Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Windows 8 Consumer Preview

Most of us know Windows 7 as being a remarkable rebound from the prior Windows Vista that was commonly known as a full-featured failure. Since Windows 95 there hasn’t been a generational  chance until now - Windows 8.

The consumer preview is much more polished than the buggy developer preview released last year in September, which was mainly to get the APIs out to developers. Since the developer preview, over 100,000 code changes have been made, making the Windows 8 platform much more polished and refined. 

Windows Re-imagined:
Windows 8 is set to “re-imagine Windows” being half desktop, half mobile, utilizing a tile-based Metro user interface. It will be a parting with what we are used to experience with Windows. Most likely you’ll either love it, hate it, or learn to love it - much like how Microsoft Office 2007 changed everything for Office 2003 lovers back in the day, but on a much larger scale.

Today, we have to choose between consumption or productivity, battery life verses functionality, form factor - tablet or laptop, touch interface or keyboard and mouse - how do you want to be mobile?

Microsoft is looking to solve this dilemma with the Windows 8 platform, an operating system that scales with you allowing you to be productive with any device form-factor. The goal of Windows 8 is to deliver ‘Desktop’ without any compromise, completely immersing 3 key elements - the Operating system, apps / dev platform, and hardware - for a unified operating system experience across multiple devices. From the hardware chip-set to the applications and the user interface (UI) experience, bringing the best of mobility together with the best of the desktop with a fast and fluid interface, better power management, and more functions for safety and reliability.

The new operating system gives users the ability to find out what’s going on by just glancing at the screen; much like the “glance-and-go” approach of the Windows Phone’s tile user interface. From scaling to different screen resolutions to user needs of consumption verses productivity. From the moment of logon, uses of apps, accessing files - all brought together via the Metro style tabs. The experience of the operating system and apps working together more harmoniously - fast - fluid - modern, making Apple OSX look outdated.

Windows Store:
At the moment, all apps are available for free. Take advantage of them while you can. Many Windows 8 homegrown apps include Bing Maps, Bing Weather, Calendar, Mail, Messaging, Music, People, SkyDrive, XBOX Live, etc. Make sure you sign-in with your Microsoft account ID to take advantage of these applications. Otherwise you will most likely get an error screen when attempting to get to the Windows Store.

Internet Explorer 10:
Greater support for HTML5 for developers and those who use their apps.

Microsoft Cloud Services:
One huge benefit for many users is the integration of Windows 8 and Microsoft Cloud Services. Users sign-in with their Microsoft account ID, making new applications live connected via the cloud. This allows a user to start a project on one Windows 8 machine and finish it on another. This also applies to user settings and themes that roam with the user’s profile via the cloud. 

Our First Thoughts:
The tiles are a little overwhelming, I find it more common to be easier to see and use it on an actual mobile device than having the metro interface on the desktop. It seems to be a working operating system for a phone or tablet that has been ported to the desktop. At least we don’t have to fully part ways with the normal desktop user interface that we are all accustomed to. Everything you want to still do in Windows you still can under the hood. It’s just a pretty Metro interface (tiles) on top - a ‘tablet-ified’ Windows 7. 

If you seem to get stuck in the normal desktop mode wanting to get back to the metro ‘tiles’ interface then we figured out you have to hit the Windows key (looks like a flag next to the ‘alt’ key on your keyboard). Many users might miss the epic Windows Start button on the lower left of the desktop. This has been removed in Windows 8. Much of the normal desktop feel much like Windows 7; it’s just going to take time to get used to the metro interface. Overall we are pretty impressed with Windows 8 despite all of the initial negative hype. Unless Microsoft messes up along the way - it could be the year of the PC desktop again; or they will at least give Apple a run for their money with the introduction of Windows tablets.

Get Windows 8 Consumer Preview:
Download Windows 8 Consumer Preview ISO

The full version of Windows 8 will be available later this year. Most likely it will be released to manufactures end of summer just in time for Windows 8 device sales this holiday season.

Windows 8 Support:
Pre-release software is not supported by Microsoft. However, they do provide a Windows 8 Forum for users and a Windows 8 FAQ with system requirements and other useful information.

When Windows 8 desktops, laptops, and tablets are released later this year, we will support your Windows 8 needs with Digital Designs LLC Computer Repair Grand Rapids MI. Around the holiday season release, we will most likely run a special for upgrading your Windows XP, Vista, or Windows 7 machine to the new Windows 8 platform. Follow Digital Designs Computer Repair for the latest news, updates, and coupons.

Minimum Windows 8 System Requirements:

  • Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster
  • RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) (32-bit) or 2 GB (64-bit)
  • Hard disk space: 16 GB (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit)
  • Graphics card: Microsoft DirectX 9 graphics device or higher

Watch the Windows 8 Consumer Preview Video

More Videos available at Microsoft News Center:


  1. From a management standpoint will corporate America embrace or stick with Windows 7 and wait for Windows 9?

  2. Great question. Just like many organizations skipped rolling out Windows Vista and stayed with the more stable Windows XP SP3 until Windows 7 came out - more importantly after SP1 was released.

    Users - both consumers and businesses, need to remember that just because a new operating system comes out does not mean it's the best. It may have additional features but usually filled with a plethora of bugs and security holes. An operating system's stability and security is proven through time. I know of some companies who wait until there is at least a SP2 out for the OS prior to upgrading.

    Having said, I believe that many organizations are still in the midst of upgrading from Windows XP to Windows 7 or again, waiting until SP2 is released.

  3. The OS itself may be perfectly fine, however, I honestly believe this new interface/GUI is going to flop.

    I find it to be a chore to navigate though.

  4. I agree with Stephen. Most businesses are now in the process of upgrading to Windows 7 as support for Windows XP is dwindling to an end. Most organizations that have more than a handful of PCs to manage will definitely elect to stick to the back of the line in terms of upgrades because computers have become essential for every day business. It costs a LOT of Time and Money to upgrade an OS and because of that, large organizations are usually weary and very careful. The design of Windows 8 does not appear to be one that appeals to the efficiency-hungry corporate America... it appears to be one that would appeal to the on-the-go consumer who wants everything at their fingertips. My guess is that businesses will avoid Windows 8 altogether.


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