Some Thoughts on the Windows 8 Developer Preview

There are some very interesting parallels between what Microsoft is now showing off with its Developer Preview of Windows 8 and Apple’s recently released OS X Lion. Those parallels point to what we’ll be experiencing in the future. Call it post PC, call it the next wave, call it whatever you want both companies are taking steps to innovate on what we’ve come to know as computing. To say we can determine exactly what that is at this point is certainly way too early. To say there is some exciting potential is an understatement. I’ll talk about those parallels later in this post, but most of what I’m about to spew forth focuses on my first impressions of Windows 8 after giving it a look-see. This is not a review. It’s more like a collection of impressions and thoughts.

I downloaded and installed the Windows 8 Developer Preview on a Lenovo x220T Tablet PC to see what’s what. Let me state a couple of caveats up front.

  • This is a Developer Preview. Judging it beyond that context is not only premature but a potentially self-serving enterprise. That would be akin to predicting that a very athletic five-year-old is going to be a pro-sports gazillionaire. I’m responding to potential here, and I realize that things are going to change before this gets into consumers hands a year from now. You should to.
  • The Lenovo X220T  I’m using to test Windows 8 on isn’t built with Windows 8 in mind. A couple of things to note about that. After installing the Developers Preview there was no Inking available on the X220T. I installed the latest Windows 7 drivers for Pen and Touch and that goofed up some of the touch capability inherent in Windows 8 though it did provide Digital Inking. No one’s fault here, but that’s the nature of where things are in this process. That said, one of the real tests of the success of Windows 8 on Tablets is going to be how the hardware and software are optimized together to provide a great experience. We won’t really know how that works for some time to come. Microsoft is obviously following the trend by pushing the Tablet experience early and often here. Here’s hoping its lack of control over its hardware partners won’t cripple what it is attempting to do, in the way that Google’s Honeycomb is currently suffering with some of its Tablet partners.

All that being said, let’s get to my thoughts.

Installing Windows 8

I burnt a copy of the Install .iso to a USB stick to install from. This is actually very easy to do provided you have a USB stick lying around. I downloaded the Windows 8 .iso without the SDK, as I’m not a developer, so a 4GB stick works well for that, but when I’m doing this kind of work I usually work with an 8GB stick just to make sure. There are many ways to do this but a quick and easy method is to download a copy of the Windows 7 USB Tool, load it up and follow the prompts. When  you’re done you’ll have a copy of the Developer Preview that’s ready to install. I would not recommend (neither does anyone else including Microsoft) that you install this on a production machine (meaning one you use for every day tasks.) This is a Developer Preview and there will be issues. Think of it as pre-Beta, although the term Beta seems to have long ago lost is meaning and significance. Make sure you back up anything you want to save because the install will wipe your disk clean if you do a fresh install. I attempted to install from within Windows 7 and that seems to have worked just as well, creating a Windows.old directory on the hard drive.

As I said, I am using a Lenovo X220T Tablet PC and on that device the install took a relative quick 20 minutes. Before things kicked in I was asked if I wanted to download some updates to the preview install files. I said yes, this occurred, and the install went on. I’m not sure if that occurs on a clean install or not. As a part of the install you are asked to set up your WiFi network and also enter your Windows Live info. You don’t have to do this or can opt to do so later. Suffice it to say, that at least at this point in the evolution of Windows 8, this was a pretty painless install from Microsoft.

Up and Running

Once the install finished things looked much as they have been advertised. The Metro UI appeared and I was off and testing. Now remember, Lenovo does a lot of tweaking on its Tablet PCs with drivers for touch and pen as well as the many buttons and other functionality that the ThinkPads bring to the table. Other manufacturers do the same thing and you’ll lose some of that machine or manufacturer specific  functionality once you install this Developer Preview. Just know that ahead of time before you make a decision to  check out Windows 8. The essentials were working. I had wireless network connectivity and the touch gestures we’ve all seen in video seemed to be working well. I did not have any pen interaction at all. Microsoft provides a Metro App called Ink Notes and the pen nor my finger would work to lay down any Ink here.

