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    Windows 8 Beta: Hands-on with Microsoft’s tablet-friendly OS

    Seth Rosenblatt

    by Seth Rosenblatt February 29, 2012 6:45 AM PST

    Is the love Windows 8 clearly wants too late to save Microsoft? Its first beta is eminently touchable, definitely social, and maybe just a bit sexy–but no shoo-in as belle of the ball.

    Windows 8 beta unifies desktop and tablet–but will people like it?

    Microsoft pulled back much of the scaffolding and secrecy surrounding Windows 8 today at Mobile World Congress. I’ve been using the Windows 8 beta (download), officially known as the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, for the past week, and it’s by far the most integrated and most capable operating system Microsoft has ever put out. The question is, will enough people care?

    There’s a phenomenal amount of change here to discuss, but if you’re looking for a quick summary: Windows 8 is a breeze to use. It’s tricked out with social networking and synchronization, it’s robust enough to handle Photoshop, it gracefully moves from touch to keyboard and mouse, and it’s got some top-notch security.

    Despite what Microsoft is calling strong interest from hardware manufacturers and developers, however, its impact is still uncertain at best.

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      Windows 8’s predecessor could be summarized six words:Windows 7 is Vista done right. Windows 8 is a much harder sell for reasons intrinsic to Microsoft itself, its hardware partners, and the whims of consumers.

      First, when Windows 8 launches it will be the most ambitious operating system ever, with a workflow that’s easy once you learn it, but not necessarily obvious at first blush. Second, more of your Windows 8 experience will be dependent on your hardware than ever before, because it will work on both actual PCs–i.e., desktops and laptops–andtablets.

      Last, and this is the one that won’t be resolved until Windows 8 starts shipping to consumers in the second half of this year, there’s no strong evidence that Windows 8 is what consumers want next. Do people want tablets that aren’t made by Apple? Is the tablet more like a larger smartphone, or a thinner laptop? Is there interest in one operating system that offers both casual touch and robust power modes?

      Logging on
      Windows 8 offers some great log-on options. You can choose to create a local account, but the OS becomes infinitely more useful when you use a Microsoft account. You’ll be able to synchronize to it your Windows 8 settings, including Internet Explorer history. This means that when you log in to any other Windows 8 machine with that account, your data will sync, including background settings, address book, other accounts like Facebook and Twitter, e-mail, and instant messaging.

      The lockscreen has been enabled to surface content from your apps, including unread emails and calendar appointments.

      The lockscreen has been enabled to surface content from your apps, including unread emails and calendar appointments.

      (Credit: Microsoft)

      App syncing is planned for the Windows Store, too, while the SkyDrive integration can be used for syncing files.

      Beyond sync, once you’ve logged on for the first time you can change your log-in scheme to a PIN or a picture log-in. The picture log-in is quite cool, and lets you set a photo as your log-in background. You can then customize a quick series of drawings on the picture, made up of a line, a circle, and a dot, to log you in.

      I was able to choose my photo log-in from my Facebook photos, which I had synced using the native Photos app that comes with Windows 8. The process was easy, and the photo picker tool in Settings connected through the Photos app to provide access to my Facebook account.

      In drawing my log-in on the photo, there were times when it worked on the first attempt, and other times that required multiple attempts. This appears to be more related to the hardware than anything else.

      A killer feature that missing would be facial recognition log-ins. The better of these apps have been proven resistant to printed photo hacking, and it would extremely useful to have a webcam recognize your face and log you in without having to physically touch the computer. At least nobody else has this integrated into the operating system yet, but since third parties like KeyLemon and FastAccess have been working on their versions for a while, expect it to arrive in with the big players sooner rather than later.

      Navigating Windows 8: Touch
      You can navigate around Windows 8 in two ways, and they work well enough that you can use them simultaneously–assuming you’re into that kind of torture.

      As we’ve all seen, Windows 8 is highly grope-able. It wants you to touch it, and frankly touch is the easiest way to get around. Unfortunately, at this point the Windows 8 beta doesn’t come with a quick tutorial, and although the workflow is easy, it’s not necessarily obvious.

      This quirky split keyboard works best with thumbs. Think: tablet, held vertically with two hands.

      This quirky split keyboard works best with thumbs. Think: tablet, held vertically with two hands.

      (Credit: Microsoft)

      Windows 8 is all about the edges of the screen. You swipe in from the right edge to reveal the Windows 8 charms. These include the instantly-recognizable Search, Share, Start, Devices, and Settings. The Start button returns you to the Start screen, which is what you see after you log in and where Microsoft expects most of your activity to take place. Once you’ve launched at least one app, you can swipe in from the left edge to return to the last-open app.

      You can also perform a U-turn from the left edge. Swipe in a little bit, then swipe back to the edge, and instead of pulling forward the last app you used, you’ll get a sidebar of thumbnails of your last six apps. At the bottom left corner of the thumbnail bar is a thumbnail of the Start screen, providing another way to return "home." So yes, the familiar Start "button" is hidden, but no, it’s not hard to get to. It takes about the same effort to get to the Start screen from either edge.

      One of Windows 7’s better interface features was a split-screen view that you could initiate just by dragging one program’s Title Bar to the left or right side of the screen. This has been updated for Windows 8. When you drag an app from the left edge, if you drag it slowly and hold it near either the left or right edge, a vertical separation bar will appear. Once the bar shows up, release the app and it will "snap" to the edge. The screen will be split, with one-third for the app you just dragged over, and two-thirds for the previous app.

      Tiles, Microsoft’s term for its app icons, are arranged in groups. A long press on a tile will select it, and you can change its position or group from there. You can also pinch to zoom out and get a global view of your groups, or create custom groups by dragging a tile to the right edge and releasing it.

