MUSIC, AMBIENCE AND SOUND ART > Music Gearheads Tech Talk

Windows 8 and your music rig


As we know, it's smart not to install a new OS on a mission critical computer (aka your PC/Mac you use for making music). At minimum, I'd wait a year until the kinks were worked out. However, it seems Microsoft might've done something...right? Crazy, I know, but hear me out.

Check out this in-depth article from Cakewalk about using SONAR in Win8.

Here's a few snippets:

--- Quote ---Desktop apps still have access to low level audio and can communicate with drivers at a low level to get low latency performance. There are no changes to how drivers work as far as desktop applications go, so its very likely that your Windows 7 drivers will work on Windows 8 without modification. (unless the driver installation prevents it)
--- End quote ---

--- Quote ---The results of the benchmarks were surprisingly good! Windows 8 performed better than Windows 7 across the board in all categories, and in many cases with fairly dramatic performance gains.
--- End quote ---

Very curious given OS upgrades generally run slower on the same hardware, and in doing so, breathes new life into an aging rig. I guess they finally decided to remove some of the bloat. Haha!

Software is generally forgiving when running on a new OS, and will run without a hitch. My biggest concern is normally driver support (especially for older hardware), and how the hardware interacts with the OS. The possibility that Win7 drivers will work in Win8 is very encouraging. I know that Vista drivers sometimes worked in Win7, but it seemed a rare occurrence.

Obviously, there'll still be bugs to work out, but it seems we're so much more ahead than ever before when dealing with a new OS. I noted Mike G's message on FB that it was quite different. Personally, that doesn't scare me. A new experience can be fun, as long as the change provides improvements to the user experience.

Has anyone taken the plunge or test-driven Win8? What are you thoughts?

Mike, I know you saw my comments about this on Facebook, but others here probably didn't.

I'm actually really impressed that Microsoft did something so bold, and finally discarded the "start menu plus desktop icons" layout that has prevailed since Windows 95. Yes, you can get to a desktop in Win8, sort of... but it's clear that Microsoft's UI designers want the user to start thinking in different directions in terms of how they interface with their applications and settings.

I've been a huge critic of Microsoft for their conceptual and design stagnation. Somewhere around 2000 or so, they really seemed to lose the drive to make great products, and just seemed to want to sell a lot of software. Yes, there's a difference!

As Mike hinted, I would strongly caution that the Win8 user interface and interactivity experience is very much changed from Win7, and indeed all earlier flavors of Windows. The best comparison I can make is the conceptual leap from Windows 3.11 to Windows 95, and the introduction of the Start Menu. If you're familiar with earlier versions of Windows, you will probably find Win8 at least as foreign as you would MacOS or Linux. Some things are familiar, but overall it's an entirely different way of accessing your files, applications and settings, and switching between one thing and another.

I can see how this maybe end up being a revolutionary improvement in the user experience, but the first time you sit down to use Win8 you might be stumped about how to do some fairly basic things. I've been a corporate IT Manager for nearly 20 years, and I'm comfortable with a whole range of operating systems.

After I installed Win8 on a PC I'm refurbishing at work (not my main workstation), one of my co-workers came over to watch -- and he's a real tech enthusiast, who builds his own PCs from scratch every couple of years, and knows almost as much of the nuts and bolts stuff as I do. Both of us were stumped, more than once, about how to do fairly basic things or get from one place to another. The experience left him more than a little concerned, because he's in the process of building a new PC now, and he had taken the plunge and ordered Win8 for the new machine.... now he's wishing he had waited, not because he doesn't want to try Win8, but because there appears to be a huge learning curve and he doesn't want to feel like a fish out of water, trying to start using this new PC that he's excited about.

Honestly, if I had only one primary computer workstation, I would not put Win8 on it at this time. Not until I had more of a chance to explore it on somebody else's machine, get more comfortable... experiment, ask questions, figure out sticking points, and look up solutions.

Those of you who have more than one machine you can use for your important work will probably do OK installing Win 8 on one of them. If you get to a place where the changes are frustrating, you'll be able to switch to your old machine and get your work done.

I've had a little more time to mess around with Win8, and feel a bit more comfortable now. A few quick and easy suggestions to make your transition to Win8 easier:

1. The "Windows" key on your keyboard is your best friend. I almost never used that key before, except for the left/right split view feature in Win7. In Win8, it quick-switches you between the Desktop and the Start screen, or the active App and the Start screen. If you're disoriented or stuck, hit the "Windows" key and get your bearings.

2. Figure out what your "hot corners" do. One of them will do the same thing as the "Windows" key - switch from Start to Desktop modes, or Start and "active app" modes. Another (probably the bottom-left) will give you the opportunity to right-click for a quick menu that gives you many of the features of the Start Button in earlier versions of Windows.

3. It's really confusing (non-intuitive) sometimes to try to find your files, your drives, your network locations, your control panel. At least at first, create as many shortcuts to these as you can. Make shortcuts all over the place - you can easily remove some of the redundant ones later. It's better than wanting to change or access something, and being completely unable to find a link to it.

Long time Windows guy here. One thing I've noticed with all Windows OS's is that they come with a manual to learn the basics - and as an added bonus people like to write books on them as well, not to mention oOdles of articles in PC mags, and also YouTube. I've noticed quite a few people don't care for Win 8. The thing that seems to most hated is the Start screen with its tiles and lack of a Start button. There are a few "how to get your start button back in Win 8" videos on YT! There's even Classic Shell you can install.

I'd forgotten I had written this.

I recently upgraded to Windows 8 six weeks ago (and since upgraded to 8.1). The system, firewire interface (FA-101), DAW, and softsynths worked flawlessly without any hassle. I was surprised to say the least.  ;)


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