Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Windows 8.1 Myths - Fact or Fiction?

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We all know how bad Windows 8 was. It was like Microsoft combined their Windows Phone Team and the Windows Team and somehow they got too much of the Windows Phone. Many desktop users were left in the dark with an operating system that really didn’t like mice and keyboards. Windows 8.1 inherited this bad reputation, namely because it still has an 8 in it. But with Windows 8.1, and even the spring update for it, is Windows 8.1 really that bad?

Myth: Windows 8.1 is horrible for gaming.
Reality: Fiction

I have one computer where I have been switching in between Windows XP Media Center 32-bit, Windows 7 Home Premium 32-bit, and Windows 8.1 32-bit (I use 32 bit Windows 8.1 because my processor doesn’t support PreFetchW). In all, I see better performance in games in Windows XP hands down. But between Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, I see AT LEAST a 10 FPS increase in all of my games. And I’m talking games Like Dead Space, Just Cause 2, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, and several other intense games. Just to test it, I opened up Minecraft 1.7.9 and set all settings to max. Here are my results:
Windows 7: 45.2 Avg FPS
Windows 8.1: 59.8 Avg FPS
All of these tests were done on a near fresh installation of Windows with only Steam running in the background (which is required to launch most of my games). As for the upgrade from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1, I had a friend who had recently bought a laptop that came pre-installed with Windows 8 64-bit Standard. He had bought it with the hopes that it would be able to play his games on the go. He was highly disappointed when he installed Call of Duty: Black Ops and found out that it operated at <20 FPS. Sometimes, it would even dip down to the below 10 range when he was in a large gunfight. He brought it to me and the first thing I noticed was that he hadn’t installed a single update from Windows Update (He was missing around 10 updates). We installed them all to no avail. In fact, I think I made it worse. I then proceeded to install the Windows 8.1 Upgrade from the store. After that, MASSIVE improvement. His FPS can peak at around 45 FPS and it rarely dips down lower than 20 in a really messy fight. I haven’t heard back from him whether or not the Spring Update boosted his FPS or not. It did on me, but only by about 5 FPS.

Myth: Windows 8.1’s metro apps are dumb
Reality: Fiction

Initially, we all hated the metro interface. It was like someone accidentally put a tablet app store in a PC operating system. Really though, they can have some potential. Sure touch screen desktops are a long way from claiming the market, but they still have their uses. In the spring update for Windows 8.1, they added the a ability to pin metro apps to the taskbar and to be able to minimize metro apps. And they even added the ability to see the taskbar while within the app. Sure you might hate the fact that the app demands all of your screen space, but now with the update, you can now just think of it as a really big desktop app.

Myth: Windows 8.1 doesn't support many devices.
Reality: Depends
For USB devices, Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8.x all use the same Windows update database for drivers. There is no reason it shouldn't support your previously working devices. As for computer internals, I have heard some rumors that Windows 8.x is a little bit picky with what it will run on, but I have no experience with this, everything worked perfectly on my three computers.

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