      Where the left and right edges are global, the top and bottom edges are for the apps themselves. In Internet Explorer, for example, this means that your location bar is at the bottom, and your tabs are up top. On the Start screen, you can get a list view of all your apps. In Mail, you can set up accounts–including non-Microsoft ones like Gmail, create folders, sync and more.

      This worked well in almost all cases. The only one that caused me problems was the Calendar, where about half the time swiping from the left moved me back a day instead of pulling me into my previous app. Again, this could easily be a factor the demo device Microsoft lent me, a Samsung tablet currently available in stores with Windows 7.

      The desktop tile will take you to the desktop view of Windows 8. It's like Windows 7, but with a cooler secret identity.

      The desktop tile will take you to the desktop view of Windows 8. It’s like Windows 7, but with a cooler secret identity.

      (Credit: Microsoft)

      The Desktop tile will jump you directly into a Windows 7-style desktop, complete with Recycle Bin, traditional Internet Explorer, Windows Explorer, and taskbar. A keyboard icon next to the system tray forces the Windows 8 soft keyboard to appear, with options for splitting it for vertical orientation, or using a stylus for handwriting recognition. The side edges still work here, though, and it’s much more responsive to touch than Windows 7. I was actually quite impressed how even on the older demo hardware that Microsoft lent me, the desktop mode of Windows 8 was incredibly accurate.

      Of course, Windows 8’s desktop mode is really for easing the transition to the Metro interface. More on that below in the Features section.

      Navigating Windows 8: Keyboard and mouse
      Because Windows 8 is intended as unified system for both PC and tablet, it works as well with a keyboard and mouse as it does with touch. As with seemingly everything in Windows 8, this too serves two masters. Sure, it gives you the precision required for Photoshop editing or navigating a spreadsheet’s cells, but it’s also Microsoft waving a big flag that proclaims Windows 8’s usefulness. You get touch, mouse-like precision, and keyboard hot keys in Windows 8, Microsoft is saying. If they could give you a way to interface with the OS via Morse code, that would be in here, too.

      Not only do hot keys work, but from what I can tell, all the major hot keys in Windows 7 perform the same functions in Windows 8, as well as some new ones. These include Win+Print Screen to take a screenshot, which then gets automatically saved to your Photos app, or using the Windows key to switch between the Start screen and your last-used app.

      One of the best keyboard functions is that you can pull up an app from the Start screen just by beginning to type. It’s ridiculously simple and effective: type "ma" when on the Start screen, and a list of apps with "ma" in their name appear in the center of the screen, but on the right you can flip from Apps to Settings to Files that have the same "ma" string.

      Not much will happen when you first connect a mouse to Windows 8. As soon as you move the mouse, though, a scroll bar will appear along the bottom edge of the Start screen. You can then use the scroll bar to navigate through your groups, or you can use the scroll wheel for that–so the vertical motion is interpreted by Windows 8 as a horizontal scroll.

      Swipe up from the bottom edge of an app and you'll get app-specific controls. In the case of IE 10, this means your URL bar on the bottom and tabs thumbnails on top.

      Swipe up from the bottom edge of an app and you’ll get app-specific controls. In the case of IE 10, this means your URL bar on the bottom and tabs thumbnails on top.

      (Credit: Microsoft)

      Move the mouse to the lower left corner to reveal your Start screen, or the upper left corner for your most recently visited app. If you then move the mouse alongside the left edge, it will reveal your other most recently used apps.

      The mouse has been enabled for apps, too. So in Internet Explorer, for example, a back navigation arrow appears on the left, and a forward nav arrow appears on the right edge. Mouse to the lower-right corner to see reveal the navigation charms, and then mouse up along the edge to use them.

      Right-clicking reveals the "app edges," the app-specific options from the top and bottom screen edges, while a button denoted by a magnifying glass on the far right of the scroll bar zooms you in and out of your groups.

      If you’re on the lock screen, you click and drag it up to reveal the password dialog. It may sound like a lot that’s different from the touch workflow, but it’s actually quite simple. You can even use the mouse for your picture log-in.

      It’s impressive how well Microsoft has been able to replicate the touch workflow with the mouse and keyboard. I don’t think we’ve ever seen the two integrated quite like this before. The multiple ways to interface with the interface also will go a long way towards convincing previous Windows owners and perhaps even skeptics that Windows 8 is all that and a bag of chips. Most importantly, though, both work well with your apps.

      Features
      From social and security to sync, Windows 8 lives on the cusp of what’s expected from a modern operating system. And if it’s nothing else, Windows 8 is integrated.

      Windows 8 is quite the social butterfly. Not only can it shmooze with the best of them, it actually may be the best. If you’re looking for an integrated social experience, Windows 8 comes very close to having it all. Unlike iOS, which requires you to dive into apps as if they were buckets of specific information, Windows 8 is broad and expansive. Start screen tiles are natively integrated with your apps; it is impossible to de-couple them, and I can’t see a reason for why would you want to.

      The People app tile will surface recent updates, too.

      The People app tile will surface recent updates, too.

      (Credit: Microsoft)

      Tiles surface information as it comes in, not unlike peering through a window. See what Microsoft did there? So the Mail app previews recent e-mails; the Calendar app shows your next appointment. You can also set this information to surface on your lockscreen, although the version of the beta I tested could only surface detailed previews from the Calendar.

      Contacts from multiple sources are integrated, too, in the People app. When it recognizes the same contact from different networks, it merges them. I found most merged without fail, although there were some oddities. Physical addresses appear with a link to Bing Maps for quick lookups, and accounts that are added to one app–such as People–cross over to other related apps, like Messaging.

