(Note: my experience is based on the current release preview which may or may not change before the actual release).
It’s that time again…a new version of Microsoft’s operating system is just months away…but this version is very different from any before it.
Windows 8 has been redesigned for use not only on high powered machines, but low end netbooks and tablets with an emphasis on touch control and apps…and it will also run on ARM processors (used in some phones and tablets).
When you first start Windows 8 you are greeted with a screen similar to that of Windows Phone OS, with application icons instead of desktop shortcuts…this is the new start menu (called Metro UI), it is the biggest change from the previous versions of Windows. From the menu you can open almost any application on your PC or go back to the typical windows desktop…I say typical but there is one feature missing, the start button is no where to be seen. The start menu is now accessed by left-clicking the bottom-left corner of the screen or right clicking to get quick access to a few basic settings (control panel, disk management etc.). The new interface takes some getting used to but after a bit of practice, it starts to make sense and you find you can get wherever you want to quite quickly. If you have trouble there is a 3rd party program called Start8 that will install a more recognizable start button and arrange the menu in a familiar way.
This is a few of my likes and dislikes from my own personal testing of the new OS.
Likes – Overall the system seems more responsive, The new copy/paste and task manager systems are very well designed, the ability to sign in using Windows Live ID means you can sync settings to multiple PC’sand I like the way the Metro UI is handled.
Dislikes – The minimum screen resolution for running apps at the moment is 1024×768 (or 1366×768 to run more than one at a time) which means many netbooks will not display apps, there will be a small but annoying learning curve with the new OS and once you open a full screen app, it is a bit difficult to work out how to close it.
Although this is just an operating system, I believe this will greatly alter the tablet/smartphone scene over the next few years…I expect to see a huge flood of phones, tablets and cheap laptops sporting the new operating system, filling the gap for people that do not want iOS or Android devices, but have not been able to find a Microsoft alternative.
There are still a fair few bugs in the release preview (most notably for me was the system crashing after installing Symantec endpoint as well as some strange graphical glitches/software behavior) so I would not suggest installing it on a work PC or your main PC…although a guide to dual-booting Windows 8 with Windows 7 can be found here (source: howtogeek.com).
Windows 8 is set for launch in October this year in 4 flavours (so far): Windows 8 (standard), Windows 8 Pro, Windows RT (an OEM version for ARM devices) and Windows Enterprise (only available via volume licensing).
*Images from Wikipedia