Windows 8

The evolution of Windows 8 is about to take another leap forward

Ready or not, Microsoft Windows 8 is on the way, and you'll get your next preview look in early June.

I have been using Microsoft Windows 8 on several test machines in the office since the Build version released back in September 2011. As far as I can tell, it is a stable operating system, even though it is still in beta form. Using it for ordinary business uses like email, social networking, editing, writing, and analyzing data in Excel spreadsheets has been handled without so much as a hiccup.

I know many have been lamenting the Metro UI as some sort of demonic curse that requires exorcism, but I just skip by it and go to the desktop. Despite the volume of complaints, I don't think the inclusion of the Metro UI is that big of a deal for desktop users.

Release Preview

In late April 2012, Windows Division President Steven Sinofsky announced that the Windows 8 Release Preview version of the operating system will be available in early June. Judging by the name, I would suggest that this version will, or at least should be, a mostly complete version of the operating system. What we see in the Release Preview is what we will see in the retail version, give or take a few minor tweaks and bug fixes.

Both Greg Shultz and I will be delving deep into the Release Preview to see what's new and what's not. While there will be no overarching compelling reason to make immediate plans to purchase and deploy Windows 8 in your enterprise, it is still a version of Windows and something any IT professional should at least be familiar with.

If nothing else, the Windows 8 Release Preview should at least give us an opportunity to see more Apps in the Windows Store. The basic example Apps available in the Consumer Preview were, to put it bluntly, bland and nearly unusable. I would like to see some more effective Apps in the Store for this next release.

How about you -- what are you expecting from the Windows 8 Release Preview?

Also read:

About

Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.

62 comments
Gemmz
Gemmz

The problem for most people is what to do about Windows XP. Even now some 60% of computers in business are still running XP. I see it everywhere. The decision time is here, now. Implementing a new system takes anywhere up to two years, and just parking the new equipment is a logistical exercise in itself. With businesses waiting for the Windows 8 SP1 as is suggested here in the comment threads as well as elsewhere, means that the only real alternative for businesses is to upgrade to Windows 7. After all, if a machine can run Windows 7, it will be able to run Windows 8 as well. You can upgrade to Windows 8 in comfort when all the dust has settled and the office personnel have gotten used to the new style of Windows 7.

iantrent
iantrent

With 8 however, if you have installed other apps you have to scroll, scroll, scroll your bar... heaven help you if youre a power user and have more than 10-20 apps installed. I get tired just thinking about it. Metro does get in the way. I don't want a iPad competitor as an OS. I dont want an APP store. There is a reason I don't use Apple products. I hope Win 8 does gown in flames. Unity went down in flames - people don't want this... corporate America only learns when there is no $$$. So, lets hope Win 9 is lot better.

Don1958
Don1958

With apologies to the Bard, I think the interesting theme in all the discussions I see regarding Windows 8 is that many, many tech reviewers are choosing to ignore it and go straight to the familiar desktop. I think it points to the major weakness I've observed in too many MSFT products, that of trying to stuff too many ideas/features into a single product. There seems to be an obsessive tendency to try to be all things to all people. To my knowledge, no one has ever figured out how to do that successfully. It is, imho, the reason MSFT is looking less and less relevant in many cases. I am not saying MSFT isn't relevant, because that would be ignoring the fact that they are still the 800 lb. gorilla in the OS and Productivity software market place. I am saying that they are LOOKING less and less relevant - they simply aren't making news with innovations that people are genuinely excited about. I'm just sayin'.

SKDTech
SKDTech

GUIs should be designed for the method used to interact with them. I can see that Metro's good points for touchscreen devices like tablets, but it is a hindrance to me on my keyboard and mouse driven desktops and laptops. Beyond that, I don't see touch as being a particularly useful means of interacting with a computer that is used to do more than consume content.

