Or, at least, that was the plan.
What actually happened - and remember, I've got XP on the old laptop and Windows 7 at work, and I haven't bothered to look up anything about Windows 8, because really how different is it likely to be? What actually happened was, well... Okay, I'm just going to copy my Facebook post from 5:12 p.m. yesterday:
Just fired up Windows 8 and OMG WHAT IS THIS WHERE DID MY PROGRAMS GO!?!?!?!?Here's the thing: Windows 8 was apparently designed with a whole bunch of new features, and nothing that even vaguely resembles a smooth transition from the way you did things in previous versions of Windows. Any previous versions of Windows. No, really - the system boots into a startup screen which comes pre-loaded with a mess of different apps. Which, if I'd wanted that sort of thing on my laptop, I'd have bought a Mac in the first place. Then, once you finally locate the one that says "desktop" and manage to escape, you quickly discover that "desktop" doesn't mean what it used to, either. Huge, glaring example: there's no Start Menu. You remember the Start Menu, right? The button in the lower left corner that's been the go-to spot for pretty much anything you wanted to do since back in Windows 95? Yeah. Gone. Want a list of available programs? Good luck. Apparently you're supposed to go back to the splash screen with all the apps - except that, if you're me, you've just spent the last few minutes ruthlessly uninstalling anything you didn't want, which was most of it. You've also unpinned all the programs from the taskbar in the Desktop view, because who wants all that crap sitting down there?
Ahem. Pardon that. It's time to go home, anyway, so I'll just... WAIT A SECOND, WHERE THE HELL DID THE SHUT DOWN BUTTON GO!?!?!?!?!? No, no, deep breaths... Google is my friend, Google is my friend, Google is my... wait, they put it WHERE? You get to it HOW? Okay, well, I guess that worked...
Right, so... I'll just go home, eat dinner, and then figure out how to find programs from the desktop. Calmly. Quietly. I mean sure, the layout's a little unfamiliar, but how hard can it be, really?
The ominous music in the background suggests that I'm going to be indulging in primal screams quite a lot over the next few days.
So not only can I not find a list of programs on my new laptop, I've also made it functionally impossible to, for example, set my homepage in Internet Explorer. In fact, I had to open Windows Explorer (with a keyboard shortcut!) and navigate to the Program Files in order to launch the benighted browser in any sort of recognizable format. Don't get me wrong - I'd left it intact on the Apps screen, but the version that opens from there is barely recognizable as IE, and completely lacks those menu items - or menu items at all, for that matter.
But, okay, surely there's a setting in the Control Panel that will fix this. This thought reassured me briefly, until I discovered that A) I couldn't find the control panel, and then - once I finally located it - B) there is no such setting. Using that Apps screen that comes up at startup? You're stuck with it.
So the marketing strategy here is clearly to saddle you with a bunch of stuff you don't want but can't escape, thereby forcing you to use it anyway - until Stockholm Syndrome sets in and you come to believe that you actually love this interface. This is not something I have a lot of patience for.
However, I have more than just my profound irritation to fall back on. I have Google. And a search on "How do I find my programs in Windows 8" produces a number of promising leads. There's a method for creating a new toolbar on the taskbar, which looks promising but proves unsatisfying. And then there are several articles, with links, which describe programs that will give you back a working start menu. There are at least half a dozen to choose from - and that's just from the first article I read - and probably half of them offer some way to suppress the startup/app view, which should give you some idea of how badly Microsoft screwed the pooch by leaving the Start Menu out. I picked one that sounded about like what I wanted, installed it, and - Voila! - now I have a Start Menu, and access to my programs!
Open Source resolves what corporate rectal cranioendomesis will not.
So I'm getting Windows 8 hammered down into doing what I want, and hopefully today I'll be able to load my files onto the new laptop and really give it a test drive. But it's worth noting that I'm doing it in complete defiance of the will of the OS developers. It's worth keeping that in mind if you're considering buying a new machine. And it might be worth asking your vendor if it's possible to get the same machine with Windows 7 instead of Windows 8... because, hey, at least then you'll have some idea of what you're getting into.