Meanwhile, here’s Windows 8…

While I haven’t yet figured out whether to buy a new computer or whatever, the old one is getting packed to the gills with everything I can do with it to make it more useful. So, today, I decided I could make it dual boot Windows 7 with Windows 8, just until I figure out if I can do everything I need on Windows 8. That meant putting in another hard drive, along with the 4 port USB3 card which I bought recently and which arrived yesterday. So the computer now has every slot filled and every bay filled and the biggest mess of cables you could imagine inside. The Foxconn TS001 chassis isn’t especially spacious, with three 5 1/4” external bays, two 3.5” external bays and two 3.5” internal bays. At the moment this computer has four hard drives and two DVD writers and a card reader filling up every single bay. And the DG41RQ motherboard has only two PCI slots which have the modem and RAID-1 controller in them (with two of the disks in an array), and one PCI Express x16 slot, which has the USB3 card in it. The biggest issue up until now has been a shortage of USB ports. This board has four on the back and connectors on the board for four more. The case has two on the front with cables to connect to that board. However I decided I would rather have two more on the back with a slot socket pair, and the other two connections are used by the card reader although it does bring out a USB port on its front panel. So putting in that 4 port card will give me enough ports, and even better, they will be USB3 ports, as for some reason even though this board isn’t very old it doesn’t have any USB3 functionality. The USB peripherals I do have now are external drive enclosures. I have three so far and am buying another one next month, although that will be three in use with a flimsy plastic one being kept just as a spare. USB3 means the backups that I do on two of them will be quite fast hopefully. The third one is going to be in an eSata enclosure for work related use as quite a few of our work laptops these days have eSata ports and that should make it nice and quick when transferring data.
Anyway I burned Windows 8 onto a DVD at work and brought it home. This doesn’t seem to be a bootable DVD so I had to boot the computer off a 64 bit Windows PE pen drive I use at work, and then run setup.exe off the DVD, which was perfectly satisfactory. Some screenshots are below.

This is what Windows 8 installation screen looks like. Not much different from 7.
The progress screen during the installation. Just different ways of saying the same thing.
This is the Windows 8 boot menu. For some reason this graphical menu seems to be quite slow to come up compared to the text based menu, which you can still have if you make Windows 7 the default OS.
This is part of the initial setup and is a good example of the way it has all been graphically focused.

This photo was taken earlier at work and it shows the basic Start screen. It took me a while to figure out how to get from here to the regular desktop. In fact, all you have to do is click on that Desktop tile at the lower left. Obviously one of the things that is hard to get used to is the lack of a Start button – instead put the mouse into the bottom left corner and one pops up. Put the mouse into the bottom right corner and you get what they call the “charms bar” which has things like the start screen button, search and settings on it. I had a play with the Mail app but pretty soon I went to the regular desktop to install Windows Live Mail (along with Writer, which I am using to write this). As you can see from photo timestamps the installation only took about 15 minutes to complete all up. That was about two hours ago and since then I have been installing device drivers and the Windows Live suite. Tomorrow I’ll look at other software.
Well – it’s an interesting OS. Very different from Windows 7 of course. Has to be in order to be both slate and desktop compatible. I think that all things considered, MS has made a credible effort to bridge that gap, and of course they are doing something no one else has really tried – even Apple has separate OSs for the mobile and desktop markets. If it can run every single bit of software that I was using on 7 then I will be switching to it pretty quickly and leaving 7 behind. It is available in 32 and 64 bit installs. I chose 64 bit as my computer has 4 GB of RAM. However at that amount the potential for improvement is pretty hard to realise because there is overhead from running the 32 bit subsystem for most applications and this has an effect on overall performance.  This is no different than Windows 7 of course – I was well aware of this, still I have decided to go with 64 bit as it will be easier to migrate to the new computer which will have more RAM in it.
At this stage I’m not spending any more money on hardware for this computer. I considered buying a new hard disk but ended up putting in an older one to run Windows 8. As I would rather put the money towards an SSD. But that will probably be in the next computer, not this one.