Thursday, June 13, 2013

I sold my soul to Microsoft - again.

Last fall, Microsoft offered a Windows 8 upgrade for $39.99.  "Great!", said I, because one of the IBM quad-core workstations in the house was getting rather long in the tooth with Windows XP, and I could either buy Windows 7 for a bunch of money, or simply jump to Windows 8 cheaply and be good for a while.

Yeah, right.  The DVD arrives, and I discover that the hardware of the IBM 6221 isn't going to cut it with Windows 8, because of BIOS, CPU, and IDE controller obsolescence. So that computer will get Windows 7, which has no such pretenses. In the meantime, what to do with this Windows 8 DVD?

My own workstation is an 8-core, water-cooled IBM 9228 with a couple SSDs and a huge spinning-platter HD for file storage.  It runs Windows 7 Ultimate 64-Bit perfectly, and does everything I could ask of it, lightning-quick.  That includes Adobe Creative Suite 6, SolidWorks, Fallout New Vegas, NOAA Weather Research Forecast models, anything I can throw at it. It would be silly to mess with it, no?

Silly, but I did, anyway.  That's me - if it ain't broken, keep fixing it until it is well and truly broken. Still smarting from the hardware issues that thwarted me from installing Windows 8 on the other IBM, I ran the Upgrade Compatibility Checker and found no issues.  That was a good sign.  I diligently backed up everything that meant something to my basement file server, then stuck the Windows 8 DVD in the big IBM, waiting for upgrade hell to break loose.  It didn't.

The upgrade went on without so much as a hiccup.  Since I really didn't want to spend a ton of money replacing my 28" LCD monitor with a touch-screen version of the same, I bought the Logitech T650 glass touchpad for the Windows 8 touch experience.  That was a good choice, considering the new Start Screen of Windows 8.

All my applications made the move ok.  All of my hardware made the move ok, from the HD TV tuner, to the USB Bluetooth dongle, and even the FireWire recording and audio interface.  Windows 8 attempted to create another pagefile on the main SSD drive, but I quickly relocated that to the second SSD drive where it belongs, no problem.

The old Windows Start Button and Start Menu is gone.  You have to use the pretty Start Screen to run things, or bring up the Desktop and use the old Taskbar icon trick to stash your favorite programs.  I'm getting better at all the touch gestures needed to run the system, and can actually do everything from the touchpad, including a touch keyboard.  I do still have my Microsoft Natural Keyboard and Logitech Trackball, because carpal tunnel.  Otherwise, the transition really isn't as bad as I though it would be.  Everything works, and Windows 8 does a better job of utilizing system resources, with
much lower CPU idle numbers than Windows 7.  Oh, and it's a lot more colorful!

Kinda pretty, ain't it?

 Microsoft is trying to force the PC world into adopting a tablet/smartphone mentality in how one accomplishes things.  My desktop display looks like a spitting image of my Windows smartphone, that much is certain.  How this desktop OS pans out for them is still up for debate.  Microsoft recently announced they're coming out with Windows 8.1 later this year, and it will be bringing back the Start Button, among other things. I questioned the wisdom of removing it in the first place, but chalked it up to Microsoft creating a paradigm shift in an all-or-nothing effort to transform personal computing. To me, it's basically a Windows 7 pickup truck with a spiffy new paint job. I upgraded because I didn't know what to do with the upgrade DVD.  If you have and like Windows 7, I'd recommend staying with it.  If you're adventurous and want to try something new and different, give Windows 8 a shot.  My 2009-vintage IBM is happy with it, purring (gurgling?) right along with nary a hiccup.
32 Degrees Celsius on a warm summer day - Nice!


Brigid said...

All I could think though was

Bat Phone?

Boeing WC-135W?

Nice desk set up.

Gewehr98 said...

Brigid, you are absolutely correct on both counts. My original alert phone came from the bomb wing at Mather AFB, fully functional and now wired into the home phone lines. It was one of my USAF retirement presents, the other being that small replica vertical stabilizer from WC-135B (Now WC-135W) 61-2667. I was one of the few, the proud, the Constant Phoenix, from 1986 to 2006 - so I no longer need a flashlight at night, as a human check-source. BTW, thanks for the blog link, but it's Neural Misfires, not "Neural Misfiles". I scored pretty good in the administrative part of the ASVAB.

Dink Newcomb said...

I am suffering some disability, physical and cognitive, and had to quit working a couple years before retirement age though I am into idle old fart country by now. Since the 80s, I had assembled my systems from individual components and wound up with better/cheaper systems. Now, I can no longer handle the assembly procedures (very limited concentration) nor have the motor control needed for the necessary moderate delicacy. I recently bought a system which came with Win8 and I have been struggling with it for several months. I have gotten to the point where I can now ignore most of the touch screen stuff but after reading your article, I have decided to purchase a Logitech touch pad to keep up with the technology-- hell, I paid for it.
AND, yes, I feel like MS is way to wrapped up in this culture changing tech/commnications nonsense which is 10% useful and 90% text messaging while driving. Win7 was very stable and gave me none of the current didoes that Win8 does.
I come from the dark side-- I was in the Navy during the Viet Nam War.