So here is my "travel log" of experiences with the new Windows 8. It is far too early in the game to think about recommending or not recommending this new Windows operating system, but it is certainly an interesting experience.
I am working with the "Consumer Preview Edition", which anyone can download and install. It comes in two flavors, 32-bit or 64-bit operating systems. Since I am working on two systems I am using the 64-bit system on my small MSI Wind Netbook (with 2gb of RAM), and the 32-bit system on an old Dell (3.2 GHz Pentium 4 with 2gb of RAM). So my tests are running on two "not to quick" systems. Alto of note, keep in mind that the biggest news about this new OS is that you can run it on your desktop, laptop, pad, and/or smart phone. I will discuss more on this later.
First things first: the installation on both systems was painless and surprisingly quick. The "Preview" edition does not support upgrades so I can only talk about a fresh installation, but I was definitely surprised at the installation speed. The netbook installation is a dual boot operation while the old P4 is the only OS installed. Both were very fast and without any major issues (although I am having to use a generic video driver for my netbook). So as installations go, Windows 8 gets a big score for fresh installs. If I get an opportunity to try an upgrade install at some time, I will post that result.
Settling In - the Interface Issue:
Once booted, we come to the issue of the two interfaces. By default (and design), Windows 8 boots into what is referred to as the "Metro" interface. Obviously, the Metro interface is designed with your phone or pad in mind (or a desktop with a touch screen). It is very basic (plain actually) but will be somewhat familiar to smart phone users. While I have not yet fully explored the Metro functions, it does make sense for a non-keyboard or touch screen environment. The limitations I see so far is that Metro apps (applications written expressly for Metro) run only in full screen . Running non-Metro apps from the Metro screen opens the second interface, which looks much like your Windows 7 desktop, but some disturbing differences (at least to me). More on that later too. I kind of like the Metro interface for its simplicity, but I am not sure how well this will go down with "old schoolers". Hopefully, this will grow on me more as I work with the new system.
Settling In - Getting to Work:
Without loading a lot of stuff on (yet), I can say this Windows really zips. I expected pretty pokey response on my P4 platform, but it really gets going. I LOVE the new Internet Explorer 10 and it fairly flies on both of my systems. I have loaded some things like Firefox and AVG, and stillthe performance is pretty good (surprising actually). Some of the missing parts of the old W7 interface have taken some getting used to (it took more than an hour and lots of research to figure out how to shut the computer off with the "missing" orb). But I can get some work done without too much pain and suffering. I can say so far I don't see any loss in productivity and I am certainly impressed with the small footprint and big speed gains. We will discuss this more as I learn more.
I won't go much into this but will provides some links for those who want more details. Suffice it to say this OS is a new direction for Microsoft. One of the firs things to mention is that this product is designed to run on a variety of platforms using a variety of processors. It is no longer stuck to the Intel/AMD x86 format. It will run with ARM processors and probably many more that I cannot think of. As I have said, this was designed to work on multiple platforms and I cannot wait to try this on my ASUS pad.
Metro will be relying on an app store (like the iPad and Android pads and phones) and I am still waiting to see more in that arena. Hopefully this will be much like the Android app store with lots of useful but small (and either free or low cost) applications. And Microsoft is claiming that if you can run your favorite programs on Windows 7, they will run on Windows 8.
Windows 8 will also include much more "cloud" type stuff (storing data and running applications straight off the internet), and has lots of new security and management features built in. And the days of having to supply device drivers for printers , touch devices and such appears to be going away as well. Microsoft claims their new "class drivers" eliminate the need in most cases for specific drivers for your devices. I have not tested this claim yet.
So What is Next?
My testing is early, but so far I am pleased, though often confused. I am not yet convinced that this will garner the market interest that Windows 7 did. It is different (as different as was Windows 95 to Windows 3.x), and that may keep many away. But maybe not ...
Let the play begin.
Windows 8 Release Preview: It is up and running and the learning curve is started.
First things first. I am starting to feel better about the two interface thing. "Metro" makes since if you are going to run Windows 8 on a phone or pad, and I can't wait to see more apps made for the Metro interface. But running normal applications will be the purview of the "older" interface and that is where most things will happen for the large percentage of users. And while lots of things appear to be missing, they really aren't: you just have to figure out how to put them back. I'll have more on that later.
One additional note: I am running Windows 8 RP (Release Preview) on a low end single core Intel CPU with only 2gb RAM, and it fairly flies. Of course, I don't have years of "stuff" on it, but I do have a full set of security software running so …