If you haven't lived under a rock, there's a good chance you've gotten wind of Microsoft's newest operating system. Those who were excited to see what the new operating system was all about had the first chance to take a look back in February when Microsoft released the Windows 8 Consumer Preview.
More than a million downloads happened on the first day the preview was released, but users were in shock when big changes awaited them. By far the most controversial was the replacement of the Start menu for the new Start screen and, by nature, Microsoft's decision to get rid of the Start button in desktop mode.
For the first time since Windows 95, the Start button is no longer the heart of the operating system, but has disappeared for good.
In the final version of Windows 8, clicking the lower left corner of the screen – where the Start button is usually located – launches the Metro interface (or whatever it is called now). The new tile-based interface is fundamentally different from anything used on a Windows desktop, and is similar to what we've successfully seen on the latest iterations of Windows Phone.
However, many users seem struggling to take care of it. Personally, despite using Windows 8 for several months, I am still undecided whether I like the new user interface or not. It certainly takes some time to get used to, and because of this, I have not come to any conclusions yet.
Aside from my opinion, there are tons of users who have already shunned the new user interface, and many of them heard their thoughts in our recent editorial, "Windows 8: Why the Absence of the Start Menu Is Irrelevant". While everyone likes to try to remind Microsoft how much of a flop some previous operating systems like ME and Vista were and that Windows 8 won't be any better, we believe the new operating system still has a lot going for it.
Microsoft's PR machine has been working hard for the past few months trying to explain the numerous improvements that Windows 8 has received in the backend. The good news is that it shows.
From the two previews and the final version of Windows 8, it can be seen that the operating system is more fluid than Windows 7. Windows 8 has been well documented to start and shut down faster, which wasn't a big surprise. Perhaps inevitably a couple of year old OS installation will bloat (in the case of Windows 7), but when you switch from a hard drive to an SSD it just looks a little faster. This was surprising as I wasn't expecting to notice a huge difference for general use.
This is just an informal observation, of course, and we're here to back up those impressions with hard numbers (read: many benchmarks on the pages to come).
When Vista first arrived I remember how it compared to XP and was extremely disappointed with the results. Vista was generally rough around the edges and that included drivers, so gaming and productivity applications were mostly slower in the new operating system.
To compare Windows 7 and Windows 8, we'll measure and test the performance of various aspects of the operating system, including: startup and shutdown times, file copying, coding, browsing, gaming, and some synthetic benchmarks. Just like that …