You can download and install a 90 day trial of Windows 8 (the “RTM” version).
My recommendation? Do this is you have a spare, reasonably new computer around. Do not do this to a working system! You can…but when the 90 days are up, you have to either go back and reinstall Windows XP/Vista/7 all over again, or buy Windows 8 and….reinstall Windows 8 from scratch.
If you do put it on a system with Windows 7 (or the earlier beta test versions of Windows 8), it will bring your data and programs forward, as an install option, but that’s where it ends…at the 90 days from the install date day, hence my recommendation for not putting it on a working system.
Windows 8 somewhat leaves the windowed world brought to us, actually by Xerox, but functionally by Apple in the form of the MacOS with the graphical user interface and the “pointing device.”
In this way, it looks different, so you could think that Microsoft really has broken away from Apples “look and feel” and actually been innovative. Nope…for those who have used and iPad/iPod/iPhone…Microsoft really has only made their version of that interface: Not as colorful, and instead of “apps,” we now have “tiles,” meaning lots of rectangles.
So, at the end of the day, Microsoft is merely following the crowd into the tablet interface world, and like Apple, moving that small, closely held (to the person, I mean physically) touch interface look and fell back to the desktops. In the MacOS world, the trend is to incorporate more and more of the iOS features to their iMacs already. Again, Microsoft just following the crowd.
I saw a comment in Twitter yesterday regarding people complaining about the changes for the user’s view in Windows 8, and it was something like “This isn’t 1995 anymore!” Granted, it isn’t, but actually, they would have been more correct to use the date of 1984, but I digress.
I spent some time in the “tile” of Internet Explorer in Windows 8, which takes you to IE10 (the latest version for Windows 7 is IE9) and it is different. I have come to appreciate tabs in my browsers, first finding them in FireFox years ago, meaning I can have many things open and know where they are. In IE10, you have to move your cursor to the top of the screen and right click to get thumbnails of the open tabs, meaning not even a hint of what’s available is constantly displayed, as you do lengthy searches and reading on topics. You have to now keep going up and looking. Yes, the tabs are just like a set of file folders neatly arranged from the dead tree days, but…guess what? It’s a fast system.
I’ll keep working around on my 90 day trial and provide commentary, hopefully providing a smooth transition to the Windows 8 world, without you having to do so much homework.
For now, unless you have lots of time on your hands to poke around and figure out all those new buttons/features and other changes, stick with what you have. Right now, there won’t be too many people you can ask for help if you get lost/can’t find what you need, so my recommendation is don’t go there yet.