Microsoft finally presented the first public preview of Windows 8 in the BUILD Conference in Anaheim, CA and from here, we learned many details of the up-coming version of Windows.
Windows 8 New User Interface
Let’s begin with the user interface. It seems that “Metro-style UI” is the buzz word around Windows 8 after the conference. Live tiles, vivid colors, multi-touch gestures – these are just a few characteristics you can associate with the new interface called Metro UI.
Metro UI sits on top of the familiar Windows 7 look and feel. You can still install desktop apps as usual but Metro UI gives new user experience for touchscreen devices including tablets.
If you use Windows Phone 7, the experience would be somewhat similar.
Outside Metro UI, ribbon will be featured in Windows Explorer which means it will be practically available in the entire operating system.
Even the dreaded BSoD got a face-lift. It is now more user-friendly but probably not as helpful as the former BSoD screen because it has little details on what cause the problem. Since it is still very early to judge Windows 8, it is a good step forward.
No Windows 8 “Tablet”, Just Windows 8 PC?
To be clear, Windows 8 will run on a wide range of devices including tablets, netbooks, laptops and desktops — but Microsoft is hesitant to call tablets tablets as they insist that any device that runs Windows 8 is a PC, while any device that function as a phone is a Windows Phone. As TechCrunch puts it, if Microsoft can’t win the table race, they won’t acknowledge the existence of tablets.Maybe it is just a marketing thing.
I don’t agree that Microsoft is not acknowledging tablets. They are using the term tablet PC since Windows XP Tablet PC edition. However, this time it seems that they are not going to differentiate tablets from laptops and desktops when Windows 8 is shipped.Who knows maybe Microsoft will have a change of heart at the last-minute and create tablet-specific edition again.
In one of the demo, Microsoft showed a tablet that docks on a keyboard paired with a mouse. Somehow the thin line that separates tablets from PC is blurred if you consider that tablets are just laptops without physical keyboard and laptops are portable PCs. In essence, they are all personal computers.
PC, laptop or tablet. Call it whatever you want. At the end of the day, they are all computing devices and speaking of tablets, Mashable has a great review of Samsung Windows 8 tablet.
Improved Performance and More Hardware Choices
According to Microsoft, the memory footprint of Windows 8 will be reduced and the boot time will be decreased. For example, Windows 8 preview build 8102 boots up in under 13 seconds from Samsung’s Series 7 Slate PC with Intel 1.6GHz Core i5-2467M CPU with integrated graphics and 4 GB of RAM which was given away to 5000 developers who attended the conference. How I wish that Microsoft will also give away this “developer PC” to curious developers and testers like me outside US.
I think this is the first time that Microsoft have considered efficiency on smaller form factors without sacrificing core features of the operating system.
Microsoft finally figured out that they need to make Windows more efficient in more portable devices to them more ubiquitous. Windows 8 will be open to mobile devices processors like ARM which is designed to consume less energy.
Windows App Store
Of course there will be an app store too. If you look at the first screen shot here, that is the orange square at the bottom left.
The store is not yet open for business but Microsoft has already published the steps for app submissions:
- Step 1: Pre-processing (1 hour)
- Step 2: Security test (3 hours)
- Step 3: Technical Compliance (6 hours)
- Step 4: Content Compliance (6 hours)
- Step 5: Signing and Publishing (2 hours)
- Step 6: Release
This could mean that apps can get approved in less than 24 hours unlike Apple approval process that takes much longer. I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt because it’s not yet open for business.
Windows Developer Preview Downloads
Luckily for those who wish to test the pre-released Windows 8 Preview, Microsoft put it for download. It may contain a lot of bugs and it should be used in production environment — strictly for testing only. Would you believe that it has been download over 500,000 already in less than 12 hours! I’m sure Windows fanatics cannot wait anymore for the newest Windows operating system. Unfortunately, Windows 8 is still far from being finished. I will probably wait 1 to 2 years.
If you have a spare laptop I recommend to install Windows 8 Preview and play with it.
According to Microsoft, the future of computing is here. Windows 8 is a bold move to battle the growing influence of Apple in the post-PC era.
To learn more about Windows 8 Preview you can read the official News Press Release from Microsoft about Windows 8.