Windows 8 is… different. Is it ‘good’ different or ‘bad’ different? Is the question and the answer is… yes, one of those.
A little while ago, Microsoft released its ‘release preview‘ version of Windows 8 for us to all test out and marvel over. Being That English Geek, I downloaded it the first day it was available and have installed it on a partition on my laptop.
My first impression of it was that I didn’t like it, but I’ve softened a little, begun to understand what Microsoft are doing and now I agree with them that it is a major step forward in operating systems and the way computers will work in the future.
An All New Approach
Everything is different with Windows 8 and you really have to get your head around the idea that they have designed it to work with you in a very different way from, well, everything they’ve done for the PC before.
Based around the same visual ’tiles’ interface that Windows Mobile now uses, Windows 8 is much more user friendly than its predecessors and allows you to get on with doing the things you want to do quicker and easier.
Everything is designed to be available and displayed right there on the homepage which actually works quite well… at least, it will if third party apps use those tiles in the same way.
I really like the user friendly layout and the way the tiles become ‘live’ and scroll through the content they link to…. wait, let me explain that a little.
Windows 8 gives tiles the ability to be ‘live’ i.e. they actually show current information from the app they link to. For example, in the image above, there is a funny grey scale picture in one of the tabs in the center. That is a picture from my pictures library and Windows constantly changes that image, leaving it for a few seconds at a time, showing random pictures from my library. Over to the right of the image, at the top is the news tile and that rotates through the latest news stories.
In theory, all the tiles can do that, giving you a one-stop control center where you can see everything that matters to you.
Third Party Apps?
The problem though is with third party apps. If you notice in the image above, to the top right, there is a Thunderbird icon. Thunderbird is what I use for my email and so I installed it on the system. I truly hope that by the release date, instead of having a little icon at the top right corner, Thunderbird will be ”live’ and have its own ’tile’ where the latest emails coming in will be displayed.
Microsoft have done tutorials and given guidance to developers on how to create live tiles but how many apps will actually use them?
It will be interesting to see how that pans out.
It’s always hard to tell with beta releases but Windows 8 seems to be fairly fast, smooth and slick but we’ll see what it’s like in the real world after it is released.
The Big Issue
The big issue with it though is that it’s designed for touch screens.
It still works OK with a mouse and keyboard, but you just feel like you want to reach out and touch the screen because it’s built with those nice, touchable tiles.
It would be so much smoother and more intuitive with a touch screen and I think that’s kind of the point.
With Windows 8, Microsoft are dragging us kicking and screaming into the next phase of personal computing and all in all, I think that’s a good thing.
Roll on, Windows 8!
Windows 8 Release Preview can be downloaded here
Windows 8 is scheduled for release on October 26th, 2012
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