So, I decided to try and load up the latest Windows 7 drivers for pen and touch from the Lenovo site. While this restored Inking, it mucked up the touch in the Metro UI. I     later performed a System Refresh, using the install USB and I now have both touch and Inking working well. Don’t ask me how. It just seemed to fix things. System Refresh pulls files off of your install media and works to make things right if you’ve mucked them up.

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Microsoft includes a Metro App called Ink Pad that looks like it will have much of the functionality of Windows Journal. That’s not the case. I don’t think you can save files as anything other than as a picture file. Interesting that there is no version of Windows Journal at this stage. I wonder if it will be on future versions?

I installed OneNote 2010 after getting things worked out with Inking and Touch as described above OneNote seems to work just fine. Here’s an example of where some of the schizophrenia that some feel Windows 8 offers begins to come into play.

Two Windows?

Much of the talk about the fundamental changes that Microsoft is making with Windows 8 centers on the Metro UI. This is the sleek, touch enabled UI that you are presented with when you first open up Windows 8. Tiles are all over the screen that represent widgets and applications. Touch them and you open or access them.  Some provide updates within the tiles. All the Apps on your machine can appear in the Metro home screen. If you open an App that needs access to the full Windows Experience you’re taken to a very familiar Windows Explorer like Desktop when that App opens.

Microsoft is encouraging developers to write Apps to run in this Metro environment and from what I’m reading there’s still debate as to whether all full-fledged Windows Applications will run in Metro or that we will need Metro-specific versions or substitutes.

At the moment we’ve got two browsers on Windows 8. One that runs under Metro, and the other runs under the underlying Windows OS (IE10). Is that the future? Does this kind of dual approach point to a road map that allows for Windows 8 to run with different functionality in some environments (ARM?) than it does in others? The talking points say it is all supposed to be one happy Windows on any device, but I’m not sure if that’s really the case or if it is actually desirable.

Touch and Metro UI

Let’s face it, if Microsoft couldn’t come up with a pretty snappy Touch UI for its next OS, they should shut the doors in Redmond. They had more than a head start on this before blowing it. The Touch UI in the Developer Preview looks like Microsoft has delivered. It’s quick, it is occasionally intuitive, and once you get it, it makes good sense. Swipe from the left and you can page through full screen versions of the Apps you have running, including those running on that regular Windows Desktop.  Swipe from the right and you bring up some Metro controls like Search, Share, and Restart. Microsoft calls these “Charms.” I can see this getting populated with other “charms” once developers get to work. Swipe up and you bring up controls for the App you’re working in. How this really works is going to depend on the hardware/software optimization that pulls this all together and how developers choose to follow Microsoft’s guidelines or not. On the Lenovo X220T, which works with both touch and pen, touch is working very, very well and it is a breeze to move between screens as described above. Jut a note, Pinch and Zoom of this “home screen” isn’t incorporated into this Developer Preview yet but is promised.

The Look of Metro

I’m not a fan of how Metro looks. Many seem to be and I think I’m in the minority here. That’s obviously a personal preference. In a way of advancing what we see and how we access it, Microsoft has done away with the Start Button and instead the Start tile brings you back to the Metro UI and all of those tiles. Those tiles can be rearranged, grouped, or you can change their size. My aesthetic indifference stems from the fact that I don’t like the very flat look of the tiles. But Metro is obviously where Microsoft sees the future as it takes cues from Windows Phone 7.

Inking

Again, Microsoft needs to get this right. It is obviously too early to tell if hardware manufacturers will incorporate Digital Inking (yes, with a stylus), but it appears that the bits are in place to make this work very similar (if not totally similar) to Inking in Windows 7 from a software standpoint. I’ve said this before, Microsoft needs to include OneNote on every Windows 8 machine. I doubt they will do that, but they should. From my early testing, this seems to work the way that Inkers love OneNote to work. If the small Metro Ink Note App is all that Microsoft thinks it needs to provide to entice Digital Inkers, it needs to think again.

