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After more than 15 years of service, the Windows Start button--that orb in the lower left corner--is gone, and it's not coming back. In Windows 8, tapping the Windows key (or the Windows button on a slate) reveals a row of five charms along the right. These subtle white icons appear automatically if you aim the mouse at the upper or lower corners on the right side of the display.
That's just the beginning. This screenshot gallery offers a hint of how this "reimagined" Windows works. If you're intrigued by (or skeptical of) what you see here, remember that static screenshots are no substitute for hands-on experience.
Are you curious about the default background image? That's a betta fish, which debuted as Microsoft's mascot for beta Windows releases in Windows 7. The fish has, of course, just blown an air bubble in the shape of an upside-down number 8. And look carefully on the left side of the screen as well for another number 8. (Most of the upper half of the number is visible; the left side and bottom have been cut off.)
And no, "Your name here" is not the default user name. I created a user with that name just for this screenshot.
See Ed Bott's full report on Microsoft's Windows 8 Consumer Preview.
Color blocking. That's what the fashionistas call this year's hottest trend.
It also describes one of the fundamental design principles of Metro.
This Start screen displays three different personalizations.
First, note the custom background color and texture.
Next, note the live tiles, which update continually thanks to connections to web services.
And finally, feel free to move those tiles around. They won't resist.