Nick Rodriquez
Nick Rodriquez

Can Microsoft please make the Metro style optional for novice users? Could be a setting/theme that users can toggle on/off for metro or classic style.

realvarezm
realvarezm

If there is one thing about MS is that they think they own the final truth, like they did woth windows Millenium and Vista just to say a couple of screw ups. Yes windows 8 is an improved product and yes some of the new features are very well though but the main feature is a mess, to pu it in a gentle term is like they designed the GUI for kindergarden users. How come Ubuntu nailed with Unity last version and MS did this huge mistake. the 2 version windows 8 should have been the right call or do somethjng like Ubuntu is doing with its vision of Ubuntu/Android on cellphone and tablets. But anyway who am i to judge their decisions, just another user.

aqvarivs_msn.com
aqvarivs_msn.com

I'm not too lazy to learn or to adapt to a new OS and I don't even believe that's a reasonable charge against those who don't understand the W8 "need". Somebody's not doing their job because to date I have not been educated to why I need W8 and how it will improve my desktop experience over and above what W7 offers. I know Microsoft would like another $xxx.xx for W8 upgrade but, for me to spend another $xxx.xx I need to get something functionally usable and a functional improvement over what I currently experience with my W7 desktop. It says a lot about the buyer's actual "needs" when WinXP and Vista are still used in big numbers. Personally, I don't see Win8 bridging that gap with the Metro UI. I see Win7 becoming the "new" WinXP. Then again I'm still looking for a good cell phone that is just a cell phone and not an entertainment center that makes calls. So um... don't mind me.

eye4bear
eye4bear

I have been using Win 8 on my home PC since it was publicly released and once I boot up and click on a tile I NEVER see or use those awful Metro apps other than the built in PDF reader. All other apps I went into the files settings and changed the defaults from the Metro to the Win 7 programs. Why MS is making this so hard is beyond me. 99.5% of us DO NOT have touch monitors so Metro is a waste. Will someone clue in Redmond please.

Pronounce
Pronounce

i.e. their best at 1.0 releases: Windows 1.0, Windows 95, Windows ME, Vista. In other words the same-o same-o. I'm hoping for an operating system that behaves a lot more like a WinPho than what I've seen in the preview. I hope that scroll bars disappear and that my mouse works more like my finger on a touch screen. I found the WinPho intuitive and being my first foray into smart phones I had no problem navigating. Where as using the Win8 on a touch pad I had to do all kinds of weird, non-intuitive moves to get to what I wanted. (A quick right-left flick on the left side to see my open screens was cumbersome for me. I kept touching the corners. lol, I wonder why?) When Win8 is finally released I'm ready for an epic /palmface.

pbug56
pbug56

Underneath Win 8 has some nice improvements, though my guess is that it is just as easy to BSOD as it has been for the last decade or two. But on top it has the toddler / smartphone interface that is aimed at anyone with a mental age of 2 or less. I wouldn't mind that so much if I had an official option to keep the same type of interface I have now with Win 7. Microsloth seems to think that every time it updates Windoze that it needs to change the interface. Guess what - it doesn't! Tweak it, sure. Fix some things, add some features, great. Stupidize it, NO. Unless they back off, I will never use 8. As things stand now, we are doing dejavu all over again (to quote the great Yogi Bera); Windoze ME nad VISTAless all over again. What's different this time is that the underlying OS is decent; it's just that MS is forcing us to use an interface that for normal PC's will be slow, stupid and painful. I don't want or need the CR-app store, or the MUTRO interface (let's see - designed for a poodle using a touch screen). I like the various versions of the 'classic' GUI. I will check out the release preview - in a virtual PC. My guess is that the tool I used on the current preview to bring back the START orb will have been blocked as Microsloth carefully stomps out any dissent.

MitigationElf
MitigationElf

One of the things that excited me about Windows 8 is the mantra that had been disseminated that if your machine can run Windows 7, it could run Windows 8. I believe software, and OS developers need to keep that in mind as they deveop. It helps me as a consumer not have to buy a new compuer every other year or so. I installed Windows 8 on my EeePC tablet. YAY!!! It runs great... Oh wait..... Yes, Windows 8 runs, but none of the apps run. To me, that defeats all reasons for purchasing/installing Windows 8. The reason the apps will not run: The screen resolution on my tablet is only 1024x600. To run an app, the resolution must be 1024X768. HUGE dissapointment. MS needs to allow lower screen resolutions. The second issue I have with Windows 8 is the number of steps it takes to get somethng done. Vista and Windows7 made it easy to get to & change settings or do something basic like shut down and rebook. Now, the number of steps to get to the toggles to acomplish these kinds of tasks have been greatly increased. This is a HUGE "cheese move." It may be good for some individual consumers, I just don't see business moving to the Windows 8 concept for a long time coming (look at the grip xp still has on the market - we are JUST getttng people to Windows 7!)

