Windows 8 is out in the wild -- at least in form of a developer preview.
After a day of using it, the one thing that has probably changed the most in my view, is not the replacement of the Start menu with a Start 'screen', but the process of setting up your new computer.
Normally, Windows setup can be strict and iron-maiden like, and offering little in terms of novice-focus. It was never designed for end-users in mind, at least from the Windows XP perspective and before.
But now, Windows setup tries to saddle up as if it is your new best friend, and throws in a little humour while it chugs along.
Jump ahead to find the new Blue Screen of Death, also roaming cloud profiles and the new 'Start menu'. You can search, see new notifications and see your new Control Panel. See what happens when you switch from Start to desktop, and see where Microsoft is pinching ideas from Apple.
All in all, the greatest change for me is the installation. It guides users through each step by step through the setup process, as though we are first-time users. The truth is, we need to be treated like idiots. I'm not saying for a second this is a bad thing.
Though many users will be accomplished, advanced users of Windows and software on the whole, the next version of Windows has to appeal to all markets. Even, I suspect, first-time users.
The Windows Developer Preview is a hefty download, and chunky once it is installed. But I suspect some are still expecting to be beaten about as if they are still running Vista. The memories are difficult to shift.
We all but automatically see a huge download or a vast space taken up by Windows just from the installation process, and presume that it will be clunky, sluggish and wear down over time.
I can't speak for the latter just yet. But even on a slower machine like a netbook, it functions well enough and gets the point across, though still using up vast memory resources.
At this stage, however, it does not matter. We are only seeing a preview, and while it is unlikely that anything major will change in terms of aesthetic quality, performance will definitely increase and pack more in for your money.
- Microsoft's Windows Server 8: Taking the cloud to the operating system
- Microsoft's Windows 8: Here's what we now know (and don't)
- Windows 8 distribution takes a page from Linux
- What I expect from Windows 8
- Microsoft's Windows 8 by the numbers
- Windows 8 ship dates quietly avoided; Delays inevitable?
- Let's help Microsoft name Windows 8