In an earlier post we compared the feature difference of Windows 8 vs Windows 8.1. Most of them updated to Windows 8.1 due to the learning curve and problematic features of 8.
Then came Windows 10 in 2015. Microsoft was too vociferous and aggressive in their marketing strategy to upgrade the older systems to One-OS for all devices. It put a mark of 1 billion devices in 3 years, which is still to be achieved.
Now in 2019, comes the dreaded public announcement of ending support for Windows 7, which occupied large user base. So whether you like it or not, you have to decide, whether you want to shift to Windows 8.1 or 10. You could see the Windows 7 vs Windows 10 feature comparison.
In this context, let’s see some of my personal feelings and features of Windows 8.1 vs Windows 10 battle. Just like any other OS, it depends on your requirement to decide which is the best.
Boot Speed Comparison
In the latest YouTube video by Antony Woolmer, he compared the boot speeds of Windows 10 and 8.1. The system configuration can be seen in this image.
As expected, the results were not far from dismay. Windows 10 boot speed was comparably faster than 8.1 by 2 secs. The latest OS clocked 14:23 secs while 8.1 clocked 16:12 secs. We were expecting that boot speeds difference would be large. But both were almost equal.
In 2018, the boot time of Windows 10 was tested by tomshardware.com. Using a single 4GB DIMM, the total boot time took only 5 seconds. As more RAM got added, the boot time increased. In 2015, the boot time difference between Windows 10 and 8.1 was not much, though the later stood first by 2 seconds.
If you have a SSD, the boot time will still come down. For the test done by AVG, Windows 10 was quicker by 0.7 seconds. Asus UX 501 (Core i7) was used in this test.
Waking up from hibernation required almost the same time. But this was considerably longer compared to direct boot. It took more than 20 seconds in both Win 8.1 and 10.
My Experience: I feel that if you are using a 32bit OS, you are more likely to get a faster boot time. You can use a tool like Bootracer, to test your boot times. Once tested, you can remove the software. Also, SSD plays a major role in the boot startup process.
You can use Game Mode, Game Bar, Game DVR options and XBox Networking in Windows 10, which are unavailable in 8.1. PC Gaming is popular with Microsoft account users. DirectX 12 was introduced in Win 10. This gives the graphics cards the ability to use more than one core of the computer CPU at the same time. In Windows 8.1, DirectX 11 is only supported. This reduces the gaming performance, as the OS can talk only to one core.
The difference between DirectX 11 and 12 was about 85% to 300%. Windows 10 gives better framerates. Windowed Gaming is another feature supported in Win 10. You can easily switch back to desktop while playing the game.
Start button and menu
When you press the Start button in Windows 8.1, you are taken to the Metro desktop. This is new for Windows 7 users. But in Windows 10, Start Menu pops-up, just like in the earlier versions.
It is little bit difficult adjusting to the new way of using Start button and Metro Interface in Windows 8.1. If you are having multiple OS, like mine, you are going to have a vertigo. Though the new Windows 10 Start Menu is different, with both apps and programs listed, it is more conventional and easy to use.
Connecting to new Devices
With the advent of Windows XP, it had provision for lot of hardware. You can include bluetooth and wireless adapters to your PC. But since it is closed, you are most likely to use Windows 8.1 or 10.
Windows 10 especially is moving towards cloning your Android screen on to your PC in 1903 version. This is a new path Microsoft is taking to accomodate mobile phones in their computer system. Satya Nadella has agreed the failure of Windows 10 phones and is adamant on interoperability of technologies.
You can connect your Windows 8.1 or 10 laptop to your SmartTV without much fuss. In Windows 10, you have Wireless display technology which is missing in Windows 8.1. With more high-end devices using wireless technology, Win 10 is more likely to stay.
You can make your File Explorer and other default programs switch to dark background in Windows 10. So when your eyes strain looking at plain white, this can be helpful.
But this is not possible in Windows 8.1. You can change to the light theme when required in Windows 10, with a click. This option gives more aesthetic appearance and gives freedom to choose betweent the two.
I definitely like this feature, as it helped me look at the screen for more length of time. Especially in the night, this can be productive.