      Search is global, and includes data from all your apps that have activated the search hooks. Of course, this being Windows, you can easily tweak those settings.

      Although the Windows Store wasn’t open at the time this First Take was written, Microsoft has said that Windows 8 will sync apps through the Store. There’s also a Live SDK that developers can use to hook into the single sign-on, and the aforementioned SkyDrive for file sync. So as your apps are integrated with each other and Windows 8 as a whole, they are also syncable. Use your Microsoft log-in on any Windows 8 computer, and instantly your apps, settings, files, and browser history will get pulled down.

      The beta of Internet Explorer 10 continues on the path dictated by IE 9. IE 9 and 10 are the most standards-compliant versions of Internet Explorer yet, as well as recognized by several sources as extremely good at blocking malware and phishing.

      There’s also stuff you’re likely to never encounter that’s protecting you, like Trusted Boot for double-checking system integrity and SmartScreen to protect you from phishing and malware. There are features likeXBox Game and XBox Companion apps for pulling XBox content into Windows 8; a new Refresh option that will re-install Windows 8 without deleting your data; and multiple monitor support for showing Start on one screen and the desktop on the other.

      Some people may find it jarring that most of the Windows utilities appear in the Windows 8 desktop screen, even when you launch them from the Start screen. Still, Microsoft has made some effort to make them more accessible. The Task Manager, for example, has been redecorated with colors, charts, and tabs.

      You can search your apps in Windows 8 by clicking the right-edge Search icon, or just begin typing on a keyboard from the Start screen.

      You can search your apps in Windows 8 by clicking the right-edge Search icon, or just begin typing on a keyboard from the Start screen.

      (Credit: Microsoft)

      As far as default features are concerned, though, Windows 8 beta presents a solid baseline of apps and functionality to get you started. Don’t be surprised if hardware manufacturers are allowed to insert their own preferred apps by the time that Windows 8 ships in the second half of this year.

      Performance
      One important aspect of Windows 8 that I haven’t gone in-depth on yet is that it feels quick. You swipe and you’re there. Tap and you’re there. Mousing around feels just as zippy, and there’s a speed and responsiveness to Windows 8 that no other version of Windows has ever had. If there’s a third pillar supporting this massive overhaul alongside the integration and the touch interface, it’s that Windows 8 zooms.

      All of which is even more impressive considering that my demo hardware was a Samsung tablet designed for Windows 7. Shutdown times weren’t impressive, taking around a minute. Boot up was blazing, though, taking between 10 and 13 seconds to get to the log-in screen over three cold boots. From the log-in screen to the Start screen took under 3 seconds in each of three cold boots.

      Microsoft has said that Windows 8 is designed to sip on battery life. We didn’t get the opportunity to benchmark precisely how accurate that claim is, but after heavy daily use for six days straight, I only had to plug in this older-model tablet once a day. It also was good about keeping a charge when unplugged and not in use, something that has not been true of many tablets currently on the market.

      It's not all flash and bang in Windows 8. The decidedly unsexy Task Manager has been given a new coat of paint, and is easier to use, too.

      It’s not all flash and bang in Windows 8. The decidedly unsexy Task Manager has been given a new coat of paint, and is easier to use, too.

      (Credit: Microsoft)

      Conclusion
      It would be beyond shocking if Windows 8 landed like Vista did. This is a tight consumer experience, with features both new and familiar, and in a refreshingly different package. Hardware makers are on-board, Redmond says developers are investing heavily in it, and it’s earning its buzz because there’s nothing quite like it out there.

      Businesses will probably eat it up, as will some early adopters and, of course, the Windows die-hards. But will it take off with the average consumer? Microsoft has ceded a lot of ground to Apple on the tablet, and even some of my colleagues at CNET are surprised when jumping from Metro to desktop screens. Perhaps most damning of all, very few people are able to understand the concept of the edges without a 10-second tutorial. It’s not much, but it’s enough that if it goes unaddressed, people will abandon Windows 8.

      I think there’s room for a third player in the tablet game, and Google has left the door open for a good fight over the number two slot. But I also think that approaching Windows 8 as a larger smartphone, as many people have been doing with tablets, will lead to frustration. It’s decidedly not that.

      Windows 8 is an attempt to unify the desktop and the tablet. Microsoft has nailed the operating system, given that it didn’t have much choice if it wanted to compete in the tablet space. Too much of Windows 8’s fate resides on partnerships, though. It depends on hardware, affordability, how closely the pitch to consumers matches the reality of adoption, and, frankly, what Apple does. Ultimately, Microsoft has control over only one of those, and it’s only partial control at that.

      There’s a long, narrow road ahead for Windows 8. It could be the next big thing, but there’s not much room for missteps.

      Seth Rosenblatt

      Seth peers into the deep, dark corners of software so that you don’t have to, including browsers and security on Windows, Mac, and Android. He has yet to suffer a single nightmare about OS/2, although let’s face it: there are far scarier things out there besides long-dead operating systems. For instance, take the rumored Angry Birds/FarmVille crossover app…

      Topics:
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      Tags:
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      80 comments

      Join the conversation!Add your comment(Log in or register)

      Thanks for censoring the comments on your ‘live’ stream. You also didn’t post the link for the Win8 download when it showed up on Microsoft’s download page as you said you would.
      Posted by Drake3000 (163 comments )
      February 29, 2012 6:56 AM (PST)Like (1)ReplyLinkFlag

      I have a 2007 computer, 2.13 Core Duo, with 3GB RAM. It’s currently on Vista, will that be upgradeable to Windows 8 when it comes out?
      Posted by superseiyan2010 (28 comments )
      February 29, 2012 6:59 AM (PST)LikeReplyLinkFlag

