Microsoft Windows 8, the latest installment of the most popular OS worldwide, brings about highly revolutionary changes in personal computing. Some changes, like securing low-level processes and cloud integration, have been lauded while others, like offering identical interfaces for tablets and desktop/notebook PCs and highly controlled app marketing through Windows Store have been vehemently denounced. While it remains to be seen whether the few early protests will be echoed by the millions of PC users, one thing is clear – Windows 8 will elicit strong responses, positive or negative.

  • Extremely familiar features like the Start Menu accessed via the Taskbar Start Button have been eliminated in favor of a more “Metro-style” (or should I say “Windows 8 UI Style”) interface suited for touch-screen devices. Personally, I don’t think that the removal of Start Menu is a big deal. The highly accessible and flexible Taskbar Shortcuts and “Pin to Taskbar” option in Windows 7 have led me away from the Start Menu. Do you still use it a lot?
  • The Start button and Show Desktop button have been turned into “hotspots”, and they are present in the same locations but not visible as buttons.
  • Windows Aero, the most conspicuous interface change seen in Windows Vista and 7, has been completely removed.
  • Changes have also been made in “Previous Versions” and “Blue Screen of Death”
  • Windows Media Center has been turned into and Add-On instead of being a pre-installed feature. Windows Media Player doesn’t have DVD playback option, and instead you will have to purchase Windows Media Center for playing movies from DVDs.
  • A couple of new logon methods have been introduced in Windows 8, and you can either use a 4-digit PIN instead of the password or a set of touch-gestures on a picture to log onto your PC.
  • Windows Refresh will allow you to restore only system files, while Windows Reset will make your Windows 8 installation as good as new by removing all files and programs.
There are several other changes which are expected to improve system performance but won’t affect the user’s interaction with the PC.

What shouldn’t be a major issue for the more advanced users willing to try out new stuff, will probably dissuade the slightly apprehensive PC users from switching to Windows 8. Despite the much publicized Vista debacle, Microsoft seems to have taken the huge success of Windows 7 as a sign that it can dole out revolutionary changes without losing much of its customer-base. Assuming that Windows 7 is here to stay for probably a decade or more, Windows 8 might get a lot of time to make inroads into the mainstream.

While Vista kept several XP users from switching to Windows 7 and made them revert back to XP, the 3 years since its launch have been largely successful. Whether it is the unchallenged association of Microsoft Windows and PC manufacturers or the conspicuous absence of comparable software products for other platforms, Windows hasn’t lost much of its market share. Offering a common platform for mobile devices and traditional PCs in the form of Windows 8 seems to be a great idea for enterprises as well as individuals with several computing devices.

Huge discounts for previous Windows owners and Windows 8 Preview users might accelerate its infusion, and hopefully for Microsoft the changes will be accepted rapidly. Since support for XP will be terminated within a year, millions of PC users won’t get long to decide between Windows 7 and Windows 8.

So, are the changes in Windows 8 too scary for you?

Samir Saurav Majhi
I'm a rolling stone, with diverse interests from Theoretical Physics to Ubuntu Gaming, Nature Photography to Buddhism. Basically, if you want to talk about ANYTHING, I'm your guy!