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Technology advice in time for the holidays

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By Special to The Sun

 

Christmas is coming, as if you need me to tell you that. 

What I do want to talk about a little bit is technology. There are so many options out there this year, some are bargains and some are just cheap. How can you tell the difference?
Well, the first topic I wanted to talk about is the new Windows 8 suite of products. If you have ever used Windows before, then you are in for a little bit of a surprise with Microsoft’s new addition. The new Windows 8 is very different and if you have one of the non-touch devices, you are in for an even bigger surprised.
What’s new in the Windows 8 operating system or OS? This new OS is a huge leap forward for Windows and allows people to use their finger as the mouse, some even allowing up to 10 points of contact at one time. It is this level of control that makes it where touch can be as the primary method of controlling the PC and the possibilities are endless.
 Windows 8 has three different versions. For a more detailed comparison of the different versions, you can go to windows.microsoft.com and see their comparison list. But basically they are:
- Windows RT is the big gamble for Microsoft. It has the least amount of software; it can only run Windows 8 software. However, it does have some of the best features when looking at battery or performance.
One of the great things about Windows has been the dedication to backward compatibility. Windows RT is their big experiment away from that. With Windows RT, what they are trying to do is develop another set of technologies that in the future promises some major performance boosts. The major drawback is that only software that you purchased or downloaded from the Windows Store will run on this device currently (similar to how you buy software from Apple’s iStore).
- Windows 8 is similar to Windows 7 home edition. The main difference between this and Windows 8 RT is the ability to run anything that ran on Windows 7. So, if you have Microsoft’s Flight Simulator, it will run on Windows 8 or Windows 8 Pro. It would not run on Windows 8 RT. With this version and the pro version, you can install software from the store, but you are not limited to that.
- Windows 8 Pro gives you all of the great benefits of Windows 8, as well as enhanced networking and data encryption features. This is the version that businesses will most likely be using or prefer you to use. Your IT person will like you more if you come with this version over either of the other two.
 As I put this together I started to look at the variety of hardware. There are new laptops with an Intel i3 processor and 2 GB of RAM for $350. This is for a non-touch device that sounds like a great deal, but for about $200 or even $150 more you can get  similar hardware with a touch screen. If you want some of the tablet laptop hybrids you are currently looking at $800 to $1,500 for the latest technology. If I might suggest something else, look at the Microsoft store and their Signature option. This is a service where they take the hardware from the manufacturer and configure the software for a “the cleanest Windows 8 experience on a new PC with no junkware installed. The software and hardware work perfectly together,” according to the store website.
In my opinion, touch is the major improvement to the Windows 8 interface. Windows 8 is the best solution Microsoft has developed when it comes to touching the screen. Not their first, their best. There has been touch capability in Windows for several years. The main issue with previous versions of touch, from a user perspective, is that it was one point of touch and it was mostly used for pushing buttons on the screen. It was not designed to be the primary method of controlling your computer.
Windows 8 is a major improvement in many ways: faster, more secure, better battery life, great touch capability and it works with what your company has in place. This is a great work and play tool, especially if you get the touch capability.  I hope this helps and I hope you get what you need. If you have any questions I can be reached at Smarrinan@outlook.com.