Social Integration

Yes, Microsoft has included Twitter integration deep in the OS. This makes sharing via that platform easy to do. I’m sure we’ll see Facebook integration as well and who knows what else when it comes to this kind of social sharing.

The Cloud

Obviously everyone is racing towards the Cloud and Microsoft has been slowly moving that way while others are sprinting at a helter-skelter like pace. This is where the One Windows Fits All strategy will be interesting to watch. On the enterprise level it will mean one thing and on the consumer level (think tablets and netbooks) it will mean something else. Either way you’re going to be able to consume and store media in the Cloud. I haven’t installed any of the Windows Live Apps on this yet, but one think I’ll be watching for is how Microsoft makes the install of those Apps work, assuming they don’t come pre-installed. Why? For something called Windows Live, it is the slowest most cumbersome, and dare I say it, deadly install of any App or Apps I’ve installed on any machine or OS.

Snap

Snapping Windows into place first showed up in Windows 7. It seems to make even more sense in how it will work in Windows 8. You can swipe and drag Apps so that you can snap two Apps to the edges of your screen. One of those can even be the Windows Desktop. I can envision having an App viewing media on one side of the screen while having something else running on the other. Note that you’re looking at different types of display resolution here. One is a thin QVGA view. The other is a little more roomier VGA full view.

That Microsoft Apple Thing I Mentioned Earlier

What I think we’re seeing here from both Microsoft and Apple are early steps towards what they believe will be the future. That future is slimmer Apps that are more easily sold through App Stores and translate well across different hardware platforms. Apple’s recent release of Lion was a step towards merging iOS and OSX. Microsoft appears to be doing the same thing here with Metro and a more traditional Windows Desktop experience. Although Apple’s Lion is now shipping and all we have is a Developers Preview of Windows 8, there’s a big notable difference in the strategy, at least at the point in time. Apple’s Lion has included iOS like features like LaunchPad where you can see your Apps arranged similarly to iOS. But you really don’t have to interact with Launchpad unless you choose to. Microsoft on the other hand has its Metro UI up front when you boot up, forcing you to interact with it whether you like to or not.

Both companies seem attracted to lower overhead applications (Apps) that can be run on each’s respective mobile OS. Microsoft is really pitching its developers and OEMs to add Apps for the Metro layer. Apple hasn’t taken that step yet, and my speculation is that Apple might be aiming towards an OS that runs what is already being created for iOS so that we don’t see multiple classes of Apps in the future. If true, I don’t think Microsoft would have an easy time of making that move. It would be tough to cut that chord for Microsoft because of its Enterprise level software gravy train that it depends on. Watching what happens with Office will provide clues here. Already we’ve heard different viewpoints on this from different Microsoft spokes persons.

Ending this Post

I won’t call this a conclusion or a summary because there’s a lot more for me to explore and obviously a lot more for Microsoft to do before we can make any significant judgements, conclusions, or summaries about Windows 8. That said, I think Microsoft might be on to something here with the direction it is going with Windows 8. There are some significant departures, obviously motivated by a mobile thrust, that I think look very positive. Microsoft, unlike Google with Android, isn’t playing follow the leader, but staking out some new turf. My Tablet PC bias makes me wonder if Microsoft will have the courage or the vision to make pen and ink computing a big part of what Windows 8 will offer, or just another in a long list of features that are available. I’m talking about that on a marketing level, because from what I’ve seen in this very early look, the bits are there to make it work. Here’s hoping on that front. I also hope Microsoft will have the courage as Windows 8 iterates to jettison some of its legacy hangups with older hardware. That may not come next year when Windows 8 goes gold, but I hope it happens down the road.

Some postscripts

Again, keeping in mind that this is a Developers Preview, in which you can expect to find issues. There are a couple I discovered that might be worth noting.

