Feeds

Windows 8

Apple iOS 7 makes some users literally SICK. As in puking, not upset

Excessive zoom and 3D-effect graphics in Apple's latest iOS is leaving some users reaching for the sick bucket

Windows 8: Is Microsoft's new OS too odd to handle?

Not ready installing on drive C: abort, retry or fail?

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

The big question. You are happily trundling along with Windows 7 and everything is fine. Should you upgrade to Windows 8, at Microsoft's tempting price of £24.99, or $39.99, for a downloadable copy?

There is always the safe option of leaving well alone, but tell that to anyone who regretted installing Windows Vista and had to wait until Windows 7 arrived. For them, upgrading was a no-brainer: Windows 7 was faster, prettier and more stable than the previous edition. You know, the sort of thing you expect from an operating system update. But how does Win 7 compare to Win 8, the operating system that attempts to work as well on touchscreens as it does with a mouse and keyboard.

A quick straw poll on Twitter revealed a mix of delight and uncertainty. "I will definitely update my two Windows 7 machines on 25 Oct," said developer John Wright. "I really like the new user interface."

Writer Jon Hassell likes it too, adding: "I found after a week I was used to it, and now using a Windows 7 machine, I miss some things."

Not so for Chris Nahr, another programmer. "I plan to get a Surface [Windows 8] Pro but I won't upgrade on desktop because Win 8 really seems a downgrade there," he said. It's was a thought echoed by a Twitter user pretending to be a cat: "Very minor improvements on the desktop side are far outweighed by it making everything slightly more frustrating."

Designer Ian Smith commented: "I want to run one OS that's solid, not two that keep interfering with each other and appear to have been rushed to market."

No consensus then; but here is a dispassionate look at the issues. How hard is it, and what are the gains and losses?

Upgrading Windows can be painful. In-place upgrades risk spoiling the new OS with lingering problems from the off, while clean installs mean reinstalling applications - and where was that activation key again? But do you have the choice? This chart on TechNet lays out the options: you can only preserve application installs if going from Windows 7 to Windows 8 and not leaping from 32-bit to 64-bit. Most applications that work on Windows 7 still work on Windows 8 - even Minecraft, whose creator Markus Persson claimed Microsoft is "trying to ruin the PC as an open platform".

Windows 8 task manager

The new Windows 8 Task Manager is prettier and more functional than before

There are exceptions, especially with software that interacts with the hardware at a low level - such as drivers and printer drivers - so proceed with caution.

Presuming you have the time and patience though, there are some solid gains even for desktop users. Performance is better. Windows 8 boots faster thanks to a new hybrid between cold boot and hibernation; Microsoft claims a 30 to 70 per cent improvement. Graphics performance has also been boosted, we're told, and switching between networks is faster: small details, but my own experience with the RTM (release to manufacturers) build confirms that Windows 8 feels faster.

There are also some handy new features. One of the biggest (for those who need it) is Hyper-V, Microsoft's hypervisor for running virtual machines, which has now come to the desktop in place of the inferior Virtual PC. Another feature migrated from the server side of the OS is Storage Spaces, which lets you consolidate multiple drives into a single expandable pool of storage.

A new Task Manager is both prettier and more powerful. Explorer has a ribbon UI, which has received a mixed reaction though it is better at exposing all the options, and there is a new dialogue box during file copying that shows all the underway transfers with options to pause and resume them.

These are nice though not game-changing improvements, so why the controversy? The problem is Microsoft's decision to bolt a new touch-friendly platform onto Windows. The Start menu is replaced by a Start screen, and desktop users find their computing interrupted by full-screen apps with huge fonts and hidden menus and settings.

SANS - Survey on application security programs

More from The Register

next story
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Oh no, Joe: WinPhone users already griping over 8.1 mega-update
Hang on. Which bit of Developer Preview don't you understand?
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Half of Twitter's 'active users' are SILENT STALKERS
Nearly 50% have NEVER tweeted a word
Internet-of-stuff startup dumps NoSQL for ... SQL?
NoSQL taste great at first but lacks proper nutrients, says startup cloud whiz
IRS boss on XP migration: 'Classic fix the airplane while you're flying it attempt'
Plus: Condoleezza Rice at Dropbox 'maybe she can find ... weapons of mass destruction'
Ditch the sync, paddle in the Streem: Upstart offers syncless sharing
Upload, delete and carry on sharing afterwards?
New Facebook phone app allows you to stalk your mates
Nearby Friends feature goes live in a few weeks
Microsoft TIER SMEAR changes app prices whether devs ask or not
Some go up, some go down, Redmond goes silent
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.