't ignore the 90% of their customer base who are using desktop Windows in the workplace, not just teenagers texting each other from the playground"
Did they h*ll !
By the next preview they'd knobbled the hack, and subsequently removed all the code that could possibly be hacked back to.
They seem to have made the corporate decision "This is the future. You will like it. You will adopt it"
Who knows ? Maybe they're right. Maybe in ten years we'll all be doing our computing on a phone and saying "Wow, can you remember when we used to have those huge monstrosities taking up a whole desk, and you had to sit down to use a PC !"
That might come to pass.
But it hasn't yet ... and to release an OS now that makes that assumption seems crazy to me.
By all means design it towards that end, but don't make it default as if the end has already been reached.
The fullscreen Metro apps are more or less essential on a phone sized device. On a large monitor they're not just annoying, they're ridiculous. It's like going back 30 years to the DOS days of single tasking and makes a nonsense of the very brand-name they use to describe the fact that the OS multi-tasks.
Jim, I'm nearly 72 and as you can probably guess, resistant to changes that are really drastic. I've got to like Windows 8 Pro but only since I hacked in Vista Windows Mail and Calendar and made them fully functional, plus installed Stardock's Start8 to bring back the Start button and All Programs menu which as a side bonus, has a setting to bypass Windows 8's Start screen altogether at boot. I like the Start/Metro screen for certain things and it's there when I need it, but all-in-all find Windows 8 a rather inflexible system. If anyone ever finds a way of bringing back the old-fashioned driver installation wizard in 8 I will award them a medal.
Let's hope when Windows 9 comes around someone will be thinking in nostalgic terms when they design it.
I quite understand the progression to touch screens, tablets etc. etc. but let's make those an option for goodness' sake.
I'm using Windows 8 exclusively in a virtual machine for software development & testing purposes.
It's ironic, the older crowd is embracing the new, yet here I am absolutely refusing to come to terms with it. I have no intention of upgrading my actual machine from 7 to 8.
I hear you and I really don't blame you. I'm sticking with Vista and 7 as long as I possibly can. I multi-boot mainly to help McAfee with their beta software (and because Technet obligingly gives me access to systems to use for testing). Still it is interesting to watch "progress".
It takes a bit of getting used to and when I first encountered it I didn't like it I'm afraid. I thought it looked rather "Etch-A-Sketch" to be honest (I can hear the groans). Now I'm used to it I see it has many redeeming qualities after all.
Author's Opinion: Windows 8 takes a lot of getting used to, but it's the best OS made by Microsoft, and could be the best OS ever made by anyone ... One problem with this schedule is that it takes between six to eight weeks to get used to Windows 8.
Under the hood it may be the most secure, most efficient OS ever, but that doesn't excuse making it a more complicated, less efficient experience at the user interface.
I'm talking of course about use on a non-touch device.
The keyboard/mouse combo provide an efficient way of working, and it would have been the simplest of tasks to make the two UIs optional choices depending on the device in use.
They may be stealing a large slice of the iPad market, and that's obviously their hope, but there was no need to do it in a way that alienates the enormous number of office PC users who are going either to hate finding that they can't work out how to do anything they're used to, or more likely, just decline to upgrade from W7.
Remember that most of the users here are at the techie end of the spectrum, and are able to hack the W8 experience to be what MS should have made an easy option. The vast majority of commercial Windows users are barely capable of more than "I switched it off and on again" to deal with a problem