Close Encounters with Windows 8

You all know that I am an hard-core Linux user where I avoid Windows environments as much as I can. Still it is inevitable. Being a wide-range and open-minded IT person, one should try everything and make decisions later.

First Contact

The first time I have exposed to Windows 8 was December 2013 when I was checking out my niece’s Lenovo Yoga.

It was a really brief experience where I could notice the use of the “Windows” key/button and noticed that acceptable tile screen sliding performance. Though, it was not a real “experience”

Master Your Business





Being a Fujitsu insider, I have received a Fujitsu LIFEBOOK U904 in February 2014 for the Master Your Business project. The device came with Windows 8 Pro where Fujitsu recommends. That is when I had the experience Windows 8 in real sense.

First Boot & Installation

Impressed with the quick and simple boot & installation and appealing feature of visual customization (the theme color) along the process, I was using the touchpad of the Ultrabook with two fingers to scroll through selections – but it was working in the wrong direction.

Not being aware of the touchscreen support of Fujitsu LIFEBOOK U904, I jumped when I accidentally touched the screen :-O – Silly me! That is the reason that the scrolls are happening in opposite direction.

Tile (Start Screen)

Before my initial experience, I have heard and read about the tile concept of Windows 8 and been considering that to be a nice idea. My first experience was:

  • The sliding is easy on eyes and realistic
  • One can have active tiles with content (e-mail, social media etc.)
  • One must go through the help / tutorial to learn – as I found the environment not really intuitive (see following sections)

GNOME Influence

While trying to find my way around, I had the feeling that many good ideas were inspired by GNOME 3 – which made my life easier afterwards as GNOME 3 is my primary desktop choice on Linux.

One major example is that if you want to search & run a specific command/application, you press the Windows key (in my case a Penguin key ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) and start typing.

Another is an iconless main environment.

Stuff I Liked ๐Ÿ™‚


  • General fullscreen support
  • Fullscreen IE is much better


  • Variety of games (well I am not much interested)
  • Desktop applications can be pinned on the Start Screen


  • Full support for touch screen
  • 10 touch points. That is incredible! Though it is hard to imagine an application that would require it – but this feature reminds me of the following Steve Jobs quote:

So let’s not use a stylus. We’re going to use the best pointing device in the world. We’re going to use a pointing device that we’re all born with – born with ten of them. We’re going to use our fingers. We’re going to touch this with our fingers. And we have invented a new technology called multi-touch, which is phenomenal. It works like magic.


  • Ability to personalise the GUI with favourite colour. That helps to nudge the right hemisphere of the brain for more effective work.

Stuff I Did Not Like / Miss ๐Ÿ™

Even with Windows 8.1 Pro….

GUI Not Quite intuitive

  • How to pin more to the start screen?
  • How to go to the settings (application or system)?
  • How to run a specific command by keyboard / search?
  • Following the help / tutorial is crucial!

Multiple workspaces

  • I am very used to have multiple workspaces on my desktop helping me to categorise the ongoing work based in area or nature. Windows still does not have that natively.


  • Lack of full screen business applications
  • Very hard to close running programs (Only Ctrl+Alt+Esc – and switch to desktop)


  • You must have a touch screen to be able to work effectively. Otherwise, you are doomed!
  • If the device is very high resolution (e.g. 3200×1800) the desktop applications like XMind, Command Prompt, VirtualBox will have incredibly small text, icons and sizes. It is almost impossible to see & read stuff. There is no proper way to customize.

Internet Browsing

Although full screen IE is c00l:

  • tabs preserved across reboots use a lot resource and makes things messy & slow
  • Tricky to change default search engine – see this post to learn how
  • Famous/favourite internet browsers (e.g. Firefox, Tor, Chrome, Opera) are not available in full screen – well maybe it is not Windows’ fault – maybe it is ๐Ÿ˜‰


Stability had been the most annoying problem with Windows since its inception and unfortunately it is still a problem

  • The environment gets slower and slower as you keep working
  • It is really memory hungry – I would say 8GB should be the minimum that you have
  • You should not have many active tiles – to avoid slow performance
  • The Wi-Fi goes into limbo without apparent reason – requires reboot


I can say Windows 8.1 Pro is usable for general purpose, but I would advise to avoid to rely your business solely on it. Good for social media use, internet browsing, personal e-mail and games.

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