First Look at Windows 8 Pro on a Desktop PC

I got my copy of Windows 8 today thanks to Amazon’s super fast 2-day shipping and I’ve just spent the last 2 hours upgrading my Windows 7 PC and playing with Windows 8. So far, I’ve been able to sort out my tiled Start menu, install a few apps and learn how to do some new things as well as re-learn how to do some old things.


Windows 8 packagingAll you get is a fancy little box that opens up to reveal two dvd discs, a welcome card and a product key card. The two discs are the 32-bit and 64-bit versions and they use the same product key. Like Windows 7, I’m pretty sure you can use this one product key to install one copy of each. We’ll find out later when I go to upgrade my Windows partition of my Macbook.

The key card obviously holds your Windows license and unlike Windows 7, you cannot install Windows 8 without it. Before, you could skip the product key and use Windows for 30 days. Now you can’t continue the install without it.

Per request, here are two more photos from the box contents:
Windows 8 Pro disc and product key cardWindows 8 Pro welcome card

Upgrade Process

Windows 8 upgradeThe upgrade process was fairly straight forward. I popped in the Windows 8 64-bit disc and it asked me what I wanted to do. I could have either upgraded the OS while leaving my apps, settings and files and change nothing or I could have started with a fresh install. I chose to keep everything.

It then prompted me with an alert of sorts telling me that I had three things that needed to be uninstalled because the software wasn’t compatible with Windows 8. One of the items was my Trend Micro Antivirus software which I didn’t care about too much because the new 2013 version works just fine. Another one of the items was surprisingly my motherboard’s USB 3.0 drivers. But I uninstalled it anyway just to make Windows happy and of course once the upgrade was complete and the computer restarted, there was a new USB 3.0 driver in place…this time Microsoft’s version.

So the whole process took place while I watched an episode of The Office on my Macbook which means, including the initial uninstalls (and subsequent restart), I was able to upgrade my Windows 7 PC to Windows 8 Pro in about 30 minutes. This timeframe may have been longer than most considering I had a great deal of programs, settings and files that Windows had to skate around to get working.

After the system came back up, I was prompted with an initial setup procedure that asked me some basic questions about how to configure my computer and a new feature that I actually really liked was whether I wanted to log into my computer using a local account or my Windows Live id. I’ll go over that in a bit.

Overall, the upgrade was painless and very simple. Even with a few roadblocks, everything went in smoothly and there was no loss of data or any programs except those that had to be removed before upgrading.

New Features

I don’t feel like getting into the new tile system that everyone is either praising or slamming, so let’s skip that and go right into the first few new things I noticed. As I mentioned before, one of the first new features was the ability to log into Windows with either a local user account or a Windows Live account. Using the latter allows you to retain your settings and app information when logging into another Windows 8 computer. This will do wonders for the IT department at your office if this feature turns into something that will replace roaming profiles!

Anyway, here are just a few others…

  • Media Center – Media Center is available as an add-on to Windows 8 Pro and it normally comes with the Windows 8 Pro Pack which is $69.99, but Microsoft is offering it for free until January 31, 2013 from the Windows website. I haven’t installed it yet because I am still waiting for my product key, but I’ll update this section when I do.
  • Windows Store

  • Windows Store – Just like you’d expect from Apple on your iPhone or Google Play on your Android, the Windows store provides you with a gateway to all the great Windows 8 apps. Imagine playing Angry Birds on your desktop with your mouse! I did last night and it was amazing. You can also replace simple tasks you used to complete on your internet browser with actual apps. For example, you can install apps for eBay, Wikipedia, Netflix and Hulu just to name a few. These new apps integrate better with your system rather than having to rely on a browser to work.
  • Solitaire – I just had to mention this!! As a Windows user since version 3.1 (before 95), I’ve very excited to see that Solitaire is once again in Windows 8. This time however, they have blown this thing up. First, you not only get 5 variations of the game, but it now links to your Xbox Live account so you can earn achievements and compete in daily challenges.
  • Charms – When you place your mouse in the upper right corner, these little icons pop out and allow you to search, share and configure settings. The cool thing about this is that the buttons are applicable to the app you have loaded. So clicking on settings when the desktop is up will give you access to the Control Panel and doing so in your favorite app would give you that app’s settings.

