Twas two o'clock in the morning Friday night, and all was still. Well, it was actually Saturday morning. But it was still. Except it was that time of the decade again. New operating system time. Windows 8 time. I was excited. While many think of Windows 8 as more of a touchy-feely operating system for tablets and notebooks, I was psyched about experiencing it on my trusty desktop. They said it shouldn't be done, but let me tell you right off the bat: as a serious gamer with a proper gaming desktop and after a weekend of trying the fully-fledged, fully-paid for Windows 8 Pro, this is the best operating system from Microsoft yet.

You'll have to excuse me, these screenshots were all taken with my smartphone, with hands shaking from all the excitement, to boot. But I think they get the message across!

Sure, I'm slightly biased having been on Xbox and Windows Phone for quite some time, but Windows 8 is simply faster, more attractive, more complete, and livelier than anything Microsoft has ever sent our way. Real world usage shows it outpacing Windows 7 in pretty much every application, and call me crazy, but games look better on it. That could be the new drivers from AMD, though.

For the record, I have a P8H77-M PRO motherboard, 16GB DDR3, 22nm Intel Core i5-3470 (yes, I'm a cheaper and not much of an overclocker...), and an ASUS HD 7950 DirectCU II. The decision to go with Windows 8 for my desktop was born out of curiosity: I've experienced it on plenty of mobile/portable devices from ASUS, but never on a traditional, heavy as bricks, honest to goodness desktop PC where gaming is the prime directive. And I was craving.

So, after getting home from certain activities I won't admit to here, I immediately fired up the PC. My first reaction was disappointment. I was expecting a pop up telling me a new update was available, inviting me to get Windows 8 - something. There wasn't one. I even ran Windows Update on my own and all I got were a couple minor security updates for Windows 7. Thus, there was no choice: I had to head to the official Microsoft site and get it from there.

Yes, you can get the Windows 8 Pro version for $39.99 if you upgrade online, but this is a limited time offer apparently, and depending on where you are it may be cheaper or pricier.

Make your decision and the first thing to download is the upgrade assistant, as you can see here. This takes a few minutes, if not less, depending on your connection.

The assistant/Windows 8 executable on my desktop, as you can see, where it's easiest to find.

The moment of truth cometh. I must admit that I was worried about complications with my desktop, but that's just new OS jitters. Part of the reason I love Windows 8 so much is that it works so well. Yeah, I just totally spoiled the story, didn't I?

I had a huge grin on my face when this came up at the beginning of the upgrade process.

This is the next step, where compatibility verification begins. Windows 8 checks pretty much everything on your desktop to make sure it'll work. I think this stringent compatibility testing is what results in the upgrade process taking a while. In my case it took well over two hours start to finish.

It did find several things that required attention. This included having to de-authorize the desktop from iTunes, and a few other minor points. Nothing to get worried about.

You get a compatibility report that shows you what's expected to run fully. Obviously this isn't everything, it's just the major consumer-facing aspects of your system.

Drum roll please! Click it if you mean it! I'm not sure about the last two options, I guess they're useful for certain people in some situations. But I wanted to install NOWWW.

During the install, the assistant looks for updates just in case any were implemented to the OS between the time you first downloaded the file and the time of actual install.

It would not be a proper modern experience without a sizable user agreement, now would it?

The bulk of the process was this, and indeed the PC restarted several times, but everything went smoothly, even though I have stuff that could conceivably be problematic running in the background, like an auto-firmware tool for my Blu-ray drive. The restarts all went without a hitch.

After most of the install was finished, the final prep stages commenced. I even like the redesigned Windows logo. It actually looks like a window now!

Initial personalization options are not too extensive, but you get more from within the OS itself.

If you're an existing Xbox LIVE/Windows Phone or other Microsoft service member with your own Microsoft ID and account, then Windows 8 offers truly seamless continuity and integration with those. Put that info in there and feel like a VIP. Alternatively, you can sign up for a new Windows LIVE ID, or simply choose to stick with your local profile. Having said that, to use the store and other live content you will need a Windows LIVE ID.

This is where the fun begins for real. Windows 8 starts consolidating everything on your desktop and in your LIVE account, and does additional setup routines. This is not super fast but well worth the wait.

