Windows 8 was released to manufacturing (RTM) on August 1, 2012 for a October 26, 2012 launch. With the 8.1 updates, all of the issues have been corrected.
Microsoft has also now offered all users a free upgrade to Windows 10 which Microsoft has wanted to have all users standardized for security reasons.
Windows 8 has the same system requirements as Vista and 7. It will install on a machine with 512 MB of RAM and a 1 GHz processor. Realistically a much better outcome will be seen with 2 GB or more memory and a faster multi-core x64 CPU.
The Windows Store requires 1024×768 or higher and the application snap to requires 1366×768 or higher. . Machines like out old Samsung R540 already have 1366×768 LCD panel. Very old machines like out Toshiba Satellite A100 have the older 1280×800 LCD which is enough for Windows 8 but the snap feature will not be available. LCD improvements at the low end of the laptop market have been slow.
The M5A99FX was recognized easily so no need for the Asus support disk. Chipsets and network adapters are widely integrated into Windows by vendors so that support costs are minimized. Even the USB 3.0 controller was recognized which is another standardized device.
We have a Wacom pad and it causes Windows to show the onscreen keyboard for the logon screen. The desktop also shows an icon to bring up the touch keyboard. This means the Wacom pad will have to emulate a touch screen completely. The driver supports up to 4 finger gestures so it should be adequate.
Entry level notebook computers with a touch panel LCD have fallen to below $500 making them increasingly popular. Windows tablets are also now more widely available.
We also have the HP Stream 7 tablet which is completely touch screen. These new low cost Windows tablets will expand the installed base for Windows users considerably.
There is a new background for the logon screen. The rainbow of color looks rather bright with our Asus PA238QR.
The groups are now working as expected and its possible to organize games into groups by release year if desired. Steam and Origin et al games are best launched from their respective clients which will reduce screen clutter.
There is a new wallpaper and more are available from Windows.com.
The control panel now opens up into separate windows so that its now easier to do different tasks at once. Multicore processors are now widely available with sufficient RAM to support more open windows.
We have seen storage spaces with Windows Server and we strong recommend not using it. Use a single large disk or use 2-3 of them in a RAID 0 setup. Home NAS boxes can be used for a backup target.
The problem with storage spaces, the backup when things go wrong? Use a USB 3.0 disk or a network box for backups.
PC GAMES ARE A MESS
As software is installed, Windows 8 places the usual start menu shortcuts into the All Programs table, but it also clutters the start screen with all of the shortcuts instead of only the main program. Games are notorious for providing links to web sites etc. over and above the game shortcut.
Besides the dismal game compatibility, the start screen mess means Windows 8 is not suitable for a gaming rig. Look at the screen shot of our own machine as we installed game after game to see what would work.
We spend nearly 6 weeks testing every game we own. Then we tested productivity programs. As usual game DRM is a big problem.
Application compatibility is much better but the same Start screen mess means a lot of work to clean up. To clean up the screen you can click on each one to select it and then you can remove them from the start screen. You can also move icons around as desired to that games can be grouped together for easier access.
All of the old shortcuts are available via the Start screen and a right click somewhere away from the icons. This will reveal the all programs charm that will access the entire set of programs.
Windows 8 groups programs in blocks of 6 by 6 which is enough for a lot of games. The problem of no folders makes the use of 100+ games very tricky.
Windows 8 works fine with the old AL1916 panel as easily as the PA238QR. Old classic games like Battlefield 1942 work better with the AL1916. Modern games are designed for 1920×1080 however they have to support a wide range of panel resolutions.
The Windows 7 games folder is still present, to get it to open, go to all programs and right click on one of the games in the folder and select open file location. Then once you have it open, you can pin it to the taskbar where you can open it quickly to launch a game.
Windows 8 recognizes more games the Windows 7 so this is a good shortcut for larger collections. Some Steam games are recognized too, offering a second shortcut.
Blacksite Area 51 had a write protect error attempting to install the second DVD. Making a virtual BD master from the original disks allowed the game to install, then using the original disk the DRM was maintained fine. Visual Studio may enable Hyper-V, this needs to be disabled.
When Windows performance suffers or drivers are making Windows unstable you can now refresh Windows more easily. With Window Vista and up there are Libraries. Document and Photos etc.
When you boot your Windows DVD (or USB stick), you will be able to select repair Windows. The refresh Windows option will preserve libraries but otherwise its a fresh install. This means games have to be installed fresh, so that BD backup, USB disk, server or NAS box earn their keep fast.
If you have moved your iTunes media folder to another location, it is retained as the ITL files in the Music Library are saved.