  • WiFi setup was easy and painless. That said, on three different networks, after running and rebooting Windows 8 for quite a bit, I would get a notification that the connection had limited access to the Internet. Intriguingly though, both browsers seemed to access the Internet without a hitch.
  • Metro Widgets. Both the Weather and Stocks widgets will periodically fail to update. I thought perhaps this was because of the WiFi issues I mentioned above but it seems to have no bearing on that issue.
  • I’m having some issues with Tiles on the Metro Start page with widgets staying where I’ve put them between reboots or cycles when the machine goes to sleep.
  • Before installing the Lenovo drivers for touch and pen and after doing that and the System Refresh the cursor on the Windows Desktop will randomly decide to travel across the screen and exit off of it to the right. This is obviously something to do with drivers.

  

Comments

  1. Guest says

    I don’t think you are in the minority. I cannot stand the Metro UI. I think it would work well on a tablet but a desktop or anything else is just terrible. I also could find no way to go with the default. 

    I groaned having to get used to the changes to the start menu and the control panel in vista and 7 and now this is such a drastic change. I’m actually likely to uninstall this weekend and put 7 back on. 

    I also cannot stand that the Metro Apps do not close, but simply sit in the processes as suspended with no way to close them other than through the task manager and none of the apps seemed to be worth using iexplore.exe is still better than the internet explorer app (dunno why they are different) and I can see this being great for the computer illiterate, but I think for the rest of us this will end up being another pass as vista was.

    • Anonymous says

      I think a lot of people are going to like Windows 8 if it is an easier way of doing that 90% of everyday computing. ie internet, e-mail, weather, social networks, music, videos.  

      Windows 8 will be the first Microsoft OS I throw in the kitchen on a 23″ touch-enabled all-in-one next year.  Windows 8 will be the first Microsoft OS I think I could teach my mom how to use in about 5 minutes to get done the limited set of tasks she does with a computer.  I don’t think I’m alone in seeing this as a major positive for home computing.

      I do not think this will turn into another Vista.  Vista was seen as a pretty version of XP with buggy drivers with no real advantages.  Windows 7 has real advantages over XP and very few driver issues.  And I think Windows 8 will have real advantages.  I hope drivers won’t be an issue but I have no idea how that is going to turn out

      Why do you care if you can close Metro apps?  I run apps on my Android phone all day and could care less which ones are closed.  I care about what is on the screen.  It’s one less thing for me to worry about.  One less thing for me to have to manage.

      You might have already guessed it, but I freaking love the Metro UI.  I think it’s beautiful.

  2. Christopher Micallef says

    From what i saw at build, the metro UI isn’t going to be fun to work with on desktop pc’s.  The whole “optimized for touch” looses it;s hole optimixation without touch.  I also think they should pretty up the UI.  Though for tablets i can see the huge funtionality of the full OS meto style interface, it’s ujust not apealing to the eye… yet.  All microsoft has to do is add a way to make the green a nice picture, in addtion to amending the way it it organized.  I should beable to do some sort of gesture that makes all of the sqaures full of icions arange in some sort of a grid facion.  The zooming out just looks really cheesy.Anyway, i think this is called the developer’s preview for a reason… it’s just here to teach develeprs how to write apps for the OS.  What actualyl is to come is mostly likely to be 1000x more apealling and funtional than this.

  3. Christopher Micallef says

    From what i can see Microsoft is just refuting Apple’s and google’s idea that tablets should be limited to a mobile os.  I must say i have to agree with that.  I’m sorry bit i’m not going to pay $800 for a device that’s pretty much an itouch with a big screen. Hopefully windows 8 will change this.

  4. Yousuck says

    I have downloaded the preview and I have to say that the whole deal of putting a phone OS on a desktop PC is pure braindamage. This is the worst idea microsoft has had since BOB. They are essentially taking the windows out of Windows and leaving us with something that will be of less use than a moilbe prone because we don not have (or want) touch screen monitors on our desktop machines.

    Not only is the Metro UI a complete eye sore, it’s extremely inefficient to use with a mouse. The lack of any kind or right click ability on the icons (grods, cubes, whatever they call them) is just an invitation to RSS because you have to move from them to the corner of the screen and then back when setting them up/arranging them. On top of that the Metro screen iw not nearly as efficient as the start menu, even though the start menu only takes up a small portion of the screen, instead of the whole freaking screen.

