Ever since I showed my teenage son Windows 8 he hasn’t stopped talking about it. Combine that with two factors – his old Dell laptop is falling apart, and he just graduated Grade 8 and is going into high school in the fall – and I decided to give him a surprise today.
Theresa and I told him that we would buy him a new laptop this summer. But then I realized… sometime between now and whenever Microsoft is releasing Windows 8, and with that there will be a plethora of hot new hardware available – not the least of which will be the Microsoft Surface. So I told him that if he wanted I would let him use one of my HP EliteBook 2740p hybrid tablets from now until then, and when the time came we would take that back and buy him a new device.
‘Dad, do you mean that you would really let me use an HP Elite PC? Why don’t you just give me that and you don’t have to buy me a new one later? That machine is incredible!’
I looked at Theresa who said that if I was okay with it, so was she.
When can I have it? Dad does it really run Windows 8? Can I really have all of that? When when when???
Wow… there aren’t a lot of things I have offered my son that has gotten him this excited, and since we didn’t have plans for the evening I decided to prepare it for him immediately. He even asked if he could watch me prepare it, so I invited him down into the office, and pulled out my Windows 8 USB Deployment Point, wiped out the previous configuration (multi-boot OS Boot from VHD) and got it going.
I knew he was already excited about the new OS, but I had a great opportunity to show him a few new tricks up the old man’s sleeve.
Integrated Microsoft Account
Aaron asked if he would have to set a new password for his account. He’s had a Live ID for several years, and when the Windows 8 installation asked for his e-mail address, he (like many people) assumed it was so that Microsoft could keep track, or send you e-mail alerts. He was really impressed when I showed him that it was actually going to connect his Microsoft Account (the new name for Live ID) so that he could use the same credentials to log on, and that it would be completely integrated.
He was also impressed that it asked for a cell phone number so that if you lose your password if can send you a token to reset it to your phone. I like that idea too!
To the Cloud!
My poor son, earlier this year, came to me in a panic. The USB key where he saves all of his documents for school (and I assume other stuff) broke, and in fact he did lose all of that data. In truth I hadn’t realized that he had been saving his important data to a USB key instead of his hard drive (which would have been synched to a file server and in turn backed up), but there it was.
As I was preparing his new EliteBook for him I installed the SkyDrive App, and showed him that any file that he saved there would then be backed up to the cloud, with the added bonus that he could easily access his files from anywhere, anytime, by just going to www.skydrive.com.
Oh, so it’s like Apple’s iCloud?
Ahem… Can iCloud do THIS? And from a web browser I created a new Word document on his SkyDrive.
So wait, you aren’t going to install Microsoft Office for me on the computer? Doesn’t that mean I would have to be connected to the Internet to work on my files?
Of course I am installing Office on your computer… but imagine that you are working at a friend’s house, and they don’t have Microsoft Office (yes, it COULD happen…) but you are working on your homework assignment together. As long as they have a computer (even a Mac, or even a smartphone) you can still create and work on all of your files.
Wow… that is so cool!
Location, location, location!
Dad, I know you mostly work with Microsoft, but can you install Google Earth?
I showed him Bing Maps (built into Windows 8). The first question it asked was if it could use our location. It then showed us a map of Oakville… with a flag on our house. I showed him how to switch from Streets view to Aerial View, and how to get directions, and he was impressed. He still thinks Google Earth has some features that Bing is missing, but I told him that he could install that for himself.
He did like Inrix… more on that later
Dad, are there any games available for Windows 8?
I told him that anything that he had on Windows 7 could be installed on Windows 8… but I am not really a game guy. There are a couple of exceptions to that, and I showed him the Windows Store… and what seems to be the ‘next Angry Birds’ – Cut the Rope! I downloaded it for him quickly and showed him how it was played. I then went back into the Store and showed him what else was available. I could see it in his eyes that before the night was over he was going to download everything available!
Internet Explorer 10
As I was espousing the virtues of Windows 8 he asked me about the browser. I told him that Internet Explorer has two different modes – Desktop Mode and Metro Mode. I showed him that he could navigate to any page, then use his fingers to zoom in or out. He was thrilled, but I could see that he was chomping at the bit… he wanted Dad to stop talking and just give him his new computer!
He feels the Need… the need for SPEED!
I told him that there was one last thing I wanted to show him… I shut down the PC, made sure that it was completely off. I told him to count, then turned it on. Within 10 seconds we were at the logon screen. He was really impressed, but Dad can I just have the computer so I can use it please?? I handed it over, gave him the power cord, and got another incredible hug.
As it was with Windows 7, my son is now the first of his friends to have Windows 8. He asked me if I thought Microsoft would let him review it for them, and I made him a deal: I want him to write his thoughts and impressions of the new OS, and I would publish those thoughts on this blog. I will help him when I can, but he is a very bright and articulate (and thorough!) kid, and I expect that we will have a budding new technology reviewer on our hands. Watch out Ed Bott!