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Gadget Review: Windows 8 is here!

Sneha Mahale, Hindustan Times
Mumbai, October 31, 2012
First Published: 14:23 IST(31/10/2012)
Last Updated: 18:40 IST(5/11/2012)
A man takes pictures of a monitor during an event promoting the debut of Microsoft Corp's Windows 8 operating system at the Akihabara electronic shops district in Tokyo. Reuters/Toru Hanai

Techies know about every new device or upgrades that hit the market, while the average buyer rarely connects with terms like interface, navigation or fluid movement. But we all want more from our tablets or PCs in terms of design, usage and apps.

Here’s how Windows 8 stacks up. The start screen catches your attention instantly with its live tiles. The moving tiles, which can be a combination of games, apps, email accounts and a whole lot more, can be personalised, so no two screens ever look the same. But herein is the problem. You need to learn too much to adapt to this new system.

While it isn’t particularly hard (we got the basics in a few swipes and pinches), detractors have a point when they say that, at times, it feels like there is just too much happening. And though you have the option of using the conventional mouse and keyboard, its beauty lies in the touch experience that involves eight common gestures such as swipe, drag, press and hold. If you aren’t a multi-tasker, stick to Windows 7.

This version is for those who do four or five things at a time. It’s possible to check emails, listen to music and chat simultaneously. The upgrade from 7 to 8 is easy. The hardware requirements are the same, and you retain the apps you purchased earlier. For those looking for something new, Microsoft has launched over 250 Windows 8 enabled devices in India, including 23 completely new ones.

Mails: Pin your email accounts to the home screen and stay updated on the work and home fronts. A few lines of the email received can be seen on the start screen giving you the option of either clicking for more or ignoring it for later.

Internet Explorer: Windows 8 comes with Internet Explorer 10. To the average surfer, it means that pages load faster. You can also pin your favourite websites to the start screen. But Bing is still a change for users hooked on to Google.

Windows Store:  While the store does offer you the usual suspects like Angry Birds, Make My Trip etc, it feels limited. But Windows says new apps are being added every day. Just don’t expect an early Christmas.

Picture password: Another novel add-on. It involves you performing touch gestures over an image to unlock. It’s far more interesting (and easier to remember) than a date of birth or your primary school teacher’s name.

Calendar: Set up meetings, keep appointments, set reminders and never forget birthdays or anniversaries. The calendar app can also show up on the start screen when it is locked.

SkyDrive: This is easily one of the best features of Windows 8. Storage issues are redundant now. Just save files or photos on the SkyDrive and access them from any device with an Internet connection by using your Microsoft login. You can enable apps to include content from SkyDrive.

Video and Music: Alongside tiles of your own music and video collections, you’ll find content from Microsoft’s Store, allowing you to buy tracks, albums and buy or rent movies from the Zune store.

Xbox: You also get the best games with a premier gaming experience. Connect and play with friends and create your own unique gamer avatar. You can even purchase games for your Xbox 360.

Desktop: If the live tiles on your start screen feels too heady, this option takes you back to the familiar desktop experience. But if you don’t want to use the live tiles, why opt for Windows 8 in the first place?

Messaging: You don’t need to shut one account and start another while chatting with friends anymore. This app brings together all Messenger and Facebook chat contacts on one platform.

Photos: It pulls all of your pictures together into one place. So now your albums from Facebook, Flickr, SkyDrive and all the pictures on your system are always with you.


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