    So not only have we regressed back to the days before we could have more than one program visible on the screen at once, but we’ve now regresse way back (unless you are a mac user) to the days before we had more than one button on a mouse. I can see linux gaining a huge number of new users after this OS comes out.

  5. Perry says

    I’ve been running the Win8 Dev Preview on my tablet PC for a few days now as well, and I agree with most of your comments, Warner.  I think that the pen-and-ink paradigm is extremely compelling and Win8 appears poised to do that sort of UX very well.  (I actually like the Metro UI fairly well, especially on my Windows Phone).  That said, I do have some concerns about its viability on the desktop.  My desktop, for example, uses two 23″ monitors running at 2048×1152 resolution each.  I can pack a LOT of information (and simultaneous running applications) on those screens!  Metro won’t really let me do that, and the information density (a term I’ve just made up) on my monitors will drop tremendously.

    I know that Microsoft fully expects that corporate users of Win8 will disable the Metro UI and stick to the desktop and, while I’m sure that that will be an option for any user, I’m not sure I would want to go that route, since most of the new Windows apps will be built for Metro, not the desktop.  So I fear I will be waiting and hoping that Microsoft comes up with a clever way to enhance or optimize Metro for large monitor setups that will let me maintain my prefered high information density.

  6. Ashish Kapadia says

    It seems like the Windows 8 is targeted for tablet only but Microsoft didn’t want come out and say that. Here is my take on the OS: http://csnerddev.blogspot.com/

  7. Jason Jett says

    I installed W8 Dev Pre on a Lenovo X60 Tablet on Wednesday, and it is
    operating smoothly. Of course this is a five-year-old machine and lacks
    MultiTouch, so I have to use the stylus rather than swipes. Also, I use the
    integrated directional buttons found on the bezel of ThinkPad tablets. So, I do
    not have the full-effect but like what I have.

    I actually installed from a DVD, over W7 Pro, on a third-ary computer; and
    had to download Lenovo tablet and pen drivers. WiFi was trouble-free, a cinch.
    The Metro IU is likeable, particularly because I am considering a Windows phone.
    I have experienced no trouble with the tiles shifting or failing to stay “live.”

    The Metro IExplorer is a great improvement in terms of intuitiveness when
    accessing frequent or pinned websites and moving between them. The poster is right in that the Ink
    Pad program has little off-screen functionality. My very next step will be to
    install OneNote.

    There is some schizophrenia in switching between Metro and the Desktop. And I
    have not gotten Flash to work on Metro yet. But Metro provides a true Tablet
    environment on a notebook, with apps such as Near Me as well as live weather
    and stocks.

    After using the iPad, Galaxy Tab 10.1 and TouchPad, I look forward to getting
    a W8 ThinkPad Tablet. And a W8 ThinkPad X220T(or X240T).

    Overall with W8DP, early-on I experienced occasional hiccups with the install
    and considered a reinstall Thursday night. But by the weekend everything was all
    right.
    (hey poster, any editng positions available at gottabemobile?)

    • TomW says

      So it would be expecting way too much to get swipes working on an X60 (with MultiTouch) running in a VirtualBox?

  8. Dave says

    What you’re describing with the cursor going to the top right of the screen sounds like an issue with the trackpoint. I’ve had 4 different lenovo (or IBM) computers with trackpoints and they’ve all done that at some point in their life.

  9. Dale Strauss says

    Outside of a touch based tablet, I too feel Metro is an unnecessary “dumbing-down” of the interface on more capable computers and laptops. My concern, however, is more fundamental – unless Microsoft brings Office fully into the Metro shell, for both ARM and x86 platforms, Windows 8 is heading for the WORST of all worlds – Vista, wrapped in Windows ME, with a sprinkling of the dumbed-down Bob interface.
     
