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First, some context. I'm a bit of a road warrior that works out of a home office. I've got a Lenovo ThinkPad w520 with dual SSD's and 16GB RAM as I need to run VMs and teach/present so the speed is important. When I'm at home I leave my laptop docked and use two 27" LCDs but when on the road, I'm just using the laptop or presenting on a monitor/screen. I've now been running Windows 8 as my primary OS now for just over a month and after a few days of getting used to it I can confidently say I'm very happy with my experience.

One challenge I've always had with this laptop, just like many others, is the fancy Nvidia card & Optimus driver Lenovo uses. The Optimus driver is this fancy thing that only kicks in and uses the power demanding Nvidia card when the app needs it, otherwise it uses the less powerful Intel video card and extends battery life. The problem was getting the laptop to reliably project video to a monitor or to multiple screens. With Windows 8, the WINDOWS+P command makes it a piece of cake picking either duplicate, second screen only or PC screen.

The big thing that everything is squawking about is the lack of the traditional start menu. I too thought it would be an issue, but no such luck here... I don't miss it a bit much to my surprise. Having the ability pin apps and create groups is quite nice... and the live tiles is even nicer on a laptop than it is on a Windows Phone. I do wish it was a bit easier to put my machine to sleep or restart it. One thing that's a little frustrating is that if you don't have a touch screen, or even if you do, there are a few magic keys you just have to know such as:

  • WINDOWS+C - open the Windows 8 charms
  • WINDOWS+Q - see all apps
  • WINDOWS+X - very handy to see the control panel
  • WINDOWS+P - switch to presentation selector (we had this before Windows 8)

Its annoying these aren't more visible, but such is life. Windows 8 is darn fast too... I've got Windows 7 also installed and you can see a noticeable difference with Windows 8. Some other random stuff... I really like being able to pin an app to the sidebar... this comes in real handy with Twitter apps (my favorite so far is TweetRo, but it could get better) or the out of the box Messenger app (I love not having to use the old Live Messenger app). The Map and Finance app are also quite nice.

From me, two thumbs up. Now... can't wait to get my hands on a tablet and retire my 1st gen iPad!

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