Windows 8: Quietly in the background, but building up plenty of steam

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.


Back during the holidays, I was in the process of looking for a replacement to my seriously underpowered HP laptop, so of course, I thought about all the possible solutions that would fit my specific requirements. At first glance, I fancied about ditching the laptop entirely as my daily driver, and instead, I was adamant about switching over to a tablet instead – mainly for the reason that they’re a lot more forgiving with travel. Considering that there’s a fair amount of walking needed to attend various press events in the city, it doesn’t particularly help when I’m lugging around a heavy backpack filled with my gear and laptop. Therefore, I was seriously contemplating about going with a tablet, since they’re significantly lighter and less taxing when it comes to travel – plus, they don’t occupy much space either. Win-win situation, right?

For the longest time, the iPad seemed like a logical choice with its streamlined figure and healthy ecosystem of quality apps. However, after indulging on the Google Nexus 10 and some other Android based tablets, it occurred to me that I’d be getting a little more value out of them over Apple's pride and joy – so I searched longingly to find the perfect model. Without question, the Google Nexus 10 has an impressive specs sheet, especially with its dandy of a screen and vanilla experience, but the more I attempted to make it my daily driver, the sooner it became apparent that it was still lacking in several aspects to make it the supreme laptop replacement. In general, Android sufficed with most productive tasks – like giving us a decent Office experience with apps such as Polaris Office and QuickOffice. Despite its healthy selection, the set of photo and video editing apps that are available on Android still didn’t encompass the same level of totality that I normally get with Windows 7 software.

Good try, but it's still not there

Then all of sudden, Windows RT and its initial army of tablets/hybrids darted onto the scene, giving me some hope that just maybe one of them, could seemingly accomplish the task at hand. Of course, the Microsoft Surface RT was a natural candidate seeing that it boasted many elements, as well as the being the flagship device for the platform, to make it a potential laptop replacement. Armed with useful things that widen its value, like its microSD card slot and full sized USB port, it was increasingly panning out to be my leading candidate. However, the more I tinkered around with Microsoft’s new platform, the more I became aware about it was still falling short of my expectations. Just like Android, it works well in keeping me situated with trivial tasks. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice that you’re given the full blown Internet Explorer experience via the desktop, but when it comes to those prized software that help me stay productive on a traditional laptop, Windows RT lacked the meaningful ones to do just that.

Sure, convertible devices like the Asus VivoTab RT sure made a compelling thought, seeing that the physical keyboard and extra battery life undoubtedly makes it a road warrior that’s ready to take all challenges head on. As we've come to realize, the industry seems as though it's poised on maintaining the perfect tablet price point at roughly the $500 mark – no higher than that, obviously. Like seriously, it’s a death sentence for any tablet to decide on being priced above that tally, yet, there were still few that tread the space. At this point, I was beginning to lose hope in trying to find a solution that would help me to detach myself from my aging Window 7 running HP laptop. Finally then, word about the Microsoft Surface Pro’s release in early February really got me drooling, thinking how it might be the one thing I’ve been searching for!

Finally, the true potential is seen with Windows 8

After playing around with the Surface Pro, I was really digging the complete package it was bringing to the table. For myself, I can live with the fact that it’s a bit bulkier than other tablets, especially knowing that it’s packing hardware that puts it more in line to an ultrabook. Better yet, the full Windows 8 experience means that it doesn’t have any compromises in the productivity department – thus, making it a prime front runner in my search. Ultimately though, it’s the expensive price of the Surface Pro that dissuaded me from taking the plunge. First and foremost, you have the $999 cost for the 128GB SDD model of the Surface Pro, but after throwing in the optional $130 Type Cover, its total tally of $1,130 really made it hard to fall in love with – even more when the iPad 4 sports a minimum $500 price tag, with the Google Nexus 10 at an even better $400. Needless to say, many people will argue that the price disparity is primarily attributed to the ultrabook-like specs that the Surface Pro embodies.

