A little over a month ago, my notebook crashed with a corrupted hard drive after an improper shutdown. I decided to take the plunge and go to Windows 8 instead of re-installing Windows 7 and all of my programs, because I had a good backup of all my data files, but alas – no drive image.
At the same time, I decided to upgrade to an SSD, which increased performance substantially, and breathed some life into my relatively old laptop that is long past its expected usable lifespan of 3 years.
The trick to make Windows 8 behave like Windows 7 is to install the free “Classic Start menu” add-on, which causes Windows 8 to boot into desktop mode and gives me a start menu just like I’m used to.
I had a few issues with AutoCAD and graphics drivers for my ancient video card, which I was able to obtain drivers for. I had an issue installing AutoDesk Inventor, which I was able to fix by logging on as a local system administrator (rather than a domain admin with cached credentials).
The only real annoyance that I have had with Windows 8 is that the default viewer for certain file types (for example mp3, jpg, png) defaults to the tiled Modern UI (formerly Metro) version of the viewer, rather than the desktop version. Over time, you can change the default viewer for these file types, and eventually you won’t get the tiled interface at all.
There is a little bit of a learning curve, but once you know the trick it is easy – basically, there are “hot corners” you can mouse over. If you ever find yourself in the Modern UI, go to the top left corner and choose desktop, and you’ll be back to the normal user interface you are familiar with.
Rumor has it that the next release of Windows (code-named Windows Blue, think of it more like Windows 8.1 not Windows 9) will contain a built-in desktop mode preference setting, but I doubt if it will change those file viewer associations. We’ll know more when it’s released to the public this June. All in all, Windows 8 hasn’t been all that annoying for me – actually, it’s been quite fast and reliable. I’m not sure what all the complaining about Win 8 is all about – it works fine for me, after getting all my settings dialed in.