In Windows 10 and 8.1, you have default antivirus in the form of Windows Defender. But unlike its predecessor, Win 10’s Defender is far superior than 8.1. You have ransomware and cloud protection, which could not be found in 8.1.
Also it is not easy to turn off “Real time protection” very easily in Win 10. You have to deep to find this setting. I have been using Windows Defender in 8.1 and 10, for long time. Without any arguments, the Windows 10 version is more clear with the interface and could be opened from system tray without problems.
In Windows 8.1, it is somewhat hidden. You have to use Search or shortcut to open it. This is more like the Windows Security Essentials that we have seen in Windows 7. You have MAPS (Microsoft Active Protection Service) to report malware and other forms of potentially unwanted software.
In the History tab, you have to click “View details” to know the quarantined, allowed items. But this is easy to look at in Win 10.
But users of Windows 7 will find it easy to go through the settings.
Charms Bar vs Windows Settings
This is a new feature in Windows 8.1, not available in 10. You have to move the mouse to the bottom right hand side corner to display it. From there you can open “Change PC Settings” to find the other Windows Settings.
The same kind of functionality is present using Windows Settings in Win 10. It is more like the Control Panel we see. Though the traditional one is present in both of them, these are two different ways of accessing Windows settings.
I find that using the same hardware, Updates are lot more quicker in 10 compared to 8.1. Also, many-a-times, I had problems with this feature in 8.1. When you “Check for Updates” in 8.1, it sometimes, seems to process for unlimited time without warning or error message.
But Windows 10 got a bad name in recent upgrades. These include the 1803 and 1809 version updates. There have been different issues while updating, like, restarting, BSOD errors, file deletion, compatibility issues and many others.
Compared to this, Windows 8.1 updates are more stable. They have also less problems and you can rely on them. These are like typical Windows 7 updates. You don’t have any particular version number, but are mostly KB updates.
Cortana for the Desktop
Just like “Siri” came to Apple, a voice-recognition program to give answers to your questions was invented in the Windows 10 OS. This was already existing in the Windows 8 phones called as “Cortana”. But the thing new to 10 is that, it’s available to PC users also. So if you have a mic and headphone, you can get solutions to your queries within minutes, instead of searching Google for long time.
[Image Source : winbeta.org]
This voice personal assistant from Microsoft did not have much takers. Though it works only in Windows 10, it is a feature shunned by normal users. It works OK with small commands and searches, but as a full blown speech-to-text converter, it has a far more way to go.
It is not available in Windows 8.1. But this makes it simple to use. Though you cannot completely delete it in Windows 10, its processes keep running taking valubale CPU cycles. Windows 10 phones may use it for better voice recognition, but their manufacturing is to be stopped more sooner or later.
In 1903 update, the search and Cortana features are likely to be separated. This gives more freedom and choice to the users, to keep Cortana or not.
In Windows 8.1, you either had the option of Start Screen and the Desktop mode. You couldn’t convert to tablet mode. But this changed in Windows 10.
Now in the newest technical preview, you can switch back between desktop and tablet mode. This is called the “Continuum Mode”. This toggling feature is available from the Action Centre. Also this feature is activated when you add or remove a keyboard or mouse.
This new browser exists only in Windows 10 and not in Win 8.1. Initially Microsoft advertised that it is faster than Chrome and Firefox. But it had its own set of problems. For example, when you import Chrome bookmarks into it, the browser could not save any further favorites.
Also the “Reading Mode” is compatible with only some websites.
In 1903 updates, Microsoft is collaborating with Google, to bring the Chromium browser features to Edge. This can be seen as the best of the two worlds.
But, in Windows 8.1, you still need to use the IE11 and its old features. Otherwise, you have to resort to Chrome or Firefox for better performance.
This cloud app from Microsoft gives away 15GB of free space. In both Windows 8.1 and 10, they come pre-installed. But in Windows 10, you see different colors and indicators to show whether the folders are uploaded to the cloud or not. You can make them online or offline as per your requirement.
But in Windows 8.1, a text column displays the status. This takes some time to go through your files. You need to read visually to understand whether the file is stored locally on your computer or the cloud.