Jeff Simmon
Jeff Simmon

I've been using the CP since it came out. I really like it. I love the picture passwords feature..different and quick. I was very pleasantly surprised that the old machine I put the CP on ran well (It was a Vista-level machine). My experience in the past was that I needed new hardware, and this time was pleasantly different. I'll probably pick up a new machine anyway, because I want a camera, touch screen, USB 3, etc. I found the Metro UI different at first, but right away liked the way I can "see underneath" the apps. Before I have to go searching, I know exactly which applications have new activity, which lets me prioritize. To another users point, its nice that searching, settings, and the Metro Screen (Kind of a visual Start Screen), are accessible in the same way from every screen. And I really like the way that whatever I'm focusing on gets all of my attention. Best New Windows release in a long time.

tripplec
tripplec

I went through a lot of hassle getting hardward working on two HP Pavilion notebooks, one came with XP the other with Vista and there weren't any OEM specific support files for their hardward or updated drivers and chipset file. It took far too much time to ge the bulk of items working and still many OEM specific buttons don't work due to no support. I am on a T520 Thinkpad now which came with full Win 7 support and files and I'd have no intention in going that root again. Especially at the high upgrade cost MS charges for what? Get the OS when you buy a new machine (its include and no extra cost) otherwise upgrading is NOT viable if the hardware is not supporting if from whoever built the machine and extra cost. For those that do try it out I'd seriously recommend having another system to continue on to allow you to work effectively until you get Win8 and everything you need working. Many people kill their systems and don't have driver for the add on peripheral and only then realize that they assume it would work and be available. Well, this is the real world and it ain't so. I see that happen over and over with many MS release. In the least get a good Image backup of your boot drive (or buy another drive for the new windows, you can swap back in a few minutes of dispare) so you can return back fairly easily. Be sure whats down the hole that you're jumping into!!! Could be crocks in there. LOL

Reginald937
Reginald937

I've installed it on my work laptop and can say it's generally been quite solid in performance, very slight compatibility issues overall with some minor tools, IE 10 Beta has some issues with certain sites but the compatibility button fixes that. I've only really had 2 major issues, one being Skype, the current version is not compatible with Win 8, even with all the compatibility options on! the Other major issue, and this is mainly for the IT Techs, is the Windows VPN client and I'm not sure if these are bugs or just the way it works now, but I have been having some major issues connecting to 2003 and 2008 PPTP servers if there is a proper firewall in place, even with all the required ports and protocols open (telnet to the server successful) it still won't connect, windows 7 no problems, take it to a network with a standard home router/firewall then it works, the errors are mainly 619 but you could see other error codes without changing any settings, just disconnect and reconnect! oh another thing is I've had to completely re-do the Metro UI, I followed the guide on this site, the standard layout is completely unworkable, I think a 2 year old put it together! now it looks a lot more professional and the applications are easily accessed in proper groups! not just jumbled up together. having said that I do 99% of my work on the Desktop, I also created my own version of the Start Button with the main functionality of the original, put a lot more shortcuts on the taskbar and learnt a few more command for the CMD and Run. I've also removed a lot of the stock apps, haven't installed any new ones and changed some of the extension links to open in more usable programs, e.g. all pictures now open in the preview and not the default image viewer, which is designed for a touch screen. In short, it takes some effort (a few hours) to get the system in a workable state but once there it's a good performing platform, with some interesting new features. If you're used to working with Linux then you won't mind the extra effort but if you're lazy then you'll probably hate it!

