The Windows 8 Consumer Preview has just become available to the public. This Consumer release was made available to allow users to get an early taste for Microsoft’s latest operating system, and to report any usability issues and provide feedback to Microsoft so they can get things right in the final product. For those of you which are familiar with Microsoft operating systems, which is probably most of us, Windows 8 is a bold step away from Microsoft’s traditional desktop based operating system.
It is a radical redesign and a sharp turn in Microsoft’s strategy to adapt to the emerging threat to PC computers, the ‘tablet and to compete with Apple in the tablet operating system space’. Where in the past, people have been able to adapt to new Window’s operating systems relatively quickly, the new features in Windows 8 will take time to learn. Its interface is completely different from the traditional Windows. Upon first look, users are confronted with something completely alien. The new user interface known as Metro can be controlled by both keyboard and mouse and also touch-screen swipe and gestures.
The good news is, If you don’ want to work with the touch screen; the functionality of the original Windows Desktop you are familiar with remains largely intact. Microsoft has given all of us who are afraid of change or simply don’t like it a chance to keep working with the traditional desktop. Your old Windows 7 applications will work (Microsoft promises) in Windows 8 and the old keyboard shortcuts remain.
The great thing is you have been given the choice to stick with the old ways of doing things or take up the new way. Microsoft has also added in alternatives to the traditional desktop, to allow it to function on the tablets that shun keyboards and mice in favour of touch screens.
Windows 8 works with ‘Apps’ similar to what we have become accustomed to with the iPhone or iPad. The Customer Review download comes with a handful of pre-installed apps, with the option of getting more via the Windows App Store. Microsoft has an uphill battle with bringing Windows 8 to the public. It is certainly going to take some getting used to. People are resistant to change. Just look at the resistance to Facebook every time there is an interface change. You will need to forget everything you have learnt since Windows 95.
Microsoft has made no official announcement on the official release date, however judging from the quality and finish of the Consumer Preview, it could yet take some time. There are still some bugs and rough edges to smooth of however this is the whole reason Microsoft made the early release.
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Windows 8 is something that Microsoft really needs to get right and they have spared no expense in doing exactly that. Early impressions of the operating system have produce mixed reviews, as always some people love it and some people don’t. At the very least it is a big step in the right direction to keep up with the rapidly changing trends in the world of computers and technology.
Lukas Brassi is a technician and tech-write at http://www.techwhiz.com.au