Sorry about the delay in getting this third and final installment on Windows 8 posted. It's not like I was having trouble with my newly-installed operating system that required a complete reformat and reinstall, right?
Let's start at the beginning. This last post will cover my personal experiences from working with Windows 8 over the last month. Although what follows is mostly positive, there have been a few bumps in the road along the way.
First, adjusting to the Metro interface may take some time. Even more so if you've never interacted with a smartphone before. Unlike, say, the nearly overwhelming change from DOS to Windows or even Windows 3.1 to Windows 95, upgrading to Windows 8 is more of an adjustment than a complete "start from scratch" re-education. I found the easiest way to adjust was to find analogies to previous operating systems. For example, although there is no longer a Start button, the Metro screen itself is comparable to the Start menu and by right-clicking the lower-left corner of the screen, you're able to directly access a number of useful utilities that often required more effort in Windows XP/Vista/7.
Second, the approach that Windows 8 takes to handling applications is a bit different. The friendly "X" to close a program is a rarity now. Actually, unless you specifically request it, programs don't close at all when you're done with them -- they merely shuffle off into the background. I found the easiest way to deal with this was to close them anyway by moving the cursor to the upper-left corner of the screen, right-clicking on the program you want to close and then selecting Close.
Third, like all new operating systems, sometimes drivers are not immediately available or are still in a beta state. This happened to me with my sound card, a Creative Labs Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium. Although the built-in drivers were sufficient, I was missing all of the functionality that Creative Labs Windows 7 drivers provided. Although a beta release was available at launch, it suffered from an annoying bug that muted all sound to the speakers until they were reconfigured. Fortunately, WHQL certified drivers were released to resolve this issue.
Fourth, for those who were up in arms about the Metro interface and the lack of a Desktop, guess what? Desktop is still there, offering an experience comparable to the previous operating systems. The major difference is the lack of a Start button, which I've already covered. To be honest, I spend the majority of my time on the Desktop anyway and find it just as easy to use as in Windows 7.
Finally, I'll mention some of the problems I've been having with Windows 8. The first was fairly minor. For those who are unfamiliar, the Windows Experience Index is a way to test your hardware with a number of basic benchmarks. I honestly feel it was just designed to give speed junkies bragging rights when they wanted to convince their friends whose rig was faster. Regardless, I'm always curious as to how my ancient and decrepit box holds up, so I decided to run WEI shortly after I installed Windows 8.
Unfortunately, running the WEI generated an error: "The Windows Experience Index for your system could not be computed.
Could not measure storage performance. Error: Failed to properly assess
the disk. Incorrect function." I won't go into everything I tried to fix this issue (although the curious may want to check out my plea for help from the Microsoft Community at http://tiny.cc/dix5qw) but let's just say that even after a fresh reinstall, the error persists (and the aforementioned Microsoft Community is oddly silent).
Which leads us to my most recent difficulty, which serves as a lesson in humility on my part and a warning that should be relayed to every Internet user, new or old: don't believe everything you read on the Internet, as evidenced here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmx4twCK3_I
A few days ago I decided to get a jump on the tax season and install Intuit's Turbo Tax on my PC. My attempt was immediately thwarted by an error message ".Net 4.0 Framework verification tool can't be found." As might be expected, Intuit blamed Microsoft and an hour or so of web searches revealed that Microsoft, for the most part, blamed Intuit. In addition to discovering that in my research, I also came across a dozen or more possible solutions to the problem, all of which failed. In desperation, I made one last ditch effort by following instructions that indicated I should delete a sub-folder from within the .Net folder, reboot and then try the reinstall.
No, I don't know what made me do it and no, I have no idea why I didn't make a backup of the folder. <sigh> So, the end result is what you might expect -- I hosed my .Net install. To make matters worse, since .Net 4.5 is built into Windows 8, reinstalling it is not an option. After a few more hours of research, no viable solution presented itself.
At this point I felt I'd done enough damage and resigned myself to doing my taxes through Intuit's website and skipping the software install entirely. Well, that was until I tried to do some work with Windows Firewall and received multiple error messages about missing files. Was it related to my previous blunder or was it something new? At that point, I pretty much didn't care, so I backed up all of my files and did a complete reinstall.
With that said, please don't let these two minor flaws prevent you from enjoying Windows 8. If you're in the market for a new laptop or desktop, the odds are you'll be using this operating system for the foreseeable future. If you're a current Windows 7 user and you're contemplating an upgrade, however, I can't really recommend it. There is no vital reason to move to Windows 8 at this time. XP/Vista users, though, might want to consider making the switch, especially with the upgrade currently going for $39.99 ( just be warned that will increase to $119.99 on February 1st).
As always, please feel free to comment with questions or requests for clarification.