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Using Windows 8 on a PC: 10 things we've learnt

After a few days with Windows 8 - some thoughts

We continue our look at things we've learnt from using Windows 8 with an assesment of the impact of the Windows Store.

6. Windows Store may not be all that important... to you (yet)

The Windows Store is one of the obvious benefits of upgrading to Windows 8. A secure and simple place to find and install applications you can trust. It's key to Microsoft's strategy with Windows 8: get people buying native Windows software and not only do you generate a nice line in additional income, but you also guarantee customer loyalty. No-one wants to ditch their iPhone if it means having to buy all their apps in a different platform.

But right now, for the average PC user the Windows Store may be something of an irrelevance. You can continue to buy and install software in exactly the same way you always have and in the Windows Store - to be frank - there's not a great deal you'd want to buy... yet. In time a market that allows software makers to sell direct to Windows users with all kinds of devices is bound to attract great software. And the convenience of buying direct from your PC with no fear of being ripped off or scammed will be compelling for users. But it needn't be a big deal to you today.

Windows Store

Windows Store: mostly harmless

7. Charms are useful, but not crucial

Much has been made by Microsoft of the 'contract' it has made with all Windows users: in the same part of every screen in every application, you will be able to access the Charms bar. The Charms bar in turn offers access to all the controls you need for both application and PC.

Which is, you know, great. But as I've outlined above Windows 8 is not so tough to get to know that the Charms bar is required as a safety net. There are at least three other ways to get to Settings, for instance, and in time as you grow used to shortcuts and Windows 8 in general, the Charms become useful but not critical.

8. You could save on security software

Now, this is not my official advice but it is an option for the cost-conscious user. Windows 8 comes with antivirus installed as standard, as well as the usual firewall and so on. So although you may get better protection by installing a separate internet security suite, you will have adequate protection with Windows 8 alone. I'm just saying.

What is interesting, and what I am intrigued to test, is the claim made to me by a representative of a well-known security software company that paid-for security software may speed up Windows 8. His argument was that Microsoft's own security software slows down Windows 8.

Perhaps. I can't tell on my work PC because we have corporate antivirus, but I will be going without when I install Windows 8 at home. Considering the current cost of internet security software I think it is a risk worth taking.

9. You don't need to upgrade, but it won't hurt if you do

I've covered this already, but it is worth making as a separate point. For current users of Windows 7 PCs and laptops, who don't want to use touch, Windows 8 isn't a must-have upgrade. But at £25 it is a relatively pain-free transition. And having made the jump I wouldn't go back.

10. We can't wait to try this on new devices

More importantly, I can't wait to get stuck in to Windows 8 running on Arm-powered tablets and Intel tablets, laptops, all-in-ones and hybrid devices - devices that comprise any, some or all of the above. Hardware manufacturers have been offered a challenge by Microsoft: build interesting, desirable and useful personal computing devices that can utilise Windows 8's more radical new features. And whether Windows 8 becomes a triumph or a disaster will largely be decided by the hardware. It will be fun finding out.

In the meantime, Windows 8 on a desktop PC is an interesting diversion, but far from the radical upgrade Microsoft is pushing for.

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