Windows 8 – first impressions

It’s almost a week after the BUILD event began in Anaheim. Since that day, I finally had  some time to download and test the newest operating system by Microsoft (what else a developer can do on  weekends?). After Kamil’s introduction of Windows 8 let’s go further through the installation process and explore what’s interesting inside, for a developer and for a human in a general.

Setup a virtual environment

I ran my installation under Virtual Box environment. During the configuration of a virtual machine from scratch, remember to check the Enable IO APIC on System Motherboard card settings, otherwise you can get a really interesting black screen. You can also base on Windows 7×64 settings. I ran my virtual installation on my laptop with Windows 7 32bit system and on Windows 64bit desktop without any problems. For testing, I used the biggest installation CD – Windows developer preview with developer tools and apps.

Installation and configuration

The installation process looks the same like in Windows 7 – so no fireworks. It took only a little  time. At this step the biggest difference was the startup screen with a new progress icon. After some restarts, finally a different screen appeared. Wow, a new License terms screen, personalize screens and settings screens – well I’ve seen this design somewhere, was it something drawn in Paint or Windows Phone? Never mind, let’s go further. After installation, a new start menu appeared. Now I know – It looks the same like Windows Phone.

Usability and first experience

It’s clear that this kind of screen is developed for mobile devices – tablet PCs or maybe Kinect? The new Metro style is really annoying for a user with a mouse to browse through the new menu start. Regarding this, let’s go further and discover something more. I need to take a look at the ribbon in windows explorer. It looks nice, but for some users it can be very frustrating (everyone heard of Office 2007). For me it’s OK.

What is really useful is that Windows will now support mounting ISO images natively. After you select an ISO file, a new ribbon tab with mount image functionality will appear and the image will emerge as a new drive.

I was interested in how many resources the newest OS takes. By pressing Windows key with Escape and shift, you get system process information in any Windows systems, but wait… now it shows something similar with a new user interface. Anyone who developed in WPF will see that the manager is made in WPF as well (by the way the old taskmgr is still there).

The new Configuration panel from Metro start menu also got a  fresh view . Like I wrote at beginning, it’s not very handy for a desktop user with a mouse, but it contains some basic settings at this point – it seems that it has to be redesigned a bit. For more configurations you still have to use the ‘old’ control panel from Windows. Nothing special for me, so let’s go back. But where is the close button? How to get back?! Well I had to move the mouse to the left corner and click to go back.

Now you can also force to change window colors depending on the wallpaper. The color of all your windows in the system, will take the dominant color from a wallpaper (by the way you can still try this or even more on Windows 7 using Aura codeplex project).

New Internet Explorer and Visual Studio on the board – candies for developers

Yes, I had to look at these precious apps. Internet Explorer UI is the same as IE9, but it’s really a newer version than the Platform Preview 2. Visual Studio contains some new Java Script Templates, responsible for creating Metro styled apps and .NET 4.5 inside. Unfortunately, for those topics a new blog post is required. There are more, very interesting featuresand applications to discover and play. I looked briefly at new games – some of them stole some of my time. You can rate and review them like in Windows Phone, but the functionality is not available yet. For now, I have to close the system. But wait! Where is the shutdown button? Hmm… After some clicking with the mouse like a monkey, I found it! You have to mouse over the start menu and choose Settings, on the right you will see the  close button.

Now, I know in what direction Microsoft is moving. Some people dislike the new Metro style, some will like it. I remember the time when Apple created its iPad – everyone laughed that it’s a big iPhone. Seems that similar jokes will appear about new Windows system. It was also the  time when Windows XP and Vista were introduced with the new UI – many people hated it and today they could not live without it. We also have to remember that this is a developer preview of Windows – till final release many things can change.  I made some screenshots of Windows 8, you can have a look at them in my gallery.

By the way, have you installed the developer preview? Have you discovered something interesting?

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