One night I was enjoying the many paint programs on my tablet pc, because that’s what they were built for, and it dawned on me that Windows 8 was long overdue for a release. After trolling the Microsoft sites and forums I was greeted with a pleasant surprise, the “Consumer Preview” of Windows 8 was available for download at the Microsoft website. But despite my fears I had a tablet that I really didn’t care about and decided to test the new operating just say I did and play with the new paint programs.
Now keep in mind this is not a Release Candidate but a copy of the actual OS Microsoft is giving away with the hopes that developers will make apps for the thin market place they have on it now. Being the OS skeptic I am after trying Longhorn, the RC for vista that was scrapped, I decided to do a little more homework on the OS. I found so many Youtube reviews on how the OS was just a glorified version of the Windows phone OS and how it just doesn’t work. The fact of the matter is many people are so accustomed to the formal Windows 7 layout that the idea of a whole new setup is just a little scary. I too thought that Microsoft was taking the whole Simple is better idea for Mac way too far.
The first thing I thought was odd was that Windows 8 is only 2.7Gbs for the 32bit version and 3.2Gbs for the 64bit version. Considerably small compared to the almost 7gb taken up by the Windows 7 install size. Microsoft made it easy to download and even provided a fool proof program that allowed you to burn the software onto a disk or even a flash drive for installing, I’m sure the pirates are going to have a field day with that. After putting the install on my flash drive I installed the OS on my Compaq TC4400 tablet and did a fresh install. Right off the back the first thing I noticed was that it was surprisingly fast on the install. Running a 1.8ghz Centrino duo Cpu and it took all of 15 to 20 minutes to install.
Windows has always had a flare for the bright and lovely scenes with aero themed startup and spectrums of colors and lights we couldn’t help but say that Windows is a culmination of beauty and technology, but with Windows 8 they seemed to take a more downgraded visual effect. The visual styling for Windows 8 is a basic flat concept taken from the days of early Mac. The plane black loading screen with the loading icon is a dead ringer of the Mac loading screen. They abandoned the windows logo and opted for the word “Windows” in simple text on the loading screen, I was almost disappointed in the lack of originality and visual fanfare. After some research I found a article by Windows visual and Graphics specialist who said the theme and visuals help add speed and response to the simple graphic processors found in tablets, since they often don’t carry heavy duty GPU’s like desktops and high end laptops. I can tell you this for certain, IT WORKS! Out of all the Operating systems in the Windows and Mac Families this s one of the fastest operating systems alive! From cold boot to desktop it literally takes me about 20 seconds. This OS is lean and mean, the OS and basic programs load faster with Windows 8 on my tablet then Windows 7 on my quad core desktop. Somehow Microsoft took the Mac formula of a lean simple OS and maintained the usability of Windows. I’m personally a heavy user running programs like Photoshop, illustrator, and lightroom. These programs have new life on my tablet; it truly is a joy to get that kind of speed out of an older computer.
Now onto the scary part, the dreaded new Windows interface. For those with windows phones you might know this interface as its older name “The METRO” interface. For those of us who have a life, actually use our phones for more than sharing photos and updating Facebook, e.g. normal people the concept was simple. Windows took the programs people use the most and created interactive square type widgets, called “tabs”, which we can view a preview and click on to launch the application. On Windows 8 you are greeted with this interface as soon as you log into your computer, EVERY time, it is now called the “Start” system. Yes, for those windows users who loved and adored the start button in the lower left corner of the desktop, brace yourself. IT’S GONE! I feel your pain brothers. All the programs and apps you install will now show as a small box “tab” in the windows start screen. This concept can be cool if your on a tablet because it feels cool seamlessly scrolling left and right to find your programs, but on a standard mouse and keyboard this might be a little annoying hence my desktop still runs 7. Now before you call Microsoft mad or start crawling to Mac keep in mind they still kept the old windows interface. The old interface runs under the start menu and can be accessed by clicking on the “Windows” tab. This is the standard windows 7 interface and where most of you will spend most of your time. With the acceptation of the start menu interface the system is the same, but no start button. To search for programs not on your desktop you scroll to the right and drag the interface out which gives several options such as settings, start menu, and control panel. As far as usability you may have to watch a few online videos to get the hang of the new layout. I took me a few minutes to figure out how to close programs in the start interface.
This OS does have flaws. For one just like Mac they try to get you to sign up for a Microsoft account to help manage your computer, as well as several popular social networks. Having all my information on the start menu like on my phone was cool for all of about 2 days then I just found myself ignoring the start menu and just hitting the desktop button. Why Microsoft doesn’t give us the choice to just start into the desktop is beyond me. The start interface makes using your computer easier but as a power user I like the concept of making computer plane and easy for only me to use, I hate cluttered screens. I personally keep all my programs in a hidden dock like the Mac interface, I love object dock. Like Mac windows has decided to create its own flash type program and most of the time it just creates problems. I don’t know why everyone wants to shut out adobe but I am bombarded by constant flash crashes in all my Browsers. Hopefully this will be fixed by final release.
I can see this Windows 8 being a great upgrade for tablet and IOs devices but for hardcore desktop users I can already see problems on the horizon. If you have a tablet device I would give it a chance with the concept that your device is being transformed into more of a entertainment device then a work heavy device. Fun for social apps, games, and don’t forget the painting programs. Hopefully Microsoft will release a more professional version geared toward heavy computer users who don’t need the elaborate start system.
Download site: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-8/release-preview