      Yes. You can read the requirements and download the consumer preview at http://www.microsoft.com/windows8
      Hope that helps.
      Posted by Drake3000 (163 comments )
      February 29, 2012 7:06 AM (PST)Like (5)LinkFlag

      Yeah, I can run windows 8 beta fine. You might need 32-bit, though.
      Posted by duckyofawes0me (1 comment )
      February 29, 2012 8:35 AM (PST)LikeLinkFlag

      http://windows.microsoft.com/en-GB/windows-8/consumer-preview
      Posted by Lyam_Witherow (19 comments )
      February 29, 2012 8:36 AM (PST)LikeLinkFlag

      I have the CP on an ancient, and ******, ECS motherboard with a 2.4 GHz P4 Celleron, 1.5GB memory and a Gforce MX 420. It is not unusable. I would not want to use it all day every day, but it’s not bad. So, you’ll be more then fine.
      Posted by scioara (16 comments )
      February 29, 2012 11:11 AM (PST)LikeLinkFlag

      The Windows 8 you describe sounds like a hot mess. I believe that enterprise and the corporate world will not stand for for this much change, and further migrate to Apple OS X options. Either that, or they will completely disable the circus-colored, touch-based interface.
      Posted by delraydoc (165 comments )
      February 29, 2012 7:00 AM (PST)Like (3)ReplyLinkFlag

      The ‘enterprise’ world can’t embrace iOS fast enough… what makes you think a Windows version focused on consumers won’t be appealing to the enterprise as well?
      Posted by Drake3000 (163 comments )
      February 29, 2012 7:02 AM (PST)Like (3)LinkFlag

      While I disagree with you on corporate America moving to OS X, I do agree that most people will disable this Metro nonsense and go with what they know, the classic desktop experience. People are not big on change, especially this drastic.
      Posted by instigator24 (91 comments )
      February 29, 2012 7:06 AM (PST)Like (7)LinkFlag

      You may find that OS X is more different than current existing Windows than Windows 8 is. If you don’t do the whole "apps" thing, all Windows 8 will be to many is an OS with better performance and a large Start Menu, and that’ll be it. OS X is still a different beast entirely.
      Posted by jader3rd (484 comments )
      February 29, 2012 7:24 AM (PST)Like (7)LinkFlag

      "I believe that enterprise and the corporate world will not stand for for this much change, and further migrate to Apple OS X options."
      That make no sense. Enterprise will not stand for change so they will adopt an OS that is even more different? I think it more likely that if they don’t like what they see they will stand pat.
      Posted by Alawishis (27 comments )
      February 29, 2012 11:54 AM (PST)LikeLinkFlag

      Which tablet did you install windows 8 on?
      Posted by sethportman (1 comment )
      February 29, 2012 7:07 AM (PST)LikeReplyLinkFlag

      just wait some time and you will have a lot of tablets on every corner πŸ˜‰
      Posted by warex3d (65 comments )
      February 29, 2012 8:02 AM (PST)LikeLinkFlag

      And what was the battery life like on the tablet?
      Posted by fakeveronica (100 comments )
      February 29, 2012 10:46 AM (PST)LikeLinkFlag

      nice key board lay out be god for gaming thanks for giving it a chance.peace
      Posted by sarai1313 (86 comments )
      February 29, 2012 7:18 AM (PST)LikeReplyLinkFlag

      Looks cool but still not going to make me switch from iOS but MS in definitely onto something.
      Posted by Cee215 (753 comments )
      February 29, 2012 7:18 AM (PST)Like (1)ReplyLinkFlag

      I really want to like this but I have reservations, even as an avid WP7 user. The metro interface is something I like on my phone but full screen on a PC monitor, I find myself overwhelmed trying to figure out where to look. It’d make sense, for me at least, if the tiles we bigger to improve focus on the top tiles that matter most, then I could swipe to secondary screens for items of lesser importance.
      Posted by stephen_victor (41 comments )
      February 29, 2012 7:22 AM (PST)LikeReplyLinkFlag

      I sold my iPod and bought a second generation Zune. So much better. As a side effect of that, I was also able to remove that garbage program iTunes.
      Posted by C4rp3 (3 comments )
      February 29, 2012 9:20 AM (PST)LikeLinkFlag

      Just like the Zune nailed the portable MP3 player, and Windows Phone 7 nailed the smart phone OS.
      All of this will be quickly forgotten next week when Apple hard launches the iPad 3. Real Hardware, real apps, no slogans.
      Posted by EricJM001 (273 comments )
      February 29, 2012 7:22 AM (PST)Like (3)ReplyLinkFlag

      It did nail the smart phone OS. It is the fastest and smoothest out of all of them. I get much more done, much faster, on my WP7 then I did with my iPhone 4
      Posted by thydavidcome (137 comments )
      February 29, 2012 7:38 AM (PST)Like (11)LinkFlag

      Yeah, I like righting off products without even using them too…
      Posted by silentbobdrummer (1859 comments )
      February 29, 2012 7:38 AM (PST)Like (7)LinkFlag

      actually in terms of audio quality, music store, and UI the Zune DID nail the mp3 player.
      It’s the mindless sheep that just followed everyone else with the iPod. iPods are mediocre in audio quality and add in those crappy white earbuds = blinded consumers who don’t know any better.
      that is true
      Posted by boswd (1482 comments )
      February 29, 2012 8:32 AM (PST)Like (11)LinkFlag

      ya, over 90% marketshare will be forgotten by introducing a new toy from Apple!!! This is the new OS that all big corporations will migrate to someday. It’s funny apple fanboys compare ipad with windows.
      Posted by red-ray (143 comments )
      February 29, 2012 8:45 AM (PST)Like (5)LinkFlag

