The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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November 9, 2012

Joe Hadsall: Windows 8 imperfect, but worth the upgrade

JOPLIN, Mo. — A quick note about the presidential election before diving into truly geekworthy matters: For three presidential elections now, I've said that moderates control presidential elections.

I enjoy being right for three elections now.

I would have voted for Bush Jr. in 2004 had I not been so mad about the passage of the Patriot Act. One of the things he talked about that election cycle was the need to widen the party's tent, and he was met with general scoff and disdain by his fellow party members.

Yet, he pursued that platform in the election, and won without the need for a Florida-style recount.

Moderates are nebulous and hard to define, which is why strong party backers hate them with a passion. But over the last decade, moderates have tended to be fiscally conservative and socially liberal.

I say this without providing details, facts or data, but I may look into such things later. Like, in December -- the election has put me behind schedule for National Novel Writing Month.

Someone may have facts and data that prove me wrong, and I welcome it. Until then, any party who wants to stay in power would do well to remember that moderates hold the keys to the future, not the base. And with that, I will stop talking about politics for at least a couple of years.

This has been a disgusting, dogmatic, depressing, demoralizing election cycle for so many reasons -- most of which regard a willful disregard of facts. I'm happy to see it end. Good riddance to you, 2012 election.

A step up from Windows 7

For the first time in my life, I was excited about a Windows upgrade last week, but not for the well-publicized reasons. Sure, the new Start menu filled with tablet-style apps looked interesting, but what really attracted me was how it was built to run better on computers than Windows 7. A $40 upgrade cost was pretty nice, too -- that won't last long.

Windows 8 breaks a pattern for Microsoft, in that every other operating system release is crappy. Windows XP rescued Windows 2000; Windows 7 rescued Windows Vista. So, history states that Windows 8 should stink. But I actually like it.

In a nutshell: I'm running it on my Asus Eee PC, a netbook running at 1.66 GHz with an Intel Atom N450 processor. It has 2 GB of RAM and an Intel graphics accelerator (whatever that means, because it's not exactly a video card).

It ran Windows 7 Starter decently, but chunkily. The slick, glassy look of the Aero windows was nice, but caused occasional lag.

Windows 8 runs a leaner, simpler version of 7 that benefits its performance. Gone are the glassy looks, exchanged for some bulky boxes. Apple fans will be offended simply from looking at a Windows 8 screen. But the payoff is nice. Here's a rundown of the pros and cons:

¥ PRO: Better system performance. My computer is running all the stuff I use better and more quickly. Basic functions are easier to find, and contextual menus make more sense.

¥ PRO: The upgrade went relatively smoothly. Easy download, easy upgrade. All of my existing software worked fine. I had issues with the Asus keyboard shortcuts -- some of my function controls no longer work. I imagine a fix is coming.

¥ PRO: A good antivirus program comes as part of the software. I was using Microsoft Security Essentials, a free program that did an outstanding job of protecting the netbook and my two desktop computers at home. Windows Defender is a change in name only -- the program is basically the same, and it was already loaded with the install.

¥ PRO: Better graphic performance. I feel kind of silly reviewing the graphic performance of a netbook, which is like reviewing the horsepower of a Geo Metro. But there's less lag and chunking when browsing through different windows now.

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