Evaluating Windows 8 Developer Preview

Sunday, February 5, 2012

IMG_0084Microsoft is in the process of developing its next version of Windows and it will be nothing like its predecessor. I have been using the Developer Preview since its release back in September and here is how it went.

Microsoft promised a much faster boot up and shutdown time and they somewhat delivered. However, when Windows does boot up in about 8 seconds, much better than 45 with Windows 7 on the same machine, its network drivers didn’t function properly. Shutdown has unfortunately slowed down, and accessing it is hidden behind a Settings menu which is only available if you think to hover your mouse in the bottom left corner of the screen.



In terms of interface, the first and probably biggest shock to any legacy Windows user is the loss of the start menu – or rather its “upgrade” to the start screen, a mockup of the Windows Phone Interface. It isn’t fully customizable yet but this can be expected in future releases.


This new start screen introduces many new full screen apps that can forecast weather and keep track of news, or Facebook – Socialite. However, switching and snapping them isn’t as intuitive on first glance. To switch apps, hover your mouse on the left hand side and click on the small preview. To get a split screen, drag it in until you are about half way through.


You can get and manage these apps in the new Windows Store which will release in Beta, which is just around the corner, and follow suit with Ubuntu and Mac OS X.


Microsoft has made other improvements behind the scenes. Windows Defender is now a silent security system that resembles Security Essentials. File transfer sped up and is now organized in one window. Synchronizing apps, themes and settings is a cinch if you make your account with a Windows Live ID. Disc images can be mounted without third party software. It possesses the compatibility of its predecessor.

If Windows ever does run into problems, it comes with built-in restore options which allow you to reinstall the system from within.

Overall, I have been using Windows 8 Developer Preview for four months and it has been relatively smooth for something that isn’t beta. However, it does crash and if you want a more stable release, I would wait for later releases. It is currently free and available to install.

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