      @red-ray
      Yes 90% in the desktop/laptop OS market. 3% in the smart phone OS market. 0% in the tablet OS market.
      Here’s a big heads up for you: My software company just replaced every aging Dell Precision Developer PC with an Apple 15" MacBook Pro or 27" iMac. We had to do this to create applications for the iPad demanded by our corporate customers who are already migrating to the iPad for mobile computing. As for the rest of the office, Windows 7 is the corporate standard and there are no plans to move to Windows 8…ever. We just finally migrated to Windows 7 last year. As I said, this will be quickly forgotten…..
      Posted by EricJM001 (273 comments )
      February 29, 2012 11:30 AM (PST)LikeLinkFlag

      the iPad is for dicking around. No Slogans? they have so many dumb slogans…It’s magical!
      Posted by maxxifer (46 comments )
      February 29, 2012 11:49 AM (PST)LikeLinkFlag

      Change is a wonderful thing if you embrace it. For the most part things get better once you take the several hours to learn the basics. I havent used 8 yet but am downloading now. How about holding back the hate or dislike of features until you actually try them?
      Posted by itsjustmeinaz (1 comment )
      February 29, 2012 7:47 AM (PST)Like (4)ReplyLinkFlag

      While not a big fan of METRO and not sure about convergence with one OS for tablet and desktop, it great to see competitive innovation from Microsoft,
      I am especially glad to see the movement to standards, e.g., IE10 and media [H.264, HTML5, and CSS3] as well as promoting modern foundations by retiring plugins and proprietary stuff like Flash and Silverlight, at least on mobile.
      The App Store building on Apple’s model but doing more will probably be the future for business purposes, synchronization, updates, and security sounds exciting and may have deep innovation change across the developer community.
      So in general, good work by MS and good luck.
      Posted by gprovida (71 comments )
      February 29, 2012 7:49 AM (PST)Like (1)ReplyLinkFlag

      This is truly the worst OS I have ever seen. It’s been designed for idiots and simpletons. I used to actually LIKE the fact that a Microsoft OS felt like it was designed for adults. OSX had a "it just works" mentality that roughly translated into "hey look even an idiot can use me". Now Microsoft has not only followed, they have gone one step further into the realms of "hey look even a one year old can use me".
      They claim the new Metro interface is unique and exciting but it’s only unique to people who don’t have young children. To the parents of this world it looks exactly like a big button V-Tech toy to help your pre-school child learn. I half expected to scroll the screen to the right and be presented with a "What does a cow say" tile that went "Mooooo" when I pressed it. I want my children to grow up computer literate but with this OS they’ll end up whacking away like fools at the windows in our house expecting a "Would you like to open this window?" tile to appear on the glass. God help them when they have to learn to drive! They will be 16 and still unable to operate anything they can’t stab at with a chunky finger.
      Is this the way to breed our next generation of programmers? Big button stupidity and live feeds telling them their virtual farm has another sheep? For the first time in history OS X will be able to claim the high ground for intelligent thinkers. When that day dawns it really will be the death of "adult computing". Not the XXX rated websites that give fodder to the kinky pleasures of all and sundry, but the intelligent thinking experience that Microsoft and Windows 7 provided.
      Stop trying to imitate Apple. They live in the world of "it just works" but we live in the world of "we are smart enough to figure out how to make it work". PC users don’t need walled gardens and big buttons to press. We don’t need sanitised life. We are capable of installing and maintaining an anti-virus program, or keeping hundreds of drivers up to date. It’s that sort of trial and error approach to jeeping our PC healthy that teaches us valuable lessons about how our OS works. How a computer works. It may mean every so often our computer gets eaten alive by malware or crashes for no apparent reason, but every time that happens we overcome and we gain knowledge. We learn to make backups and run firewalls. We learn about ports and protocols. We become technical experts with every passing day.
      The world of Windows is the world of the person who rejects Apple but also needs to work in a real world where Linux applications are a rarity. It’s the happy in between for most of us. Sitting squarely between the pious geeks of Linux and the moronic twits of Apple. Metro is the first step towards programming idiocy into the next generation.
      Posted by Tuscan (1 comment )
      February 29, 2012 7:53 AM (PST)Like (7)ReplyLinkFlag

      I’m guessing you haven’t tried it yet, then.
      Posted by lootyhoof (37 comments )
      February 29, 2012 8:31 AM (PST)Like (8)LinkFlag

      From Einstein,
      "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler."
      Is this pretty close? Hard to say, because I haven’t fully tried it and from your post, it seems you haven’t. You just go on with a rant, blaming Microsoft for any stupidity in the future generations that unfolds. I find that ironic.
      Posted by Lyam_Witherow (19 comments )
      February 29, 2012 8:35 AM (PST)Like (3)LinkFlag

      Maybe Microsoft, like Apple, believes that programmers should take time to determine how commands should be arranged and focus on the user when completing tasks.
      I’m old enough to remember how painful it was to add a network printer to Windows 3.11 for Workgroups running Novell. Nothing should be that complicated.
      Why is it that Linux geeks think that everyone should be able to compile their own drivers?
      I’d rather spend time working with my programs rather than making my programs work.
      Posted by irondog1970 (516 comments )
      February 29, 2012 8:35 AM (PST)Like (7)LinkFlag

      I think the vast majority of users out there would disagree with you. Most users want things to just work. Simplicity is what users want. Not complexity.
      Techs prefer complexity because we like to tweak and customize our systems. But the average user could care less and just wants it to work and be easy to use, with a bit of customization. More users may be "computer savvY’ but many more don’t want to "have to be!". Apple knows this and microsoft is realizing this, starting with Win7 and continuing with Win8.
      Whether users will embrace MS’s approach remains to be seen…
      Posted by dracodos (4 comments )
      February 29, 2012 8:42 AM (PST)Like (1)LinkFlag

