Windows 8 Developer Preview Video Tour

Windows 8 Developer Preview Video Tour

Summary: ZDNet Senior Technology Editor Jason Perlow walks through the new Metro UI and legacy compatibility features in the Windows 8 Developer Preview.


This weekend, like over a million other geeks that wanted to be on the bleeding edge of technology, I installed the new Windows 8 Developer Preview, in both the desktop and server editions.

My colleague Zack Whittaker has created a comprehensive screenshot gallery which details the installation experience and a deep-dive through a number of the new features of the OS. However, I thought that it might be a good idea to prepare a screencast to show you what exactly it looks like to actually use Windows 8.

This was no small feat. While I do have a wide range of PC and x86 server hardware at my disposal, I do not have an x86-based touch-capable tablet and I wasn't issued one because I didn't go to BUILD.

Also, I didn't want to disrupt my current lab environment using an on the metal install of what is effectively Alpha-quality code that was likely to blow up in my face while using it.

So I had to fake it -- I had to virtualize Windows 8 on the new VMWare Workstation 8 product, which literally just came out this week and as far as I know is the only software product short of Microsoft's own Hyper-V 3 built into Windows 8 Server that can actually fully virtualize Windows 8 including the hardware acceleration features.

Trust me, I tried VirtualBox 4.1 and Workstation 7.1. It's a big fail on either. I'll note that it will install on VirtualBox, but the integration tools/optimized drivers will not work, so I'd avoid it.

I've talked a bit about Server 8 already, but now that I've seen the new Metro UI, everything is starting to fall into place at least in terms of how I perceive this release. Windows 8 is a "Hybrid" or transitional operating system, a synthesis of legacy compatibility(Win32/Win64, .NET) with a completely parallel, new UI with completely new APIs to go with it. As a hybridized OS, it's something of a compromise.

The Metro UI definitely takes a while to get used to, particularly when you have to context switch between new WinRT apps and old Win32 and .NET apps running in the legacy Windows 7 interface.

I can definitely agree with Microsoft that Metro is well-suited for tablets, but as a desktop UI I'm not so sure yet. It's a bit early in the process to pass judgement on the entire paradigm as Microsoft has at least a year to fill in gaps and take in user feedback.

That being said, I can certainly forsee some considerable problems with acceptance in enterprise environments with the new UI, particularly as it relates to context switching between the old and new environments.

I've complained in the past before about this sort of thing, particularly during the early beta period for Windows 7, but this is a far more radical pill for users to swallow.

I'm not sure I want to shove the first generation of Metro in front of someone using a desktop PC who has been used to the traditional Windows UI for years, like my parents or your typical office productivity worker.

On an ARM-based tablet though, where Win32 and .NET are going to be completely thrown out with the bathwater and there will be completely new apps, that's going to be a different story altogether.

Have you installed Windows 8 Developer Preview yet? What are your impressions? Talk Back and Let Me Know.

Topics: Servers, Hardware, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software, Software Development, Windows


Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet, is a technologist with over two decades of experience integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.

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  • RE: Windows 8 Developer Preview Video Tour

    Jason, I don't think you realise the benefits of tiles. As someone who has taught people of various ages to use Windows in all its incarnations and even (shudder) OS/X, the tiles are a breath of fresh air.

    No more telling them about menus and clicks and double clicks or which tiny static icon represents the application they need, they simply scan the tiles and press the one they need - they may not even need to press it as the live tile may be giving them all the info they need.

    The Metro UI is the first serious attempt to create a sophsiticated UI for the majority of people - well the first one that works anyway. The iPad may show that there are people who have limited needs and the Metro UI is just so much better than the hunt and peck through tiny static icons.

    WP7 users have known this for a while and now that beautiful UI is going to be seen and used by millions.

    I'm now considering porting my million line WPF application to Metro and Windows RT - not to replace it, but to give an easier to use version for the non power users.
    • RE: Windows 8 Developer Preview Video Tour

      @tonymcs I realize the benefits of them. I'm just not sure the UI has been truly optimized for them yet. This is Version 1.0 of a new UI for windows. It took what, 20 years to get to Windows 7's level of refinement?
    • RE: Windows 8 Developer Preview Video Tour

      I have to completely disagree. I have been playing with windows 8 since they released it for developement and I have to say the entire tile metro UI is the biggest detractor of the os. To be honest I completely hate it all together. It was one reason i opted to skip the wp7 as its just not user friendly and takes way to long to get to what I want to do not to mention its a but ugly look lol. I like the option for a classic view but they are going to have to reinstate the full start button option in the classic to make this os a usable . One of the biggest issues that came up from when beta testing the windows 7 version was everyone wanted the original start options with the drop menus and not the flyouts. I eventually just used a kill app and skinned 7 with the xp look to make it a fast easy familar system. I do not think the forcing of this new horrible panel ui will fly with th public who want a familar faster, leaner desktop based UI. It might work for some mobile devices but even on a tablet or phone it just really really lags behind say Android as far as friendly customized usability.I do still prefer xp over windows 7look but when windows 7 is skinned with an xp start button its great. So far windows 8 is a disappointment in the UI look and feel so far. needs alot of redesigning and rethough. If it comes heavy with the panel theme it will fail in the public I truely believe.Menus and such as so much easier to use and teach then all these ridiculous panels and sales showed that on the WP7
    • RE: Windows 8 Developer Preview Video Tour

      @tonymcs@... If it requires a user manual/ guide/ training/ instructions, then it is not intuitive. I have seen many 2 and 3 year old kids using iPhones, iPads and iPods. One of my friend's daughters who is not yet 2 years old is able to pick the same app on an iPhone and an iPad without any hesitation. None of these kids were "trained" or "instructed" how to use an iPhone/iPad. Would they be able to use Windows8 the same way? Or even Windows Phone 7? I am techie who does low level Win32 stuff for a living, but I will have to admit Windows8 is still ugly under the hood for a child to understand.
  • There have been published reports of using BootCamp to load Win 8

    I was curious if you have tried to install (or considered installing) the Win 8 dev edition on one of your Macs using BootCamp? Apparently a young student has been able to accomplish this.