You then get this little routine/demo/tutorial that uses the install and setup time to show you some of the new basics, such as bringing up functions by placing the mouse cursor at the corners of the screen.

Presumably reformatting everything to comply with new Windows 8 architecture does indeed take "a few minutes".

Since Windows 8 basically refers to all programs as apps now, this phase includes stuff you already have on your PC, as well as the default apps the new OS comes with.

Viola! Must be honest and say the first thing I checked when all was said and done was my old Windows 7 desktop. I had to make sure it was still there underneath the cool Windows 8 start screen. And indeed, it was - basically untouched. The exception being the start menu, which has been replaced by the start screen and the charm bar.

That's what my start screen looked like when the install and setup was complete. 

Naturally, this is the first thing I checked after that. It may be slightly confusing, but you now have a Windows Store, and a dedicated games tile that also leads to a store, or the Windows Games Store. Games are labeled Xbox Windows, which means they have achievements and comply with Xbox LIVE regulations. Games without this header are "regular" titles, without achievements. This should be very familiar to anyone who's been buying games for their Windows Phone. There are quite a few free titles available, including the excellent Adera.

Cross-platform integration with Xbox is very strong in Windows 8. We knew it would be! Effectively, now the Xbox brand covers PC games as well, as mentioned above. This is a major development for Microsoft, at least within the gaming realm. 

This is the main Windows Store, not to be confused with the Xbox Marketplace. It includes everything app-wise, in all genres and categories. Again, tons of stuff is free and new additions are popping up as we speak.

To my endless relief, Steam works just fine with Windows 8. However, truth be told some games had issues. For example, the amazing XCOM Enemy Unknown refused to work until the Steam community figured out it needed to run in Windows 7 compatibility mode, which is quite easy to select via the task manager. Yes, even in Windows 8 ctrl alt del is still your good friend. Otherwise, all games I tried (which is a couple dozen installed games in my library at the moment, out of hundreds that I've bought over the years) worked perfectly normally.

The James Cameron's Avatar game, a favorite. Runs better than on Windows 7,  kid you not. Texture pop has all but vanished, and graphics seem crisper. Again, this could be due to the new 12.10 drivers from AMD, and not related to Windows 8 at all. Have you heard of the legendary floating mountains of Pandora? Why yes, they seem to float better Metro-style!

And this here is Medal of Honor: Warfighter, which also runs great.

Going back to the Windows 8 interface proper, any concerns you have regarding multi-tasking should be dispelled. Right click anywhere in the screen and as you can see on the bottom, an All Apps button shows up. Click on it and literally everything that's installed/running on your PC will show up.

You can also have quite a few apps install at the same time, though they do sort of queue. Speed of course varies by your particular connection. 

Remember, cursor to the bottom left corner brings up the start screen (i.e tiles), top left brings up either the desktop or any open apps you have running at any given time. Mousing over the bottom right corner does the charm bar, and mousing in there will automatically show the date and time. The charm bar fills some of the roles previously carried out by the start menu, including shutdown/restart, which occur via the power charm.

Ah yes, IE10. Faster and more streamlined than any previous IE version. Click in the address bar and these huge tiles for frequently visited sites immediately come up. Very useful and easy to use.

This is an example of how Windows 8 does multi-tasking now. As I mentioned before, mouse the top left corner and open apps appear. Right click to close, left click to enter and use.

I don't want to get too gushy, but the bottom line is that I really love Windows 8 and enjoy the experience. I stand by my assertion that this is the best version of Windows to date. Its live nature is immediately appealing, and the fact that the upgrade process proved so successful (even if it took a while) was a great point of reassurance. As a gamer and desktop user, I can testify that Windows 8 works wonderfully well with a mouse and keyboard, and is not a compromise in any way - quite the contrary. It is not a touch-centric OS in that sense. It's entirely what you make it. And as a writer, I have to acknowledge the work done by Microsoft's wordsmiths here, as everything is clear and to the point. Even the fonts are extra-inviting.

Do you have Windows 8 on your desktop PC? What do you think so far? Let everyone know in the comments!