      Thats some of the dumbest comments I’ve ever heard. Thank god you don’t design OS’s for Microsoft. It sounds like you would want to design something so complicated just so you could say, if they can’t figure it out that’s to bad, computers should just be for smart people. You must not be a Microsoft shareholder as I am and can’t wait till one year olds can use it.
      Posted by ccjgrant (1 comment )
      February 29, 2012 8:52 AM (PST)Like (1)LinkFlag

      The whole point of HCI is to make things intuitive, it has been like this for generations and it is a GOOD practice to follow.
      "we are smart enough to figure out how to make it work"
      What you are saying is you should make things more difficult than they have to be. Would I rather have a brain surgeon do everything by hand because it is more difficult to use the technology to save my life or should I make his job of using the technology to save my life easier for him so he can focus on more important things. It doesn’t dumb him down one bit, it just allows him to use more of his energy and skill on other things.
      As a programmer would I want an IDE that makes my job of boiler plate code easier or more difficult? So I can get down to the code that actually matters?
      As long as the back-end is still accessible and usable by the power users to their hearts content I’d like the up and front stuff easy.
      HCI.
      Posted by aprkmw (124 comments )
      February 29, 2012 8:52 AM (PST)Like (1)LinkFlag

      @Tuscan
      You present it as if it’s an either/or choice; I like to do my developing and some of my grown-up computing on Windows, while other times I like to get things done on "it just works" OS X. Where does that leave me? As one of your moronic twits of Apple, presumably. What a terrible fate for you, consigned to walk your life amongst narrow-minded fools.
      Posted by eddy m (218 comments )
      February 29, 2012 8:55 AM (PST)LikeLinkFlag

      Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.
      Posted by antmanx305 (1 comment )
      February 29, 2012 9:01 AM (PST)LikeLinkFlag

      I agree with regards to the desktop, but the classic Windows UI will not work on tablets and phones; touch devices. If you have not noticed touch devices are exploding in growth while laptop/desktop growth is mainly flat. Microsoft has to do this or they will not go anywhere.
      Posted by sting7k (1153 comments )
      February 29, 2012 9:11 AM (PST)LikeLinkFlag

      So according to you we shouldn’t have cruise control, voice recognition, fingerprint scanners, autopilot, remote controls, cars, bikes, electric screwdrivers, dishwashers, hair dryers, email or even computers. All these things make complicated tasks easier. That’s not dumbing things down, it’s being smart and performing tasks more efficiently with lesser effort. Idiots are the ones who refuse to use good tools in favor of doing things the hard/long way. It’s more important to know how to use a tool than know how the tool works.
      Posted by troyrig (78 comments )
      February 29, 2012 10:29 AM (PST)Like (3)LinkFlag
      See more comment replies

      If they release windows 8 on 13 inch labtops which have detachable screens to be used at tablets and a slim bazel design is incorporated to limit physical size, i am sold. The simplicity of ios when you want it and MS power for work. This might be the ipad killer. i and tons of professionals use pc for work and ipad for simple browsing and reading. People want an operating system made for children such as ios when doing leisure activities and a professional operating system such as windows for work. They nailed it ! Subject to MS being able to stay bug free, aka no blue screens.
      Posted by Aekdb1262 (9 comments )
      February 29, 2012 8:15 AM (PST)Like (8)ReplyLinkFlag

      Your detailed, fair analysis is appreciated, Seth. Loved using the Dev Preview, and will download the Consumer Preview tonight.
      Posted by ryanhirschey (14 comments )
      February 29, 2012 8:20 AM (PST)Like (2)ReplyLinkFlag

      this is pretty slick but it’s going get ripped apart because it’s not as dumbed down as iOS. and that is a shame. It’s quite engaging and allowing for a full hands on experience but since the Cnet tablet pundits are too much in love with iOS anything that requires the slightest learning curve gets trashed. And that really is a sad state of affairs.
      Great job Mr. Jobs, you have suceeded in dumbing down the world including so called tech experts.
      Posted by boswd (1482 comments )
      February 29, 2012 8:29 AM (PST)Like (4)ReplyLinkFlag

      It should be noted that iOS appears "dumbed down" because it lacks a file system you can access. As such, they can dispense with file handling features, which allows for a drastically simpler interface.
      Posted by SactoGuy018 (1027 comments )
      February 29, 2012 8:59 AM (PST)LikeLinkFlag

      What do iOS ads feature? People using their phones to accomplish tasks. "Siri, I’ve locked myself out again." "Here are the nearest locksmiths." "Siri, I want to learn how to play the guitar." "Here are the nearest music stores." "Siri, text my wife to let her know I’ll be late." Siri sends a text message to your wife telling her that you’ll be late.
      What do most Android-based ads feature? "Oh, look, here’s the latest, coolest RAZR now in different colors."
      Microsoft is learning that maybe the developer should do the thinking rather than making the user think like the developer. I remember ages ago, an ad that said, "You’re the computer. YOU tell me where the file is."
      iOS is built on the notion that the typical user shouldn’t have to see the operating system. Typical users on the Mac do not. However, if one needs to see the Mac OS, all one has to do is log in as root. Wait, I think I know of an operating system that does the same thing: UNIX.
      Posted by irondog1970 (516 comments )
      February 29, 2012 9:41 AM (PST)LikeLinkFlag