I will provide a follow-up on the features list when I’ve had more time to play around with everything in detail.

My Thoughts

Everyone who hates the “metro” look really needs to play with it. They need to configure it to their tastes and make a real go at it before knocking it. I remember when I originally played with the preview versions, I didn’t care for it too much, but now that I see everything connected and working seamlessly together it’s a whole new experience.

I’ll admit this will take some getting used to but for those of you out there that are scared your classic Windows is gone, I assure you it’s not. Tiles is just a new Start menu and just like anything new in life, takes a little getting used to. Is it for everybody? Of course not. But trust me when I say it sure does make things look cleaner and more organized.

I recommend Windows 8 Pro and can’t wait until I can get it installed on a touch device.

Windows 8 versus Windows 8 RT

I’m writing this mainly for a friend, but after looking into the subject, I figured my site could use a bit of information on the matter as well. Windows 8 releases tomorrow and as expected, it comes in multiple flavors depending on your specific needs. There are some key differences between them, so listen up!

Windows 8 EditionsFirst, let’s look at the list of Windows 8 editions:

  • Windows 8 – Available in 32 and 64 bit versions, Windows 8 is the most basic edition you can get. It features all of the most essential requirements a typical home user would need like live tiles, Windows Store, Internet Explorer 10, Microsoft account integration, the standard desktop, etc. Windows 8 is the direct replacement of Windows 7 Home Basic.
  • Windows 8 Pro – Windows 8 Pro also comes in both 32 and 64 bit versions and includes everything Windows 8 has, but it adds more business-like features such as Remote Desktop, Windows server domain compatibility, encrypted file system, Hyper-V, Virtual Hard Disk booting, Group Policy and BitLocker. Media Center can be added to Windows 8 Pro as a free add-on. Windows 8 Pro is a direct replacement of Windows 7 Pro and Ultimate editions.
  • Windows 8 Enterprise – This edition will be much harder to find as it’s only intended for high-end corporate networks that require more than what Pro can do. Enterprise includes everything that Pro has (minus Media Center capabilities) and adds features like Windows To Go, DirectAccess and BranchCache.
  • Windows 8 RT – Windows 8 RT will only be available on ARM devices such as tablets and other mobile devices. RT features touch-optimized apps such as Office 2013 RT which ships free with Widows 8 RT.

As you can see by this list, Windows RT is considered to be the mobile version of Windows 8. The most notable difference will be how you get apps. On a typical Windows PC, to get software, you can download it or install it from a disc or local network share. On a Windows RT device, the only way to get software is to buy it from the Windows Store. This is because Windows 8 RT only has a partial desktop.

Let’s compare this setup to Apple. Apple makes computers and tablets. On their computers, they offer a full operating system called OSX (current version is 10.8.2, codenamed Mountain Lion), while on their tablets, they offer a mobile operating system called iOS (current version is 6.0.1). There are many things that can’t be done in iOS as compared to OSX.

So, if you’re planning on getting the Microsoft Surface, consider your choice. If you’re looking to have to a direct copy of your Windows 8 desktop with all the same features and the ability to install software not from the Windows Store, you should wait until the next version of Surface comes out (hopefully soon). But take into consideration that while RT comes with a free version of Office 2013 RT, the regular version of Office 2013 will cost you.

My Thoughts

I hope I like Windows 8 after I upgrade my desktop tomorrow. If I do, then I might consider buying a Microsoft Surface with full blown Windows 8 in order to have a device that syncs everything with my desktop. On the other hand, if Windows 8 doesn’t do much for me in the way of syncing my life as it is, I might just stick with Android on a new Nexus device although I’m hearing about a program called BlueStacks that allows Android apps to run on Windows 8!! This month has so many new things coming out…the choices are endless!

Then again, there’s always the $8,000 touch-screen table that has a computer in it.

Will Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango) Cut It?

The simple answer to this question is YES. After taking a look at some of the new features that Microsoft is bringing to the table, I have a feeling that between Windows Phone 7.5 and iOS 5, Android is going to have a tough time finding a spot to fit in. It would be interesting if I’m right considering Microsoft hasn’t had the best start in the smartphone arena with the new Windows Phone operating system.

