two weeks ago I failed installing the Windows 8 consumer preview for unclear reasons.. Now, I’ve got Windows 8 release preview up and running, and so far my first impression has been really, really good. I’ve been a Windows 7 fan because of the great photo tagging features ( first seen in Vista, but improved in Windows 7 ), the very functional task bar, many usably hot key’s, good performance, and great design. Now, Windows 8 improves on most of these things, but especially design. I was a little fearful of what the minimalistic Metro and the bulky Ribbon would do to the user experience. But in the end, both have their place in Windows 8, and both only appear on the screen when I need them to. So all in all, it’s the same great Windows 7 experience, boosted by some sweet new features. Here are some of the things I like most, so far, about Windows 8.
Windows 8 boot up is quite fast and is well designed from beginning to end. I already liked looking at the Windows 7 logo animation, but Microsoft has done quite a bit more this time. The boot screen where you choose for your desired operating system has been skinned metro-style. You can now use your mouse, and any other special pointing devices on this screen to select an OS. When Windows 8 is clicked, it instantly takes you to a nice background with a clock on it, which can be clicked away to reveal the password screen. All metro style, all very consistent.
Finally, us dual screen users are getting the features we want: the option to have two different backgrounds on each monitor, and the option to have one wide monitor stretch over both monitors at the same time. A nice touch is the smooth face in and out effect while picking the wallpaper. It’s a small touch, but I like this kind of attention to detail that is all over Windows 8.
All the news about the new Metro interface was a little worrisome, because I thought it would totally dominate the Windows experience. I was relieved then, to find out that the Metro screen appears and disappears on the press of the windows button. There are other ways to get it on screen, but I usually prefer keyboard hot keys. Once minimized, metro is nothing more then an afterthought. I know I can bring it back up, but it’s not going to interrupt what I’m doing.
But rather then ignoring it, I found myself making use of the metro interface quite often. At first it was fun just to scroll through all the software displayed in Metro style. But later I started using the new apps as well. I especially like the Twitter app and the Photo app, but for now, there is not that much to choose from. I assume this will change soon, as Windows 8 approaches release this fall.
By the way, the Ribbon tool bar is collapsed by default which means most windows look cleaner then they ever did before, but you do have access to all the functionality that Ribbons offers at the click of a button.
The initial ctrl alt delete is now metro styled, but when the task manager is opened ( which is the only reason I ever ctrl alt delete ), it launches in a cute little window that shows only the running programs. Clicking Details, reveals a lot more information then ever, and it’s all much more readable then ever before too. I love how there is a tab there now under which it lists which programs open on startup! Guess I can uninstall the Codestuff Starter utility now. Actually, any third party app I’ve ever used to monitor network or cpu performance has become unnecessary as well.
I’m really looking forward using Windows 8 starting now, and I expect to keep finding little surprises of what this. There are lots of minor upgrades scattered everywhere. The file transfer dialog for instance has gotten more info to look at, so that you can see the actual transfer performance and make an estimate of the transfer duration yourself. More then that, I hope to see a lot of nice Metro style apps coming soon, and possibly I will look into developing an app myself if I can find the time.