Shopping around, I finally came to the determination of going with the Windows 8 powered Asus Zenbook Prime Touch. Why you ask? On the hardware side, it’s very capable of handling most processor intensive software, while at the same time, it's sleek and lightweight enough to barely be noticed during long travels. Heck, its design is one of a kind in the ultrabook world – while the addition of a touchscreen and back-lit keyboard soundly justifies its worth. Besides the hardware, it’s the full blown experience of Windows 8 that caters to all of my needs. Sure, I can play and mess around with the handful of apps that are available with Android and iOS, but despite their best efforts, they lacked the comprehensive set of “software” to make them candidates for being effective laptop replacements. At the moment, Windows 8 is still getting its feet wet with touch specific “apps,” which are functional on the surface, but still pale in comparison to the quality found on Android and iOS.

Bigger plans in the future

Although we’re still at the early stages with Windows 8’s roll out, we can expect to see in the near future several new tablets and convertibles that will rival price points that are deemed to be more affordable. Countless times already, manufacturers like HP, Acer, and Dell showed us that they’re capable of producing devices that are significantly cheaper – so there’s hope we can see Windows 8 stuff that are priced more modestly. Fierce competition is no doubt coming from all corners, but when you consider that Windows 8 shares many elements with Windows Phone 8, you kind of get the feeling that Microsoft’s long term goal is to get both consumers and business-end users to play nicely with its platforms.

No one likes having to learn two separate platforms, so when there’s an easy transition between Microsoft’s mobile and desktop operating systems, people might see the value in sticking with the Redmond based company – ultimately helping them to grow their share in both the tablet and smartphone arenas. As always, it’s going to be interesting how things shape up in the coming year, as Windows 8 continues to grow and build steam. Until Android and iOS prove they can unquestionably deliver software that grazes the same level of functionality with traditional desktop platforms, I’m going to have to stick with Windows 8 in the near term for my workhorse machine. Heck, maybe we’ll see some significant changes to Android and iOS in the coming months to make them parallel the software totality we see in Windows 8 now?



1. andro.

Posts: 1999; Member since: Sep 16, 2011

We were hoping for some good sales from windows 8 after the stock write off that was window 7 phones,unfortunately for the microsoft and windows 8 phones,the sales aint a coming.

4. Pings

Posts: 304; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

I'm sorry I just don't like the Metro UI. Android's UI reminded me of the 'real' Windows desktop. It's one of the reasons why I liked it. When I seen WP7 fail and then MS say WP8 is going to be different. It reminded me of MS saying the Zune HD was going to be different too.

9. andro.

Posts: 1999; Member since: Sep 16, 2011

More so than the lack of apps or customisation,the live tile grid ui is certainly the biggest turn off for the majority of customers. When customers see there's not anyway of getting rid of it their interest instantly ends,for most it looks dated and just not anyway excited. I've used a lumia 820 recently as a work phone and while I can see some good points in it I personnally could move past the lack of customisation and metro ui. While on one hand its good the Microsoft tried to be different with their own style in the live tiles set up,when they saw the poor reaction and sales of it in windows phone 7 they really should have made changes for windows 8. The big loser here is Nokia,chained to wp by the groin unfortunately

24. UrbanPhantom

Posts: 949; Member since: Oct 30, 2012

WP8 is a completely different OS than previous versions of Windows Phone, which were based on the older CE code. There isn't anything in common between them, other than WP8 being able to run some of the legacy apps that existed for Windows Mobile. However, they are not based on the same code, and WP8 shares more in common now with the desktop OS, compared to previous versions of the mobile variety. If Intel manages to deliver an x86 processor for mobile devices, then you may even see WP8.x being able to run Windows desktop OS software, but that's speculation at this point. Also, the metro style UI of WP8 is essential to the OS itself, and your idea of customization is to use icons like Android or iOS, which is older and less intuitive. It's not meant to be either of those, and if you don't like WP8, then you can stick with Apple or Android. It's a matter of personal preference, and my guess is that WP is only going to get better with time...

