Windows 8 First Impressions

I recently downloaded the ISO for Windows 8 Consumer Preview. I’m running it through Oracle’s VirtualBox software. Here are some of my thoughts.

I will echo one very important feeling many other tech pundits get when using Win8: the transition between classic desktop and the new Metro interface is jarring.

The Metro interface taken at face value is refreshing and feels wonderful to use. Standing on its own, I see it succeeding in the mobile computing space. The degree of success depends on their ability to position the experience as a better alternative to the iPad – which may prove to be challenging given Apple’s recently announced iPad revisions. Metro implements quite a few new features that will spell wonders for multi-tasked computing on tablets. Bezel gestures are a great example of this. I can’t test that yet as I don’t have one of Microsoft’s demo tablet machines, but they’ve included the same support using the mouse and keyboard which changes the active “gesture” areas to the corners of the screen. The virtual machine is making it difficult to test the corners but I’m sure I can fiddle with VirtualBox to make that a little easier.

There are a few Metro Apps I really don’t like. The Calendar app is garbage because it’s missing some very important event repeat customization and does not seem to support copy-paste of events. The Messaging app doesn’t let you sign in to AOL Instant Messenger (of course, this could be a result of the Preview status of the app) and the integration with Facebook is not as fluid as I expected. The People hub on the Start Screen is easy to set up with your Facebook account, though I’m not yet sold on the idea of having my Facebook feeds flood into the OS of my device.

Overall my technical gripes are just in these few apps. The greater experience is clean and fun and I can’t wait to see what developers do with Metro. I’ll post a more comprehensive review at some point in the near future.

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