Windows 8 Q&A

Last week, John P. and I sat down with you guys on a livestream to answer all your questions about Windows 8. If you missed it, here’s the video so you can see everything you need to know about the OS! And below are some answers to the most popular questions, as well as some we didn’t answer on the video…

Thanks to Staples for supporting GeekBeat.TV in our effort to help you better understand Windows 8! They sell a variety of Windows 8 computers, and will help you (or your mother or brother!) get set up, transferred and ready to go, regardless of if you buy a computer from them or not. It’s a great way to get you off the leash when you’re called in for tech support on the “family rate”. :)

Q: What’s the difference between RT & Pro?
A: RT is the tablet version of Windows 8. It’s built for the tablet and allows you to download apps from the Windows Store. The most important thing you need to know here is that you can’t download your own apps like you can on the full version of Windows 8. You’re limited to apps on the Store. Which is fine for anyone who does basic web browsing, Skype, and playing Angry Birds. But if you’ll be using Windows 8 in a professional manner, you’ll want the full version or wait for the Pro version to come out on tablets in a couple months.

I’ve been using two computers and I would recommend both of them. The Samsung ATIV is a tablet that docks and turns into a laptop is touchscreen, and my favorite because of the flexibility. The other option, also touchscreen, but a regular computer, is the Sony Vaio Ultrabook.

Q: Is it better to download apps from the app store in Win 8 or download and install yourself?
A: If the app is available, go ahead and download it on the Windows Store. It’s certainly nice to have it there on your home page. As developers are working to increase apps that are available on the Store, there are some apps that you’ll need to download and install on the desktop.

Taking it a step further, you can definitely download apps on both the Store and the Desktop if you want the flexibility to multitask in that way!

Q: What kind of graphics card or chip does the Samsung ATIV Windows 8 tablet have? Has anyone tried HALO? :)
A: Haha! I haven’t tried HALO on it, but it’s using an Intel HD Graphics 4000

Q: Will you get more hardrive space when the Samsung ATIV Windows 8 tablet is connected to the base?
A: With the Samsung ATIV, you have the same storage and processing power while it’s connected or being used as a tablet – doesn’t matter!

Q: If you don’t have a touchscreen, how can you benefit by using Win 8?
A: Absolutely! I personally love the addition of a touchscreen, but if you don’t have one, it’s still a good platform! You still have the desktop. You can use the modern interface with a mouse, or learn hot keys to speed up your process!

Q: If I’m running Win 7 on my laptop, will Win 8 run fine as well or would I need to upgrade my hardware?
A: Here are the system requirements for running Windows 8.
1GHz Processor
16 GB Storage

Which are the exact requirements for Windows 7. Not only will you be fine with the upgrade, it’s the best possible scenario!

Q: Is the start menu really gone in Win 8? Is there a way to get it back?
A: The Start Menu is now what I call the homescreen. This is the screen with all the modern apps. Everything is simplified and easy to view, meaning it makes the old Start Menu useless.

Remember, you can always access that screen with a push of the Windows key button. Use this button to jump back and forth between the homescreen and the desktop!

Q: I regularly clear my browsing cookies. Does Windows 8 simplify or complicate the process?
A: Internet Explorer 9, installed by default on all Windows 8 machines, includes a browsing cookie management menu that’s going to look very similar to what you’re used to in Win 7 (or earlier). Access it by clicking the small gear icon in the upper right corner, and select the options you’d like to clear, including temporary Internet files, cookies, browsing history, saved passwords and saved forms.

Q: Will Windows 8 operating system effect battery life?
A: While battery life will always vary depending on your device, the number of apps you choose to run at one time and your PC habits (e.g. video watching, music, web surfing), Microsoft promises a 13% battery performance boost for those users who upgrade to Windows 8. They’ve also promised faster boot times (45% faster than Win 7). Shorter boot times could equal more battery life.

Q: Is Windows 8 easy to configure if I need to change settings? And how do you access the Accessories menu?
A: Both can be accessed directly using the new Charm Bar on the right side of the screen. To access with your mouse, click the upper righthand corner of the screen. On a touchscreen, simply swipe from the right side of the screen. “Settings” and “Devices” are both clearly labeled options in the Charm Bar menu.

Q: Does Windows 8 have more malware protection?
A: Like Windows 7, Windows 8 comes with a built-in firewall and anti-virus protection, called Windows Defender, turned on by default. In addition, all software downloaded from the official Windows Store tile on the Start screen menu has been tested by Microsoft for reliability and security. Another preinstalled feature, called Secure Boot, runs automatically as your device starts up, preventing certain types of viruses, called rootkit-based malware, from gaining a foothold on your PC.

