Windows 8

Windows 8

Postby Captain Picard's Hair » Sun Sep 11, 2011 4:42 pm

That is, the successor to Windows 7 now in development which presumptively will be called simply, Windows 8. Pending some announcement of a new name, Microsoft itself is referring to the new OS as Windows 8. Anyway, it seems to be on track for a preview beta release late this year and a full retail release in 2012.

According to the official Windows 8 blog by Microsoft, we know it will feature:

A new "metro" interface designed to be touch-friendly and tablet-ready, alongside a more traditional Windows Desktop similar to that currently in Win 7.

Dramatically improved boot times

Improved file management and a new Windows Explorer interface which in addition to adopting the "ribbon" interface first seen in Office 2007 will include the return of the "up" button removed in Win Vista/7 but present in XP and earlier.

Also, newer technologies like USB 3.0 will be natively supported, support for .iso and .vhd images will be improved, visualization technology (Hyper-V) will be baked into the consumer versions of Windows (formerly limited to Server versions), etc. Internet Explorer 10 (also currently in development) is expected to be the built-in browser, an advance from the current IE9 in WIndows Vista or 7. Rumor has it that Win 8 will include a built-in .pdf reader, though there's been no official confirmation yet. More details on the technical underpinnings and user-visible features will be presented shortly at the BUILD conference.

So, how do the more technically inclined people see all this? I'm currently optimistic it'll be a good new release. Unlike the messy transition from XP to Vista (which broke a lot of then-current software and drivers), Microsoft is promising that software designed for Windows 7 will work in Windows 8. Like Windows 7, which has the same official hardware requirements as Vista but actually tends to run better on a given machine than Vista, Win 8 will have those same official hardware requirements yet again. This makes a nice break from the history of a new release of Windows requiring much more RAM and CPU resources than its direct predecessor (another problem which dogged Vista compared to XP).
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Re: Windows 8

Postby McAvoy » Sun Sep 11, 2011 5:23 pm

Faster boot time alone would make me happy.
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Re: Windows 8

Postby Nickswitz » Sun Sep 11, 2011 7:11 pm

I hate the Metro interface, it makes me feel like I'm on a phone, on my computer, which I really don't want. As well, the Ribbon interface adds way too many buttons. Other than that, I think it'll be a good release, one thing I don't believe is the boot times. Although they show it, they don't give is specs, if the only people getting anywhere near that boot time are paying 2000+ for their computers, than it's just trying to entice people, and I have a feeling that's running a custom SSD a i7 more than likely, and more than 4GB of RAM. Which makes it a 2000+ alone, minus it possibly being a 17 incher. But if it's on a regular hard drive, then I would not complain one bit, as well, with Intel revamping hibernation to be faster start up, we may feel like were actually able to use our computers whenever were around them, rather than needing the time for them to spool up and whatnot.
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Re: Windows 8

Postby Reliant121 » Sun Sep 11, 2011 7:17 pm

Metro I can take or leave. But the ribbon based windows explorer doesn't bode well for me. I still find MS Office 2007+ confusing.
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Re: Windows 8

Postby Captain Picard's Hair » Sun Sep 11, 2011 7:22 pm

Nickswitz wrote:I hate the Metro interface, it makes me feel like I'm on a phone, on my computer, which I really don't want. As well, the Ribbon interface adds way too many buttons. Other than that, I think it'll be a good release, one thing I don't believe is the boot times. Although they show it, they don't give is specs, if the only people getting anywhere near that boot time are paying 2000+ for their computers, than it's just trying to entice people, and I have a feeling that's running a custom SSD a i7 more than likely, and more than 4GB of RAM. Which makes it a 2000+ alone, minus it possibly being a 17 incher. But if it's on a regular hard drive, then I would not complain one bit, as well, with Intel revamping hibernation to be faster start up, we may feel like were actually able to use our computers whenever were around them, rather than needing the time for them to spool up and whatnot.


I guess MS had to integrate Metro given their goal of running the same Windows on both PCs and Tablets running ARM processors; on the latter devices it should work quite well though. At least the regular desktop is still there for those on PCs. Microsoft says the ribbon is meant to put all of the most commonly used commands in plain view rather than hidden in some menu structure (or right-click context menu). Though they have a point, it does create a visually cluttered appearance. It will probably take some getting used to, and could be jarring for a lot of users.

To get the amazing result displayed on the video they must have used an SSD, though if their claims of 30-70% improvement across all platforms are correct it'll still be a great boost, even if not always as stunning as that boot.
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Re: Windows 8

Postby Tyyr » Mon Sep 12, 2011 1:24 pm

Eh, I rarely shut down my computer and even when I do it takes it maybe 30 to 45 seconds to boot up so I'm not really caring all that much about boot times. Not a bad thing but if you save me 15 second of boot up time in eight months I'll have saved enough time to watch one episode of Trek so... yay?