I have to say that with all the latest news surrounding the new Nokia N9 and the subsequent complaints about it being the first and last device to run Nokia’s MeeGo operating system, I was stuck with a decision I hate making. That decision is whether I should buy a new phone with a new OS or stick with the tried and true iPhone and its new iOS 5 coming out this fall. In the last 4 years, I’ve used nothing but iPhone and surrounded myself with friends that use iPhone too, so I’ll admit I’m a little behind when it comes to knowing about other options that are out there.

But thanks in part to my brother showing me the “light” of how great Android is, I’ve started growing bored with my iPhone. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Apple products and my MacBook still reins at the top of the list when it comes to computers, but it’s time for a change. I’m tired of Apple being behind everyone else when it comes to the most basic features. As a result, I’ve been looking heavily into Android, but after reading articles touting Microsoft as a new contender in the market, I’m now turning my head toward Windows Phone 7.

Windows Phone 7.5

I used to own smartphones that ran Windows Mobile and I never had pleasant experiences with them so I gave up on Microsoft producing phone software. After seeing what Windows Phone 7 has brought to the table, I was slightly interested in seeing more and even considered using it at one point, but I was stuck in a contract with AT&T and iPhone 4.

Now is the time to explore my options and even though I love the Nokia N9, I don’t feel like using a phone where the operating system will eventually stop being supported. If in the future, the N9 or some other powerhouse Nokia device starts using Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango), I think we’ll have a winner. It would be even more interesting if this combo happens because it’ll be like coming full circle for me—I started with Nokia 10 years ago and my first smartphone was Windows-based. Let’s take a look at Windows Phone 7.5 Mango:


I think the best feature Mango has going for it (besides the 500-some features that Microsoft says will be included) is the fact that it’s built around people. Simply put, in comparison to every other device out there, Mango doesn’t require you to open one app, perform a task, then close it, open another app and perform a different task, etc., etc. For example, in the People tile, you can click on a name and see all of that person’s social updates like Facebook status, Twitter updates and more. You can then chat with that person right from the same screen, place a call or send an email. There’s no app-jumping here.

My two cents

From what I’ve seen in the above video and countless others on YouTube, I have to give Mango two thumbs up and I also have to say that this fall is going to be an exciting time with new phones coming out from all the usual suspects (but maybe not Apple), new operating system updates and Nokia positioning itself to make a huge comeback after their new deal with Microsoft to load their phones with Windows Phone 7. This might be the first time in 4 years that I decide the iPhone is not for me.

Check out everything that Windows Phone 7.5 has to offer.

Nokia N9 and MeeGo OS

Just one day after Nokia officially announced their new N9 phone, the naysayers are already coming out of the woodwork. I’ll be honest, I didn’t know much about Nokia in recent times because I’ve been focused on my own battlefront of iPhone vs Android phones, but after reading practically everything I could find about the N9 phone and Nokia in general, it was interesting to learn about what’s been going on.Nokia N9

First of all, the new N9 phone has just been announced, it has no release date, no pricing information and we’re not even sure which countries will be able to get the phone—Nokia’s website allows us to believe that the device will only hit 23 countries, not including the U.S., the U.K. or even India.

Second, in light of Nokia’s new partnership deal with Microsoft, some wonder why Nokia would build a new device using an operating system that appears to be on its deathbed.

Nokia’s MeeGo OS

Whether or not MeeGo is being used on any mass-market devices, it doesn’t appear to be going anywhere. In fact, MeeGo is still being used on many mobile devices including netbooks, in-car stereos and tablets. The design of the software lends itself to the mobile platform in that it doesn’t require grossly over-powered system specs and tons of bells and whistles just to make it work.

However, after a failed partnership between Nokia and Intel not more than a year ago, Nokia was left wondering whether to drop MeeGo and go with Microsoft’s Windows Phone or Google’s Android or perhaps branch out on its own. We all know that Nokia might be a great hardware maker, but can they do software too?

