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on June 23, 2013
I've had my issues with Windows 8 when it first came out, but to be honest, I've gotten over a lot of them. I don't like the fact that the typical start menu has been taken away, and I'm not a fan of the tile menu, but overall I've actually noticed I have to go through far less clicking to get to what I want. Once you figure out exactly how to use Windows 8, you'll be flying through all the menus at almost half the time you would on Windows 7 or XP.

As long as you can read, you'll notice that this is an upgrade, not a bootable install. In order to install Windows 8 with this upgrade, you must at least have Windows Xp, Vista, or 7. It doesn't matter if it is 32-bit or 64-bit (unless you want 64-bit and you currently have 32-bit, but I'll get to that in a moment.)

Upgrading is easy. Just have any of Windows XP-7 preinstalled on your PC, insert the disc, and the install goes from there. This upgrade comes with both a Windows 8 32-bit disc, and a Windows 8 64-bit disc. This DOES matter. If you currently have Windows XP 32-bit installed for example, you can only install the Windows 8 32-bit. But if you have Windows XP 64-bit, you can install either of the two (64-bit allows for better performance and unlocks the ability to install more than 4GB of RAM). It's easy, and you don't need to be too technically savvy.

Now I did have an odd thing happen when installing. My mind slipped, and I didn't check if I had 32-bit or 64-bit before hand. I wanted Windows 8 64-bit installed, but I had Windows XP 32-bit, so I couldn't. Now, this is an UPGRADE version of Windows 8, and isn't supposed to be able to install without a pre-existing version of Windows being installed. Apparantly, I got around this somehow. I wanted 64-bit, but had 32-bit, so I installed Windows 8 32-bit. After, I rebooted my PC, placed the Windows 8 64-bit install disc instead, and then booted from the disc, and it let me reformat the partition in my hard drive, and install Windows 8 64-bit from scratch. I don't know if this was a glitch or a fluke, but from what I know, Windows Upgrade discs aren't supposed to allow you to install from scratch. If you want to spend a little less on Windows 8, but only have a 32-bit on your current system, then you can try and take your chances on installing the 64-bit version anyway with my method above, but I do not suggest, and cannot guarantee it will work the same way.

Overall however, I'm happy with this product (aside that it took forever to deliver since it apparently ships from Hong Kong.) Windows 7 still has slightly better gaming performance, but Windows 8 certainly does a nice job.

EDIT: After spending a bit more time with the OS, I like it. A lot in fact. Ignore people saying "You can't do things on 8 that you can do on 7." That's an outright lie. What DID change however, is the way you can do these things. Just google it and you'll be fine. It does take some new knowledge.

Another thing I've seen, is that it is completely possible to load Windows 8 without any previous operating system. Just boot from the disc. I did this on another computer I built with this exact upgrade, and it installed no problem. It's pretty much just Windows 8.
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on January 22, 2014
People used to buy windows when they didn't want any fuss or frill. I enjoyed windows 7 for many reasons and every single one of those things is gone. Microsoft has entirely misjudged its demographic. Windows 8 is inferior to windows 7 in every single task that a regular windows user would likely preform. I highly value performance in the products I buy, and windows 8 makes sure to use this well purchased power for pretty, wasteful, and useless things. This OS constantly saps power from your system and every task is a battle. The power button is located in settings. The start menu is now a game of memory with absolutely no organization. Apps are something that should never apply to a PC. People used to buy windows because it wasn't mac. What in God's name made them think that being more like another company would get them customers when people praise the previous system for its simplicity and functionality. Buying windows 8 is a mistake. Stay away. Waste of time, money, patients, and system performance.
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VINE VOICEon October 26, 2012
BEFORE YOU UPGRADE: stop by the Microsoft website and run the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant (link in the comments). This program will comb through your system and offer you detailed analysis of what will and won't upgrade. It offers links to articles that explain in detail what you may need to do, and it can save you a lot of headaches. For example, I have a laptop with no USB drivers--yet! I now have a link to the manufacturer's website that I've bookmarked and when drivers become available I'll upgrade that machine too.

Windows 7 has been a well-received OS, so the case for upgrading to Windows 8 has been difficult for Microsoft to make. While the look and feel of Windows 8 is strikingly different, for the most part it boils down to one huge change: the Start Menu that we have had since Windows 95 is no longer a menu. Icons are now displayed as tiles of varying widths in a full-screen splash. Some of this makes sense in that some of today's programs are more like the Windows Desktop Gadgets we've seen in Vista and 7: rather than needing to be launched, they idly stream information to you, and need a bit more room to be easy to read than the older Start Menu could have allowed for. If you've used Windows Media Center, Office 2010, or an XBox 360, you've already been interacting with similar interfaces. This sort of UI has been slowly making its way into Microsoft's products for a while now.

