Apps

Windows 8 Review

In the past few months I had been hearing a lot of buzz about Windows 8 but hadn’t had the chance get my hands on it.  With the recent release of the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, I decided it was time to give it a try.  I created a virtual machine on my desktop system using the free VMware Player.  I set up the virtual machine to have 1 GB of memory, a single CPU core and 60GB of disk space.  It actually booted up and ran surprisingly quick given the limited hardware specs.
Windows 8 Consumer
The first thing I noticed is that it is a huge departure from previous versions of windows.  First of all it boots into what Microsoft calls the “Metro” interface.  This is a large full screen menu consisting of square tiles which are essentially application shortcuts.  Some of these tiles are “Live tiles” which means that they display up to date information right on the tile.  For instance, the Metro email app will display a preview of your most recent message right on the tile once you set it up.
When you click any of the built in metro tiles, it launches a nice pretty full screen “Metro” application.  The built in metro apps include, Mail, Calendar, Photos, People, Weather, Maps and more.  The windows desktop that you have come to know and love is not gone though.  There is a desktop tile which takes you to the classic windows 7 style desktop, but it is not exactly like the windows 7 desktop. Probably the first thing you will notice when you go to the windows 8 desktop is that there is no start menu.  The Metro home screen is essentially the replacement for the classic start menu.
There is also a different way to close apps and to navigate between them.  If you put you mouse in the upper left corner, you will see a thumbnail of your most recently open app, and if you roll your mouse down the left side of the screen you will see thumbnails of the rest of your open apps.  You can click on any of them to switch to it, or drag it down to the bottom of the screen to close it.  To return to the Metro home screen, put your mouse in the lower left corner and click on the icon that pops up.
I actually really like the look and feel of the new metro apps and the new home screen but at this beta stage, the navigation does feel a little clunky on a desktop PC using a keyboard and mouse.  I also think that you will find yourself spending most of your time on the classic desktop until more applications release a Metro styled version.
I cant help but notice that the new UI seems to be geared much more toward tablet or touch users.  And I bet it is very slick for a tablet environment, but I think for desktop PC users, it still need a little polishing.  Hopefully this will happen before the final version is released.