      @irondog, you see this that is a typical completley ignorant iPhan statement.
      If I was locked out I could just as easily say into Google Voice Search. "Find locksmith" and I have not only the numbers and websites brought up but it’s woven into GoogleMaps and Places" so I can have one touch dialing and one touch navigation.
      and same with all the other tasks you just threw out. And here’s the kicker, I was able to do all that BEFORE Siri.
      Please stop basing your facts off of watching Applec commericials and try learning for youself.
      Again you just proved my point Steve Job helped dumb down America, Thanks Steve.
      Posted by boswd (1482 comments )
      February 29, 2012 10:01 AM (PST)Like (1)LinkFlag

      @boswd:
      Did I say anything about functionality? No. My only comment was that Apple does a better job at marketing what their product does. Microsoft is beginning to do the same.
      Google seems to be bothered by the fact that the typical consumer doesn’t use their products when Google does very little to tell the typical consumer what it can do. Just like Apple has ads that exemplify what iOS does. Android based ads tell me very little of what it does.
      Consumers also don’t care who did what first. All the typical consumer cares about is what can it do for me right now.
      If any smart phone is going to succeed, they need to convince the user that it can solve problems or do things that people want to do. I’m not talking capability…I’m talking advertising.
      Carriers are now advertising LTE as the next fastest thing. This says great things about the network. Maybe it’s just marketing fluff, but if it causes the consumer to opt for one network over the other, then the ad has done its job.
      The Android phone now available in red tells me nothing except that the case can now be dyed.
      Posted by irondog1970 (516 comments )
      February 29, 2012 10:33 AM (PST)LikeLinkFlag

      Is the Android just as functional (if not more so) than the iOS? Yes.
      Does Google get marketing? No, not when it comes to Android. Google had a great Super Bowl ad a couple games back when they showed the story of a guy going to France to study, learning how to speak French, etc. It told a story, and a good one at that.
      When it comes to telling me what Android does, all I seem to get is Mission Impossible style ads & the latest case cover color.
      I don’t have to be an iOS fanatic to see this. Microsoft is trying to do the same thing: show off what the phone is capable of doing.
      I hope Microsoft succeeds, actually. I think the iOS home screen presentation (and many of the skins that carriers force on their users) needs some revising. I applaud Microsoft for thinking differently.
      Competition, the last time I checked, is a good thing when it benefits the consumer. Creating a better UI is something that competition should be able to do.
      And in the case of who did what first: keep in mind that it was Apple that really divorced apps from the carriers. If it weren’t for Apple, smart phones & their apps would be closely tied to their carriers. I can remember having a smart phone where I had to pay $4/month on my bill just to get weather updates. Now, my weather app is free.
      The problem with religious debates is that they will go on forever. But saying that Google markets Android to the user very poorly is a statement that shouldn’t be too controversial.
      Posted by irondog1970 (516 comments )
      February 29, 2012 10:54 AM (PST)LikeLinkFlag

      Does Windows 8 CP have "Classic Desktop" option?
      Posted by knash2 (20 comments )
      February 29, 2012 8:32 AM (PST)LikeReplyLinkFlag

      You press the Desktop app.
      Posted by jader3rd (484 comments )
      February 29, 2012 8:37 AM (PST)Like (2)LinkFlag

      I’d like to know how well this integration works without a Microsoft account as I don’t have any spare computers to install this onto.
      Also I’d be curious to know how often they will update their social networking aspect of the OS for new ‘Facebooks’ and ‘Twitters’.
      Posted by aprkmw (124 comments )
      February 29, 2012 8:55 AM (PST)LikeReplyLinkFlag

      I think in the end, this is the most radical makeover for an operating system since Apple went from System 9.x to MacOS X–it’s going to take a lot of getting used to.
      But it appears once mastered, Windows 8’s interface will definitely be a huge leap ahead for a desktop/laptop interface for the first time in many years.
      Posted by SactoGuy018 (1027 comments )
      February 29, 2012 8:57 AM (PST)Like (4)ReplyLinkFlag

      I agree. An OS update should involve more than making a more realistic looking folder. Besides, the whole desktop motif has gotten stale. The last thing my filing cabinets are used for in my office are files.
      I remember when I saw Dr. Edward Tufte talk about the iOS years ago. He was showing off, "Hey, my phone has a calendar, an alarm clock, and a calculator." His friends would say to him, "Oh, E.T. (as he likes to call himself), every cell phone has those."
      "Really? Where?"
      The placement of commands can help make a device more useful. Sure, every cell phone from day 1 that I can remember owning (I was a BellSouth Mobility DCS subscriber) had those features. It’s just that navigating to the features was difficult.
      This is the approach that Microsoft has taken to the Ribbon. Most commands are now visible and no longer nested in arcane menus. Cascading commands are now gone too. And commands that need only appear when engaging in specific tasks (like table formatting) only show up when you’re in a table.
      These are good things.
      Posted by irondog1970 (516 comments )
      February 29, 2012 10:00 AM (PST)Like (1)LinkFlag

      The display and everything else looks nice but after the touch pro 2 that I had. I will never by a Microsoft product ever again because it crashed over and over again all three of them. I use to be a big fan I have had all of the phones they came out with from the PC pocket, to the mogul, to the touch pro, to the touch pro2. After that touch pro 2 no more microsoft phones or tablets for me. It does look and sounds nice but so do loins tell you get close. lol.
      Posted by dadundada (1 comment )
      February 29, 2012 8:59 AM (PST)LikeReplyLinkFlag

      You should boycott HTC, not Microsoft. And Windows Mobile 6.0 is completely different than Windows 8.
      Posted by troyrig (78 comments )
      February 29, 2012 10:32 AM (PST)Like (2)LinkFlag

      My theory is that the metro interface will be able to be disabled via group policy for the corporate world if desired. No way MS is stupid enough not to give us that option. No organization is going to want to force users to use metro, or provide the training to adapt. As long as a traditional desktop is an option it will be utilized.
      Posted by Tinshield118 (13 comments )
      February 29, 2012 9:04 AM (PST)LikeReplyLinkFlag

