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Welcome to March! And not that I mean to alarm you, but welcome to the final month before support ends on Windows XP. I know that many of you supporting IT and devices for your businesses have known this for a while, and are either already done or continuing to work on migrating to Windows 7 or Windows 8. But which one, and why?
What’s interesting to me is that there is a lot of fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) surrounding Windows 8.1 and whether or not there is any real benefit to providing and supporting it as the default, best-choice for business devices. And while I know that most of you have indeed done proper due-diligence in order to come to the conclusion that Windows 7 is a better choice for your businesses, it just may be that not all of your information was based on fact, or was missing some very important beneficial tidbits which, if you had known, might very well have changed the equation.
That’s the purpose of this March blog series: “Windows 8.1 for Business”. We, the 9 Microsoft Technology (IT Pro) Evangelists in the US, plus a few special guest authors, want to take this month to help dispel some myths and provide some useful resources for you as you evaluate (and hopefully choose) Windows 8.1 as your business desktop/laptop/tablet/phablet platform of choice.
Below is our schedule, which will be continually kept up-to-date with links to completed articles as they become available. Stop back often, because we sincerely want you to benefit from this information. And if you have any questions or comments, please please please post them in the comments either here, or at the articles themselves.
UPDATE: Thank you for your patience! Due to the importance of the topics we are going to cover, we’ve had to delay posting to this series. We will continue soon (this week of March 17), and I’ll add items to the schedule as soon as we’re sure of their availability. Keep watching…
All the best!Kevin Remde
Series Introduction (this article)
Kevin Remde / @KevinRemde
Oh Start menu, how do I miss thee…or do I?
Matt Hester / @MatthewHester
Beloved Desktop, Where Art Thou?
Jennelle Crothers / @jkc137
Windows 8 works great without a touch screen
Keith Mayer / @KeithMayer
Does Windows 8.1 require more hardware than Windows 7?
One of the reasons some people weren’t comfortable with Windows 8 from the beginning was for the lack of their familiar start menu. In today’s article in our “Windows 8.1 for Business” series, my friend Matt Hester delivers the run-down on the benefits of the Start Screen vs. the old Start Menu, and provides some useful tips and workarounds to help you adjust to this big change.
And as an added bonus, Matt even gives us a “Fun Super Tip” – a built-in way to add something very similar!
READ HIS EXCELLENT ARTICLE HERE
Well, you can. In fact, my friend and coworker Jennelle Crothers explains it all for you in today’s article in our “Windows 8.1 for Business” blog series. She writes…
“Ask anyone who uses a computer for every day work tasks, they might say that they LIVE on the desktop and can’t be bothered with the new modern start menu and interface of Windows 8.1. I’ll tell you that I also live on my desktop.” “I use Outlook, Word, OneNote and Excel, Lync, LiveWriter and IE 11 for a crazy number of line of business applications for work. For native apps, I tend to find myself in the PDF Reader or the native mail app to checking personal email. Most of the social media I consume I use apps for Twitter, Facebook and Yammer. I think the default full screens used by native apps are great for viewing and interacting with my friends, watching video and reading news.”
“Ask anyone who uses a computer for every day work tasks, they might say that they LIVE on the desktop and can’t be bothered with the new modern start menu and interface of Windows 8.1. I’ll tell you that I also live on my desktop.”
“I use Outlook, Word, OneNote and Excel, Lync, LiveWriter and IE 11 for a crazy number of line of business applications for work. For native apps, I tend to find myself in the PDF Reader or the native mail app to checking personal email. Most of the social media I consume I use apps for Twitter, Facebook and Yammer. I think the default full screens used by native apps are great for viewing and interacting with my friends, watching video and reading news.”
Make sure you check out her entire article, which includes tips on how to make it easier for you and the users you support to go directly to the ol’ familiar desktop.
READ HER EXCELLENT ARTICLE HERE
This post is part of our March 2014 series of articles entitled “Windows 8.1 for Business” by you’re your Microsoft US IT Pro Technology Evangelists and guests. For the full list of articles in this series please visit the series landing page: http://aka.ms/Win814Biz
Even if you’ve never tried Windows 8 or Windows 8.1, you may have seen the advertisements showing off the lovely colorful “touch-first” interface (previously known as the “Metro” UI). Even some people using a traditional old non-touch laptop will reach out and touch the screen when they first encounter the start screen. (And by “some people”, I mean my wife while using my old Lenovo laptop on vacation a couple of years ago.) So, as lovely and colorful as the start screen is, it’s easy to assume that you might need – or at least be most happy with – a device with a screen you can touch in order to get the most out of the latest version of Windows.
“Isn’t that the case?”
I’m going to argue that it’s not. Right this very minute, for example, I’m using my Surface Pro as my work device of choice…
Yes, a lovely touchscreen which is currently sitting flat and closed on top of my desk, while my Surface is plugged into my KVM switcher connecting me to my big Acer monitor and ultra-durable Microsoft MultiMedia Keyboard 1.0A and Microsoft Wireless IntelliMouse 2.0. (Gotta love that name.) Can I touch my screen? No.. I can’t even reach it from where I’m sitting.