UPDATE: Amazon customer Robert Haines says that there is a program called "Classic UI" that would restore the old look, so if you're dead-set on new code that skips the new UI, you might want to try that. There is also a program called "Pokki Menu" that will let you make your own customizations and last, Stardock makes a (paid) program called "Start8" that will also roll back the Start screen.

The Windows 8 desktop looks exactly like it did in Windows 7 and Vista, except there's no Start Button: you're expected to press the Windows key or move your mouse to the bottom corner of the screen to launch the tile dashboard. The desktop has the tray of running programs you're used to in earlier versions, shows you wallpaper, and offers access to the Windows Explorer for looking through the files on your hard drive. All programs can be launched directly off the tile screen, and while Windows 8 apps always run in full-screen, older programs run from within the Desktop and can be resized. We have a version of Internet Explorer accessible from the desktop that looks just like IE 9 did in Windows 7, then we have a version of Internet Explorer in the tile screen that looks entirely different. Some parts of the Control Panel have the tile look and feel and the options cascade left-to-right like the Home screen in any MS Office 2010 or 2013 product. Other parts of the Control Panel look exactly like they did in Windows 7 and before. Unfortunately, I haven't found a good pattern for this yet: you may flip from one side to the other in order to do something like troubleshoot a network problem.

Performance-wise, Windows had been slowly moving away from always-running programs that drain performance to background services that would launch programs as needed...but this too started to get unwieldy. Microsoft have stripped several services out of Windows 8 which by default makes the OS more efficient than 7. Any machine that could run 7 can also run 8. Programs that used to run, shut down, then have to be fully re-launched to run again are instead put in a standby mode so they can launch faster when called again. The Windows Vista and 7 "Aero effects" that gave your windows a glassy sheen and rounded corners used graphics and CPU to run, so they've been stripped out of the tile UI in favor of simple color schemes and blocky edges (though you can still see a subdued glassy effect on the Desktop). Interaction with Windows in this new look and feel is easier if you have a touchscreen or you're using a tablet, and if you're a Windows Phone user the territory is already pretty familiar. The downside for mouse users is that you occasionally spend time hunting along the edges of the screen for scrollbars and dragging screens around to be able to interact with everything. My chief complaint with Windows 8 hasn't been with the Tile layout so much as the fact that the scroll bars are too skinny.

For some features, time will tell. I've found the Tile UI version of the browser to be less compatible and more cranky with websites, but I expect that to change given time. I like the fact that security/antivirus are rolled into the OS without me having to take care of them or be interrupted with update notifications. The OS runs Windows Updates on a schedule that's far less aggressive than previous versions and won't nag you about rebooting when it needs to. I've been told that the performance for gaming is supposed to be greater simply by virtue of a cleaner codebase, but I haven't seen anything substantially different on the PC apart from faster boot-up and shut-down times (I did benchmark my machine with 3DMark11 and, after some adjusting, noticed a higher score). The basic applications like Weather, Photos, Stocks, Mail, and more are very user-friendly, but solely within the context of the new look & feel: expect little familar ground and a lot of new territory, and the assumption that you should be using a touchscreen. If you have a Windows Live account and/or SkyDrive, these can integrate fully into the OS: so much so that you would sign in to the computer with your Windows Live/Hotmail account and everything you do would be synced to Microsoft's cloud if your account has SkyDrive.

Windows 8 requires you to purchase a license for Windows Media Center separately; you still have Windows Media Player, but the Center is a separate application now, available for sale in the Microsoft Store.

UPDATE, 11/2013: Microsoft has now released Windows 8.1, an update to the OS that mostly attempts to make the user experience better. If you purchase this copy of Windows 8, you will be offered the ability to update it to 8.1 at no additional cost. The upgrade is pushed through the Windows Store that is part of Windows 8. Personally, I've done clean installs of 8.1 from the MSDN media and done an in-place upgrade via the store, on both my desktop and laptop, and have not had good experiences. I don't personally recommend the update at this time for that reason. Sooo....if you go the Windows 8.1 route, there is then a Windows 8.1 "Update for Windows 8.1" that you should probably pull down that puts one more round of fixes into the OS. Reviews so far have been positive--minor adjustments like putting the power button where it's easy to find and making interacting with the Tile UI have been needed...but surprisingly it also lowered the OS' system requirements to where it can run on as little as 1GB of RAM.
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on February 24, 2014
This is the worst OS Microsoft has ever produced by a long shot. It is unbelievable that they think it is ok for this to be rolled out into a business where it would certainly kill productivity for a week or more.

So much that was second nature is gone:
1) Right-click? doesn't do anything anymore.

