Chris J Powell

Free App Friday – Getting the Most out of Windows 8

I have been flip flopping back and forth between Windows 7 and Windows 8 at my old job trying to figure out what would work best for me long term…and then I closed the Sales Chapter of my Life and instantly went back to Windows 8…why???

Don’t get me wrong, Windows 8 is far from being my primary OS, that is for the most part Ubuntu 13.10 (or ChromeOS on my Laptop but I dual boot that to Ubuntu too).  I use Windows 8 as a side option for a few reasons:

  1. Gaming (Linux Gaming while improving does not give me access to the titles I like to play and I am not a Console Gamer)
  2. MS Office (there are times that using Office just makes sense – sorry LibreOffice)
  3. Windows 8 just works!

Ok lets get back to that point #3…Windows 8 just works.  So does Ubuntu, so does nearly every other OS that I have tested and played with and configured…but why do I use that is a reason?  Windows 8 and Microsoft in their infinite wisdom included so much good stuff that other than a funky screen resolution for the first 10 minutes after the install…I had no issues with any device, driver or connectivity AT ALL.  Setting up the Media Sharing through out my home was SUPER EASY!  And very much to my surprise…the lack of a Start Button has grown on me.

So how do I get this new Metro look that frustrates so many to work for me?  I must say that the Unity Desktop conditioned me to be able to accept this change but what I use to get the most out of Windows 8 is the use of the Search Box and a rather full Task Bar at the bottom of the screen (for all my Apps that I use on a regular basis).

The funny thing is, beyond MS Office, every other application on my Windows 8 machine is Free and preferably Open Source…so here is a quick run down of tweaking that I do right off the hop when I installed:

  • LibreOffice (I switch back and forth between Libre and MS)
  • The Gimp
  • Inkscape
  • Skype (not open Source but Free)
  • Netflix (not Free or Open Source…but I love my media)
  • Twitter (sometimes I want an App not a Web Page)
  • Photoshop Express (for the Quick edits in life)
  • Adobe Reader
  • Team Viewer (my Screen Sharing App of Choice)
  • NovaMind ( am Mind Mapping Solution that I use for brainstorming)
  • Tunein Radio (I use this on my Tablet and Phone so it is nice to have continuity)

Most other things come and go and are fairly fluid but these have been things that I actually included in my install image to save me from having to download the apps every time something breaks with my install and yes…I re-install Windows about as often as I install new versions of Linux so that means that I have a unique way of backing up my life to my own Personal Cloud that I will discuss very very soon with everyone.

So that is it for today, have a wonderful Friday!



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