Windows 8 came out a couple days before Halloween and I've had a lot of calls from people asking me if they should consider upgrading.
In the past, whenever Microsoft released a new operating system, I have always advised people not to jump on the band wagon right away but rather stay with their proven operating system for as long as possible (a year or more) to give the folks at Microsoft enough time to work out all the bugs that get submitted after the new operating system has been released into the wild.
Sometimes the transition goes smoothly (as it did with the transition to Windows XP) and sometimes the transition is a disaster (as it was with Windows ME) but in the past, it was always fairly easy to find new machines running the older, more proven operating systems and wait until they got all the bugs fixed on the new system before making a change. This strategy helped many people avoid the Windows Vista fiasco several years ago and instead transition straight into the more stable Windows 7.
Well here we are just a couple weeks after the release of Windows 8 and I'm afraid the strategy of waiting a goodly amount of time for them to prove the new system in the real world just might be limited this time around.
You see, just a few days after the release of Windows 8 I ventured down to the local big-box office supply store to have a look and was really surprised to find only Windows 8 machines on the floor! I asked the sales guy if they still had any Windows 7 machines. He brought me over to a rack with a half a dozen tags or so that you could bring to the cashier and they would get one of the remaining Windows 7 machines from the back but was told they have none "on the floor." And when the ones they have in the back were gone that was it. No more Windows 7 machines would be available from that big box store.
This time around I'm not so sure how long the older, proven Windows 7 operating systems are going to be available on new machines.
So, what exactly is wrong with Windows 8? Well, that's the real question now isn't it? Until the new system has had some time in the real world to shake out the bugs we really don't know what, if anything, is wrong with it. It may be the most stable system yet but one thing that is obvious at a glance is that Windows 8 is the most radical operating system change since it went from Windows 3.1 to Windows 95.
The biggest, most glaring change is that with Windows 8, Microsoft has seen fit to do away with the Windows start button (the button at the lower left corner of the desktop that first came out with Windows 95) and replace it with a new-fangled start screen that in no way resembles the start menu that we've been using for almost 20 years!
It's like they've decided that all machines are tablets now which they most certainly are not.
Last week I answered my first call on a Windows 8 machine and I'll be honest, I wasn't prepared at all for what I encountered.
I spent a considerable amount of time just looking around trying to find the familiar features, tools and controls that we've come to expect in Windows and found that (thankfully) most of the tools and features are still there, it's finding them that's the problem.
After I successfully completed that call I did something I'd advised against oh so many times and went out and bought a machine with Windows 8 just so I would have a system to become familiar with. The You Tube videos just weren't going to cut it this time around.
I'm happy to say that I can indeed support the new system. When people call for support I know how to walk them through getting connected to me quickly and that's 90 percent of the battle.
Once I'm connected I can help people learn the new system, find what they are looking for and get their problems solved. And so far so good, aside from the missing start button the system seems lightning fast and pretty stable. I just hope no serious "gotchas" pop up this early in the game.
Sean McCarthy fixes computers. He can be reached at (888) 752-9049 or help@ComputeThisOnline.com (no hyphens).