Several years ago we went to a Microsoft conference to keep abreast of whatever the new technology was back then. I’ve forgotten the subject of that particular meeting (not surprising as we might attend several such events every year) but I did come away with something that has stuck with me every since.

One of the speakers there encouraged use to “eat out own dog food”. I hadn’t heard this particular Americanism before but I understood it immediately and it has stayed with me as a principle ever since. This phrase even has its’ own Wikipedia entry and it seems it is a well known Microsoft-ism. See here. For us ‘dog fooding’ means that if we are going to promote and sell a product to you we’re going to have used it in-house first. If we are telling to use the Cloud we’ll be using it here (see earlier posts). If we are telling you to embrace Office365, use QNAP NAS devices or whatever it might be we’ll have been there and done that first as that is the only honest way to sell things I believe.

Anyway this is a long way of building you up to my latest dogfooding experience. Microsoft are going to start shipping Windows 8 at the back end of this year. There is no firm date yet but that is all the buzz on the internet. With that in mind I thought I should start dog-fooding with the pre-release copy of Windows 8 that Microsoft have made available for free download. We’re already being asked about Windows 8 and very clearly the Microsoft thinking is that they are going to have common platform across a variety of devices – PCs, tablet, mobile phones, even servers – with a common interface so users are going to feel comfortable picking up any Windows 8 powered device.

My Sony Vaio VGN-FW31E laptop is now over 3 years old and overdue a refresh. it was only running Windows 7 32 bit and bloated with the number of apps that had been installed on it over the years. Time to install a 64 bit operating system and put in a new hard disk. Time then to try out Windows 8 Evaluation and also a Seagate Momentus XT hybrid hard disk. This clever, but obvious, bit of technology combines a 750Gb 7200rpm SATA hard drive and a 8Gb SSD (solid state drive). The claim is that this hybrid device gives you the storage capacity of a normal hard drive but with the lightning fast performance of an SSD.

Okay, enough talk. Downloaded Win 8, burned it to a USB memory stick and made it bootable (some techie knowledge required to do this btw), pulled out the existing laptop hard drive and put it in a caddy (easy then to pull data off it to put back on the new HDD) and simply inserted the new hybrid HDD/SSD.

Started laptop, let it boot off USB stick and windows 8 started to install. It detected everything vital on the laptop and needed no intervention to feed it drivers or whatever. answered basic questions about my name, the name of the laptop, the wireless connections, etc. Within an hour the job was done – a working copy of Windows 8. After another few hours of downloading applications and synchronising cloud data – email and our file server – the laptop was back in more or less full working order. Not exactly exciting but surprisingly painless. Having email and file data on the cloud makes it far easier to setup on another device these days.

First impressions? Well the Metro interface takes some getting used to and finding out where familiar things have now been placed is also a bit of a learning curve. Metro is clearly going to be of most use on touch capable devices and the extra mouse clicks required to navigate while I get used to it are a bit irritating for now. Under the hood the desktop still looks like Windows 7 which is both a comfort and a bit of surprise. Looks like i am going to have to watch a few Microsoft videos to find out some of the features and how to use them.

Next impressions? It has been rock solid stable from the word go. Not a single glitch or hesitation and given that none of the applications I have installed are made for Windows 8 this is just fantastic news. For a beta operating system it doesn’t get better than that. Once you learn to customise the Metro start page it is actually very flexible and a joy to work with. Some of the apps – Photos, News, Weather are great. The photo app in particular is a joy to use – very easy to scroll through and find photos, easy to index, etc. Better than iPhoto maybe.

Okay so what about performance? How does the hybrid Momentus XT work out?

Previously my laptop was taking about 5 minutes to reach the point where I could click on Outlook and start it to open. Now? About 20 seconds to start, log on and get to a working desktop. Speed in use is just brilliant – switching apps is instant, scrolling through files, photo’s , etc, the same. Starting most app is also instantaneous.How much of this is down to the hybrid XT disk and how much is Windows 8 I can’t tell but either way my laptop is working like it is on steroids. Apparently the Momentus XT ‘learns’ your typical operations so over time disk response might even improve on this.

I’ll post a video showing the starting to show you this miracle shortly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

by hostadmin on Jun 15, 2012 at 3:26 PM

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