2) File, edit, ... menu? non existent, it's up to you to figure out the magical keystrokes to do all that stuff now

3) Little X in the upper corner to click and close the app? no such ease, you are expected figure out the puzzle of how to close apps on your own with absolutely no context or conveyance from the OS to guide you

4) Multitasking and multiple windows open at once? That's history, Microsoft believes you are better off only able to see one full screen app at a time no matter how large or how many monitors you have

5) Start menu where it at most 3 mouse-clicks to launch any app on your computer? Gone. Now you have to scroll through a messy clutter of disorganized tiles to find what you want. And it if it isn't there, then you have to memorize specific search terms to type into the magical "charms bar" and perform a search (brings back memories of memorizing DOS commands!)

6) Don't have a touch screen? Tough, your OS is optimized for a touch screen experience now.

The point of this product has nothing to do with productivity or efficiency. The point of this product is to forcibly train us all to be happy Windows phone users. MS threw productivity under the bus in a feeble attempt to sell more gadgets.

Unless you really like the "Metro" concept and have a week or two on your hands to learn a new OS from the ground up, avoid this like the plague.
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on November 8, 2013
I've owned nearly every version of Windows since its first release (except Vista and Millennium Edition) and it is my heartfelt opinion that Windows 8 just plain sucks. I bought a new laptop for my daughter last summer for college. My original plan was to buy one with Windows 7, but the choices available were not what I wanted and I gave in and bought an excellent ASUS machine with Windows 8. Big mistake.

It isn't that nobody gave the OS a chance. My daughter used it as best she could and gave up. I tried and found there to be absolutely no logic as to how the user interface was put together and felt it was absurd to relearn an OS that was substantially inferior to its predecessor. Microsoft has created a single user experience that is painful if you use your computer for business or professional tasks. It is instead geared toward social media and entertainment.

After disappointing customer service calls to ASUS, I ended up buying a new hard disk and a fresh copy of Windows, 7 and reinstalled Windows 7 on the new drive. (I kept the original drive with Windows 8 on it in case I need warranty work on the laptop. I you change OS you void your warranty. This way I can just put the original drive back in if there is a problem.) With my daughter's student discount I spent around $150 more to make the conversion and it was the best thing I ever did.

Bottom line is that if you are new to computers, or use yours as a media machine you will probably be happy with Windows 8 (or 8.1). But, if you use your computer for business or school where productivity is the key to success, or if you have years of experience using a computer that you don't want to throw down the toilet, you will probably be disappointed.
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on January 19, 2014
I HATE, HATE, HATE, HATE the new windows 8. It's a complete monopoly by Microsoft and just about every feature requires logging in with your Microsoft Account. And if you don't have one, then guess're forced to create one.
Also, the start menu is gone and is replaced by a new version which is highly confusing and forces you to relearn everything you've ever been familiar with. I MISS my old laptop...but all the new laptops now come with the windows 8 software by microsoft. Change is good...but the new windows 8 is a mishmash of a software that was already top notch. Why they would do this to users is beyond me. Go figure.
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on August 7, 2013
I ended up corrupting my Windows 7 on my desktop and couldn't restore it with the original disks due to the disk not being the current service pack. Not wanting to have to wipe the drive and start fresh, I decided to upgrade. Windows 8 from Amazon was dramatically less expensive than downloading it from Microsoft.

Windows 8 might be decent on a tablet. But it's mediocre on a desktop.

* No start menu. You have to download an app to get a start menu. Really???

* No clock. You have to download an app to get a clock.

* No games. You have to download apps for solitaire, mahjong, etc.

* Most apps run full-screen. Including solitaire, etc. That's fine on a small tablet. But on my 30" monitor I don't want them full screen!!!! You can download an app to window them, but I found it buggy.

* The start menu is a tiled menu. That's ok. You can group tiles. But you can't make folders of tiles. So your start screen can get very big very fast. I'd like to be able to have top-level tiles for my most used programs/apps and folders for my lesser used programs. To see a big start menu, you have to scroll across.

You can still have lots of stuff on a desktop, and third-party apps bring back a start menu and power button. But this feels a lot like early versions of iOS. It will probably get better as Microsoft responds and they release updates. But unless you have a problem, there's really no compelling reason to upgrade to Win8 yet.
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on January 29, 2014
Much of the debate over W8 is about the dual GUI interface. Microsoft had to do this. If they did not 'change' the legacy desktop, then how could they say anything was different with W8 that would justify an upgrade purchase? Plus -they wanted to monetize the apps via their own app store so they needed to add the app store 'feature'. Hence - the dual legacy/Metro interface. What they forgot to do is make the core OS actually work better than before. They horribly missed this and have delivered an OS that works much worse, especially if you want to share files and printers with Windows 7. Windows has always had automated 'Troubleshooter' scripts to help get these areas to work because they have always been problematic. But the scripts do not actually check all the bases, so it is like winning the lottery if a script actually fixes anything. And on Windows 8, some scripts even crash with an error! So good luck with that.