    WHY – becasue without Metro Office, you might as well stay with the market leading iPad and struggling with DocsToGo, QuickOffice, or iWorks. One has to wonder if the Windows development team didn’t chose the name “Metro” for the ambiguity of metrosexual rather than a hip urban interface…

    • Perry says

      I know that Microsoft won’t confirm this, but I think we’ll absolutely see a Metro version of Office.  They already have one on Windows Phone, so I think it’s a no brainer for them.  But I wonder if we’ll see some sort of dual-UI approach for Office, like they’re doing with IE 10 where you have both Metro and desktop versions, with limited functionality in the Metro one (or maybe not).

      What I’d really love, but don’t really expect, is to see a Metro version of Office that features the touch-first operation for simple functions like viewing content, and is optimized for pen and ink for creating content.  The desktop version could be optimized for keyboard and mouse as always.

      • Dale Strauss says

        I should have been more specific – we don’t need/want a “metrofied” MS Office lite – it needs to be a 100% bit level file compatible version with ALL of the same formatting and editing as the “full-size” version. The IE 10 example is a good one – the Metro version is not an identical twin running on ARM but a watered-down (MS speak – more battery efficient and secure) version. Any thing less, and like I said, may as well stay with the overwhelming market leading iPad with its half-xxxxx solutions (DocsToGo; Quickoffice; iWorks iOS).

        • Perry says

          I’m not suggesting that it would be a “lite” version that isn’t 100% formatting compatible, only that some of the functions used to create content wouldn’t necessarily have to be in the Metro version, but could be in the desktop version instead.  Let’s face it, for the most part, a slate device isn’t always the best for creating content like a long Word document or a spreadsheet.  However, by optimizing for pen and ink, I think slates could become useful at creating the content, at least much more than say an iPad is.  For more heavy-duty work, you’d want a keyboard and mouse, and I think I would prefer the more full desktop UI than Metro.  Perhaps Microsoft will figure out a way to cram in all of the features into the Metro interface, that seems much more difficult than developing two different interfaces, each suitable for different usage.

          As for IE10, the Metro version is exactly the same as the desktop one, only it doesn’t support plug-ins.  But it’s using the exact same rendering engine.  For HTML documents, the display is identical.  If you need Flash (the only really ubiquitous plug-in these days), you’ll need to use the desktop version, however more and more sites are using HTML 5, or “falling back” to it when Flash isn’t available.  I think this is a good compromise.

      • Dale Strauss says

        I should have been more specific – we don’t need/want a “metrofied” MS Office lite – it needs to be a 100% bit level file compatible version with ALL of the same formatting and editing as the “full-size” version. The IE 10 example is a good one – the Metro version is not an identical twin running on ARM but a watered-down (MS speak – more battery efficient and secure) version. Any thing less, and like I said, may as well stay with the overwhelming market leading iPad with its half-xxxxx solutions (DocsToGo; Quickoffice; iWorks iOS).

  10. Adrian Prabanand says

    I agree with many of us commented here. the idea of implementing tablet OS into a desktop PC is lame. The way I see “Windows 8″ is as an OS for kindergarten where people who have little or no computer knowledge at all learn their basics of computing! For others like me? there is no other option than to stick with Windows 7 or switching to Linux. I am sorry Microsoft! But this is what you get for fixing something that ain’t broken.

