Microsoft Windows 8 Pre-release Overview

Microsoft Windows 8 Overview

Recently Microsoft allowed developers to get a preview of Microsoft Windows 8. Windows 8 has a new set of robust features and a look and style that feels much more like rival Android. It is clear that Microsoft has seen the writing on the wall. Although Windows 7 has been a great commercial success, the portability of it is limited. Windows 7 has a huge installed base in both the private and commercial sectors. It has performed consistently and significantly better than the Microsoft Vista operating system. There’s a joke among systems engineers that says, “friends don’t let friends drive Vista”. It would appear that Microsoft has learned from their mistakes of the past. This version of Windows even in its pre-release form seems to be very stable and easy to use. It’s not clear that Microsoft Windows Vista was ever stable or easy to use. This was true for even the most savvy computer users.

Booting Microsoft Windows 8 For The First Time

The Microsoft Windows 8 operating system seems to be quite different. One of the major differences in Windows 8 is the new desktop interface. One of the first things that you’ll notice is an Android like interface. For some users this may seem a little foreign to them on their desktops. Never fear the old desktop interface still does exist underneath. The new desktop is likely to be a bit confusing to some users. This new interface does not readily give up its secrets. Windows 8 has been constructed so that is useful and portable to many different types of platforms. In the past, Microsoft has written different versions of software for the desktop, and other devices. That has all changed. The idea behind Windows 8 is to stratify this operating system so that it runs on many different types of devices. For example, Microsoft is promising support for other types of processors including support for ARM. It will also include support traditional platforms for devices like Microsoft Windows powered phones. This new Windows operating system should help Microsoft to compete Android which supports more processors.

A New Touch Interface

Natively, the new operating system supports touch controls. For those who do not have a touch screen, navigation can still be done with a normal mouse and keyboard. Using the mouse and keyboard alone may tend to confuse new users. This is especially true if you are running more than one monitor. Some of the features of navigation are a bit quirky. Thankfully, Microsoft Windows 8 supports a wide variety of touchpads. For a pre-release version of this operating system, tools like the Wacom Bamboo Touch series of touchpads can greatly enhance the user experience.

Windows 8 Login Screen Changes

When you boot up Microsoft Windows 8, the login screen looks nothing like the previous versions of the software. Once again the benefit of gestures via a touchpad is quite useful. The days of pressing control-alt-delete to log in are numbered. The new boot screen and the associated lock screen interface will display a picture. Clicking within the picture or using gestures on your touch pad will bring a screen up that allows you to log in. Windows eight continues to support a way to automatically log in just like older versions of Microsoft’s Windows. Microsoft has added a new log in feature. For users who do have touchpad control, Windows has a new feature for logging in. This logon system displays an image to a user. Instead of a password a picture is displayed. Using gestures on the log in picture in specific combinations that are set by the user will replace the use of a password.

Once you log in, the startup interface looks a lot like an Android or iPad device. You can expect to see tiled applications much like Android. To scroll through the applications is rather easy. This is true whether you have a touch screen device, touchpad, or mouse. When you’re using the mouse the scroll wheel will allow you to pan back and forth through the tiles. For using a touchpad, specifically a multi-touchpad, scrolling is just like using one of today’s tablets.

New Application Approach With Microsoft’s Metro Style Apps

With the new operating system Microsoft has developed what they call, “Metro” style applications. These Metro applications are very similar to the applications that you might find on an Android or IPad powered device. Microsoft Windows 8 treats applications differently than it has in the past. For those were familiar with Microsoft’s Silverlight and the Microsoft Windows Presentation Foundation Classes programming new applications will be easier. At first it would seem that there is no taskbar. The Windows taskbar is buried underneath the new interface. Even when you can see the taskbar you may notice that Microsoft’s Metro style applications do not show up on the taskbar. Microsoft has changed their Metro applications to be suspended when they are not in the forefront or not in use. This system will close applications when resources are needed for other apps. To switch between applications the Windows hot-key resources are available. The Windows key, in combination with other keys, allows you cycle through applications much like it did in Windows 7.

Excellent Device Support

For a pre-release product, the performance in Windows 8 and device support is exceptional. Microsoft Internet Explorer gets a facelift also. The new Internet Explorer is highly reminiscent of browsers that are found on other devices. When you start Internet explorer you will get a full screen version of the browser. This new version seems to be significantly faster than its older versions. For some reason, Internet Explorer is set to run in 32 bit mode by default. To change to the 64 bit version of Microsoft Internet Explorer you must manually configure it to be in 64 bit mode.

The Sign Of Good Things To Come

Microsoft Windows 8 has already proven to be the promise of good things to come from Microsoft. By the time that Microsoft releases this as a full product it should be much easier to use. Windows will include more features than in the past. With issues like stability and alternate device support it seems like Microsoft may be developing another great version of their operating system.

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