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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Preview : Windows 8


Microsoft launched this on their website, and we on Commenti, are publishing a much detailed review on Windows 8.
So, Microsoft finally released its Windows 8 Developer Preview for us mortals a few hours back and after a lot of researching and using; we at Commenti bring you a detailed review on it. So, getting straight to business, here we start.


INSTALLATION & STARTUP
The installation is pretty simpler and a lot similar to Windows 7 Installation, except that this time Microsoft sure tried to add some humor to it.






The Installation was fairly quick (~12 minutes) on a separate installation with no scary blue screens, though I must add that I went through a lot of pains to download it There is no native USB boot support and you will need to activate the version (Free of cost, of course!) to use all the features.


METRO UI


So now, it asks me to restart my PC, and when I do, Whoa! It booted in 14 seconds(Yeah! Not a typo.) With a sleek Metro UI interface. (So far, so good!)





For those, who still couldn’t figure out, what this Metro UI is? It’s the similar to tile based application interface that Microsoft uses in Zune and Windows Phone 7.


APPS


I put in my Network Connection details and start fiddling with the various apps that I see on my home screen. First victim – Internet Explorer, of course.
I noticed that the page loads were a little bit faster than the last version of IE9 that I used, the Interface on the other hand, is a perfect example of Elegant and Minimalistic design combined. But, they removed the whole ritual of what we know of a “Right Click”, which, now opens up a drop down bar with currently open tabs.
I was surprised to know that the regular version of IE9 is also included in the bundle. more on that, in the coming sections.





Windows 8 Dev. Preview comes with 28 Metro Style apps preinstalled with it. Some of them are Socialite (Facebook), Tweet@rama (Twitter), Utilities (Alarm Clock, Notes, Weather etc.) and a few HTML5 based games (Which btw, I found really lame!). While the interface of all these apps are super neat and look awesome on the PC screen, they are a bit slow and hard to navigate. Then again, since all the apps in Windows 8 are HTML5 and JavaScript based (yes, really!) , so it was kind of expected that they would suck up the RAM more. It uses ~400 MB of RAM in idle state, which still can be considered light.





Till now, I was convinced that the Metro UI is best suited for a Touch-enabled PC as it supports various Multi Touch gestures. It’s much easier to flick between apps that to drag your mouse pointer.
One can dock one app while the other app is running, using flick of the mouse. (Check the image below). It looks pretty cool as the apps occupy full screen.



Now, you can’t really close an app, but an app goes to a dormant state (suspended state) after a certain period of idleness. Again, touch optimized. I still managed to close them with the new task Manager.





The apps interface is pretty much inspired from Mac Apps and soon Microsoft would be launching its own version of App Store known as Windows Store (It is disabled in the developer Preview).





Windows 8 retains the Windows Key + type to search feature, just more elegantly this time.





Two Interfaces, really?
So, in addition to the awesome Metro UI, Windows 8 incorporates the old interface of Windows 8. But, Microsoft tried to remove the Compability issue completely by doing it (Best of both Worlds, eh?), but for a normal Windows user like me it kind of gets clumsy at times, as what is where.





There are a lot more changes like Ribbon UI in Windows Explorer, Integrated App + File Search, Control Panel App.





NOTIFICATIONS
Finally, Notifications arrive for Windows. The settings can be changed to suit your mood.





PROS
1. Super-Fast Bootup. (But it’s definitely not 8 seconds.)
2. Metro UI is awesome for touch enabled devices.
3. Clean and elegant look.
4. Simple Social Network and Syncing Integration.
5. HTML5 based apps mean easy virtualization over networks.
6. Upcoming App Store will help bring more innovative apps to this platform.
7. Touch Friendly IE is fun to use.
8. Compatible with old Windows 7 softwares.


CONS
1. Since the Apps are based on scripting languges, it consumes more resources.
2. Metro UI is awesome for touch, and sometimes feels clumsy without it. The gestures are generally not intuitive using a mouse.
3. Power user will miss the main menu.
4. Apps don’t really close in Metro UI, they are suspended after a certain interval of idleness.


VERDICT
Maybe all this work should have gone in for a dedicated netbook version or a tablet version. Old style windows desktop with a Metro coating. I still think it as a gamble by Microsoft; I hope the final release is better suited for non-touch devices as well. Like it or not, the metro interface is here to stay.
The Download Page for Windows 8 Developer’s preview can be found here.