Plus, the system performance of W8 is much worse that W7. Microsoft fixed this in W8.1 by removing the Windows Experience Index rating altogether. This also avoids the problem of a customer purchasing an expensive $800 Surface tablet and seeing the experience rating is less than PCs costing a fraction. So they removed it! Problem solved.

It might be possible if you had a Microsoft engineer onsite that he/she might be able to get W8 to work great for you. IBM used to do this onsite engineer method with OS2. I remember an onsite engineer spending a week to get OS2 to work on one PC for demo purposes years ago. Microsoft is now taking up the challenge to best that level of disconnect between the company and the customers. And they are paying for it in lost market share. Install the Windows 8 upgrade to get a close-up look at why Windows 8 is so appalling.

Seriously, check out the user ratings on Amazon for Windows 8 and compare that to excellent ratings for Chrome OS laptops! Chrome OS has actually re-introduced the centralized 'mainframe' computing concept and it is winning customers because Microsoft has not solved the problems of 1) manageability and the 2) the difficulty users have determining if pop-up messages are legitimate or from malware. Chrome OS solves these problems. There are trade-offs, but Chrome OS at least runs nicely for many people.

The fact Windows is not manageable is nothing new. I know of a large school district in or around Denver that years ago turned off automatic updates for all Microsoft desktops. And if one PC does 'break' , the solution at many organizations is to re-image it because Windows problems are often to time consuming to actually bother fixing. Windows 8 has embraced these problems and magnified them for your computing displeasure.

Bottom line - Windows 8 is a huge step backwards compared to Windows 7. Remember VISTA? I actually LIKE Vista. And I like W7. But Windows 8? Microsoft has not done their homework. It appears the dog ate their homework.

UPDATE: This review applies to Windows 8 on a desktop computer, not a tablet. Industry experts agree with the sentiments in this review as shown by this quote from the research director at Gartner Group:

"It's all the things you've heard before: the menus are difficult to access with a mouse and keyboard and are hidden behind the invisible walls of screen edges -- and remote computing is a pain in the posterior, which in an enterprise setting is crucial for PC management and IT support. " http://www.zdnet .com /gartner-windows-8-for-desktop-users-is-in-a-word-bad-7000001389/

On the bright side, Microsoft will support Windows 7 until 2020!
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on December 29, 2012
I had my first contact with Windows 8 from a new HP computer I purchased for my parents from amazon, and I cannot fathom the reasons for all the steps back Windows 8 represents. Yes, it does seem to boot/resume faster, especially on computers with EFI, and yes, it has a few cool new features like bandwidth usage tracking/limiting, but other than that, it's just a hot mess with a neutered desktop mode and a Modern/Metro advertisement, I mean mode, that interact with each other in unpredictable ways.

This operating system is not about making computers easier or better to use. Microsoft is very obviously trying to use the only market they still lead in (desktop software) to sell something they are, at best, distant followers in (smartphones and tablets) so they just slapped a half-baked tablet/phone interface on their desktop OS. It's fine if your marketing strategy is just to sell more tablets and phones, but it makes for a lousy user experience strategy. Metro is utterly pointless on desktop PCs. It's anti-productive, actively hostile to multi-monitor users and multitasking, and reminiscent of toy computer interfaces. Inexplicably, several Metro apps actually include built-in advertising. This makes the experience just seem very cheap. The desktop mode is neutered (Classic Shell to the rescue!) and inexplicably Aero/Aero Glass has been completely removed in favor of the ugliest, blockiest, flattest Windows interface since 3.1. Metro's penchant for full-screen everything is more reminiscent of Windows 1.0, where all of the apps took up the entire screen.

This is the first version of Windows where I truly feel that the competitors' interfaces (Mac OS X, Linux) are actually better. At least those interfaces have not thrown out the last 25+ years of desktop UI evolution to sell some phones and some tablets.

I can safely predict there will be little business uptake of this version of Windows. It offers zero productivity improvements. My workplace uses multi-monitor apps pervasively. I will actively work to prevent Windows 8 adoption until Microsoft decides they want to make productivity-centered operating systems again and not sell me a phone.
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on March 1, 2014
I am more than disappointed in this version of Windows. It seems as though Microsoft has abandoned the PC market for tablets. The operating system is slow and clunky. It's counter-intuitive, reacting differently than one would expect, and Microsoft has made it difficult to configure and customize your installation that was so easily done in Windows 7. I had to change a number of peripherals because they were no longer compatible and had to start using an external wireless adapter instead of the great one that was built into my machine. I have been looking for a copy of Windows 7 to install so I can return to the productive environment I had before "the upgrade" but Microsoft has pulled it from the market, only selling system builder versions that require way more knowledge than most computer users possess. If you have Windows 7, keep it! Do not upgrade unless you have a touch screen computer with at least 6 gigabytes of RAM and a 2+ gHz multicore processor. Even then, you may be disappointed. I deeply regret switching.
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