1 of 5Image
Windows 8 Metro UI
We're fortunate at ZDNet to get access to a vast range of mobile technology.
Name a device, OS or brand, and it's passed through my hands not too long ago. Alas, it's for that reason that the chance to use a new product doesn't always bring the level of excitement you might imagine.
Recently, however, I've been taken aback at how impressed I am with one particular piece of software: Windows 8.
Microsoft's new OS completely confounded my expectations, particularly when used within the confines of the Metro interface (pictured).
Windows 8 apps
One of the reasons it confounded me so was my experience of the developer preview earlier in the year. I was using it with a bog-standard laptop and it was missing even the simplest of features that would make it a pleasurable experience without a touchscreen.
However, I've recently spent a decent amount of time with it on a tablet - and my opinion of the OS has been entirely changed.
The context-sensitive features and settings (pictured) in Windows 8 are shockingly logical.
For example, once you know that the right-hand side of the screen is always going to be the quickest way to access the options of any Metro app, or get to the Start screen, or check system settings, navigation is simple.
Microsoft might not spring to mind as a designer of cutting-edge UIs but somehow it has pushed itself with the Metro interface and delivered something people will want to use.
It's surprising to me as much as anyone, but Metro really does make you want to flick your way around to see what the OS can do.
When I did, I was pleasantly surprised to find an alternative keyboard layout geared towards typing with two thumbs while holding the tablet.
Of course, if you look far enough beneath, you'll find a much more familiar view of Windows in the desktop mode but it's not one you'll want to spend much time with if you're using a touchscreen device. Not that it doesn't work, or is excessively fiddly, it's just not as enjoyable nor as well optimised for touch controls.