Microsoft Windows 8 Pro – Upgrade
- Running Windows 7, Windows XP or Windows Vista? Upgrade to Windows 8 with Windows 8 Pro
- Startup quickly
- Customize your Start screen with Live Tiles
- Stay safer with Windows Defender
- Encrypt your data with Bitlocker
Microsoft Windows 8 Pro (Upgrade) If you currently have a personal computer running Windows 7, Windows XP or Windows Vista then you can upgrade to Windows 8 Pro (Professional). With Windows 8 Pro, you can connect and share your files. Windows 8 Pro also adds enhanced features if you need to connect to company networks, access remote files, encrypt sensitive data, and other more advanced tasks. The new Windows 8 start screen is your personalized home for items you use the most and can be custom
List Price: $ 199.99
Price: $ 79.95
Will the GUI Stick With You?,
BEFORE YOU UPGRADE: stop by the Microsoft website and run the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant (link in the comments). This program will comb through your system and offer you detailed analysis of what will and won’t upgrade. It offers links to articles that explain in detail what you may need to do, and it can save you a lot of headaches. For example, I have a laptop with no USB drivers–yet! I now have a link to the manufacturer’s website that I’ve bookmarked and when drivers become available I’ll upgrade that machine too.
Windows 7 has been a well-received OS, so the case for upgrading to Windows 8 has been difficult for Microsoft to make. While the look and feel of Windows 8 is strikingly different, for the most part it boils down to one huge change: the Start Menu that we have had since Windows 95 is no longer a menu. Icons are now displayed as tiles of varying widths in a full-screen splash. Some of this makes sense in that some of today’s programs are more like the Windows Desktop Gadgets we’ve seen in Vista and 7: rather than needing to be launched, they idly stream information to you, and need a bit more room to be easy to read than the older Start Menu could have allowed for. If you’ve used Windows Media Center, Office 2010, or an XBox 360, you’ve already been interacting with similar interfaces. This sort of UI has been slowly making its way into Microsoft’s products for a while now.
UPDATE: Amazon customer Robert Haines says that there is a program called “Classic UI” that would restore the old look, so if you’re dead-set on new code that skips the new UI, you might want to try that. There is also a program called “Pokki Menu” that will let you make your own customizations and last, Stardock makes a (paid) program called “Start8″ that will also roll back the Start screen.
The Windows 8 desktop looks exactly like it did in Windows 7 and Vista, except there’s no Start Button: you’re expected to press the Windows key or move your mouse to the bottom corner of the screen to launch the tile dashboard. The desktop has the tray of running programs you’re used to in earlier versions, shows you wallpaper, and offers access to the Windows Explorer for looking through the files on your hard drive. All programs can be launched directly off the tile screen, and while Windows 8 apps always run in full-screen, older programs run from within the Desktop and can be resized. We have a version of Internet Explorer accessible from the desktop that looks just like IE 9 did in Windows 7, then we have a version of Internet Explorer in the tile screen that looks entirely different. Some parts of the Control Panel have the tile look and feel and the options cascade left-to-right like the Home screen in any MS Office 2010 or 2013 product. Other parts of the Control Panel look exactly like they did in Windows 7 and before. Unfortunately, I haven’t found a good pattern for this yet: you may flip from one side to the other in order to do something like troubleshoot a network problem.
Performance-wise, Windows had been slowly moving away from always-running programs that drain performance to background services that would launch programs as needed…but this too started to get unwieldy. Microsoft have stripped several services out of Windows 8 which by default makes the OS more efficient than 7. Any machine that could run 7 can also run 8. Programs that used to run, shut down, then have to be fully re-launched to run again are instead put in a standby mode so they can launch faster when called again. The Windows Vista and 7 “Aero effects” that gave your windows a glassy sheen and rounded corners used graphics and CPU to run, so they’ve been stripped out of the tile UI in favor of simple color schemes and blocky edges (though you can still see a subdued glassy effect on the Desktop). Interaction with Windows in this new look and feel is easier if you have a touchscreen or you’re using a tablet, and if you’re a Windows Phone user the territory is already pretty familiar. The downside for mouse users is that you occasionally spend time hunting along the edges of the screen for scrollbars and dragging screens around to be able to interact with everything. My chief complaint with Windows 8 hasn’t been with the Tile layout so much as the fact that the scroll bars are too skinny.
