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I ran across a diary recently that had a lot of reasons not to love Microsoft's new offering. I know this will eventually devolve into a Mac/Linux/Windows pie fight in the comments, but I am going to do my best to avoid making any judgments of other platforms and just stick to the reasons I truly do love Windows 8.

Please refrain from Kool-Aid jokes and the like. Your mileage may vary, but this is just my experience.

First off, I have to start with the lock screen, the first thing I see when I grab my laptop or tablet or turn on my desktop. Easy to understand, and depending on the device, I can enter my password via the keyboard or touch the screen and make the right gestures to unlock the machine (Picture Password). By the way, that user name/password is synced across any device I am using, so no need to create new user/password combinations everywhere.

Next up, and the most radical change is the new Start menu. I know this causes some people to freak out and I will be completely honest when I say it took a bit to get used to this new UI. The main tiles on my Start screen are the Mail, Weather, and News apps. Before I even make a move, I can see some relevant info.

My Mail app will show a preview of mail waiting for me in my various inboxes. Granted, Mail isn't as fully functional as I would like, but for most basic mail purposes, it works fine. I can read, respond, and delete mail. It doesn't natively support POP3, but there's always a workaround for most things. (Set up your pop3 account on Outlook.com, then sync to your device.) Fortunately, only one of my rarely used accounts uses pop3 so this isn't a big deal.

Having just moved to a state with a real winter, I find myself checking the weather a lot. The Weather app tile shows me current conditions and forecast at a glance. Very handy. Actually opening the app, I love how the information is displayed. It's actually a beautiful app.

News is the other big player on my Start screen. I can see a quick preview of trending news from a variety of sources. The folks at Bing do a good job of surfacing recent news from around the works and presenting that. If you don't like the source of the information , you simply edit the settings and remove "less than desirable" sources of info. I took Fox News off that list pretty quick. The same concepts hold true for the Travel, Finance, and Sports apps.

Finding games and new apps is simple in the Store. My only complaint is that the Store is a little light, but after 2 months, do I really expect a huge selection? Plus, I know that apps downloaded from the store are generally safe and I know exactly what the app has access to when I install it. Of course, most of the time I am using my other apps that installed the old way... from a CD or app that I launch from the desktop.  I won't touch on the desktop experience because it is exactly the same as the Windows that came before it, all the way back to Win 95.  

The only thing missing from the desktop is the start button. But even that is a simple Windows key stroke away. Or, with your mouse, just move the cursor to the bottom right corner and click the Start charm (more on that in a sec). If you are using touch, a quick swipe from the right brings out your charms.

Looking for a program you know is installed? Just hit your Start menu and start typing its name. Easy button.

Charms are new and can take a bit to get used to. The two I use the most are Search and Settings (well... and the Start button). Search does exactly what you would expect it to, only better. As you type your keyword, Win8 looks for that keyword in the app you are in. Are you in Internet Explorer? Great. We'll do an internet (Bing) search for that word. In the Maps app? Cool, we'll search for your word on the map. Start screen? Cool. Here are a list of programs matching your search. But what if I am reading something on the internet and I want to search for a city on the map? Ok. Type the city into search, then tap the Map app under the search bar. The map app opens and shows you the location on a map. Or tap music and get a music search on your keyword. Lots of options!

Settings will also work differently depending on what you are currently doing. In the Mail app? Great! Tap Settings to being up settings relevant to your mail.  Maps app? Ok. Here are settings specific to that app! It is nice to know there is a single place to get settings for an app instead of trying to find options in random menus or other locations.

As for performance? The Start menu scrolls nice fluid when using touch and the whole interface is responsive. Even on my older laptop, I notice Win8 is performing smoother and faster than Win7.

Another big selling point? I love it that things look and act similar on my phone and Xbox!

Is it perfect? Not by any means. Using the big, full screen apps, I find myself missing the clock in the bottom corner. It's there in the desktop, thankfully. There are other minor annoyances, but most are far too minor to mention. I know some people have issues with Win8 using a mouse and keyboard, but I don't think it is that big of a deal. I do have a hard time going back and forth, but that's mostly due to me trying touch my non-touch screens. Damn you, Microsoft. My work laptop and desktop have fingerprints all over then because I am just so used to touching my devices.

There are all kinds of tips/tricks to using the new OS and there are always going to be people who don't like this or that. I remember hearing about how much people hate very new OS all the way back to Win XP. After a while, even most of those people end up liking the new OS. Just give it time and get over the learning curve.

Hopefully, you found something useful in this.

Poll

What do you think of Win8?

56%120 votes
5%12 votes
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| 214 votes | Vote | Results

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