Windows has come a long way since the launch of Windows 1.0 in 1985. The latest Microsoft baby is Windows 8. However, the launch of this operating system has triggered a controversy whether it is better than its predecessor, Windows 7 or not. Let’s find out.
Did You Know?
Microsoft has supposedly performed 1.2 billion hours of testing before releasing Windows 8!
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“Windows reimagined”. This is what Microsoft had to say about their latest OS – Windows 8. This new version was announced at the 2011’s Consumer Electronics Show, and in June 2011, Microsoft showcased the new user interface and the newly added feature. The new version of Windows was made available for download for MSDN and TechNet subscribers on August 15, 2012. But, it was only on October 26 that the v8 was available for general usage. Its predecessor, Windows 7, was launched in 2009. The inquisitiveness among the users to find out if Windows 8 had outdone version 7 added to the buzz of the v8 launch.
So, is the performance of Windows 8 better than Windows 7? Critics have their own opinion behind the two operating systems. We, at Buzzle, have put forth our point of view about both the operating systems.
Windows 7: What Was New?
The Windows Vista launch in 2006 had created a lot of buzz with new features being added to the OS from its predecessor, the Windows XP. Was it better or not is still debatable, but users were looking forward to a new OS that would cover up for the flaws of Vista. The wait was over only in 2009 when the Windows 7 version was launched. It was released for manufacturing on July 22, 2009, and on October 22, 2009, the product was available for retail.
- This version retained the virtual style of Vista and created an incremented platform for Vista-compatible programs and hardware. The most noticeable change was the taskbar. We were introduced to the feature of Jump Lists. The need to use “Alt+Tab” function had reduced immensely. To switch to another application, just “right click” on the particular program icon on the taskbar and the list of applications running in the background could be seen.
- How can we forget the Aero Peek feature! You could easily see the desktop by simply hovering over this rectangular button. This version also eliminated the need to manually size the windows so that they could be visible side-by-side, dividing the screen into equal portions. This automatic resizing of windows was called the Aero Snap feature. If you had to work on two text documents simultaneously, simply dragging the document on the desktop would resize it. Thus, the screen was automatically divided into two halves.
- The additional 13 sound schemes in the v7 was a surprise. If you had a touchscreen and had Windows 7 installed, you had to do nothing but use your fingers to get your computer working. All this was unseen till this version’s release.
- Coming to the processor and the other important hardware features of the version, the OS is available in 32-bit and 64-bit versions (except the Starter edition). The physical space on the hard disk needed for loading the OS in the 32-bit version was 16 GB and 20 GB for the 64-bit version.
- The VHD (Virtual Hard Disk) allows users to store files and folders on a virtual drive whose size can be expanded. You can choose a fixed size of the partition or else let it expand as per your data size. You can choose the option of booting your system through this hard disk known as native boot. This means you have more virtual space to store your data.
- The HomeGroup, similar to the concept of Castle in Vista – but an improved version, allowed the users to add an ad-hoc home networking system which allows Windows 7 users to join the group via a password. The group can share files and folders between multiple computers
- Remote media streaming was one feature that personally made me feel excited. The feature enabled users to share media files from one computer to the other without having to physically connect the two devices. The Windows Media Player library enabled you to access the files stored on your home PC via Internet while working on your laptop. However, the HomeGroup function was also an option to do so.
With so many new features that were introduced in the v7 version, the expectations from the v8 version increased. However, not all expectations were fulfilled. Let’s see what was different in Windows 8.
Windows 8: What Has Changed?
The cat was out of the bag on October 25, 2012 when Microsoft invited users for the launch party of Windows 8. The launch also revealed the first look of the most-awaited Surface tablet. When Microsoft came up with the tagline of Windows reimagined, the curiosity increased. In Microsoft’s own words, this version is Windows 7, only better.
The Windows 8 development had started even before the release of the Windows 7 version. However, it was only 3 years later that this new OS was launched in 2012.
- The first change to be noticed is the Start Screen. It has all the information that one can ask for. From the Now Playing information to the weather forecast, the calendar entries, the photo albums, apps, contacts, etc., all are found at one place. You don’t have to search your system for any particular program. The OS shows what you want right at the start. Not only that, the messages, notifications, etc., that you see on the screen are updated every now and then. If you miss the old desktop look, you can still access it on this version, but who wants it when you have such an amazing Start Screen.
- For all the touchscreen-enabled PC users, this OS offers two keyboards. One is the full-sized regular one while the other is the thumb-enabled keyboard which has split keys on either side of the screen. So, you don’t have to search for the alphabet that you wish to type from the full-sized keyboard. For all those addicted to texting on cell phones, this feature is a blessing. Also, if you want to change the layout to a language of your choice, you can enable it on the keyboard layout and the same will be applied for the entire PC. So, all the applications and programs will speak your language.
