So I installed Windows 8 on my laptop a few weeks ago and have had time to explore several of the new tools that it provides. Why is Windows 8 beneficial to educators using interactive whiteboards?
1.) The touch based properties of an IWB work well with the new Windows 8 interface. The interface was designed with touchscreens in mind and it really shows. You can easily shift from application to application with a gesture based interface. No more clicking through menus- you just tap to run applications. The charms bar has replaced the start button, so searching is just a left-swipe away.
2.) Instead of depending on web browsers for web-based content, the new live tiles are easier to click on during class instruction. I hate having to use the on-screen keyboard or even the tablet input panel to "type" in a web address in web browsers. You can just use live tiles to start webpages for weather, maps, and other tools. If you spend some time setting up the live tiles to match what you are going to use in class, you will save a ton of awkward time in front of students.
3.) As much as I hate to say it, Internet Explorer 10 for Windows 8 is pretty useful. It lets you browse the web via touch in a very efficient manner. Despite a bit of a learning curve, you will find it easy to use in front of a classroom.
As for the fight between eInstruction and SMARTed, SMARTboards work without any drivers or software natively. I plugged a SMARTboard in and it worked, multitouch and all, with no installation of any kind. However, my eInstruction board doesn't work at all. The engineers are working on it, I hear, but it's been 3 weeks and my board is gathering dust right now. Right now, if I had to choose, I would pick SMARTed without any reservations.