Unfortunately there’s no telling what they might be doing, but with yesterday’s announcement of the new N9 phone that contains MeeGo and the fact that we know Nokia is developing Windows phones, one might speculate that Nokia will be utilizing two different operating systems to give choice to its customers.

Nokia and Windows Phone

Nokia and Microsoft struck a deal last Thursday to develop new phones using the Windows Phone operating system and Nokia’s world-famous devices. This partnership “is good for the industry”, said Steve Balmer of Microsoft. In fact, the announcement was so good that Eric Schmidt from Google might be shaking in his boots after his failed attempt to get Nokia to run with Android.

Nokia Windows Phone

It’s estimated that Android is poised to become the leading mobile phone operating system by the end of 2011 with Windows slowly taking up the second spot by 2015 thanks to this new deal. I guess that puts iOS in third?!

A Nokia device with the Windows Phone OS is probably just what both companies need. I’ve used the Windows Phone OS a few times and I have to say it’s not bad, but the choice of phones is not all that great. I still have bad memories of all the Verizon and Sprint phones using Windows Mobile! Only time will tell how this marriage plays out, but from what we’ve seen so far, things aren’t looking to shabby.

My two cents

There’s no doubt that the N9 is coming out with MeeGo and there’s also no doubt that Nokia is making devices with Windows Phone on them, but what does this mean? Some people are assuming that MeeGo is dead (or dying) and that the N9 will do nothing in terms of sales. This could also explain why Nokia hasn’t jumped back into the U.S. market yet. Others, like me, are thinking that Nokia will stick with both systems—possibly using MeeGo as an alternative to place into budget devices or phones not geared for a U.S. launch. Personally, I’m not leaning toward the “budget” theory because the N9 is estimated to cost about $700.

There’s no doubt that I’ll keep a close eye on these developments because I haven’t been this excited about a new phone since the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4. Let’s hope that the way of the future is that phones and operating systems will be made and in the end, users can pick and choose which combinations they like best. This thought may not be too far from reality considering that phones are starting to turn into little computers.

Whatever happened to Microsoft Bob?

An email was sent to me today with a link going over the top 10 failures of Microsoft and one of my favorites on the list came in at number 2: Microsoft Bob. I remember wanting to own this program because I thought for some reason, it would make life easier. Let’s see why…

Back in 1995, Windows 95 was released as a follow-up to the ever-so-popular Windows 3.1. If you remember correctly, there wasn’t much in the way of operating systems before Windows and without it (let’s be honest), there wouldn’t be much of computer world today. What’s interesting is that Windows 95 was supposed to be the crown jewel of the industry—making computing far easier than it had even been and with a bit of flash too. So why then must Microsoft create another piece of software on top of Windows that’s supposed to make things easier??

Introducing Microsoft Bob

Bob was a house. A virtual house that contained a virtual dog and many different rooms of varying design and function. This is how it worked:

  • You logged into Windows 95 – After realizing it was much too difficult to perform any tasks, you opened Bob.
  • Bob launches – You’re presented with a door that allows you to sign in.
  • You choose a room – Based on what tasks you want to do, you pick a room that has what you want inside.
  • Open an app – Click on the applicable icon to open the app you want to use.
  • Follow instructions – Now you get hand-walked through every single step of doing even the most mundane tasks.

For the best instructional walkthrough, you must watch this video:


I think what’s most disturbing about how Bob worked was just how much more difficult things seemed to get after using him. This is pure irony considering Bob was supposed to simplify things. Bill gates was even quoted as saying Bob was ahead of his time. I’m sure at that time, this seemed far-fetched, but if you really think about it, software interfaces have become more GUI-based and things are becoming much easier to do on computers than ever before.

$0.45 per email?!

As I was learning more about Bob, I found out that when he came out, the Internet was just starting to take off so Bob included an email app that would allow you to send up to 15 emails per month that were each limited to 5,000 characters. Beyond that, you would have to pay $0.45 per email sent! These emails were sent over the MCIMail service, which was essentially a dial-up email account.

Can you imagine having to pay to send emails? What a bargain—a stamp to mail a real letter cost $0.32 and an email cost $0.45. I guess things have really changed for the better. Now you can buy a stamp for $0.44 and send as many emails as you want for free. I wish we could still charge spammers though.