They are bound and determined to force that fucking ribbon on us aren't they? While conceptually it's a pretty solid idea the execution just shifts things around. It's a pretty way of doing exactly what the menus already do.
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Re: Windows 8

Postby Captain Picard's Hair » Wed Sep 14, 2011 4:07 pm

Yesterday Microsoft unveiled the first developer preview of Windows 8 at it's BUILD conference, and later last night made the actual preview build openly available for download (http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/home/)

I decided to take the plunge and try it out; here is an early scouting report. There is little danger to me since all my stuff is on separate hard drives and I don't generally run any special paid software. It would be no issue for me to revert back to Windows 7 with no losses of data or programs.

The Good:

- It's fast. Granted, I'm running modern, high-end hardware (second gen Core i5, 8 GB RAM, an SSD as boot drive and discrete video card) but this early build of Windows 8 runs at least as fast as Windows 7 did. In some cases I get the impression Windows 8 performs slightly better actually, though I have no numbers to prove it. Moving between Metro and Desktop modes is pretty much instantaneous, with no noticeable lag in either direction. Metro itself, whatever you think of the new interface, proved snappy and responsive. In my case the scroll wheel on my mouse worked well enough as a substitute for finger scroll gestures given that I don't have a touch screen panel.

- Driver support is excellent. Windows 7 has become known for excellent built-in driver support, and Windows 8 seems to take another step forward in that area. Just about all of my computer's devices were detected out-of-the-box by the stock Windows 8 installation, including video, sound, network, and printer. As to the printer, Microsoft is claiming that the majority of current printers will be supported by Windows 8 with no need for extra software being installed, which I have no reason to doubt. Also as promised, Windows 8 supports USB 3.0 natively. I was able to browse to my USB 3 external drive without the need to install a driver as I had to do under Win 7.

The Bad:

- In the early build I ran into a couple of program compatibility issues, though this is a very early pre-beta build. Avast free antivirus and my Office 2010 click-to-run installer generated program compatibility warnings from Windows, which for the time being I respected. For the moment I'm running without office or antivirus.

Miscellaneous:

- Metro is the one and only Windows 8 interface. Though a desktop mostly similar to that in Win 7 is present, it runs as more or less an application rather than the primary shell of Windows. Clicking the start orb in the lower right hand corner of the desktop view (or pressing the Windows key) simply brings you back to the Metro start screen; there is no version of a "classic" start menu anymore. The desktop can be evoked by clicking on the "windows explorer" or "desktop" tiles in Metro, or by running any traditional Desktop apps. Metro apps run "immersively" in MS-speak, which is to say they take over the entire screen. Returning to the main metro interface can be done by pressing the Windows key (or presumably, an equivalent key which will probably be be built into Win 8 tablets) or by flicking toward the lower left hand corner with mouse pointer (or finger). One difficulty so far, from the standpoint of a desktop user, is that right-clicking doesn't work well in Metro. This caused particular problems browsing with a mouse in the Metro version of IE10, though there is still a desktop version of the new browser, which for the time being uses the same interface as IE9.

Windows media player so far is the same as in Windows 7 (WMP 12 for those keeping score) and is still a desktop app with no Metro translation as yet.

As in Office 2010, the Ribbon in explorer can be hidden and you can use the quick access toolbar for your most commonly used commands. In areas other than the controversial Ribbon, explorer does seem improved from the Win 7 iteration. It was one of those areas which seemed to run particularly well, including in some rather large folders on my hard drives. The "up one level" button is indeed back alongside "forward" and "back" buttons. If you choose not to indulge the RIbbon, there is as yet no way to completely disable it or return to a classic Explorer view. For those using a mouse, all right-click functions work fine in Desktop mode and explorer, including all of the context menus.

All in all, at least in my early experience, Metro as well as the increasingly pervasive Ribbon weren't as jarring as I'd feared. Your mileage may vary, of course.
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Re: Windows 8

Postby stitch626 » Thu Sep 15, 2011 12:48 am

I personally hate Metro. I use a PC with a mouse like 80% of the US PC market (random number pulled out of thin air, but it may be accurate :D ). I don't use, nor plan to ever use a touchscreen PC. And from what I've seen that is the only thing that benefits from the new interface.

I'd also be interested to see how games (high end) perform relative to Windows 7.
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Re: Windows 8

Postby Captain Picard's Hair » Thu Sep 15, 2011 1:03 am

stitch626 wrote:I personally hate Metro. I use a PC with a mouse like 80% of the US PC market (random number pulled out of thin air, but it may be accurate :D ). I don't use, nor plan to ever use a touchscreen PC. And from what I've seen that is the only thing that benefits from the new interface.

