Sunday, 11 May 2014

Who’s Afraid Of Windows 8?

I’m looking out for a new laptop, and found out that these days they all come with Windows 8.1. I don’t want a touch screen, just a run of the mill normal laptop, and having heard the comments about Windows 8.1 since its inception and the fact that its look and feel differ significantly from Windows 7, I’m a little reluctant to go there. I could, of course, reinstall the new laptop with Windows 7 - any thoughts?

I wouldn’t recommend wiping Windows 8.1 out in favour of Windows 7 (unless you would connect hardware to your laptop that isn’t supported by Windows 8.1). Doing so would only defer the inevitable, as sooner or later you’ll face updating to a newer Windows version anyway (assuming you’re indeed staying with Windows and don’t want venture out to e.g. Linux land or Apple kit).

That said, the Windows 8.1 ‘Modern Interface’ as it’s called, indeed looks like something you’d expect and want to see on a smartphone or tablet, but not on a PC desktop.

Luckily, Windows 8.1 also comes with a ‘Desktop Interface’, which looks more familiar. Switching between the two interfaces is done by clicking the button in the bottom left corner of the desktop, where the traditional Windows Start button or Orb used to be. Right-clicking that button pops up a context menu that contains a number of items, but still isn’t looking at all like what you were used to. The learning curve looks steep.

Not to worry. You don’t have to prepare mentally for increased blood pressure while having to learn using Windows 8.1 for day to day use, as fortunately a collective of clever people created a brilliant freeware tool called Classic Shell. Click the ‘Download Now!’ button and run the installer. Upon completion, clicking the button in the bottom left corner of the desktop will show you a menu like the one you’ve been used to all these years. Press the ‘Shift’ key while clicking the button, and you’ll switch to the Modern Interface, should you want to explore that new world.

In other words, Classic Shell helps you to hit the ground running, at the very least until Microsoft makes the Windows 8.1 update available that contains a Start button (it has been announced, without a target date).

No comments:

Post a Comment