Koko Bill
Koko Bill

well, I think, and I know Windows 8 is a great OS. It works quite well and I never experienced a BSOD since the DP. CP is much better, exept one can`t install any game with this OS. Punkbuster doesn`t work at all. Hope this will be fixed in next realize. I understand why people don`t like Metro UI, it`s becouse they don`t understand the concept. Metro is a brand new tech, brings completly new aproach to OS. Desktop is nothing but another application in this OS. And I find it fine. Way to go Microsoft.

GAProgrammer
GAProgrammer

is a lot of the same complaints that happen during every major UI change. I have had the CP on my machine for some time and have to admit that I too hated the MetroUI when I first used it. If all you ever do is switch to the desktop when it loads, then of course you aren't going to know how useful the Metro UI can be. Once you learn how to add the shortcuts to the MetroUI, you don't even need the desktop. Actually, the desktop is nothing more than the MetroUI - a collection of shortcuts. For all you naysayers, I would suggest that you actually USE the MetroUI before you bash it. As for the apps, I agree most of them are toys and games, but that's how Apple apps got started too. Microsoft took the cue from Apple with the Microsoft Store, but I think that it works amazingly well and will be the distribution model of the future for consumers (probably not so much for enterprise). Now, if they could come up with a way to make a "local" Microsoft Store for the enterprise, how nice would it be to just let your users install the software they want from your "corporate" store that contains approved software?

DonBaun
DonBaun

Maybe it's just me, but I've never touched a tablet or smartphone, so I had to look up answers for every basic function of the Metro UI. So personally, forcing Metro is a nuisance, and the missing Start Button is problematic. My biggest use of a PC is for video and audio editing, so I need a system that's easy from a "traditional" point of view. Our 10-year-old god-son said "looks like the X-Box" and delved right in, so for those already familiar with touch it looks like a natural.

SecretAgentGuy
SecretAgentGuy

I think it's great that MSFT is taking some bold moved with their desktop. Whether or not consumers like the new UI remains to be seen but I can opine this: there had better darn well be a "Windows 7" experience option for new users who just aren't ready to tackle Metro yet but still need to buy a new PC after its release. That's a full desktop with fully functioning Start button, menus, etc.- not some downloadable hack. Also - beyond the "explore Windows 8" movie they will probably have in the OS there should be a bonafide CBT (computer-based training) course tucked into the release that users can run through to get schooled on the new way of doing things. To leave it purely to IT depts. and other IT pros is just alienating the home and small biz user market.

abbos
abbos

The moment i need to skip a gui to get to my daily bussiness i have had it. I am a desktop user and will stay that for a long time to go. But i dont mind... i will stay on 7 and wait for the next Windows. If that one is just an enhanced Windows 8, and basically the same, i will stay as long as possible to 7 or didge MS and go Linux. Big chance Windows 7 is my last MS OS.

Joneszee
Joneszee

I too have been using Windows 8 since the Developers Preview and now the Consumer Preview. I have partitioned my hard drive to dual boot either Win7 or Win8 and this has worked great for me. For the most part I like the improvements Microsoft has made to the OS but I would make some changes if I could. At this point I too skip metro (mostly) and move straight to the desktop. From what I've read, I really don't expect much more in the Release Preview for the desktop. However, I do expect to see significant improvements in the Metro APPS. I do agree with you that the metro apps don't have much going on at this stage. They appear to be mostly consumption oriented and are very much beta software. Even some don't work much at all. For the desktop, I do like the ability to search more categories in the system, however, I haven't figured out is how to default search to 'files' or a combination of areas rather than 'apps'. A change there would be nice but I'm not expecting it. I am also disappointed in what I'm hearing about "Windows-to-go". I was hoping to be able to use that feature in the Pro version (at home) but it looks like it will only be available in the Enterprise edition. I'm also hearing that the Window-RT (WOA) will not be any easier than an IPAD to manage in the Enterprise. That would be disappointing, but I'm not clear if that's totally true at this point. I've been a long time Microsoft fan, but there have been products which they start and then abandon after some time even though there is seems to be value in them. Just one simple example is Microsoft Money. I'm expecting that Microsoft and Windows 8 will be a success.

