Tech News and Opinions (by Paul Spain)

First Look at Windows 8: Impressive!

, posted: 14-Sep-2011 07:42

This morning, Microsoft gave their first detailed demonstration of Windows 8 to an audience of developers at the BUILD conference in Anaheim, California (and via live video feed globally). Below I cover some of the highlights and how to download it.

And was it good? No, Windows 8 looks incredible. When compared with the difference between Windows Vista and Windows 7 this is a much bigger change. Actually Windows 8 is a quantum leap forward, and such a dramatic change in so many ways it leaves me wondering how Apple will respond.

So, what is new? Well first up Windows can now boot in as little as 2 or 3 seconds on some hardware. Oh, and the core operating system actually used about 1/3 less memory than Windows 7. So it's fast and light.

Windows 8 uses a Metro style user interface. It's a fresh approach to computing and one which I think users will grow to appreciate quite quickly (though I'm certain will put some users off).

This operating system is equally at home on a tablet as on a full blown desktop PC. And in many cases I think users will opt for a device that does both - operates as a tablet when needed but docks to deliver a full PC experience in the office.

With Windows 8 Microsoft have made it easy for developers of all types to put together great applications in a small amount of time. And rich applications that draw on the cloud, local content, and the Metro style user experience. I expect to see a lot of applications designed specifically for Windows 8 and ready by the time in launches.

Curious what features are in Windows 8? Here's a sampling:

  • Support for sensors (gyroscope, compass, GPS, etc)
  • USB 3
  • Near Field Communications (NFC)
  • Smart handling of mobile data when roaming (3G, 4G)
  • Synchronisation and backup of key settings such as email accounts, favourites, photos between systems (via the cloud)
  • Runs 100% of Windows 7 applications
  • Built in spell checking functionality
  • Runs across existing Intel/AMD 32-bit and 64-bit systems and new ARM based systems
  • Security baked in including free Antivirus and Antimalware
  • A system level mechanism so applications can share data and images with other apps
  • 'Reset & Refresh' option to return a PC to an initial state without losing data and settings
  • Improved search across the web and Windows applications
  • Simple Metro style application development using multiple development methods including: HTML/CSS, JavaScript, C#, VB, C, C++ (and easy porting of apps to Windows Phone 7.5)
  • Friendlier Windows Update and notifications
  • Cloud storage built in to leverage SkyDrive
  • Includes Metro based Email and Calendar client
  • Lock screen shows key information such a new emails or missed IM conversations(similar to Windows Phone 7)
  • A user interface that is works well via touch, mouse or keyboard
  • Improve multi-monitor support
  • Windows Store for acquiring and distributing applications

So, what's the cycle for bringing Windows 8 to release? It looks like this - with my predictions about dates alongside:

  • Windows 8 Preview (today)
  • Windows 8 beta (early January 2012)
  • Release Candidate (February-March 2012)
  • Release to Manufacturing (April 2012)
  • General Availability (May-June 2012)

The preview release of Windows 8 is available now from this link.

The keynote presentation including Windows 8 demos and hardware is available to watch here.

Screenshots below (Notice NZ's Mt Cook in the first image)





I will update with further details as they come to hand. I will also be discussing Windows 8 in detail on the next episode of the NZ Tech Podcast - you can also follow me via Twitter: @paulspain

Other related posts:
Microsoft Build – Bots, Inking, Cortana, Windows 10 now installed on 270+ million PCs
NZ Tech Podcast 267: Air and underwater drone, Police 3D mugshots, Samsung vs Huawei, Plan B grabs ICONZ
NZ Tech Podcast 263: Laura Butler – Distinguished Engineer at Microsoft

Comment by lucky015, on 14-Sep-2011 11:19

The first 8 bullet points and the new lock screen look good, But almost everything else to me look to be likely detrimental to day to day usage on a standard PC.

Comment by SteveON, on 14-Sep-2011 12:34

COuld be very intresting, good to see that they are making waves into combining their Mobile/Desktop products. Will help people move to windows phones too. 

Comment by P1n3apqlExpr3ss, on 14-Sep-2011 14:58

Downloading now 

Comment by MrGaribaldi, on 15-Sep-2011 11:31

I take it you are not a MAc user, a lot of this GUI interface is very mucha Mac Gui. Go and look at Lion and even to a certain degree as far back as 10.4 these GUi have been in plave and more refined and workable.
I like both OS for what they are so do nto get me wrong am not a Windows hater, but with Windows 7 especially feels like a Mac Gui with how some things are navigated. 

Comment by b0untypure1, on 16-Sep-2011 09:57

hey man, can this be installed on an empty partition? or do i have to format my whole drive? cheers

Author's note by paulspain, on 16-Sep-2011 10:07

@MrGaribaldi Yes, I am a Mac user too. I have a Mac Book Pro with OS X Lion. You are right that the lock screen bears some similarity in both Lion and Windows 8 (in my opinion both OS draw from Windows Phone 7 lock screen in these regards). Regardless - it's great to see so strong competition in the operating system space. It's driving innovation which is great for everyone.

Author's note by paulspain, on 16-Sep-2011 10:13

@b0untypure1  Yes, you can install on a seperate partition and Windows 8 will manage the dual boot with a nice OS selection GUI. I even managed to install it on one PC that had less than 16GB unpartitioned space and that was enough for the install (there was 5.6GB free after the install).

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