Windows 8 Consumer Preview Review
Right off the bat users will notice that Windows 8 is different from previous versions of Windows. The new version of Windows sports several changes to the user interface, the new design is called Metro UI, and has been taken directly from Windows Phone 7. While users can easily switch back to the more familiar Windows Explorer desktop, Microsoft is pushing the new UI in Windows 8 as a seamless experience between Windows PC's, tablets, and phones.
So is the new UI better or worse? Ultimately that will come down to your personal preference but after playing with it for a few days, it is growing on me.
Once you login to Windows 8, you are greeted by the Start Screen. The Start Screen displays several different tiles and options. You can easily click to the Windows Desktop you know and love or you can launch native Windows 8 apps such as the neat built-in email app which supports all different kinds of mail services including Gmail.
One thing you will notice when you launch the Desktop is that the Start menu icon is missing. While this has definitely upset some people, there is some good news, the developers over at Stardock are creating an app to bring it back called Start8, it is available for download here and it's free! I should also note that you can get back to the Windows 8 Start Screen by hovering your mouse in the bottom left part of the screen and select "Start" when the option appears.
So far, I have been impressed with the native Windows 8 apps. The apps I have tried to date which include, the App Store, Music, Email, Internet Explorer, Vimeo, and a few others are all very nicely designed -- they really look great. One of those apps in particular really caught my attention and that was the Windows 8 native version of Internet Explorer; the full-screen browsing is great, the design is well thought out, and the websites I visited rendered without issues, which I have to admit, surprised me (in a good way).
If Microsoft can get third-party developers onboard and developing native Windows 8 applications that take advantage of Metro UI, I think that will be a big hit. Pair those beautiful applications with the built-in Windows 8 App Store and I think you will have a lot of happy customers.
Among the native Windows 8 apps on the Start Screen is the People application which in addition to just using it for contacts, you can connect your social networks to and it will provide a nice feed of the latest updates from your friends.
Windows 8 also features a new and improved search, making it easier to find files, apps, and settings. As an added bonus, unlike in previous versions of Windows where search was slow and cumbersome, in Windows 8 search is fast and perhaps even more importantly results are clearly listed.
Many people may be skeptical of the next release of Windows, but from what I have seen so far I think it is a step in the right direction for Microsoft. The tight integration that Microsoft is going for between all of its devices (PC's, Windows Phone, Tablets, XBOX) is absolutely necessary and Windows 8 brings them one step closer to achieving that goal.
The official release of Windows 8 is slated for later this year. Will you be installing a copy of Windows 8?