tcruse
tcruse

I agree that W8 is mostly usable. However, there are two major issues. One is that that Hyper-V replaces Virtual PC (XPMODE) and requires that you PC has SLAT was well as hardware support for Virtualization. This will prevent upgrade for many existing W7 systems. The second is that the W7 Hyper-V tools will not load on W8 (by design) and the W8 Hyper-V tools will not connect to any existing Hyper-V installations. Also, the "Metro Screen" instead of a the "Start Button" is not a step forward, but one that makes use less friendly. There are work arounds, but really something that MS should have not forced on the existing users. It is the "Vista" approach showing it head again.

imsoscareed
imsoscareed

"I don???t think the inclusion of the Metro UI is that big of a deal for desktop users." Other than the fact that for enterprise users it add 2 more worthless steps to get to the desktop. How about devolution? Most home users will laugh and giggle at 8 and say "how cute". For IT 8 is just another step backwards.

dave
dave

Since all Windows 8 does is bring back Windows 3.1 with omission of all the goodies Windows 95, 98, XP and 7 gave us, I predict the end of Microsoft as we know it. When the public is forced into choosing a new computer with Windows 8 from a big box or Windows 7 from an independent like me, I will have a killer year as I did in 2008 when everyone gave up on their Vista boxes and bought massive amounts of XP towers from me. I have bought lots of Win7 licenses, sold all my MSFT stock, and plan to retire after selling another massive quantities of Windows 7 boxes in 2013 and 2014 after the s*** hits the fan.

hometoy
hometoy

This will not be another Vista. Vista was a feeble attempt to put something out after the long-in-the-tooth XP was showing its age compared to newer OSes and since it had been so long since a new Windows roll-out people were excited, then dissapointed. Now, with Windows 7 holding the banner of "good Windows" and XP sitting down for retirement people are not going to be jumping with excitement nearly as much. There will be wary eyes looking and checking it out. Not only that, this is the first volley into a new UI concept that will bring tablets, pcs, phones and Xbox closer together and build on that familiarity. Of course the first version is going to be rough but I don't think they are betting on Windows 8 re-inventing Microsoft. Windows "9"? That's the one to watch; from Windows 8 bug fixes, and lessons learned from feedback with Windows 8, it is bound to improve on 8's bold changes and make the rest of it work.

jkameleon
jkameleon

So... I'll use them when I have to.

mswift
mswift

I had the same problem on an Acer Aspire One. I found an older video driver that let me set it to 1024x768.

TNT
TNT

If your Pavilion's were built for XP and Vista, its likely the hardware is pretty old. I wouldn't expect a pre-release to have drivers for hardware of that age. I think you'll have a better experience with Win8 if you try it on something newer.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Corporate workers are paid to USE a computer, not spend 'a few hours' putzing around trying to get it 'in a workable state'. Many home users aren't lazy, but they have things they'd rather be doing than try to figure out a system that replaced one they already understood. Not everyone is a geek like us.

wdewey@cityofsalem.net
wdewey@cityofsalem.net

The tiles on the Metro interface are too large for a desktop user and there is no way to adjust them. For a standard sized monitor simply having all the MS office buttons and an email button takes up more than a single screen space which then requires scrolling. This is an annoying and time consuming action with a mouse instead of a touch screen. For a power user it almost forces you to do a search. There is a lag between when you start typing in the metro interface until something shows you are typing and options show up. This may be overcome by purchasing a beefy computer but that would increase the cost of a new purchase. Bill

jelabarre
jelabarre

The MetroUI seems to only be useful to people who run one app at a time. Someone who will have multiple browser, terminal, mail, etc. applications open all at the same time will find it much more difficult. Especially if you need to copy data between applications all the time. Or if you want to look at information on one window while working in another. Nope, doesn't matter how much you look at it, the design is still unusable for anything resembling heavy-duty work.

mswift
mswift

Yep, xbox users and smart phone users are right at home. Who are the most likely candidates to go for a new consumer level ARM tablet? Those same two groups. If you need the start button use the one on your keyboard. I find it interesting that people are baffled by the lack of an entry field on the screen and feel uncomfortable without one. You don't normally walk into a room an say "I'm going to talk now" and wait for the talking stick. You just talk. Just start typing. With Windows 7 and now 8 you keep feeling that things are the way they should have been from day one.

