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Windows 8 install and test drive: Welcome to Microsoft's brave new world

Loyd Case | Aug. 16, 2012
I’m writing this on an Asus Zenbook UX31A at a Peet’s Coffee on Steven’s Creek Boulevard in the heart of Silicon Valley. In an adjacent table a man and woman have papers spread out on a table, talking in hushed tones, with the word “Apple” occasionally audible.

Im writing this on an Asus Zenbook UX31A at a Peets Coffee on Stevens Creek Boulevard in the heart of Silicon Valley. In an adjacent table a man and woman have papers spread out on a table, talking in hushed tones, with the word Apple occasionally audible.

Installed on the Zenbook is a freshly minted copy of Windows 8 RTM. The official launch date for Windows 8 remains October 26, but the RTM (release to master) is available to Microsoft Technet and MSDN subscribers today.

PCWorld has covered the major features in articles on the release preview and consumer preview versions. Rather than dive once more into the myriad of features of Windows 8, I thought it would be more interesting spending a day with Windows 8 doing actual work. The goal here is to dive into the deep end of the pool of Microsofts vision of the future of PC computing. This laptop is not only running the RTM, but I also installed the preview release of Microsoft Office 15.

But Im getting ahead of myself.

A Brief Word on Installation

This is not a detailed review; thats impossible in a few hours. But while PCWorld will be serving up tutorials on Windows 8 installation and upgrading, Id like to touch briefly on installation.

Installing Windows 8 on this Zenbook is actually my second attempt. The first attempt on different hardware failed due to driver issues with Wi-Fi.

Installing Windows 8 on the Zenbook went smoothly, but only after figuring out that several of the disk partitions on the Zenbook were GPT-style partitions. That seemed a bit odd for a modern Microsoft operating system, but after nuking all the partitions and reformatting, the rest of the installation went smoothly.

When you first boot into Windows 8, youre asked if you want to use your Microsoft login (formerly your Windows Live login). If you say yes, you are dropped into the full on Windows 8 experience, including full integration with Microsofts SkyDrive cloud storage service, social networking services and simple access to the Microsoft Store. You can opt out of this, but then you end up with an enhanced (or crippled, depending on your point of view) Windows 7 experience.

After logging into Windows 8 with my Microsoft ID, my phone buzzed with an SMS confirmation message. I also received a similar message via email. Both asked me to give permission for the new system to access my SkyDrive folders. That little bit of extra security may help assuage some security fears. In the increasingly cloud-driven technology world, the line between security and convenience is becoming increasingly blurred.

 

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