“And you’re just as happy using just your keyboard and mouse?”
I’ll be honest. When I’m using new Windows 8 apps, sometimes I’d rather touch them. And some of those apps are really better suited for hands-on-navigation or gameplay anyway, which are great when I’m sitting in my TV chair or on an airplane. And when simply browsing the Internet using IE 11 I do prefer to be able to swipe and pinch and zoom and touch with my fingers. But for most of my work, I’m still on the desktop apps where typing and precision selections with my mouse are still the best way to get stuff done.
“Okay, Kevin.. I’m almost convinced. Show me how to work Windows 8.1 without a touchscreen.”
That’s where my friend Keith comes in! Keith Mayer is the author of today’s article in our “Windows 8.1 for Business” (or “Why you’re wrong about Windows 8.1”) series. In his write-up, he goes further to prove, and gives real examples, tips, and tricks around how Windows 8.1 is the better choice for ALL devices, whether or not you put fingerprints on your screen.
This article is part of our March 2014 series of blog articles entitled “Windows 8.1 for Business” by your Microsoft Technology Evangelists and guests. For the full list of articles in this series please visit the series landing page: http://aka.ms/Win814Biz
Logically, it makes sense. Forever it seems whenever any software company comes out with a new version of their product, the added features and functionality require extra hardware. In the case of operating systems, that seems especially true. Software vendors are always trying to build their solutions not to fit today’s hardware, but what hardware will be available tomorrow – trying to forecast what the hardware specs will look like for the mass market in order to take advantage of hardware “state of the art” when their software finally goes on sale.
So it should follow that Windows 8.1 requires more hardware (memory/cpu/disk) to run than Windows 8. And Windows 8 required more than Windows 7. And Windows 7 required more than Windows Vista. And… you get the idea.
“And what if that’s what I believe?”
You’d be wrong. Sorry.
For the purpose of this article and our comparison, we’ll just take the basic hardware aspects of a typical PC: Processor, Memory, Available Hard Disk Space, and Graphics Processor,
Windows 8 & 8.1
1 GB System Memory
40GB + 15GB for install
16GB (32bit) or 20GB (64bit)
DirectX-9 & WDDM
* Windows Vista Home Premium or better.
There are of course other considerations that may require additional specialized hardware to support specific new functionality or features such as enterprise-class BitLocker or Client Hyper-V. Click the OS Names in the table above to go to their respective hardware requirements pages.
But.. do you notice something interesting in that table? Other than the disk space requirements (which actually went DOWN when going from Windows Vista to Windows 7), the requirements are all exactly the same! And considering the fact that Windows Vista was released to the world on January 30, 2007, we’re letting you run the latest and greatest PC operating system on hardware that could be 7 years old!
So as you can see, the hardware that you are running Windows Vista or Windows 7 on very likely will run Windows 8 and Windows 8.1. Myth = BUSTED
“But wait a second… Doesn’t Windows 8.1 require a touch screen?”
Nope. In fact, my friend and coworker Keith Mayer addressed that very question just yesterday in his post for this series.
“What about screen resolution? What’s required?”
That’s a valid point. Minimal screen resolutions do differ a little. That’s one of those “if you want to take full advantage of the capabilities of the OS” sorts of issues. If you have a really old monitor that can’t do anything better than 800x600, then you’re probably already suffering with Windows Vista or Windows 7, and the Windows 8 won’t work with anything less than 1024x768. Something to consider, for sure.
“What about performance? Can I expect my PC to be faster or slower with the newer operating system?”
Ah.. that’s a very subjective topic. “Your mileage may vary”, mainly because everyone has certain things that they wish would be faster, as well as various things that many of us unwittingly do to our systems that actually slow them down over time.
The good news is that there has actually been a lot to improve the performance of Windows and the things that we typically find we’re waiting for. A perfect example is system startup or shutdown; one of the most obvious time-wasters in older operating systems. Even with technologies such as sleep and hibernate available, the majority of people still prefer to shut their computers down completely at night or when they’re not using them. So a lot of focus was given to improving this aspect of performance in Windows 8 and beyond. For an exhaustive walk-thru of how this was done in Windows 8, check out this article on the Building Windows 8 blog: Delivering Faster Boot Times in Windows 8
For even more well-documented examples of performance improvements beyond Windows 7, check out all the great content via this bing search: “windows 8 performance improvements”
And for good tips and tricks on how to optimize your performance in general, check out this article: Optimize Windows for Better Performance
So in conclusion – If you were thinking that you’ll need to buy new hardware to replace what you are already happily running Windows Vista or Windows 7 on in order to get most of the benefits of Windows 8.1, now you can hopefully see that a simple OS upgrade is another option.
If you’re interested in evaluating Windows 8.1: http://aka.ms/Win81client
If you’d like to purchase an upgrade to Windows 8 (which includes the free upgrade to Windows 8.1), check out the Windows Store.
And if you’d like to donate $1000 towards sending your favorite IT Pro Technology Evangelist to Microsoft TechEd , contact me through this blog and I’ll send you my mailing address. (My Mom always said, “It never hurts to ask.”)