    Or .. have you tried the new versions of Parallels and Fusion (Lion optimized) which might be able to load the Win 8 dev edition into a VM. (I was almost tempted to try that technique since I have updated to the latest Parallels version. (Loads my Win XP VM in 15 seconds on my SSD equipped core i7 iMac.)
    • RE: Windows 8 Developer Preview Video Tour

      @kenosha7777 Scott is doing that article :)
  • RE: Windows 8 Developer Preview Video Tour

    Jason, when you are using the Metro interface and want to search for something just start typing. You do not need to click search first.
    • RE: Windows 8 Developer Preview Video Tour

      @eqpc wow thank you for this tip, you made my day :)
    • RE: Windows 8 Developer Preview Video Tour

      Ram U
    • RE: Windows 8 Developer Preview Video Tour

      @eqpc LOL. Thanks for the tip. Perhaps microsoft should consider putting "Just type to search" under the word "Start"
  • RE: Windows 8 Developer Preview Video Tour

    This seems to be the MS way to ease legacy windows users to the new architecture. I don't intend to start a flame war but will Win 8 be the new Vista? <br>The strength (or weakness) of the Windows platform is it's ability to support all the way back to the early Windows releases. I question if it has become a liability seeing that they have created a jekyll and hyde UI. They wanted to create an iOS on Tablet rival but provide it legacy Windows support to counter Apple's headstart. <br>Win8 is still a year away from production status and has the time to fine tune the presentation BUT IMHO there seems to be a fundamental flaw. Legacy apps will never be touch friendly and will require the Desktop mode which is same as what is available today -- Windows 7 on tablets (not exactly a winner). MS may have been better served by a reboot strategy for Tablets like Windows Phone 7.
    • RE: Windows 8 Developer Preview Video Tour


      This company never goes all the way in right away, until they're absolutely forced to. Before the Zune they were trying to convinced consumers that PlaysForShure was the best alternative strategy to Apple's closed/vertical approach iPod. That turned out to be a mistake and they later adopted Apple's same closed/vertical approach. Before they restarted with WP7, they were trying to convinced users that WinMo 6xx was the best alternative OS and strategy to the iPhone/iOS. Resistive screens, stylus, more complex UI, install any apps, no control. WinMo's market share took a nose dive and they felt they needed to restart with WP7 following Apple's lead.

      Now just when we thought they would continue following Apple all the way by using WP7 OS on tablets (learning from the past), they're continuing with the old strategy of pushing full blown Windows instead, with a <i><b>metro-style</b></I> UI that requires new developer APIs (no Silverlight, WPF, XNA etc).

      Like WinMo 6xx, Win 8 is not quite the iPad competitor it needs to be, just masquerading like it really is. These will continue to be full blown tablet PCs that requires beefy h/w specs to run. With internal fans to keep cool. Not quite the light performing consumer electronic devices like the iPad.
      • I keep reading


        Microsoft both copied from Apple and also made a UI nobody likes. Which is it?
        Michael Alan Goff
      • Read again...

        @Michael Alan Goff<br><br>I did not say they copied Apple's UI, I said they were following Apple's <b>strategy</b> with their Zune and WP7. For instance restarting from scratch with WP7, with multi-touch, no more stylus or finger-friendly on resistive WinMo screens. No Flash, bundled app store, a vetting process, same 30% cut, requiring Zune software for syncing much like iTunes etc. etc. Don't know anyone who will dispute that MS was following the iPhone <i>strategy</i>.<br><br>Metro is very unique an OS unlike Android/Honeycomb. So they were not trying to clone Apple on the UI front. <br><br>The problem is, Microsoft has been in reactive mode for a while now. Almost as if they're being dragged into making necessary changes to compete. I see Win 8 as WinMo 6xx before they are forced to rethink their entire strategy. At least for tablets.
    • RE: Windows 8 Developer Preview Video Tour

      Win8 will not be another Vista, by which I mean something that came out in advance of the Windows ecosystem's preparation for it.

      I think pickup will be slow, but that's because Win7 is well-respected and enterprise generally waits at least a year before deploying a new Windows os. Consumers mostly get the new os when they buy a new device running on it.

      It may have quicker uptake in mobile, where consumers replace devices on 1-2 year cycles.
  • Why No Plug-Ins, Again?

    Why not give users the choice of whether they want Flash or longer battery life? Or are they in fact going to choose Flash every time, and make Microsoft look bad?
    • Windows 8 is all about choice

      @ldo17 They do have that choice. There is the metro-style IE10 optimized for battery performance that does not support plugins like Flash and there is the classic IE10 that will run the customers favorite plug-ins.
      Your Non Advocate
  • I'm Impressed ...

    ... at how the fans went crazy when you brought up MMC. :)
    • It could be that he needs to ...


      ... open up his server box, and ensure that all (intake in particular) vents and cooling air paths, are free of dust. Dust build up can significantly affect the cooling of PCs.
      P. Douglas
      • RE: Windows 8 Developer Preview Video Tour

        @P. Douglas The fans are idle when the system isn't doing heavy virtualization or running a CPU intensive process like Camtasia from within the VM. It checks the processor temperatures and alternates fan speeds as needed. This isn't a typical PC, this is a dual quad-core Opteron 2.4Ghz mainboard for high-end workstations and server apps. It was never meant to sit on a desk!