      2 things.
      First as a mobile OS I’m not sure how much of a dent this is going to put into iOS. I don’t see apple being dethroned in the mobile world any time soon.
      As a desktop OS I’m not ready yet to be swiping things on my desktop OS with my finger or a mouse. I don’t want my OS on my PC to feel like a OS I would use on a tablet. On an iPad it’s fine but still feels limiting compared to a PC’s interface. Sure, I can enable the "old" Windows 7 desktop on Windows 8 by clicking on one of those boxes. Or I can continue to use Windows 7.
      What I don’t see yet is a reason to upgrade my perfectly fine Windows 7 right now. Maybe that will change with release. Self updating little boxes on the home screen isn’t enough.
      instead of making my PC feel more like a tablet, I’d rather MS make my tablet feel more like a PC. At least I’ll be able to get more done that way.
      Posted by Xeres14 (5 comments )
      February 29, 2012 9:05 AM (PST)Like (2)ReplyLinkFlag

      "What I don’t see yet is a reason to upgrade my perfectly fine Windows 7 right now. Maybe that will change with release. Self updating little boxes on the home screen isn’t enough."
      I agree. But maybe MS doesn’t need Win7 users to switch en masse right now.
      What they do need right now is a tablet OS, and this looks functional for that. Bonus, they appear to have cracked the tablet-desktop integration nut (though only time will really tell).
      They’re presenting a credible roadmap for the co-evolution and gradual integration of these two worlds, showing that they’ve thought about it and have a plan. That’s got to be huge to IS departments who make decisions in five- and ten-year timeframes… and indeed, comforting to any thinking computer purchaser.
      That said, maybe they can afford to let this sink in for awhile with desktop users. Provide incentives for Win8, like lower price on new boxes and easy upgrades from Win7, but don’t push it by snuffing Win7 the way they did XP when Vista came to town. Meanwhile keep up with the infomercials I mentioned in an earlier comment, make sure that everyone sees Win8 desktops in action, in non-schoolmarmish settings, so people know what to expect and even (this would be a stretch for MS marketing) with some cool and buzz associated with it.
      Posted by EddyKilowatt (43 comments )
      February 29, 2012 10:00 AM (PST)LikeLinkFlag

      No one seems to pay attention to the fact that Metro is an option between two interfaces. You can run the desktop environment without using Metro.
      Posted by troyrig (78 comments )
      February 29, 2012 10:35 AM (PST)LikeLinkFlag

      I really do not get why there are any Metro navigation elements on a classic desktop format. I have my mouse and keyboard at my desk; I’m not going to ever use touch on a screen that is sitting vertically on my desk. On the tablets and phones this UI is great. But I don’t know why they are even putting as an option on the desktop with classic version to fall back on.
      This is what you need Microsoft;
      Windows 8
      Windows Tablet 8
      Windows Phone 8
      Again, I like Metro on devices made for touch. But the desktop is not for touch. It’s awkward touching a desktop monitor and always will be.
      Posted by sting7k (1153 comments )
      February 29, 2012 9:14 AM (PST)Like (2)ReplyLinkFlag

      I’m not big on Metro in any environment, but on the desktop I have to agree that it is really out of place. Heck, I still prefer doing a lot of things with the keyboard rather than the mouse, and now they’re trying to make everything based on a touch oriented design!
      Posted by ddesy (2697 comments )
      February 29, 2012 10:28 AM (PST)Like (1)LinkFlag

      Mark my words…Win 8 Tablet will be the hottest device on the market when it launches this fall, and might even outsell iPads this holiday season.
      Posted by hiruuamon (118 comments )
      February 29, 2012 9:29 AM (PST)LikeReplyLinkFlag

      I don’t my computer to be a huge smartphone.
      Posted by burkeen (11 comments )
      February 29, 2012 9:32 AM (PST)Like (2)ReplyLinkFlag

      " I don’t my computer to be a huge smartphone … ?"
      Obviously .
      Posted by brickcityboy (50 comments )
      February 29, 2012 9:57 AM (PST)LikeLinkFlag

      If ten seconds is all it takes to grasp the ‘edge’ features, Microsoft better blanket the airwaves with snappily-crafted 30-second infomercials this Fall.
      Hardly anyone will click on ‘Tutorial’, but everyone will pick up subliminal knowledge from an infomercial, and at least know what to try the first time they’re faced with a Win8 screen.
      Posted by EddyKilowatt (43 comments )
      February 29, 2012 9:45 AM (PST)LikeReplyLinkFlag

      I’m running it right now and have been browsing the store. It keeps crashing and saying it isn’t available, but I’ve been able to add a few apps. I don’t have points to buy songs, but the previews work fairly well.
      It’s a little weird getting used to hitting the windows key to see my normal desktop UI and I’m not sure how I feel about the UI of explorer yet. I don’t think people who are used to a start button and task bar are going to be keen on the new way things look, but I love Metro on the phones. It works so well. Maybe I’m stuck in my ways? Or maybe it’s because I do enterprise support. As long as windows 8 can have an enterprise version that’s just as good as windows7, I think it can really take off. Otherwise, you’ll have a repeat of large corporations sticking with XP until Win7 came out and ‘fixed’ Vista.
      All said, this *IS* a beta version, and by no means the RTM that will get pushed out. I’ll enjoy playing with it until then πŸ™‚
      BTW… 5 updates have already been pushed out πŸ˜‰
      Posted by rok_starr (426 comments )
      February 29, 2012 9:46 AM (PST)LikeReplyLinkFlag

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