Windows 8, decoded
To Win 8 or not to Win 8, that is the question many people are asking in the wake of the launch of Microsoft's latest Windows software. We answer eight common questions that many consumers have been asking about the OS
Q If I don’t upgrade, will my PC running Windows 7/ Vista become obsolete and unusable?
A No. Windows 7 or Windows Vista will not be abandoned totally or will become defunct. According to the latest statistics, 44.71 per cent of computers still run on Windows 7, and a further 39.82 on the even older Windows XP. So if you don’t upgrade to Windows 8, your computer will still work fine, and you will still get software that runs on it.
Q I am very happy with Windows 7. What will I miss if I don’t upgrade to Windows 8?
A Most of the world is still using Windows 7. Windows 8, however, gives you a smoother, faster and intuitive interface. So you will have live tiles on your desktop which refresh with new information, support for gestures and much faster operation in terms of starting up and shutting down. This, we reckon, is the most radical change we have seen being made to Windows for a while.
Q I have a lot of software on my current computer which runs Windows 7. Will all of it work with Windows 8 or will I have to purchase new versions of it?
A In all probability, all your Windows 7 software will run just fine on your Windows 8 computer. Most Windows 8 machines come with a Desktop Mode on which you can run most of the software you have purchased for earlier versions of Windows. In fact, the Desktop Mode looks almost exactly like the desktop you encounter on Windows 7.
Q Does Windows 8 work only with touchscreens?
A Not at all. Although most of the promotions surrounding Windows 8 focus on its touch-friendliness, the fact is that it can work well even on non-touchscreen devices. You will just have to use your mouse and trackpad for the gestures you would have made on the touchscreen. That said, we would like to point out that using it on a touchscreen is a lot easier than using it with a trackpad.
Q What is Windows RT? Is it better or worse than the normal Windows 8?
A Remember all the different versions of Windows 7 — Home Premium, Pro and so on? Well, Windows 8 has them too. Windows RT is a version of Windows 8 that has been designed to run on devices that are based on the ARM architecture — or in simple English, tablets and other mobile devices (the most famous of which is the Microsoft Surface). While Windows 8 is more for the full-fledged Windows experience, Windows RT is a slightly scaled down version of it — the Desktop Mode will support only those applications which come installed with the computer, and there is no Windows Media Player, for instance. However, on the flipside, devices running it are likely to cost a whole lot lesser than Windows 8 touchscreen ones. Another bonus is that Windows RT devices will come with a version of MS Office 2013. Incidentally, you cannot purchase Windows RT over the counter — it will only come installed on a device!
Q Do I need to buy a new computer for running Windows 8?
A No. If your computer runs Windows 7 or Windows Vista, it will run Windows 8 just fine. Of course, the better and more recent the hardware, the better your experience is likely to be, but then that applies to all software, doesn’t it?
Q Will all the accessories (speakers, USB keys, Internet dongles, printer) I have bought for my Windows 7 computer work if I move to Windows 8?
A Almost certainly. The only cases we have seen of accessories not working with Windows 8 are those that are on the older (Windows XP generation) type. If your accessory was purchased within the last two to three years, it has a fair chance of running very well on Windows 8. Mind you, in some cases (like some of the Internet dongles we have seen), you might have to go into Desktop Mode to use them.
Q Most of the devices announced running Windows 8 seem to be high-end ones costing well above Rs 50,000. If I want the complete Windows 8 experience without spending a bomb, what is the best device for me at the moment?
A As we said earlier, although a touchscreen is not mandatory to run Windows 8, you do get the best experience of the OS if you purchase a device with a touchscreen interface. And if you want one without blowing a major hole in your wallet, then we would recommend considering the Asus F202E VivoBook, which comes with a 11.6 inch touchscreen display, an Intel Core i3 1.8 GHz processor, 4GB RAM and a 500 GB hard drive, and also a complete keyboard. It’s currently priced at Rs 39,900 and in our opinion is the best Windows 8 experience for those with less than deep pockets. Of course, we expect even more affordable devices to come along as time passes — that is the inevitable rule of technology.