Eight schools in the Taupo area have been trialling Microsoft’s next operating system, Windows 8, on HP Slates for the last couple of months – and now they all want them, as Daniel Wilks explains.
“Where do I get one?” ‘I’m going to wait for this rather than get an iPad.” “That’s just what I need in my class.”
These are typical of the responses we’ve received after showing several schools the capabilities of HP Slates running a preview version of Windows 8 – and how it can integrate into each school’s current ICT infrastructure.
For the last few weeks, we’ve been testing it in live environments with the use of everyday examples, like using email, calendar, browsing the web, saving and opening from USB and network drives, using Live@ Edu and SkyDrive, and so on.
Generally, people we’ve shown the devices to have been very amped to see the new technology in action and want to get their hands on it.
Designed for touch
The functionality of the new operating system has just made the device completely different in how it works, especially compared to Windows 7, which wasn’t really meant to be a touch experience like this new version of windows is designed to be
For example, the swift approach to switching between applications with the gestures of swiping your thumb from the side is a great experience; it’s so fluid and fast. Bringing up new tabs in Internet Explorer and getting to options is just as you would imagine it. Simply swipe away, from the top or bottom. The stylus approach on Windows 8 works well, too. You write and Windows 8 converts it to Word and pushes it to the cloud for you (SkyDrive).
New start menu
The Windows 8 start menu is an active tile based full screen format, which will change the way and
process by which we do things. Yes, sure it’s different and new but it doesn’t take more than five minutes before people are moving around your device faster than they were with Windows 7. Instead of going into the weather tile to see what the weather is, it actively updates live so it just shows it there and then.
We’ve also tested the Windows 8 Consumer Preview on desktop devices and the experience is just as good with the keyboard and mouse. I have showed this around some of the local schools, especially to teachers and the response has been great! They can see how this is actually a fully functioning device, which can do everything their current teacher laptops can do, but as a more portable device and at the touch of their fingertips.
If I were to make one complaint it would be that there are only 97 apps currently available – but I guess that’s because it’s still in its testing phase.
A short study I did concluded that the Microsoft Office Suite is still a vital piece of software to have on the device. More than half of the documents saved were from Office. Teachers and students are well versed in the programs and having it on the tablets isn’t an option, it’s a must.
From my point of view, the Windows 8-enabled HP Slates work well for us as a company and the schools. It easily integrates into their current environments and instead of starting at the beginning again by finding a word processor, they’re just growing on their skillset and exploring all the great apps that will be available.
Anybody that really understands schools understands that it just needs to work seamlessly in your environment, and the Windows 8 tablet does this and does it well!
Daniel Wilks is IT Manager at Taupo College and works for Help IT. Help IT specialises in providing ICT solutions to schools in the Taupo area. Daniel can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org
© INTERFACE Magazine, June 2012
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