First Glance at Windows 8

Windows 8 Preview Desktop

As you may or may not already know, Microsoft released a preview of Windows 8 a couple of weeks ago (you can find it here). I finished installing it last night (whole process took about 1-1.5 hrs to complete) and was playing around with it today. They’ve added a few new cool features but ultimately, it’s a bit disappointing… it’s not anything we haven’t already seen before. It did not have the WOW factor to blow me away with!

These are the things I’ve noticed with Win 8 Preview:

Start Screen replaces start button

1. Replaced the famous Start button with the Start/Home Menu

The interface looks nice but it is very awkward to use – You can find things you use regularly here – like your music, video, calendar etc here. There’s also Windows App store – which is very minimal at the moment. I think it is trying to imitate Android and Apple’s OS, so if you know how to use Android or iOS, then you shouldn’t have a problem with Win 8. Because Android and Apple both rely on a touch interface, horizontal scrolling is easier on those machines – you can flick left or right when you want to look at your apps etc. Here, you have to use the good ol’ mouse and keyboard to move across the screen (and if you are like me and installed it on your laptop, touch pad it is!) which can be quite impractical.

All Apps Screen

2. Apps Screen

Boy, did I have a hard time locating this button! I would’ve assumed on the start screen, it would have an “All Apps” button or something, turns out you have to right click on the start screen then select “All Apps” to see it. Again, nothing we haven’t seen before – exactly like the Android’s All Apps screen. Again, horizontal scrolling makes it awkward with the mouse, especially with my touchpad.

Microsoft App store & Side bar

3. Side Panel

One of the cooler things I did notice was the cool on the side app – you can keep an app running on the side (be it messaging, news, etc or in my case, wordpress!) to keep in touch/up to date with those on the internet.

Search "any time" function

4. Search any time function

This search function has made the “All Apps” screen a bit obsolete. Before I found the “all apps” button, I was using this feature – when you are in the start/home screen, you can start typing in the name of any file, document, app, setting you want, and it will search it automatically for you. It does a good job in locating the documents quickly, so they must’ve indexed the files pretty well to find it within seconds of searching. Pretty neat.

5. Other things

Win 8 still maintains the aero transparent windows edge from Win 7 but it has become borderless around the left, right and bottom sides. The edges are straight and sharp, no longer round and curvy. Pretty much everything about Win 8 is squarish and straight. All the app icons are square, straight and flat – unlike iOS where it’s rounded and bevelled. Although win 8 does seem to use up more ram than win 7 did – I haven’t noticed any lagging or memory leaks with my laptop.Everything still seems to function at a good pace.

Overall, Microsoft has done a major uplift with their Win 8 – I assume they are aiming to make it more touch and user friendly, so that later down the track, with the release of new phones or tablets running win 8, it will be a seamless process syncing files from one machine to the next (it’s just a guess, but that is what I would aim for if I was working for Microsoft).

I guess they are also trying to win back their share of the market Android and Apple have dominated over the last few years, but it appears they are a bit too late jumping on the bandwagon. Even their app store is abysmal – guess we will wait and see. Android was like that when it first started out – now the Android Market is phenomenal.

Personally, I don’t think Win 8 is worth the upgrade – it isn’t that spectacular. As I said previously, there was no WOW Factor when my machine booted up to these little quirky squared fishes blowing bubbles on the start up screen as it was loading the interface. It is still in its early builds yet, so who knows, the finished product may actually blow me away. Highly doubtful though.


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