31. Ruckus

Posts: 286; Member since: Oct 20, 2011

We're starting to consistently sell Lumia's at a rather decent rate as of late. It may lack some Apps but the Apps they have seem far better than that of my Android. My at&t rep of all people sold me on the Windows 8 Phone. He has a GS3, iPhone 5 and Lumia 920 and prefers the 920. So my wife (ironically enough being on Verizon lol) got the Lumia 822. Now im just awaiting my upgrade to WP8. Comparing her Lumia to my Motorola.. Not even a competition. Even still it'll take time to fully build up to where it needs to be. WP8 will place 3rd place for a while but I could see it taking a bigger and bigger share from Android/iOS. Hang in there MS.

32. andro.

Posts: 1999; Member since: Sep 16, 2011

Ain't happening in Europe that way, Nokia at xmas 2012 for example had to reduce the lumia 610 to 80 euro off contract and the lumia 800 to as little as 140 euro to try sell the huge backlog of unsold stock from the entire 2012 year,judging from stock levels and low sales levels I'm currently seeing it'll be the same again this year. A lumia 820 for 140 euro could end up being a nice present for someone Xmas 2013

33. UrbanPhantom

Posts: 949; Member since: Oct 30, 2012

Andro's comments are consistent in terms of being off the mark 100 percent of the time ;o)

10. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

IMO, Win8 is still a work in progress. Minor things like Flash compatibility with Win8 Pro (!) - try running PA on the Surface Pro.... Until Win8 Pro can replace Desktop Win7, it won't be ready for prime time.

2. mohammed2222

Posts: 31; Member since: Feb 07, 2013

transformer book.

3. feres13

Posts: 307; Member since: Dec 23, 2011

I Think that making a Desktop OS act and look like a tablet OS is stupid, also i think that building a tablet OS based on a desktop OS is even more stupid. That's why i personally think why windows 8 is a huge FAIL.

6. UrbanPhantom

Posts: 949; Member since: Oct 30, 2012

Who said that PC's can't have touch screens? Windows 8 represents the future, and it was only a matter of time before Microsoft adapted to the new technology available. Users are free to choose the interface they want to access on their PC's, and the metro UI makes perfect sense for tablets and smartphones. The only mistake was that Microsoft needs to bring back the start button, but everything else is in Win 8 that existed in Win 7 before, and you can even boot directly to desktop mode, and skip the metro interface compeltely. It's the same OS, with more choices, so quit your pointless whining...

12. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

I get what you're saying, and you may be right, but that isn't the issue. It doesnt matter if everything you say is right, because if the customer is beyond frustrated by the product, they may look elsewhere. Coming out with something with a steep learning curve after people have used the basically the same OS (at least in the execution of it's basic functions) is not earning them any friends. Most of the sales reps who push Windows 8 seem fully behind it, but when I asked them about finding certain programs, they seems lost & them always fell back on using the search function. But there are a few issues with this. First, having to search for programs everytime you want to use something is ridiculous. Second, they renamed most of the file structure so finding what they want, again, isn't intuitive. Third, sometimes when you go to do a search, you are informed that you can't search for that from that search window. So now you also need to know where to search from. Now you have to search to find a way to search, does that not seem idiotic to you? One of the things I hear from most people is you need to relearn how to use a computer running Windows 8. So now on top of the cost of the hardware, I need to take classes or buy software to figure out how to run it. While businesses do this (although they'd rather not have to), now they want everyday users to do this as well? To me that's akin to Jobs telling people they're holding it wrong. These companies seem to have this menatallity that we are here for them, when in fact they need to taylor their products to the customer base. Either way, the problem isn't whether or not Windows 8 is venerable or not. The problem is that there are many people who aren't willing to relearn what they know about computers. You can argue that there's nothing wrong with it until you're blue in the face, but if customers aren't happy with the product, and the company is unwilling to help them, they will go elsewhere. It doesnt have to be rational, it's how people are. And any amount of arguing against it isn't going to change that.