jelabarre
jelabarre

The only reason I ever install any of these later Windows versions is to learn the products in order to support unfortunate Windows users. For the last handful of Windows programmes that won't run properly under Wine I use XP. Heck, I would still be using Win2K if I could. 2K/XP do everything I need MSWindows for, and Linux does everything else.

mswift
mswift

doesn't the search default to looking at everything and you pick apps or files to narrow it down?

mswift
mswift

from the metro tiles screen desktop is one click away, or you could just hit the windows key on your keyboard and type de IT will love 8, each user will get a a dashboard showing the programs they use. End users in companies with their own tech support will never need to go past that point. Are you familiar with executive dashboards?

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

If Vista didn't kill it, W8 won't either. There's definitely a place for W8 on tablets, phones, and other portable, content-consumption-oriented devices; just not on desktops or laptops.

mswift
mswift

because PC sales fell through the floor when Vista was released, right? Well no people bought what was in the stores the next time their old machine died. We had to help some people who got 64 bit early on but the 32 bit version never presented any problems.

SecretAgentGuy
SecretAgentGuy

Phew, good.. I was worried there for a moment that you'd be stuck. What kind of "job" would require an unreleased OS anyway I wonder.

mswift
mswift

I've installed 8 on several older HP desktops and laptops running P4s and even a P3 with 512MB and everything worked. My main Win 8 machine is an Atom netbook with an SSD. That is actually a nice combination. With the new Intel SSD shipping for under $100 list, this is the way to go. Intel had to knock those prices down for the ultrabooks. Pundits talk about $1200 ultrabooks but $800 ones are already shipping.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Microsoft has spent 20 years conditioning us to wait for a talking stick / look for a Start button. It predates the Start key on the keyboard, or the ability to start typing. I ran into this on a new Blackberry I was supposed to configure for a user yesterday. They've changed the menus again, and I couldn't find the 'Enterprise Activation' configuration screen. I could see a 'Search' box at the top of the Settings menu, but I couldn't click, scroll up, or otherwise get an active cursor in it. I finally called for help and was informed that I could just start typing. When I did, the characters appeared in the box. Nice, but when you've been conditioned for two decades to position the cursor before you start typing, it's counter-productive.

wdewey@cityofsalem.net
wdewey@cityofsalem.net

From a security perspective W2k and XP are much easier take over than Vista and Win 7 which is a major concern for most corporations. Bill

Joneszee
Joneszee

When I start typing on the start screen, it only lists those matches in "apps".. What I would like to occur is to default to "files" or a combination two or more.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I don't know where to find the filters I used in XP. I haven't figured out how to filter by date, size, or to search for hidden files. Yeah, an F1 would probably tell me, but I get too frustrated to remember to hit it. Maybe next time...

wdewey@cityofsalem.net
wdewey@cityofsalem.net

Which is one more click than Windows 7. Most developers try to reduce the number of clicks instead of increase them. Bill

jelabarre
jelabarre

"Windows Key"???? You mean you will be *required* to have a "windows keyboard" to use Win8??? No wonder I couldn't get anything to work on it when I tried it in VirtualBox; I use a classic Model-M keyboard, and have no intention of changing that.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

How will that differ from previous versions of Windows, when each user had a desktop, Taskbar, and / or Start Menu showing the applications they use?

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Many developers' jobs, including applications and drivers.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

run and tile multiple apps. The shortcuts and search capabilities are in Metro, just not in the ways Windows users have been conditioned to use them.

Slayer_
Slayer_

Or search for files, register files, make shortcuts, run programs, switch programs, run multiple programs at once, tile programs, manage running programs.

Slayer_
Slayer_

That used to be the equivalent of the windows key.

Skruis
Skruis

That Metro for that purpose is just another launcher and wont really cause any problems because of that...not that its necessarily superior to the current methods.

SecretAgentGuy
SecretAgentGuy

I don't think that's what he meant. Obviously if he can get the job done with or without then he's not referring to Win8 Dev... he could obviously not get the job of writing Win8 drivers done w/o Win8. Just let me make my smart-ass retorts in peace, eh?