But in Windows 10, a green tick mark indicator is sufficient to understand that it has been updated to the cloud.
This shows the Windows 8.1 screen of OneDrive folders and files in 2019
Microsoft Store is not as popular as the Android PlayStore or Apple Store. There are lot of apps being developed using the Windows 10 development framework. Some of these apps run in the background to give notifications.
In Windows 8.1, all the desktop apps and store apps are shown on the same screen. But not too unnecessary apps are installed without your permission. In Windows 10, some apps are installed automatically. Network bandwidth is one of the leakages that take place during this phase.
Game apps take lot of RAM and disk space. If you are not a gamer like me, you have to uninstall them manually in Windows 10. But this is not the case in Windows 8.1.
Office 2013 apps like Word, Excel, Powerpoint work without much fuss in both Windows 10 and 8.1. In my honest opinion, both did not cause problems related to Office version 2013.
Using Visual Studio and Windows 8.1, you can build an app for Windows desktop and Phone at the same time. Development of Store apps became much easier with 8 and 8.1. If one had a Store app, one can easily supplement with a Windows Phone app to the same feature.
But with Windows 10, Microsoft’s vision of universal apps is becoming more clear and simple. With this new One OS, one can build apps that can be written once and run on a wide variety of devices.
On Jan 21st, Microsoft’s operating system heads Terry Myerson and Joe Belfiore made it “loud” that Universal apps will fit into the Windows environment.
This is more like passage period for Microsoft developers. The development stacks for making Windows 8, Phone apps and desktop applications were quite different for a while. But with Windows 10, Microsoft is trying to converge Windows Phone with Windows Store apps into a single platform – the Windows Runtime.
Control Panel Differences
In Windows 8.1, we saw a typical Control Panel which is the same as the 7, Vista and XP. Only thing difference was that you can directly type the items of Control Panel and they were available in the Charms search bar. But in Windows 10, we see new Settings Apps. This is looking like a replacement for the Control Panel of 8.1.
You had small icons, large icons view in the customary Control Panel. But the layout got expanded in 10. You can reach more system options with the latest build. To lessen the learning curve, the normal Control Panel is available, but you have to use Search or right-click the Start Menu to get it.
New Action Center
The Charms bar was an invention in Windows 8.1 This got removed in 10. In place of it, there is an updated Action Center that groups all notifications in a single window. It slides from the left side of the screen when you click the Action Center icon.
You needed a third-party application to see the storage space left over in Windows 7, 8 and 8.1. But this is not much relevant to the PC. But if you wanted to know which files were occupying the chunk of your storage, you needed a program like TreeSize Professional. Windows Phone already had an app called “Storage Sense” which indicated the amount of free space left.
But in Windows 10 Technical Preview Build 9879, this app is also available in the desktop version. This is handier in the case of tablets and mobile phones, where space is much relevant. With the advent of terra-byte storage hard-disks, it becomes much more necessary what category the space is occupying.
For this purpose, you just need to launch File Explorer > This PC and then select the Open Settings icon on the Ribbon interface. In the PC Settings page, select the Storage Sense tab at the bottom of the list. In this you can see the Storage Sense page which will display the overview of storage.
People who are looking to change from Windows 7 to any of these OS, should definitely benefit from the new interface. Both Windows 8.1 and 10 use a Microsoft account to login to your system. This is different from the earlier OS, where you could just login using a local account with a password. The way you can login has also changed.
Undoubtedly, Windows 10 has new added security features and has a longer support cycle. Since the tech-support for Windows 7 is being ended, there is no choice, but, to choose between Windows 8.1 and 10. In contrast to popular belief, Windows 8.1 is as quick as Windows 10 in many aspects.
But if you want to use an OS, for connecting different devices and gaming, then Windows 10 is your best bet. You can definitely speed up your PC, with little tweaks. Though updates are the main issue, the new method of installing them in 1903 is going to improve its stability.
Though only 6% of Windows users are on 8.1, it is a more stable version of OS, with less problems and issues. Using a 32 bit version keeps it more agile and quick. Since, Windows 10 is going to stay for a long time, users tend to shift to this OS. As a lay user, it is beneficial to use it, with a longer support cycle.