So, Microsoft finally released its Windows 8 Developer Preview for us mortals today and after a lot of poking and tinkering, We at Comptalks bring you a detailed review. . This marks the first time that Microsoft has released a pre-beta version of one of their flagship programs to the general public.  So, getting straight to business, here we go.

INSTALLATION & STARTUP

The installation is a lot similar to Windows 7 Installation, except that this time Microsoft sure tried to add some humour to it.

The Installation was fairly quick (~12 minutes) on a separate installation with no scary blue screens, though I must add that I went through a lot of pains to download it :| There is no native USB boot support and you will need to activate the version (Free of cost, of course!) to use all the features.

METRO UI

So now, it asks me to restart my PC, and when I do, Whoa! It booted in 14 seconds(Yeah! Not a typo.) with a sleek Metro UI interface. (So Far, too Good!)

The Metro UI

 For those, who still couldn’t figure out, what this Metro UI is?  Its the similar to tile based application interface that MIcrosoft uses in Zune and Windows Phone 7.

APPS

I put in my Network Connection details and start fiddling with the various apps that I see on my home screen. First victim, IE of course.

It came to my notice that the page loads were a little bit faster than the last version of IE9 that I used, the Interface on the other hand, is a perfect example of Elegant and Minimalistic design combined. But, they removed the whole ritual of what we know of a “Right Click”, which, now opens up a drop down bar with currently open tabs. There is no one click back or forward buttons. You have to right click to activate the controls, and then navigate forward or backward. Also, ominously, the metro version of IE does not support flash !

I was surprised to know that the regular version of IE9 is also included in the bundle. more on that, in the coming sections.

 

Windows 8 Dev. Preview comes with 28 Metro Style apps preinstalled with it. Some of them are Socialite (Facebook), Tweet@rama (Twitter), Utilities (Alarm Clock, Notes, Weather etc. ) and a few HTML5 based games (Which btw, I found really lame!). While the interface of all these apps are super neat and look awesome on the PC screen, they are a bit slow and hard to navigate. Then again, since all the apps in Windows 8 are HTML5 and Javascript based (yes, really!) , so it was kind of expected that they would suck up the RAM more. It uses ~400 MB of RAM in idle state, which still can be considered light.

 

One of the games.

 

Till now, I was convinced that the Metro UI is best suited for a Touch-enabled PC as it supports various Multi Touch gestures. Its much easier to flick between apps that to drag your mouse pointer.

One can dock one app while the other app is running, using flick of the mouse. (Check the image below). It looks pretty cool as the apps occupy full screen.

Socialite & Feeds Docked Together

 Now, you can’t really close an app, but an app goes to a dormant state (suspended state) after a certain period of idleness. Again, touch optimized.  I still managed to close them with the new task Manager. 8)

Apps in suspended state.

The apps interface is pretty much inspired from Mac Apps and soon Microsoft would be launching its own version of App Store known as Windows Store (It is disabled in the developer Preview).

Windows 8 retains the Windows Key + type to search feature, just more elegantly this time.

Two Interfaces, really?

So, in addition to the awesome Metro UI, Windows 8 incorporates the old interface of Windows 8. But, Microsoft tried to remove the Compability issue completely by doing it (Best of both Worlds, eh?), but for a normal Windows user like me it kind of gets clumsy at times, as what is where.

 The old Windows UI, with a Docked Metro UI app. The Ribbon UI can be seen in the explorer.

There are a lot more changes like Ribbon UI in Windows Explorer, Integrated App + File Search, Control Panel App.

 

Control Panel App

 NOTIFICATIONS

Finally, Notifications arrive for Windows.  The settings can be changed to suit your mood.

PROS

  1. Super Fast Bootup. (But its definitely not 8 seconds.)
  2. Metro UI is awesome for touch enabled devices.
  3. Clean and elegant look.
  4. Simple Social Network and Syncing Integration.
  5. HTML5 based apps mean easy virtualization over networks.
  6. Upcoming App Store will help bring more innovative apps to this platform.
  7. Touch Friendly IE is fun to use. But no flash support for that !
  8. Compatible with old Windows 7 softwares.

CONS

  1. Since the Apps are based on scripting languges, it consumes more resources.
  2. Metro UI is awesome for touch, and sometimes feels clumsy without it. The gestures are generally not intuitive using a mouse.
  3. Power user will miss the main menu.
  4. Apps don’t really close in Metro UI, they are suspended after a certain interval of idleness.

VERDICT

Maybe all this work should have gone in for a dedicated netbook version or a tablet version. Old style windows desktop with a Metro coating. I still think it as a  gamble by Microsoft, I hope the final release is better suited for non touch devices as well. Like it or not, the metro interface is here to stay.

The Download Page for Windows 8 Developer’s preview can be found here.

by Ayush Upadhyay & Rohit Raveendran.

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Last Updated on October 19, 2014

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