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Meet Windows 8!

Last Friday, Microsoft launched its latest operating system, Windows 8.

And, I must say, it is kind of cool.

Windows 8 follows Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows ME, Windows 2000, Windows 98, and Windows 95, to name a few. It is is perhaps the most different of all its predecessors; you may like or not like the new features of Windows 8, and you may miss some of your old features. It is best to learn about Windows 8 before you decide whether it is for you at this time

Windows 8 is designed for desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and smart phones. Traditionally, you needed a mouse for a desktop computer and a touch pad for laptop — and you can certainly use these pointing devices with Windows 8 — but Microsoft has really engineered Windows 8 for use on touch screens: tablets, smartphones, desktop touch screens, and the brand new laptop touch screens.

The most significant new feature of Windows 8 is the “Start Screen:” the customizable application screen displayed in “tiles,” many of which update in real time (mail, social media, weather, etc.) without your having to open the program. From the Start Screen, you can get anywhere (internet, documents, programs, applications, email) and, for the most part, these destinations will look familiar.

You can also get to your familiar-looking desktop from the Start Screen, which functions the same as always, with the exception of the Start Button that used to be in the lower left corner of the screen; it does not exist in Windows 8. In Windows 8, when you move your mouse to the lower left corner of the screen, you will see a thumbnail-size image of the Start Screen. When you click on the thumbnail, the full-size Start Screen appears. The controls that you used to access from the Start Button, are available from the new Start Screen.

Windows 8 also includes an integrated Windows Store (from which you can purchase and download apps of all kinds), as well as the ability to wirelessly synchronize data among Windows devices.

Should you upgrade?

Here are some things to consider:

  • Cost $39.99, downloaded from the Microsoft website, billed to your credit card.
  • You can upgrade to Win 8 directly from: XP, Vista, or Win 7 (assuming minimum requirements; see Microsoft website for details).
  • The start of the process includes an “upgrade assistant” that reviews the programs in your computer and tells you which will work in Win 8 and which will not. You can run this analysis before committing to purchasing the upgrade.
  • The upgrading process includes a step where all of your files are moved to the new operating system, however, it is still a good idea to back up your data to an external storage device before you upgrade to Windows 8.
  • Upgrading takes at least an hour; you will not be able to use your computer for most of that time.
  • There is enough different about the new Start Screen that there will be a learning curve to become comfortable with it.
  • Because Microsoft is introducing a system that will be the same across all of its devices, investing the time in learning one device, will benefit you if you purchase other Windows 8 devices.

For more information about Windows 8, or to purchase the upgrade, click here: Meet Windows 8.