Windows 8 – First Impressions of a Non-Techie

So, Windows 8 was released to manufacturing at the start of August 2012 and made available for download to MSDN and TechNet subscribers a couple of weeks later.

That weekend, I upgraded my wife’s little Dell Duo from Windows 7 to Windows 8 and thought I would share her first impressions and how they’ve changed after using Windows 8 for two weeks.

My wife is someone I’d consider to be a casual user. She uses her computer to check her mail, Facebook, and look things up on the Internet. Of course she does other things as well, but it’s about mostly reading content to a large extent.

Installation

The install went super smoothly. I downloaded the Windows 8 ISO and used the free Windows 7 USB/DVD download tool. I then used the tool to create a bootable Windows 8 installation image on a USB stick I had laying around. I used a 16GB, but an 8GB would have sufficed.

Once the image was on the USB stick, I inserted into my Dell Duo and the auto-run menu appeared. Running the install was as easy as clicking the run option.

Note: I decided to run the install from Windows 7 so I could copy and paste the product license key. I always make a mistake entering those.

The installation itself was essentially a Next → Next → Next type of installation, super easy and quick. I had the option to install Windows 8 keeping all user files, but I chose to do a clean install as I already had a backup of all my wife’s important files.

First Boot

Once the installation was finished we were prompted for a Windows Live account. I like that Microsoft is tying the personalization to your account. Microsoft uses your account to preconfigure your services making so much available to you right out of the box.

You can also use a local account, but then you’re on the hook for adding your accounts.

Once logged in, voila! The start screen comes alive. Your people hub begins to display contact photos making it obvious that this is were you go when you want to deal with people. Current weather displays, email inboxes are checked, in short, your system is usable right out of the gate using pretty sensible defaults.

First Impressions

I gave the Dell Duo back to my wife, telling her the upgrade was complete. To be honest, I was a little apprehensive. It’s new, and quite different. I did not know how my wife would react, and I figured that I would be putting Windows 7 back on the device before too long.

To my great delight, she found the new design to be quite refreshing, snappy and , most importantly, easy to use.

She spent a few hours exploring the system that evening and the following day as I was at work. When I came home I asked her what she thought about it. She only had positive things to say, such as “I like that it seems faster, things are right in front of you.” and “It can be used with or without the touch screen just as easily.”

After Two Weeks

In the last two weeks, she’s discovered through using the system, how to snap applications to their 1/3 and 2/3 screen sizes, how to pin websites and other things of interest to her start screen and how to navigate with the new IE 10 for WinRT.

I was curious to see how she’d find the system after using it for a few weeks. She is just as positive today as she was when she first started using it. The only glitch we’ve run into is that the mail application seems to get broken with our ISP’s POP3/SMTP account. I’ve had to remove and re-add it once to get it to synchronize and it looks like it’s acting up again. I think an Outlook install might be in our near future. Besides that, she’s very happy about it.

The Verdict

Overall, I’d say this has been a pleasant experience, even more than I had anticipated.

I asked my wife today if she’d prefer to be using Windows 7. Her response?

“I like Windows 8 much more.”

I see more Windows 8 installs in my future.