  11. Willem Evenhuis says

    Have been trying windows 8 on my Lenovo X60 tablet. First thing getting used to is that the desktop is an app. I do however experience the metro UI as intuitive and one can get the hang of it quite quickly, escpecially on a touch/pen device. this is looking very promising. The controls are a bit more difficult to handle because the touch screen is resistive. But with a little patience, the OS manages well. If the touch and pen drivers were optimized I think windows 8 could be a good experience on this device. The Ink Pad app is simple to use. I am hoping microsoft will contiue to improve its development for the future tablets. One interesting thing I noticed is that windows Journal is part of the OS. I found it in the Programs Files directory. It works much better and has more options than the Ink Pad. If Microsoft wants a sure bet on a basic, but good inking app, I would recommend replacing Ink Pad with Windows Journal. But I agree with Warner that onenote would be even better as a standard in windows 8. Since Microsoft has been so kind to put an inking app in the main list of the metro UI, it would be nice if they would think of a file format standard to save inking files. Files that can also be opened and changed. While they are at it, it would be nice to see the notespace app less rigid, and more useable as Ink pad. A very nice adition to this app would be a live tile like option to put notes as a metro UI tile in the main UI menu. In my experience this would be a killer app for me. If NFC functionality is ever added I could imagine tapping tablets with another windows 8 machine and share live tile notes this way! One more reason to start thinking about an ink file standard (… .ink???)As a first user I see myself using control panel a lot. I think I would like to see this integrated into the Settings Charm, as I have the tendency to look for this panel in the settings charm.I am not sure about the start menu icon in the bottom left hand corner of the destkop app. I tend to use the charms menu more.One thing I was really looking for was a task switcher (alt + tab). I noticed that when multiple apps run in the background, the current app is labled as activated in the taskmanager. all other current running apps were labled as suspended. It looks familiar to me like the taskswticher on windows phone 7. The reason I would like a tastswitcher, is that I can shut off apps, without the OS consuming more battery to keep the app suspended in the background. Makes me think what difference it would make if it was possible to shut on or off the live tiles.The metro UI gives the impression that one can be both more productive and have fun at the same time. Live tiles make it easier to have a glance at changing data or information, without having to look for it yourself on the web (thus saving time). App switching is also “lightning fast”, which makes the system more user friendly. I’m not sure what the role of the desktop app will be in the future windows 8 OS. For previous windows users it could be useful to have a trusted environment at hand if one thinks of windows 8 as oversimplified. I caught myself using the explorer on the desktop to exchange or copy files. I also used the taskmanager to tweak the startup and services. It is nice to be able to dig into the windows and thus the programs files file and system 32 file to do some tweaking. I wouldn’t be surprised that with the current build there will be tweaker enthusiasts that could help Warner make the tiles less flat, 2D and boring and perhaps even spice up the green UI background with both background images and gifs.I haven’t yet had the opportunity to test the productivity. Windows 8 does not have integrated windows live and office. If microsoft manages to integrate it into the system, the userfriendliness could improve vastly. I’m thinking about ideas like stacked document tiles the the metro UI. With a gesture one can spread the a preview of tiles across the UI and select a recent document for Word, Excel or Powerpoint. For outlook one could make a similar idea for recent contacts or a live tile with a short list of recent mail headings and number of new emails (like the rss live tile).The few example games and fun apps are a welcome treat to the whole seriousness of the UI. I hope these apps will also exist as part of the upcoming UI. I had a lot of fun with BitBox.In short I think windows 8 looks very promising and I see a great potential in its use. If I were to invest more resources into the system it would be in the next 3 fields:1) improved inking experience and ink-to-text recognition2) more user and developer control of live tiles3) A better integration of productivity apps as part of the system.