For some features, time will tell. I’ve found the Tile UI version of the browser to be less compatible and more cranky with websites, but I expect that to change given time. I like the fact that security/antivirus are rolled into the OS without me having to take care of them or be interrupted with update notifications. The OS runs Windows Updates on a schedule that’s far less aggressive than previous versions and won’t nag you about rebooting when it needs to. I’ve been told that the performance for gaming is supposed to be greater simply by virtue of a cleaner codebase, but I…
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Easy upgrade process, Ubuntu dual-boot friendly, fairly steep interface learning curve…,
This review largely separates the Windows 8 upgrade/installation experience from the user interface experience. While I consider myself a power user of Windows 7, this didn’t come only in its use since upgrading to that OS three years ago . Any proficiency I enjoyed as a Windows 7 user evolved from much longer experience acquired during the evolution of its predecessors (going back to Windows 95). Windows 8 offers a much different user interface (at least to “start” with…pun intended) that relies less on on your prior expertise with earlier Windows operating systems. Much of it will be familiar to users of earlier Windows versions, but it has enough differences to remind you frequently that this is *not*the Windows OS you’ve become –for better or worse– familiar with. Because of this, I’m going easy on assessing it until I’ve had a more time using it for my normal productivity tasks (but so far, I’m lukewarm on the interface).
Since this is an *upgrade* version of Windows 8, this review emphasizes the *upgrade* process, which is not the same as a review focused on the overall user experience. So far, I’m neutral at best on the changes the latter. Lets just say I won’t be in a hurry to upgrade all of my existing Windows 7 machines to Windows 8.
Bottom line: This was by far the easiest, most intuitive Windows upgrade I’ve performed. This is compared with many Windows upgrades and fresh installs going back to 98, ME, Vista and 7. It took less than an hour and successfully retained my existing applications and data files.
What’s in the box?
(1) 32-bit installation DVD
(2) 64-bit installation DVD
(3) a product key card
(4) a single page getting started guide
Windows 8 system requirements are essentially the same as Windows 7 (which were generally LESS demanding than Vista and XP requirements). I installed Windows 8 over Windows 7 on a 5-year old Dell XPS 420 with a 32-bit 3 GHZ Intel Core2 Duo processor, 4 GB RAM and an ATI Radeon HD 2600 video processor. Total upgrade time took less than an hour.
The installation process went as follows after inserting the installation DVD:
(1) “Preparing”: took about 3 minutes to check for and download updates online.
(2) Windows 8 offered to either preserve your existing applications data files (and some settings) or do a fresh install. I chose to retain my applications and data. In either case, you’ll want save –and have access to– backup copies of your data files and application media/files BEFORE you go through the upgrade and installation.
(3) The install processes ran on my machine for about 28 minutes, then went through a series of restarts. During this time a “percentage complete” message ran on the monitor.
(4) After a final, farewell appearance of a Windows 7 desktop and another restart, Windows 8 went into a “getting ready” process. At this point it presented options for:
-wireless network connections
-express or custom setup
-some privacy-related settings and registration options with Microsoft (these defaulted to not sharing or not required…which is good!)
(5) It then proceeded to a “finalizing” process. At this point is when the upgrade process really shined: it recognized an existing Linux/Ubuntu 12.04 partition on my hard drive and the existing Windows/Ubuntu dual-boot options. It not only preserved Ubuntu functionality, but offered options for selecting your default OS and delay options for the boot loader display.
After finalizing and restarting, Windows 8 recognized all my existing peripherals. All of my existing data and applications were available with no problem. Boot time is about 45 seconds and shutdown time is about 21 seconds.
Comments on the interface experience:
I understand some of the initial hostility this OS has received. While the familiar desktop metaphor lives on (and once you are there, the differences between this and previous Windows user experiences are minimal), before you get there, you have to learn to live with a separate “Start” page. Out of the box this page heavily populated with many online services that Microsoft would clearly be interested in driving your attention (and your wallet!) to. The good news is these are easily removable.
Your keyboard’s Windows key will become a powerful tool, as it allows rapid switching between the desktop and start screens. If you have a Windows 8 compatible touchpad (like the Logitech T650), then its “gestures” also permit rapid switching.
At this point, I consider myself still learning the new interface. Some features seem less than intuitive (like how to shut down, for example), but look how we’ve grown accustomed to the “Start”…
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Downgrade in every way possible for Desktops,
If you have a desktop you will find nothing but bad things here. The start screen serves as an extra login screen for you to get to the desktop, virtually no functionality and when you do need it its just huge and obnoxious in how difficult it is to find something. Theyve even made getting to it an annoyance, there is no more button, you have to move the mouse to the corner, wait for a delayed popup and then you can click to open it, sometimes exiting a full screen application and going to the corner too quickly causes the popup not to trigger which means you wait for a delay that never shows up, so you move your mouse out and then back to wait again for the delayed popup so you can finally open the start menu. Its just ridiculous.
Use a mouse? Get used to keyboard shortcuts. Windows 8 is so poorly designed that using a mouse by itself is a nightmare, things that were previously very simple using only a mouse are now complicated without learning all the keyboard shortcuts. The days of sitting back and just clicking around are over, now you have to be hunched over your keyboard.
It is indeed a tablet OS with a few desktop features literally slapped on with no thought. Do not assume that this is primarily a desktop OS with some touchscreen features thrown in, the desktop features were thrown in with such abandon that it is basically some ghetto desktop emulation mode. The fact that I even have to call them “desktop FEATURES” instead of the desktop being a core functionality of the OS points to how horrible this is.
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