Update: My Fujitsu T4215 has been upgraded to Windows 8 Pro 32bit. Everything works as expected but battery life doesn’t seem improved from Win7.
This is a quick note of my thoughts on the new Windows 8 Developer Preview on my souped up Fujitsu T4215 Convertible Tablet (launched 2007).
*** Summary ***
Windows 8 DP looks great @ Build 2011 because they are using fairly modern hardware (don’t need to be the fastest). When running on legacy hardware without Touch, even with a Digitizer, the experience is not so great. These are hardware problems & it’s not something software can solve easily. SO? Go buy new hardware! 8)
*** Quick specs ***
CPU: Intel T7200 2Ghz (upgraded from T5600 1.83Ghz)
HDD1: WD 160GB 5400RPM (some drive I had lying around)
HDD2: Kingston 64GB SSD with Full Disk Encryption enabled
Input: Keyboard/Touchpad/Digitizer screen
*** Boot-time ***
HDD1: 9 sec
HDD2: 7 sec
Not quite the 3 sec boot up shown by Emily Watson. Reason is probably because the BIOS is too old & together with a motherboard that does not support UEFI, dooms my Tablet to boot using legacy IBM PC mode.
You need a modern system with newer chipset + a SSD to achieve the 3 sec boot up.
*** Memory footprint: 630MB on boot up with TabletPC extensions enabled. ***
Better than Windows 7 by a fair bit
*** Windows Experience Index ***
CPU/Memory/HDD : 5.2
Graphics/3D : 3.2
*** Drivers ***
Intel INF + Graphics : Latest available but actual installed driver dates back to 2009
Fujitsu Motherboard BIOS extensions : Latest available for T4215 on Windows Vista and dated late 2007 Windows 8 detected all other drivers natively
*** Findings ***
— Older hardware like my T4215 is not modern enough to run the full Windows 8 Experience. Running normal apps etc., it can keep up when my WD Scorpio Black 7200RPM HDD or a SSD is installed, but Fast Boot & Touch experience is not as the developers intended. This means that I cannot use the Metro Interface even though I have the Stylus.
The situation is unlikely to change unless a new input scheme is hatched because a Stylus only allow 1 point of touch while Metro works best with multi-touch. This means that a Stylus works more like a mouse than as a touch device.
Boot up is faster than Windows 7 even taking into account logging into your user account.
— Windows 8 new UX (this will change by a fair bit when Win8 is launched (mid?) next year)
The old Start Menu is completely gone & replaced with the Start Screen so at the moment it feels disjointed when using just Keyboard/Mouse. I would rather they leave Start Menu there when you click the Windows Icon & show the Metro start when you Touch the bottom Left corner of the screen. That way the transition is smoother. As a Keyboard Mouse user, I’m already starting to feel like a second class citizen.
Microsoft has defended this move in this recent article. It does make sense & I admit I did not spend a significant amount of time to “acclimatise” but I’m one of the 1.2% who uses Jumplists so I’d appreciate if Microsoft develop that secondary tiles concept. A good compromise is probably to switch between Start screen & Start Menu based on the input mix and also allow users to set it in Control Panel.
Many of the apps & the OS itself is compiled in Debug mode so performance ain’t so great. For example, the Weather app, on my WEI graphics score of 3.2, the background video is choppy. When released it should be much better. Under the Hood, Microsoft has done a lot of groundwork & it shows when you use the system. No crashes or BSOD, background tasks are started & completed without user intervention or any slowdown in performance, everything is smooth & seamless. Much of the architecture has been changed & rearranged to minimise Kernel/Drivers/Services footprint & UI impact, allowing the UI to take center stage. Even at this stage, Windows Update is working, allowing Microsoft to smoothly transition developers from DP to Beta to RC without the hassle of reinstalling the whole OS.
It also allow programmers from different backgrounds to tap into the powerful Win32 API, now called Windows Runtime, all using a single familiar IDE in Visual Studio 11. New Tools like Task Manager, Control Settings, Windows Refresh, etc. also enhances the basic day-to-day operations & maintenance of your piece of equipment to improve productivity or simply to enjoy your PC without having to worry about background stuff.
The only problem now is how to find these little gems without resorting to Search all the time! I think the Apps Hub should be part of the Charm bar & Metro Start bar instead of going into Search.
*** Conclusion ***
Microsoft has completely casted away the uncertainty the DOJ had caused them & have gone back to basics. Windows 8 as it is now is already a much better Windows 7. Lower memory footprint, tighter CPU control on Apps & even Windows itself. 3D accelerated UI across the board, nice addition of information incorporated into even simple things like File Copy, all makes Windows 8 very nice to use if you have Touch.
With Keyboard Mouse & Stylus only + legacy hardware, the experience is more mundane. It’s still very nice but it lacks the WOW factor seen in the Keynote videos. Make sure you buy a laptop with a Touchscreen or Tablet to get the most out of Win8.
Hint: Windows 8 will run on any of the Windows 7 tablets on the market like Acer Iconia W500, Asus Eee Slate EP121, Fujitsu Q550, etc.