Q: How do you uninstall it? I’m not even trolling here. I honestly want to know how to uninstall it without having to use recovery disks.
A: Microsoft says: “If you decide to go back to your previous operating system, you’ll need to reinstall it from the recovery or installation media that came with your PC, which is typically DVD media.

Since there is no downgrade option, there are a couple options that you have for reinstalling a previous version:
– Clone your drive before installing Windows 8. That way if you have to go back for any reason, it’s all set and ready to go.
– Install Windows 8 to another drive or partition.

Q: Can you really only run one application at a time?
A: Nope! Windows 8 does run full screen apps unless you’re using the Desktop (which behaves as it always has), but even in the Start screen you can split screen the apps that are running!

Q: I’ve heard you can’t watch DVD movies without 3rd party software. Is this true?
A: There is no DVD playback, unless you purchase Media Center or use third-party DVD software.

Q: Does the Metro email app work with Exchange yet ? It didn’t when I tested about a month ago.
A: You can have multiple accounts with support for Exchange, Yahoo, Gmail, and IMAP. There isn’t a way to combine accounts into a unified inbox. And there’s no message threading.

Q: Do you think touch screens will take over regular keyboarding?
A: Oh, it’s certainly heading that direction!! It’s started on our mobile phones and we got hooked. Do you remember the first time you used a touchscreen phone? Most of us went to our computers reaching out for the screen expecting the same experience!

Windows 8 is the first desktop OS really geared towards being one with the touchscreen. There are still some things that are easier to do with the mouse, but yes, I think we’re in the process of moving in that direction. The one MAJOR issue is how fast most of us can type with a regular keyboard versus a virtual one, though. There’s no competition there!


  1. John says

    Windows 8 doesn’t have its own Backup & Restore. It uses Windows 7 Backup & Restore, which can only be found by going to File History in the desktop control panel and then selecting the link in the bottom left corner, as long as file history is turnd off. System Image and Backup will only work on an external USB drive if your computer uses the good old BIOS. If you’re using a recent EFI computer, then you’ll get not enough room on disk and shadow copying errors, thus you cannot backup your pc. Microsoft think that everyone will be using File History only on tablets using Windows RT.

    Also, you can only boot from a USB device on an EFI pc if you can magically format a USB device with an EFI bootloader – which seems to be impossible at the moment. The upshot is, you cannot backup your EFI pc, replace a mechanical hard drive with an SSD and then restore Windows 8 from a USB drive (plenty of notebooks don’t have cd/DVD drives these days, You cannot install Linux, unix etc, on an EFI pc at present. BTW, Macs are EFI based pc’s and you can natively install Mac OS X, all persuasions of Windows and most Linuxes and Unixes. The difference being Apple doesn’t demand locking down their systems with secure boot.

    Windows 8 seems to me to be a schizophrenic operating system, that still appears to be in an alpha state of development. If you purchase a modern pc with EFI, they are tied to Windows 8 and you cannot install other operating systems. Whilst I’m nit-picking, I might add that MUI looks like it was developed by a ten year old to run on top of DOS in the early nineties. If you install the boxed version in Australia, the region defaults to Great Britain. If you accept the defaults, the @ and ” are reversed and you get the pound instead of the dollar . And I think that touch on a pc is terrible. It serves no purpose over a trackpad or mouse, it just means you have to spend more time moving your arm and interrupting your work flow. It is essentially designed for mobile devices such as mobile phones and tablets. And who wants to be turning off their monitor to wipe the finger marks off all the time.

    Microsoft was finally onto a winner with Windows 7. If they had of kept Windows 7 but made the changes under hood that they gave to Windows 8 – speed optimisations, revamped task manager etc, then they would have a fantastic operating system for the desktop. And they could have had Windows RT for ARM based tablets. Unified desktop and tablet operating systems don’t make any sense, which is something Apple realised with Mac OS X and IOS. ARM and SoC chips are great for mobile devices, but don’t really cut it for desktop and notebook pc’s. That’s my take on Windows 8. You might completely disagree.

  2. Anita Ellison says

    Does Windows Surface and the upcoming Windows Surface Pro have a built-in Ereader like the IPAD?

  3. James O says

    Very disappointed in your live coverage. It’s like you hadn’t spent anytime with the devices you were using at all. It seems you did not even realize the Samsung Ativ included a wacom digitized and that “stylus” is the samsung s pen a pressure sensitive device. Still not as fancy as a Cintiq But At least as fancy as a Bamboo.

  4. says

    i am still reviewing windows 8 on desktop. I have 3 virtual machine running 3 different version of windows 8 evaluation copies. the deeper i get into the different features. the more it seem to be for tablets in all the different versions, this remains a constant across all versions. However the rt version is smoother on the tablet. There is a feeling that windows 8 is not ready for full desktop functionality if the App screen is the default. i have changed many settings including adding a start button on the desktop view and it seems faster with some features.