Today, Microsoft finally launched the most anticipated version of Windows dubbed “The best release of Windows ever…”. Yes, the full version of Windows 8 is out. I’ve been really curious with this new version of Windows making me purchase it right away when It became available in Microsoft’s website as a digital download. Let’s check it out!

First things first. If you are currently on Windows 7, you can directly upgrade to Windows 8 without having to reformat your computer. Also, the price difference of getting Windows 8 as an upgrade and getting it as a standard installation package is different. Getting it as an upgrade will cost you $39.99 while getting it as a standard installation package will cost you $69.99. You’ll save lots of $$$ if you go on the upgrade route.

If you’re currently logged in on Windows 7, you will have to download an application from Microsoft to check if you’re current system specs will run Windows 8 smoothly. The application will do a compatibility check on applications currently installed on your Windows 7 machine and your machine’s hardware specification. Once you’re clear, the application will then proceed to the checkout page where you will have to pay for the software.

Since I did the upgrade route, I was charged $39.99 for the Windows 8 Pro Edition. Once paid, the download will now start and when it’s done, it will ask you if you want to install Windows 8 directly, if you want to first store the installation data inside a bootable USB drive (4gb needed), or if you want to store the installation data inside an external media like a DVD. I chose the 2nd option which is to store the installation data inside a bootable USB drive since it’s much faster and much more portable compared to having it inside a DVD.

Note that if you’re going for the upgrade route, make sure that you’re current Windows 7 installation is LEGIT! Also, if it’s LEGIT, don’t reformat you’re current Windows 7 installation before installing Windows 8. You will have to pay the standard price of $69.99 for the digital download of the software if you install it from scratch. Always go for the upgrade route.

Now that we have the introduction out of the way, let’s take a look if Windows 8 is really worth the upgrade.

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This is one of the sweet stuff that you will be getting once you installed Windows 8. The Metro UI. The Metro UI is a redesigned way of navigating through all of your Windows apps. I tell you guys, browsing your Windows applications via this new revolutionary UI is pretty damn addicting!
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At first, the start menu only displays the default apps bundled inside Windows 8. You will have to “pin” your applications to your Metro UI wall if you want to access it from there. It’s just like creating shortcuts on previous versions of Windows. You can also drag and reposition the icons to your liking.
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Another great feature of Windows 8 is the built in Xbox Music application. Originally called Zune, this application let’s you browse all of your favorite artists and play your favorite songs. Obviously, you’ll have to pay $9.99 monthly for this service. The subscription is worth it, I’m using this service for 3 yrs now and It has all the songs and artists  you could imagine.
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Clicking on the currently playing artists displays all of his/her album, songs, and detailed bio. Much like how it works on Zune for the Xbox. The UI is just great!
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What’s the use of Xbox Music if there’s no Xbox Live. Xbox Live/Xbox Games is built right into Windows 8. You can browse all of your gaming friends and check what they’re currently playing. And yes, their gaming avatar is fully animated similar to how it works on the Xbox 360. Nice!
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You can do all of the stuff you can do inside your Xbox 360. Except for playing Xbox 360 games of course.
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Yes, Windows App Store. You can download native apps designed for Windows 8 here. Worried about the limited selection of applications? There are hundreds of applications inside the app store. From standard apps like Netflix, Skype, Twitter, to Xbox Windows games, games designed for Windows 8. And I’m sure the collection will grow more overtime.
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Placing the cursor on the top right most part of the screen and swiping it down will reveal the Windows 8 settings menu. Aside from settings, there is also an OS wide search function. Kinda works like Alfred app on the Mac but much more sleeker and faster. A share function is also present if you want to share something on your Windows 8 machine via email or Skydrive service.
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Clicking the settings buttons will popup a new window with additional options. Also, you can’t shutdown your Windows computer using the Start > Shutdown process anymore. You will have to go here if you want to turn off your computer.
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The settings page for Windows 8. You can do all of your personalization here. Works like the usual settings on older versions of Windows, but the UI is much more user friendly, responsive and attractive!
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One of my favorite parts in Windows 8. The PICTURE PASSWORD! Basically, you can use any picture, let’s say, a picture of your Mom. You can record gestures on that picture like poking the eye of your mom, then drawing a circle on her nose, then finally swiping off towards her right eye. The next time you open up your computer, you will have to repeat this recorded gestures in order for you to login.
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A demo on how to use the Picture Password functionality of Windows 8.
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This is how the file explorer in Windows 8 looks like via the Metro Commander. The color depends on your personalization settings. Say goodbye to the boring file explorer on the older versions of Windows.
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Windows 8 built in Bing search application. Nothing fancy here except for the amazing sceneries.
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I forgot to mention that aside for Xbox Music and Xbox Games, Xbox Video is also built in inside Windows 8. You can rent and watch the latest trailers of movies here. Like!
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There are a lot of built in default apps inside Windows 8. One of them is this very addicting Bing Travel application. This basically lets you choose any place in the world and lets you zoom and rotate the images in full 360.
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I’m sure you’re all familiar with Windows 7’s picture viewer. Well, this is the new Picture Viewer on Windows 8. Aside from locally stored pictures,  you can also view album photos from your Facebook and Flickr account plus you get to browse them using the sleek and responsive Metro UI.
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Full screen Bing Sports app for sports fans are also included in the default installation of Windows 8.
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Bing News is also included as a default application inside Windows 8. It let’s you select different news feeds from top sources like Associated Press and Reuters.

Now back to the question, “Is it worth upgrading to Windows 8?”. Well, the answer is a no brainer, YES! The new Windows 8 is super responsive, has a nice and sleek UI, a very simple, minimalistic but effective user interface, and lots of cool and useful built in apps like the Bing and Xbox subscription services. Plus, the addition of the Windows 8 App Store for popular apps like YouTube, Netflix, etc. and Windows 8 native games. This is in my opinion the best Windows ever, like, 100 times better than Windows 7.

Looks like my iMac will be taking a break for now…


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