It’s been about two weeks since the Windows 8 build appeared. During the first week about one million users had a chance to run the new build of Windows 8. Have you read our developer preview and our first Windows 8 impressions? Then you probably remember that we wrote about the new metro User Interface, Internet and Windows Explorer. We also added some screenshots to present what it looks like from a user’s perspective. Since that time a new version appeared with some improvements and additional features. Let’s see what’s inside this package!
The Start Menu button disappeared completely. You can still access the start menu by pressing the Win key or by moving your cursor to the bottom left corner – try to right-click in this place – an additional menu will appear. Also by clicking in this corner you can easily swap between Start and current application. Now, move your cursor to the top-left corner and a bar will appear with all active applications you are currently running. You can also navigate to Start through the Charms’s bar which is accessible when you move the cursor to the bottom-right corner.
In general the UI hasn’t changed much since the last time, only some improvements were made.
Get your applications also from the Store
The Windows Store is now available. You can download news, entertainment, books, music, applications and games. It still looks rather poor, there are just few apps now but it seems to be very promising because each day a new app is added. I was impressed by one small thing, though – a PDF browser which allows for an easy documents’ read in the metro style.
Social media and the cloud inside
Have you got Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google accounts? With Messaging, People and Mail applications you can see what is going on in all your accounts in one place. The application will automatically group your friends. Have you got any photos or files on SkyDrive? No problem, you can easily get them through a dedicated application.
If you have Windows Live ID you can use it to log in to your PC (yes, this was available in the developer’s preview as well). Thanks to this all your personal settings can be easily synchronized between the cloud and your computer. It’s a good solution when you have more than one PC and you want to share the settings between them.
How to close a metro styled app?
Finally, here it is! In the developer’s preview when you opened a metro styled application you could not close it. Now you can do it by using the ALT+F4 key or by swapping your finger down from top to the bottom of the application. But still there is no icon responsible for the simple close, which would be much more intuitive and way easier.
Windows To Go and a picture password
This looks fantastic to me. If you need to finish some work at home, but you don’t have access to your work PC or your PC is too heavy to take it home, you can easily take the whole operating system with you. To be able to do this you will need at least 16GB pen drive. The operating system will be installed on it and then you can run the system anywhere – by plugging the pen drive into a USB port. You can see a small demo on the CeBIT’s presentation.
Also there is an interesting option – the new authentication mechanism called picture password. You can login to your account with a username and a password, pin code and also with a picture. The last step allows to use a picture from your local disk, SkyDrive or Facebook and with some simple gestures made on it, you can easily login to you computer. I wouldn’t use it on a public transport, but it’s easy to use on a tablet without any biometric devices like fingerprint reader.
Browse the Internet easily
With the new Internet Explorer 10, you can browse the Internet even easier (some say that the Internet can easily browse you). The IE is available in two modes: desktop and metro. The metro styled IE allows you to easily surf and navigate through pages with the use of gestures – and I must admit that surfing on a touch screen is now very smooth and pleasant. Also a big improvement was made into HTML5 standards, but still there’s a lot to do. For example you can’t watch YouTube videos in HTML5 standards yet. We will also see what other browser manufacturers will bring into the metro styled browsers – seems that Mozilla begins development of Firefox for Metro.
Not only for PC
Windows 8 is said to be designed for tablets, but you can still browse through your documents on a PC or laptop with a key board. The Microsoft team added a lot of new shortcuts which allow for quick navigation through the system (you can find some of them here). There is also a nice feature which allows you to take a screenshot of your application. You probably know that with the help of Win and PrtSc keys you could take a screenshot – now all screenshots are saved in your pictures library as a png file.
Is the Windows 8 a good successor of Windows 7?
I would say no – not yet, or maybe not till the RTM release will come. Still Windows 8 is not fully designed for tablets. There are many Aero styled applications which are not so easily accessible through gestures or taps. It’s a good evolution of the Windows operating system, but not a revolution. One big advantage of Windows 8 is that it starts up very quickly and a lot of effort was put into power management, so that Windows 8 seems to be less power consuming than Windows 7. Also this Consumer Preview still contains a lot of bugs - you can request them to Microsoft Connect. We will see what the next release will bring into Windows, because many features and improvements can be implemented or removed in the official release.
Have you installed Windows 8? Have you seen any related videos? What is your opinion about Windows 8? Share below!