- With Windows 8, all your work can be done by using your fingers. If you wish to have a picture on the lock screen, then you are saved of typing a password! You can simply draw shapes on the picture and unlock the screen. By simply hovering over the corners, you can switch between various programs. Also, the Start Screen is just around the corner while you are accessing other programs. Simply swipe from the right edge and the screen will appear.
- If you wish to make your Windows 8 experience more fun, then simply check into the Windows Store for downloading some fun apps. The store is also on the Start Screen, so you don’t have to dig your system to find that. What all this has done is that it has eliminated the need for creating shortcuts on the desktop for all the programs and apps that you wish to use regularly.
- Cloud computing couldn’t get more easy and comfortable to use. The cloud sharing option is readily available on the version. So, if you are halfway through your document and needed to close it immediately, you can share it on the Cloud and access it from a computer near you. Also, the free editing apps help you in making changes to the document even though you don’t have Office installed.
- Even if you don’t have a touchscreen-enabled PC, you can still enjoy the features of the version by using mouse gestures. This version is also equipped with NFC (Near Field Communication), so if you have to connect wireless devices to your laptop or PC, simply tap the device and it will be connected.
So, if there are so many improved features that Windows 8 has to offer, is it right to say that it is better than its predecessor? May be or may be not! Here’s our side of the argument.
Windows 8 When Pitted Against Windows 7
Based on Net Applications data on Desktop OS Market Share as of May 2013, Windows 7 ranks the list with 44.85% market share while Windows 8 lags behind even Vista (considered to one of the biggest OS failures) with a 4.27% market share.
Desktop Users Deserted: Windows 8 has all the features that makes it speedy and steady, but most of its features are developed keeping the tablet users in mind. Not much has changed for the desktop users. So, does that mean we desktop users don’t deserve a faster, boot-to-desktop setting?
Searching Just Became Tough: The search option can be a real troublesome option for users of Windows 8. While you are using Windows 7, all you need to do is to hit the Windows button, type the search text, and you have the search results in place. However, in Windows 8, the search results will be only from the default locations. So, if your file appears in the Files option, you need to check that option before hitting the enter button. This is an unnecessary addition that Microsoft added to the Windows 8 system.
Logging in Held Up: Let’s not forget to mention the delay in logging in. This is what happens when you use Windows 8 on your desktop. The reason for the delay is the non-existence of direct desktop booting. If you by mistake move to the corner of the screen, a huge menu will appear with some apps, in which you may not even be interested at the given point. Every single click on the taskbar options opens an extensively wide-optioned screen with a lot of options!
Aero Snap Excluded: We surely miss the Aero Snap option that Windows 7 offers. Its absence means you cannot have two windows side-by-side. Welcome back to the “Alt+Tab” option that we had almost forgotten thanks to the Windows 7 OS.
Forced Apps: Most of the preloaded apps are the ones that are Microsoft-linked, like Bing, SkyDrive, and Xbox LIVE. Even the preexisting store is Windows store. You don’t have an option but to have these on your system. Windows 7 is more like the OS that we all know.
Poor Graphics Function: In order to address a larger user base, it is necessary to even tap the gaming area. So, is Windows 8 better than Windows 7 in gaming? Although the startup and shutdown times have improved in Windows 8 (the home screen will appear only after a time lag), the graphics performance has been greatly hampered. This means that while gaming, this version will not give faster results, and you may just be irritated if you are an extreme gamer.
Speed and Booting: The Windows 7 version is slower than Windows 8, but then I can compromise a little on speed than using a system that forces its apps on me and doesn’t have much for desktop users. The gaming performance is the same. Also, the booting is faster than Windows 8.
Now, let’s shift our focus to the speed and performance aspect of these two variants. When we talk about the startup time, Windows 8 is a bit faster, only a few seconds though. But, in the computing world, these seconds do matter. However, when the 3D graphics come into picture, Windows 7 is the clear winner. Even in the gaming arena, Windows 7 is faster than the 8 version.
Modern Computing: If you are a touchscreen and convertible user, Windows 7 will not appeal to you as much as Windows 8 will do. Also, the absence of direct cloud sharing feature will not please someone who wishes to access his data from a different computer without sending the files via email.
Microsoft nailed it with Windows 7, but sadly, the same cannot be said about Windows 8. While the Windows 8 version is better suited for convertibles and touchscreen computers, Windows 7 is an all-purpose OS. So, may be you could just wait a little longer to upgrade your version of OS to Windows 8! And there are already speculations that Microsoft is looking to cover the flaws of Windows 8 with Windows Blue (a.k.a. Windows 8.1). May be this time around, they can get things right and focus on the larger user base than just targeting a few.