Windows 8 Full Review


Thank you for reading my review of Windows 8.  I initially started my review on both the Lenovo Twist convertible laptop/tablet and Windows 8 with two YouTube videos you can see on the Stewart and Son YouTube Channel here:  Since then, I found there’s an audience who would prefer to read this review and I can get into some more detail.

Windows 8: Product, Platform, Specs

For this review I have chosen the Lenovo Twist laptop/tablet combo device.  I chose this because I know Windows 8 is really designed to make an entry into this touch-screen market space.  Also, I chose it because the wide varieties of tools I use to support my clients and do business need the power of a mid-range business laptop.

The Lenovo Twist is the business-class cousin to the consumer-class Lenovo Yoga.  While they are similar in function the performance capacity of the Twist really does exceed that of the Yoga in terms of CPU power, drive capacity and other features.

The Twist comes with Windows 8 Professional; the business-class version of the operating system.  It includes all the bells and whistles we need for doing business on an Active Directory domain and support for business applications.

Initial Thoughts & How I Use My Computer

My goal in this review was to find a touch-screen device running Windows 8, and find a way to improve or enhance the way I do business today.   I am someone who prefers to take notes on a letter-sized tablet and one is not far from me at all times.  With a touch interface, I can write and have the writing converted to text almost immediately; not to mention the ability to sketch IT concepts and print/email/share them instantaneously. 

Of course I manage my calendar and email with the device, and I use different web applications to interact with the enterprise management tools I use for my clients. 

Lastly, I’m a gamer at heart so I’m looking to see how touch can help create great games with innovative input interfaces.

Detailed Review

I had some challenges with the Twist right off.  Most tablets run small SSD’s (Solid State Drives) as opposed to conventional hard drives with moving parts.  Jostling a spinning hard drive can be catastrophic so Lenovo is using “airbag” technology which basically “parks” (or stops) the hard drive so that it can’t suffer damage in case of an accidental bump.   Of course I took great care when converting from laptop to tablet but the sensitivity was turned up so high, I frequently had to wait after the slightest motion for the hard drive to come back up to speed (about 10-15 seconds).  I did find a setting to make the system less sensitive and had fewer moments where my work was interrupted.

The position sensors which direct the display to appropriately adjust to which way is up were not very effective.  In fact, if you put the laptop in “tent” mode (effectively opened hinge-up, screen facing out, like an A), it simply couldn’t tell which way was up.  There’s a 4 step process to correct that which you have to go through every time.  Pretty annoying but Lenovo says they are working on a fix for that and I think they’ll get that worked out.

My issues with Windows 8 were much greater than that of the hardware.

Windows 8 basically runs two software environments.  You have the Desktop environment, which is nearly identical to Windows 7’s environment, except there is no Start button on the desktop.  The other environment is the Metro environment (Microsoft can’t call it that but I haven’t heard a better name for it yet), which runs programs designed for touch interfaces.

The two environments work interchangeably in some ways and not in others.  From the Metro interface you cannot see separate Desktop applications.  You can split screen and see the desktop on 2/3’s of the screen and a Metro app of your choice in the other 1/3rd but the Twist’s screen is too small to make that of any use. 
If I could run all my apps in Metro and not use the Desktop, then it might be a non-issue, but I can’t do that because many of the apps I need to do business have no good Metro equivalents. 

Internet Explorer 10 seems ok but I still have the issues of annoying ads and a general lack of add-ons that make my web browsing experience so much more productive, so I use Google Chrome for most of my browsing and I use IE for managing my SharePoint sites and doing my business email.  Since Chrome is my default browser I can’t run Internet Explorer 10 as a Metro app.  This was very annoying since I wanted a bit of both worlds and couldn’t have it.

The mail and calendar apps were very feature-poor.  In fact you can’t change the signature of your default account in the mail app.  Wait for the next version apparently.  So, it’s back to the browser for my email then.  I also need a calendar app that supports different colors for different appointments.  Metro’s calendar does a good job coloring the multiple calendars you might have connected but I can’t distinguish different colors for the appointments (I like to color appointments differently if they are on the road or in-office).  Another major issue with the calendar was that I can’t drag and drop appointments.  I think every calendar with any kind of graphical interface out today lets you do this. 

As a gamer that is pretty platform agnostic, I’m a big fan of the game distribution engine known as Steam.  Steam does work on Windows 8 but not very well.  I have had some problems which I frankly haven’t spent much time to correct.  Metro games on the other hand seem well developed and there are a number of free ones I had some fun with.  Obviously first person shooters probably don’t play well to a touch screen, but “tower-defense” games and other types do.  There are some free, Windows 8-ready games to play right now and they are pretty fun.   By the way, the new Minesweeper for a touch-interface was well done and I enjoy playing it.

Some last notes I have here include:


Windows 8 is a huge deal different than any previous version of Windows.  If you want to try something new and you don’t rely on your computer for custom applications or others which aren’t Metro-ready, then I’d say take advantage of the prices right now and give it a go. 

If however, you are considering picking up a new computer for the office or anywhere else you expect to be productive, I’d strongly encourage you to hold off and buy a cheap Windows 8 machine to play with before diving in.  I could NOT be productive with this on day one despite being a pretty adaptable computer user.  I had to consult the web more than a few times to figure out how to do something.  The Windows 8 interface is not very intuitive. 

Touch computing is here to stay and while Windows 8 might change with a service pack or maybe even Windows 9, the basics are being written into the history of computing right now and Microsoft is helping to shape where we go from here.  I can see that this interface change is going to happen, whether I like it or not so I’m going to continue to try and get on board. 

About the Author:

My name is Wade Stewart and I have my own IT consulting business named Stewart and Son Computer Services.  We service small and medium size businesses with the IT experience and practices of corporate enterprise computing.  We bring our market the power of enterprise managed IT to make our clients more competitive and bring a higher standard of computer, network and server reliability.