Like it or not, Windows 8 is here to stay - Your West Valley News: Columns

Like it or not, Windows 8 is here to stay

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Les Blodgett

Posted: Friday, April 19, 2013 11:37 am

Windows 8 has been out for a little less than six months.

Microsoft and PC manufacturers have successfully shut down the market for new computers equipped with earlier versions of Windows.

New PCs with Windows 7 are very hard to find, if you can find them at all.

This is a good indication that Microsoft learned from Vista and Windows 7 releases that were both troubled by manufacturers continuing to supply buyers with the earlier Windows versions for months, even years, after the release of the new version of Windows.

Therefore, if you are in need of a new computer, it is clear you must buy a Windows 8 machine or have a strategy to keep from having to confront a difficult learning curve.

Moreover, they have made it nearly impossible to downgrade a new computer to Windows 7 or XP. Therefore, that is not a good strategy.

I recently got a new Dell desktop computer with Windows 8 and have had a chance to work with it and to measure potential problem areas in getting up and operating on the new operating system. At this point, I can say that I mostly like what I see, but fully understand the desire not to confront the difficult learning curve.

I have written recently about clients who have purchased new PCs and regretted it because of the daunting task of learning the Window 8 user interface called Metro U/I.

In three cases, I sought a solution to make Metro look like Windows 7 or XP. In such cases, I have used an approach that puts a U/I in front of Metro that can look like either Windows 7 or XP, depending on the buyer’s preference.

Notwithstanding the desire for a familiar U/I, I think it is wise to have Metro in the background for a while so that one can tackle the task of mastering Windows 8 at leisure.

The approach of using familiar looking U/I to cover Metro gives the buyer the ability to defer mastering the new U/I to a later time. In addition, I believe the time will come when you will want to do that.

Why is that, you may ask.

I have three reasons.

First, Microsoft built Windows 8 to make a PC operate with some of the features found in smartphones and tablets.

Among others, one of these is the focus on apps (short for applications) which appear on the Metro as square color blocks on the desktop. Apps are called to operate by selecting them either by pointing and clicking a mouse (old style) or by pointing and touching with your finger (new style).

There are other features of Metro that are similar to things found in the smartphones and tablets. When you get used to your handheld device, you will have learned many principles of operating Windows 8. I think you will grow to like it.

The third reason is Microsoft will soon withdraw support from Windows XP. So far, this threat has not cost us anything. We can still get support as long as our XP system is up to date with Service Pack 3.

However, Windows XP was released more than 11 years ago, an eon in computer technology terms. When they withdraw support, you will no longer get Windows updates for your XP system. Most of the updates are defensive corrections to protect users from cyber criminality. This and other features will make XP obsolete. That and the age of old computer hardware will mean costly repairs when things go wrong.

Finally, what I have done to cover up Metro is install a product named Shell Classic Powershell.

Shell Classic restores a start button and gives the user a choice of making your U/I look like Windows 7 or Windows XP. Along with that, I have used a product named Skip Metro. This product gives the user the ability to disable some features that Classic Shell does not cover.

These two products are free and easily downloadable. In the time that you use them, Metro is still in your computer and available when you want it. When you are ready to get rid of Classic Shell and Skip Metro, just remove them and you are back to the native Windows 8.

Les Blodgett is the owner of Firebird IT Systems, a company that helps small to midsized businesses and residential clients use technology effectively. You can reach Les Blodgett at 623-680-3738 or by email at firebird1@cox.net.

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