  12. Willem Evenhuis says

    Have been trying windows 8 on my Lenovo X60 tablet. First thing getting used to is that the desktop is an app. I do however experience the metro UI as intuitive and one can get the hang of it quite quickly, escpecially on a touch/pen device. this is looking very promising. The controls are a bit more difficult to handle because the touch screen is resistive. But with a little patience, the OS manages well. If the touch and pen drivers were optimized I think windows 8 could be a good experience on this device. The Ink Pad app is simple to use. I am hoping microsoft will contiue to improve its development for the future tablets. One interesting thing I noticed is that windows Journal is part of the OS. I found it in the Programs Files directory. It works much better and has more options than the Ink Pad. If Microsoft wants a sure bet on a basic, but good inking app, I would recommend replacing Ink Pad with Windows Journal. But I agree with Warner that onenote would be even better as a standard in windows 8. Since Microsoft has been so kind to put an inking app in the main list of the metro UI, it would be nice if they would think of a file format standard to save inking files. Files that can also be opened and changed. While they are at it, it would be nice to see the notespace app less rigid, and more useable as Ink pad. A very nice adition to this app would be a live tile like option to put notes as a metro UI tile in the main UI menu. In my experience this would be a killer app for me. If NFC functionality is ever added I could imagine tapping tablets with another windows 8 machine and share live tile notes this way! One more reason to start thinking about an ink file standard (… .ink???)As a first user I see myself using control panel a lot. I think I would like to see this integrated into the Settings Charm, as I have the tendency to look for this panel in the settings charm.I am not sure about the start menu icon in the bottom left hand corner of the destkop app. I tend to use the charms menu more.One thing I was really looking for was a task switcher (alt + tab). I noticed that when multiple apps run in the background, the current app is labled as activated in the taskmanager. all other current running apps were labled as suspended. It looks familiar to me like the taskswticher on windows phone 7. The reason I would like a tastswitcher, is that I can shut off apps, without the OS consuming more battery to keep the app suspended in the background. Makes me think what difference it would make if it was possible to shut on or off the live tiles.The metro UI gives the impression that one can be both more productive and have fun at the same time. Live tiles make it easier to have a glance at changing data or information, without having to look for it yourself on the web (thus saving time). App switching is also “lightning fast”, which makes the system more user friendly. I’m not sure what the role of the desktop app will be in the future windows 8 OS. For previous windows users it could be useful to have a trusted environment at hand if one thinks of windows 8 as oversimplified. I caught myself using the explorer on the desktop to exchange or copy files. I also used the taskmanager to tweak the startup and services. It is nice to be able to dig into the windows and thus the programs files file and system 32 file to do some tweaking. I wouldn’t be surprised that with the current build there will be tweaker enthusiasts that could help Warner make the tiles less flat, 2D and boring and perhaps even spice up the green UI background with both background images and gifs.I haven’t yet had the opportunity to test the productivity. Windows 8 does not have integrated windows live and office. If microsoft manages to integrate it into the system, the userfriendliness could improve vastly. I’m thinking about ideas like stacked document tiles the the metro UI. With a gesture one can spread the a preview of tiles across the UI and select a recent document for Word, Excel or Powerpoint. For outlook one could make a similar idea for recent contacts or a live tile with a short list of recent mail headings and number of new emails (like the rss live tile).The few example games and fun apps are a welcome treat to the whole seriousness of the UI. I hope these apps will also exist as part of the upcoming UI. I had a lot of fun with BitBox.In short I think windows 8 looks very promising and I see a great potential in its use. If I were to invest more resources into the system it would be in the next 3 fields:1) improved inking experience and ink-to-text recognition2) more user and developer control of live tiles3) A better integration of productivity apps as part of the system.

    • Perry says

      Hi Willem, a few comments…

      Regarding .ink files, I think that Microsoft is going in the opposite direction of what you’re suggesting.  They have said publicly that a user will never have to save a file in Metro apps, your files and “state” will always be saved automatically.  One reason for this is to enable you to be able to pick up a device and work from the same place you left off on another device.  OneNote already works like this, but I have no idea how you’d do this in Word, Excel, or PowerPoint, since working with discrete files is at the core of these applications.

      I have found that the Metro task switcher (swiping from the left side of the screen) works better than most device task switchers (iOS, WP7, etc.), but it’s obviously not as quick as the Windows taskbar.  Still, on a touch screen it seems to be quick enough, and I think I’ll be happy with it.

      Microsoft did demo Metro versions of some of the Windows Live apps at Build and I believe that the plan is to build them into Windows 8.  Unfortunately they weren’t included in the Developer Preview, but hopefully we’ll see them in the beta.  As for Office, as we’ve been discussing here, Microsoft has been deliberately vague about it, but I believe that they will produce some version of Office for Metro.

      • Willem Evenhuis says

        Hi Perry,

        Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Sorry about the late response.  Perhaps a OneNote like style of direct saving is the good way to go. I however can’t help the thought of wanting some type of file standard, so that I can share a note with someone else (e.g. attach a note to email or share notes over nfc or bluetooth).

        I guess I can follow the touch friendly manner of switching apps through swiping. I agree. I still feel I need some control of the amount of “active” app in the background to save battery power.

        I’m curious what microsoft will bring for windows Live and Office.

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