Here’s your chance to test-drive Windows 8 for 90 days.
Yesterday, Microsoft made a RTM (release to manufacturing) version of Windows 8 Enterprise available for free download by everyone. It runs for 90 days only and cannot be upgraded or transformed into a production copy. Both 32-bit and 64-bit versions are available. It must be activated within ten days and after 90 days, it becomes unusable. It is, though, a no-cost way to preview Windows 8.
After downloading it as a DVD image file (with a “.ISO” filename extension), you’ll need to burn it to a blank DVD, from which you can install it. Warning: Do not do this unless the target computer is currently unused, or you have a tested image (such as is created by Acronis True Image) of the disk, ready to restore after this Windows 8 Enterprise evaluation expires. After 90 days, the evaluation dies, and you’ll need to install a new operating system on the computer.
Windows 8 highlights:
The familiar Windows taskbar with Start button is gone.
Hardware requirements remain the same as Windows 7’s requirements.
Windows 8 (equivalent to XP Home)
Windows 8 Pro (equiv to XP Pro)
Windows RT runs exclusively on ARM hardware, including Microsoft’s new Surface tablet. It’s optimized for tablets’ touchscreens. It minimizes superfluous “chrome” that exists for appearance only, leaving more screen real estate, memory, and CPU cycles for information.
Windows 8 is faster at everything than Windows 7 (which isn’t saying much). One reason is because Microsoft scrapped Windows 7’s translucent windowing “Aero” interface.
There will be a carry-over upgrade available for Windows 7, and nothing else.
Your mouse should include a scroll wheel, as the opening window is wide and requires left-right scrolling.
Windows 8 includes a rudimentary antivirus program, called Windows Defender.
Windows Explorer is now called File Explorer. Why, is anybody’s guess. Typical Microsoft.
The UI (user interface) “Metro” term has been dropped because Microsoft lost a trade name lawsuit. The term “Martin” replaces it.
Does Windows 8 answer questions that nobody asked?
Many techies are sticking with Windows XP. One reason is that it includes Hyperterminal, which they use for telnet sessions to communicate with remote devices that lack web interfaces. Later Windows versions deleted Hyperterminal. Other reasons include XP’s stability, faster performance, and lighter demands on hardware.
It sounds like Microsoft has listened to the complaints about Windows Vista and Windows 7, and has tried to address them with Windows 8. Reviews are mixed. Here’s an August 15 Infoworld test center report: Windows 8 review: Yes, it’s that bad.
I mean clay tablet. Otherwise, you’ll need to backup your tablet’s data, just like you do with any other computer.
Today it’s possible to read inscriptions on 5000 year old clay tablets, yet it’s difficult to find a tape transport that can read data on 9-track digital tape that was recorded in the 1960s. One moral: keep multiple backup generations, on multiple media types.
Twenty years ago, Zip and Jaz disks were viable backup media. Before that, Bernoulli drives made sense. Going WAY back, 360 KB 5.25 inch floppy disks were viable. Today, I don’t know where you’d find the hardware to read any of these media.
Tape formats have come and gone over the years, as well. Though data on good tape formats such as DLT last a long time, they don’t last forever, either (magnetic field bleed-through between layers of tape). And neither do CDs or DVDs (oxidation of metallic film or dye layer). Thumb drives are less reliable; they both have a finite write life and may randomly fail without warning.
Are you backing up to an external hard drive? Good, but all hard drives eventually fail. In fact, their complexity means that they can fail at any moment for any number of reasons: head crash, electronic failure, surface failure, motor failure . . . You get the picture.
My point is that we need to keep our data backed up on more than one type of media, and keep a copy off-site. An alternative is to inscribe your data in a wet clay tablet and then fire it in a kiln. Burying your freshly-baked tablet for safekeeping through the millennia is optional.
Will Surface be a footnote in the long downward slide of Microsoft?
Microsoft has stated that they’re developing the Surface because their hardware partners have failed to innovate. Of course, one reason for that is that “the Microsoft tax” on every PC has left the manufacturers with insufficient margin to support R&D. (I’ve read that Microsoft makes more profit per PC — about $55 per unit — than anyone else. One result is that in an effort to juice up their margins, the manufacturers have loaded new consumer-class Windows PCs with crapware. (HP is the worst offender.)
The June 13 Surface “prototype” was obviously vaporware: there was no ship date, no price, and no hands-on trials.
I fear that the Surface is a bump in the road as CEO Steve Ballmer (Microsoft’s Ringo Starr) rides Microsoft downhill.
I give Mr. Ballmer and Microsoft credit: Surface will undoubtedly shake up the hardware manufacturers. But in the end, their lack of innovation is caused by Mr. Ballmer’s unimaginative management. What else do you expect of a sales manager with no technical chops who becomes CEO?
For the moment, Microsoft Office, Exchange, and Sharepoint remain entrenched in the corporate market, where they earn most of Microsoft’s net profit. How much longer will that continue? See my July 2011 article, Whither Microsoft?
The demand for portable computing power just keeps growing.
Two leaders in the microcomputer industry have recently demonstrated prototypes that may include features that one day we’ll regard as essential.
Microsoft demonstrated a prototype portable tablet computer that it’s named Courier. It looks like it will meet the needs of netbook users who want something smaller and smartphone users who want something larger. Its user interface, once its clam-shell case is opened, looks very iPhone-like with a touch-screen . . . in fact, it opens like a book. In general, one screen plays the role of keyboard while the other is a display — but these roles are dynamic. Some of the handy Apple iPhone’s finger gestures are the same on the Courier.
Intel’s Tangent Bay looks more like a traditional laptop PC, but adds 3 small displays just above the keyboard and in front of the laptop’s hinge.