In case you are not aware, Microsoft has released the first developer preview of their Windows 8 for the public to test out. If you do not have the chance to test it out, follow us to see what new features are there and what to expect in the upcoming Windows 8.
Windows 8 = Windows Phone 7?
Now, if you have used Windows Phone 7 before, the first thing you notice about Windows 8 is the similarity in the user interface. Microsoft has integrated the popular WP7 Metro interface into Windows 8, and the most obvious one is the start screen. There are tiles (big and small) everywhere on the screen and each tile represent a shortcut to an app. You can pin new tile, unpin existing tiles or even move them around and arrange them in the way you prefer.
Unlike previous version of Windows, this Windows 8 version will also work on ARM processor. This means that Windows 8 will work on tablet, mobile device and the desktop. As can be seen from the metro-style interface, it is really friendly on a touch screen, and yes, it works well with a mouse and keyboard too.
On a PC, the desktop is on a separate screen. You can either press the “Win” button (on your keyboard), click the Desktop tile or move the cursor to the bottom left and click the Start button.
New Screen Corner action
When you move your cursor to the left bottom corner, it will show the clock (on the right side of the screen) and the options window. There are few options, namely Settings, Devices, Share and Search
The Search option is greatly improved in Windows 8. You can search for apps, or even notes/items within apps. The search is noticeably faster and the search results are more organized.
When you move your cursor to the left screen, it will show a preview of last active window and you can click on it to access it. Scrolling your wheel will rotate through the list of active apps.
The overall performance of Windows 8 is good. Well, if you compare it to previous version of Windows, the performance increase is tremendous. No longer do you need to wait for 5 minutes for the system to boot up and become usable. While the boot up time is not, as what Microsoft has demoed, less than 5 seconds, the overall speed boost is noticeable. Every app runs more smoothly and you don’t see the system hanging up when plenty of apps are running concurrently. This is indeed very promising and hopefully it will get better in the final release.
The most significant change to the Windows Explorer is the addition of the ribbon menubar. The ribbon changes it behavior when a specified file is selected. For example, when you select a zipped file, the ribbon will change to show the “Extract” option. Some other features include choosing the default program to open for each file type.
The directory listing on the left panel can now be expanded to show the sub-directory. Something it should do, but didn’t do in its previous version.
Internet Explorer 10
Internet Explorer 10 build upon the functionality of IE9 and added more CSS3 and HTML5 handling capability. IE10 supports both the tablet and desktop. However, the tablet version is stated to ship without support for plugins. Instead, the plug-in free browser will make use of HTML5 engine to render videos and animation. No more flash for you.
It is becoming a norm to integrate an app store in the OS now. Ubuntu, Mac, iOS, Android and Windows Phone all have it, so it no surprise that the upcoming Windows 8 has one too. At the moment, the Market Store is still a work in progress, so it is not available for preview now.
Live Cloud Syncing
When you log into your Windows 8 account, you have an option to sign with your Windows Live ID. For those who did, all your data (pictures, address book), settings for the OS and for each app are synced to the cloud. What is the benefit of this? If you have multiple Windows 8 PC, you just need to sign in to your account and all your data will be restored back to the setting you have configured previously.
The metro-style UI is a major changeover from the previous iteration of Windows, but the overall changes are very positive. The switch between the Metro home screen and the desktop is pretty smooth, though it can be troublesome and irritating at times. The Start button is no longer functioning the same way we are familiar to and that will take some time to get used to. One thing that I am very impress is the boot up speed and the performance boost. I really hope it will maintain that way as you install more and more apps.
Installing Windows 8
Windows 8 requires you to upgrade your existing Windows 7 installation or do a clean install. Either way, you are not able to restore back to the previous version. The ISO is available for download here and you can burn it to a DVD or create a bootable USB drive.
This is only a quick peek at Windows 8 and there are many more stuff that I didn’t cover. However, from the look of it, this build is very promising. What do you think?