Windows 8 – easier than I thought

In April we had a series of home IT disasters. In essence I pushed Heather’s PC, my PC and our printer too far. I was trying to save money with piecemeal actions and not replacing stuff soon enough. Instead I spent on the upgrades and still ended up replacing within months, if not weeks – and in a bit of a panic. Bad me.

Heather got a Lenovo G580. I got a Lenovo Z580 and a Samsung Chromebook. For a printer we got an Epson WorkForce WF-3520DW. These are all bog standard devices. Indeed, at one point, the three laptops were the three best selling on Amazon.

  • Heather likes Outlook and needs Office for her work – her machine is more than capable.
  • I have a slightly beefier laptop than Heather’s to run Adobe Photoshop. I also continue to use a full size keyboard, two 26″ screens, other peripherals and all on a proper desk. The very fact that all this stuff is plugged in means I only move my laptop if I really have to – e.g. taking it somewhere to show someone how to run Lightroom.
  • I’ve moved most of my data into the Google Cloud – all my email, documents and spreadsheets – and have found it more than man enough for me. Indeed, were it not for my photographs needing Adobe, my iPod (needing iTunes) and my TomTom satnav – and just the sheer size and number of my photographs – I’d seriously consider my options. Knowing what I now know I’d put as much as possible into the cloud – and for what didn’t fit I’d try and run Ubuntu. Who knows, maybe in three years we’ll be that much closer to that. In the meantime, it all works pretty well.
  • The little Chromebook has been a complete success. OK, offline working is limited. But we have wireless through the house. If I need heavy armour, I head into my office. Most of my work, though, is done on the Chromebook. I still need a “proper” PC – but most of my time is spent on smaller device, working in the cloud. And all this stuff works on my Samsung Galaxy smartphone and any PC I walk up to. Oh, and yes, I could share the Chromebook with Heather – but don’t tell her. I also feel reassured to have one really simple device to access the interweb with. If the PC fails I still have access.
  • The printer prints wirelessly and from the cloud and scans to the cloud. This has been far, far more useful and convenient than I reckoned.

Windows 8’s Metro interface was a bit of a jolt. But I installed Stardock’s Start8 and ModernMix – and we went back to the old skool Windows interface within minutes. I also enabled the new File History for backups. I think Windows 8 works well; don’t hold back worrying as I did.

I’ll write separately on my migration away from Outlook and Office to Google. It was far easier to do than I anticipated – I was over in less than a day. But I still find the odd gotcha.

And I’ll write separately again about what sharing I use and why – after all you might just be wondering why I still use WordPress instead of Google’s Blogger. And what about Flickr, Dropbox and Evernote? Later.

Just as a final word, having decided our needs are unexceptional, and going the bog standard route, we spent considerably less on three laptops and one printer than I spent four years ago on the one screamer PC. The technology has changed. And I’m a bit less precious.

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