Quick Look: Windows 8 Developer Preview
| by Rossi Fernandes
Windows 8 is finally here and there's no denying the excitement among people. It's very unlike Microsoft to publically offer builds. We've seen something happen with Windows 7, as well. The Building Windows blog is another one of those neat things that Microsoft has introduced to try and connect with its customers. The best thing to happen, however is the Windows 8 Developer Preview build that was made public. Like pretty much every interested Windows user out there, we’ll be running through this build to see what major enhancements Microsoft has made.
The story, so far...
In short, Windows Vista wasn’t too great. To many of us, it offered few additional features, demanded more resources and was more like an unfinished product. The finished product was Windows 7 and when it came, everyone rejoiced and its success is visible. Windows 7 is more used than the last major Windows OS, XP. Windows 8 has a different approach from its predecessors. For one, Windows 8 is being built to run on both desktops (and notebooks), as well as tablets, and presumably, mobile phones. These are two completely different platforms that require different kinds of interactions. Microsoft has taken the Metro interface from their Windows Phone 7 devices and has brought it to the desktop.
The installation of Windows has come a long way, from the ways of Windows 3.1, which meant inserting one floppy after another. Windows 95 was the first operating system to have been shipped on CDs and it was also available on 25 different floppies. Since then, the effort has been to make installations simpler and quicker.
The installer on the Windows 8 Developer Preview works on the same lines as Windows 7, except when you first reboot you’re asked to enter a PC name. You're then asked to choose a wireless network and proceed. The last step is to create a user name. Simple, isn't it? Like many of the other features present in Windows 8, there’s bound to be some changes made to it.
When you first login, you stare straight into the face of Microsoft’s Metro interface that’s similar to the one seen on Windows Phone 7. Users can use gestures to pan from side to side and all the apps that you have installed for the Metro user interface appear in this. By default, there are a bunch of apps that come pre-bundled with the installation. The interface operates like any Windows Phone 7 device. Click on the icon of the application you want to launch and it fires up in a jiffy.
The first thing you notice in the Metro UI is that there are neither window controls, nor any title bars and menus. The interface is minimal and from the apps we played around with, it makes perfect sense for media consumption apps such as feed readers, Twitter clients and some games. There is a scrollbar at the bottom that lets you pan through applications.
The Metro UI’s apps can be moved around, replaced and resized, too. Some of these apps have notifications and those can be enabled or disabled using the Control Panel
Microsoft hasn’t thrown the standard Windows interface away. It’s neatly tucked into the whole operating system rather well. A widget called Desktop takes you to the standard Windows desktop. The Windows desktop hasn’t changed much as of now. It looks almost identical to Windows 7. The Start button though looks different.
The rather colourful app for monitoring stock market trends
Multi-tasking isn’t much different from previous Windows versions. You can’t see the taskbar in the Metro UI, but press Alt + Tab or Shift + Tab and you get the same multi-tasking and switching functionality that we’re all used to. Microsoft hasn’t isolated each user interface and its apps separately. It works across applications running on the standard Windows desktop and also the Metro interface.
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