Windows 8 pro review (upgrade XP to Windows 8 with Classic Shell)
I am writing this hasty and imperfect review of Windows 8 for fellow Freepers (etc.) in case someone is looking into buying it, and as the 39.99 (about 42.00 with taxes) upgrade ends tonight. Better late then never i suppose. And the the media center upgrade is only fre till then ($10.00 afterward) which should be standard. And no, I have no affiliation with MS.
My review is on how W/8 runs this old PC (used mainly for Christian ministry). This is a 2005 Sony VGC-RA840G (Asus P5LP-VX 64 bit. mobo), 2.8ghz Intel 945p dual core cpu, 3gb ram (total cap. 4gb), and A new PC is not affordable, and I am trying to get more life out of this one, as XP would use up most of my 3gb of ram after a while due to 80+ tabs open on Firefox (Chrome or Opera is not an answer, nor Linux), and with many documents open in various stages of completion. And since 64bit can handle more ram and I heard W8 was better on older PCs than Vista and even W/7, and I could try it for free, I installed the W/8 preview/evaluation (here) off a USB (using the MS W/7 USB installer).
The short review is that W/8 does well on an old PC as this (and should enable me to use more ram), and is more stable than XP and also fairly responsive, if not as quick as XP for basic tasks on this box. But it boots to usability quicker (it puts the kernel in hibernation) and launches apps quicker. Ram use seems about the same (or less after some tweaking).
For me its value is that of providing a better social networking or a better interface, and in fact the “metro” interface seems more fitting for a school yard, and I have long used hot keys to get to where I regularly go to, or to launch main programs/apps. Nor do I follow many of Windows defaults for things like documents, pictures, graphics. Therefore the attraction is because it has some improvements and it is not bloated and unduly interrogative (Vista), and with the help of 3rd party apps you can option out of the defaults and customize it to fit your needs.
Almost all my software works under W/8 pro, but I have no real use or desire for the playground type metro, and so Classic Shell is critical. Also Right Click Extender allows you to add a lot of things to the right click menu (like Shutdown,Standby, Reboot, etc.), while Windows key and Q will bring up all your apps and the search bar (hit Esc twice to get out) and Windows key and I will bring up PC Settings (images coming below), and Windows key and E will bring up Windows Explorer and your drives.
Because of its qualities bought the W/8 pro upgrade DVD (30.00 at NewEgg last Dec, with the 40.00 Visa reward card rebate, but which takes over a month to get, and you have to use it in 6), as well as a 2gb stick of DDR2 667 memory (15.00 on Ebay). However, it turns out that unlike later Intel 775 socket boards, the Intel 945 will not map memory beyond 4gb, and only 3.37 is available under W/8 64 bit, although now I can use the ReadyBoost feature. And unlike past OS licenses (ex$ept retail) , the W/8 one allows you to remove it from one PC and put it on another.
I found out that to get the 64bit download of the evaluation copy, you need to download the W/8 file from a 64bit machine. Having done so the install went well, but I unplugged all my XP drive just to be safe and installed W/8 on a different drive, then reconnected the XP drive (but for the upgrade version you need to have XP, or Vista or W7 installed, and not just a CD/DVD OS).
Surprisingly, when I installed the full W/8 pro off the DVD, although I kept the XP drive plugged in so it could see I have a valid upgrade path, it did not place that in a Windows.old folder and erase things so that you cannot use it, and instead it left it alone, and put the evaluation copy in the Windows.old folder. As I know that I cannot go back to it, I erased that partition myself, after having copied the Documents and Settings folder and other things first.
I needed some updates to fix some issues, [a shortcut for launching Windows update is to just hold down the Windows key and tap the letter “r”, then let go and paste C:\Windows\System32\wuapp.exe in the Run box and hit OK, or move your mouse to the far right of the Taskbar, and hit the gear icon “settings,” and then PC info and then look in the lower left] but most everything works, even my old Lexmark Z32 printer. But the USB faithful powered Canon LIDE30 scanner (a very good buy at the time) will not, despite hacking attempts to get another 64bit driver to work, while no sound would come out of the jacks. However, I remembered I had bought a “USB sound card” for a buck (total) on ebay (from Hong Kong) because I thought I could use it, and sure enough that provides sound.
The ability to go on Standby was missing until I or MS installed some more updates (we both did).
Programs and Services:
I copied my profile files from Firefox and OpenOffice and Bible and other programs from their respective folders in XP to W/8, and installed both programs, and they work well. Most of my programs I use under XP work in W/8, though it is best to look for 64 versions for them. One of my favorites is PhoneTrayFree (now shareware), which uses your modem (if you have one) and caller ID to let you know who is calling in, and to keep unlimited record of calls, and even to zap the telemarketers, play messages, etc. and to my surprise that worked though it is only 32 bit (I have a US Robotic PCI modem).
What I miss is TclockEx (customizable, shows seconds and free ram, etc.), which was an improvement on the Windows clock, but under 64bit it would not work even in compatibility mode, and I have yet to find one as good as it.
A big plus is that AutoHotKey works, and with a little adaptation of paths from W/7 I was able to have my shortcut keys working, which is a big plus for me (see below for some examples), and which helps in what follows.
Task Manager is improved, and replaces the Start up tab functions in the System Configuration utility.
Two issues I had was that of Windows Defender, which I always found too independent for me, and using Process found it running too often and too much, and as I can usually hear my PC working I also would hear my HD being written to constantly when I was not working on it, though I disabled both Defender and Search in Services.msc. So I right clicked on each drive (save one) and deselected “allow files on this drive to be indexed..” and now there is peace.
I also found livecomm.exe using a significant amount of resources sometimes, so I uninstalled mail. I use an email client instead.
Along with some others, I had and have no real use for the Metro, but the free Classic Shell took care of that, and gives back the Start Menu (not that I use it a lot, but I have lot of programs and it helps).
Per usual with other OS installs, I also quickly went to folder options and changed the default view to Details, and enables viewing of all the things MS thinks (with some warrant) most should not see. I also found where the Quick Launch folder was and made a New toolbar in the Taskbar for it, and found the location for the Send to folder, and made a shortcut to it, and placed the shortcut in it. I then made shortcuts for things like the Startup folder, the Quick Launch folder, the Desktop, Favorites, Program Files, and certain applications, etc. and sent them to the Send To folder. By so doing you can place a shortcut to anything in the Send to menu, and send whatever is appropriate to it, which can be more what Windows offers by default.
Note that if you want to reduce the size of things on the Desktop, hold down the Ctrl key and mouse scroll.
And I imported my non flashy custom theme from W/7 which I have on a Desktop. Thank God for both units.
The TaskBar is improved from XP, as it does a better job of showing you what is open, and you can move the icons around, which in XP requires a freeware app like the taskbar button manager, but unlike that, you cannot move items to a different order in the list that pops up. And like as in some Linux distros, you can pin things to the TaskBar.
All for now.