15. speckledapple

Posts: 902; Member since: Sep 29, 2011

Your premise that people are not happy with the product is valid but in that very same breath the grow of WIn 8 continues and quickly. More and more people are signing onto the idea of searching in a new way, finding programs in a much different way, learning a new file strucutre, and using the Live Tiles. I could see them going back and changing some things if the reception is horrible but it has been anything but. Yes, blog tech artists all have their own opinion but many regular people are not that interested in those. They are more concerned with simply just using a computer the way they want. There are some things that should see to in the future like allowing much more customization of the Metro UI as well as other improvements but that is product evolution as with any software product and its something that one could almost certainly expect. Bottom line is, people love Win 8, some people hate it, others adore it. Its no different than any other OS in that regard. However, it is still growing fast, still popular and will only get better with time.

36. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

If anything, the reason that Windows 8 is selling well and growing fast is because in most all places, Windows 7 isn't available anymore. That's what I found earlier this week. Not only do they not have Windows 7 hardware, but all but one of the places I checked no longer sold copies of the software either. So if it's the only option I'm sure it will sell. So basically if you need to upgrade your hardware or need replacement software, you've got one choice. And you're basically ally saying that tech bloggers are the ones who're bashing Windows 8? Take a look at the comments section of some of those articles. Going by the articles I checked for help with using Windows 8, 95% of the commenters loathe it. Quite a few of them were people that were using their computer for work, not just social media. I get it, it's shiny and new and everyone should love it. But here's the thing, why not make the metro ui defeatable for people who just don't want to use it? I mean, there's no sense in this, especially at launch. Let people try it out a little at a time and get used to it, with the ability to go back to the interface they have been using for years. It's akin to Microsoft teaching us how to swim by dropping us off the end of a pier, turning around and walking away, saying "You'll do fine".

41. speckledapple

Posts: 902; Member since: Sep 29, 2011

It is true that the majority of what is out now are Windows 8 machines. It is also true that Windows 7 exists just about everywhere if not more so than Windows 8. The choice is more than just Windows 8 it is also for Windows 7. Its easy for someone not to upgrade the software while sticking with Win 7 for as long as they like. There are many that have done this, Win XP lovers included. So its not just one unimaginable choice. Further, you have to consider that just like every mobile OS and hardware, you can certainly stick with a current gen device or upgrade to gain more features and obviously hardware. How is that any different? If you want the iPhone 4 but hate the iPhone 5, you can stick with it as long as the software supports it. Same with Win 7 and hardware. But if you want the latest and greatest you upgrade and that means software as well. And the sales is not just geared with it being the only option because consumers have been known to reject something in mass array if its really not liked new or otherwise. And tech bloggers are the main ones voicing opinions about it. The regular everyday person is more concerned with getting something that just works. In the end. to be honest someone will always have something to say about a new product regardless. Also, Win 8 is not a perfect product and it certainly does not cater to those who are not thrilled about touchscreens on their laptops and desktops. But behind all that you still have a product that more and more people are liking. That more and more people are adopting and utilizing. And will eventually become more widely used than that of Win 7. Hard to argue with numbers.

20. UrbanPhantom

Posts: 949; Member since: Oct 30, 2012

I understand your point about people not liking change, but if it was left to them, we'd still be using a command line interface. If anything, the new Metro style UI makes things easier to use, and Microsoft is leaning towards making things simpler with touch screen capability to compete with Apple and Google. Win 8 and WP8 are both very straightforward and easy to operate, and it's the right move. There is Linux for those who hate Microsoft, but it's a niche OS on x86, and currently only represents about one percent of PC users. Chrome isn't about to take off either, so it's new Windows, or old Windows, but either way the established base of x86 users will eventually want to upgrade...

35. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

The majority of people would want to use command line? I seriously hope that was a joke. Like I said, you can keep arguing why it's great and all, but if the customer is unhappy, they've got a problem on their hands.

8. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

I agree with your first statement, but not the latter. Dumbing down a desktop OS is bad for the people who need the productivity of desktop. I'm in that situation currently. Burying the meat & potatoes features of the OS to make the OS look pretty & unified is a step back. Just trying to find the program list, that was under the Start button in Vista, is a major undertaking. It's pretty bad when someone who's coming from Vista, hailed as the worst iteration of Windows, prefers it to Windows 8. They basically took away any intuition for the end user using it. And, as I found out a few days ago, there is no way to go back. Most stores don't offer any Windows 7 units or even the standalone software for it. And even if you can find the a copy of Windows 7, companies like HP are unwilling to provide drivers to make Windows 7 work on a Windows 8 unit. You can still load it, bit as I was told by HP, don't be surprised if things like the webcam, touchpad, USB, & wifi don't work. So if you don't like Windows 8, you're left with the premise of voiding your warranty and ending up with a 6 lb paperweight. In a parting shot, the HP rep told me that if I didn't like Windows, I'd better switch to Mac. So basically, we got your money, screw you, & don't let the door hit you on the way out. This is how companies start the road to going out of business, alienating their customers. As far as the second part, there's nothing wrong with patterning a mobile OS after a desktop, as long as it is useful and doesn't hamper performance. I understand Microsoft wanting to give it's users a unified experience. But gutting the desktop so mobile users can have that experience is not the way to do it. What about all the businesses that use Windows? If you threaten their productivity they're going to look elsewhere. Windows 8 could be the point where Microsoft gives Apple the business PC market. I already see quite a few companies running Macs, and now forcing the remaining into a system that may give them pause when they look to upgrade their hardware is like giving Apple their customer base. I've never considered Macs before now. To me you didn't get equivalent hardware for the price you'd pay for a Windows unit. A few years ago, one of the things I wanted when looking at a laptop was a 15" screen. With Windows the prices started around $500, with Mac the prices started around $1400. The other thing that kept me away from Macs was software comparability. Quite a few programs I use weren't available on the Mac OS, but that's getting better everyday. If Microsoft is unwilling to compromise on Windows 8, I may just take that HP rep's advice and switch to Mac.

19. speckledapple

Posts: 902; Member since: Sep 29, 2011

Someone prefering Vista to Win 8 is subjective at best and an opinion still. An experience that has more to do with HP and little to do with Microsoft is a lesson in the difference between the two. HP and that rep obviously has poor customer service not to mention the company as a whole doing little to nothing to support the customers that buy their products. HP just like every manu should make it easier to pick what a customer wants. That is their issue not that of Win 8. The confusion between the two goes that its easy to blame Microsoft for the fault of HP and companies like it but blame should be placed where its deserved. I do not think the desktop was gutted but its true that the desktop as it was traditionally understood has changed because of mobile. No one can deny or go back from that. iOS has influenced Macs and Lion. Android and certainly influenced Chromebooks. And of course WinPhone has influenced Win 8. The question though is whether all of this is so bad that it will drive people to use Macs or reduce Microsoft to a company that has no products to buy, the answer is doubtful. Some like you will voice their oposition but the majority may not share that idea and that is clear as Win 8 and its mobile desktop experience sells more and more everyday. I would guess that if someone is interested in Mac they shoud explore it and see if they like it better. Overall though, just like iOS or Android, that is an argument of a different type.

37. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

How I was treated by HP has nothing to do with the issues I have running Windows 8. I started out on Windows 3.1 and through each iteration, I was able to navigate it fairly easily. Sure a hiccup or two but nothing bad. Even going from 98 to xp was that big of a deal. But the point I have been trying to make is that what Microsoft has done is that with this release of Windows, they have effectively made it less intuitive to use. You make it sound like I'm the only one having problems with Windows 8. Look at the comments sections of articles reagrading it. Most the commentors are not happy. Currently, my Windows 8 unit sits there. Everytime I have gone to use it, I am met with frustration, to the point that I am using a laptop on it's last leg and risk losing recent work rather than deal with it. I could sell it, but if I do and my old laptop finally gives out, I'm going to have to buy a Windows 8 unit anyway apparently, so Imight as well hold onto it rather than take a loss selling this one and shell out more for a new one later.

21. UrbanPhantom

Posts: 949; Member since: Oct 30, 2012

HP's and DELL's problem was not putting touchscreens on new laptops, but they are now. WIN 8 absolutely rocks with a touch-screen, and my only complaint is they need to bring back the start button for desktop mode. It's basically WIN 7 under the hood, but faster and sleeker. Also, why would anybody want to switch to MAC, which is over-priced and underperforming? Unless you need Final Cut, I don't see the value in switching over. MACs are for people who like to stare at themselves in the mirror. You deserve a slap for even suggesting the MAC alternative ;o) I suggest you put start8 on your desktop, and there you go. WIN8 speed with a WIN7 interface. Problem solved.

38. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

While I was looking for a Windows 7 laptop to replace this Windows 8 unit, I saw hardly any touchscreens. I was checking Best Buy, OfficeMax, & Staples, and touchscreens were about 1/10 of the laptops offered. Funny, that I should be slapped for considering leaving the almighty Windows. I mean seriously, this is starting to sound like I'm talking with iphone users. I get that you and speckled like Windows 8, why is it that you can't fathom people not liking it? And that if they don't like it something must be wrong with them. Sorry, but if something new comes out, and it's harder to use than what came before it with not much over the previous besides a shiny new look, I don't consider that moving forward.

5. yero789 unregistered

I like Windows 8 very much.I have an old netbook,Samsung NP-NC100 with Intel Atom N455 processor and 2Gb of RAM,and it worked really awful with Windows 7 Starter,but I installed WIndows 8 Pro on it,and it really works much faster,lighter,I can install apps from store(even though I need to change the screen resolution all the time) and I have installed some cool games,which is always good.All in all I think that Microsoft did great job with Windows 8!

7. TheCynicalTechie

Posts: 78; Member since: Nov 19, 2012

Microsoft needs to forgo ARM all together and just combine Windows 8. Atom and AMD processors can power ARM equivalents and phones. In fact, having a phone that can acces the desktop with a clickable (middle click) trackpoint and two small mouse clicks would be perfect. Windows 8 is already more advanced than Android and iOS since it has been around longer. Why not just combine it and make a trackpoint a requirement?

11. papss unregistered

I love Windows 8 and wp8.. I have next to no complaints about either

13. darac

Posts: 2156; Member since: Oct 17, 2011

Next Nexus with android 5 will cover 99 percent of the computing needs imo. And you will probably be able to dual boot Ubuntu with it anyway

17. chaoticrazor

Posts: 2347; Member since: Aug 28, 2012

seriously why comment when everyone knows your just gonna praise android every chance you get. besides you have said in the past the likes of the note 2 already do what you say but now your saying a device you have to wait for will do this....face it no device will cover the the computing needs of every person not even 99% of them either windows over android in this area anyday, please dont start your android can compete with a full desktop os crap again

18. UrbanPhantom

Posts: 949; Member since: Oct 30, 2012

No Adobe or Autodesk = Android/Linux deal breaker

29. zippolite28

Posts: 107; Member since: Sep 28, 2012

Ppl here are getting crazy about android... :p

14. speckledapple

Posts: 902; Member since: Sep 29, 2011

Love the article. I think Win 8 is going to move us into something really different even those who many not want it to be. Nonetheless, I think Micorosft is moving in the right direction for its products. Not everyone will like it, not everyone will ease into it, but everyone will have to respect it as it grows in size and influence. Just the way it is.

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