I'd also be interested to see how games (high end) perform relative to Windows 7.


Microsoft will update DirectX to 11.1 in WIndows 8, though likely backported to 7. They haven't talked about it yet but I continue to get the impression that Explorer is faster in the new OS, ribbonized and all. It seems the old start menu can be resurrected with a registry tweak after all, and that disables Metro entirely. Of course this is still a pre-beta so how the Metro/Desktop and start menu thing will be handled in the real thing probably hasn't been revealed yet.
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Re: Windows 8

Postby LaughingCheese » Fri Sep 16, 2011 6:36 pm

Lol, not going to DX12 ? This is new...:D


EDIT: And yeah, I got win 8 up and running in VirtualBox and I dislike Metro as well. Probably great for phones/tablets, but I hope it won't be the default user interface for the desktop.


Also, why the heck must they rearrange everything with each release???? I mean, I have to go to SETTINGS of all places to shutdown/lock screen etc? Weird... :worried:
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Re: Windows 8

Postby Captain Picard's Hair » Fri Sep 16, 2011 8:08 pm

LaughingCheese wrote:Lol, not going to DX12 ? This is new...:D


EDIT: And yeah, I got win 8 up and running in VirtualBox and I dislike Metro as well. Probably great for phones/tablets, but I hope it won't be the default user interface for the desktop.


Also, why the heck must they rearrange everything with each release???? I mean, I have to go to SETTINGS of all places to shutdown/lock screen etc? Weird... :worried:


Yeah, it's odd the way shutdown/lock/restart options are so hidden. On the MS forums there's been a lot of outcry about that so they'll probably make them more visible in the final release.
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Re: Windows 8

Postby Nickswitz » Fri Sep 16, 2011 9:47 pm

I sure hope so, because I just log out and then go to the shut down menu option in the locked screen, but it's so annoying to do that.
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Re: Windows 8

Postby Captain Picard's Hair » Sun Feb 19, 2012 10:22 pm

Some updates: the "Developer Preview" has been out since September, now the "Consumer Preview" is expected to be released to the public on Wednesday, the 29th of this month (in less than two weeks). Like the earlier preview, this one will be free for all to use for a limited time (it will have a built-in timer that will expire in some months time, after which the OS won't boot). Compared to the previous release, this next preview should be more stable and more feature-complete. Some of the bugs or questions mentioned above in this thread should be addressed.

It's still quite controversial, particularly the Metro user interface. Actually Microsoft has done a lot of great engineering in this OS, a lot of it improvements to the stuff "under the hood" of the system. Since it will run tablets (with much less hardware power than in a full PC) the new OS is designed to be super-efficient in RAM use, CPU use, and power use (battery life) from the ground up. In fact this was my experience with the developer preview: it ran quite smoothly. One thing I'll want to see in the Metro side is better ways to browse apps and multitask/ switch apps in that environment (i.e., in the absence of a taskbar).

Microsoft has revealed a new Windows logo, replacing the traditional four-colored flag motif. The new one is simpler, monochrome, and ... flatter. It actually resembles a window (in perspective). Or, the inverse of the flag of Finland, if you wish! :P

Image

MS will also launch their own app store in the Consumer Preview; all initial apps will be free with paid apps arriving later. Mozilla has already announced plans to create a Firefox app for Metro (as a separate program from the Desktop version of Firefox which will still be maintained).

Early rumors had it that the OS would include a built-in PDF reader, making Adobe Reader (or other PDF software like Foxit Reader) redundant. This feature was missing in the Developer Preview but leaks seem to indicate a "Reader" app will be in the Consumer Preview, which presumably will read PDFs and possibly other formats like epub or even Microsoft's own .lit format. We'll see for certain once the beta is actually released.

I've gone back to using WIndows 7 just because it's a more stable platform than the very early build of Windows 8 was but I'll be sure to try the new public beta release once it's out (and report with my findings then).
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Re: Windows 8

Postby Captain Picard's Hair » Wed Feb 29, 2012 5:21 pm

Consumer preview is out; I'm dual-booting with Win 7. Early impressions are that it's a lot more complete and rounded, more stable. There is a (metro only) "Windows Reader" app pre-installed that reads PDF and XPS files. Most of the bugs in the earlier preview build are gone, in general it's smoother and just works better.

Pics are reduced to 66% actual size:

Desktop:

Image

Note the watermark at bottom left and that there is no "start" button. The Metro start page is brought up either by pressing the "Windows" (flag) key on the keyboard or by bringing the mouse pointer to the bottom left corner of the screen:

Image

Metro:

Image

The start screen is now more customizable in this more complete preview build, with choice of background and background color, etc

Search in Metro simply by typing :

Image

Windows store (Metro app):
Image

The default weather app (as you can see it's a miserable day here)

Image
Image
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Re: Windows 8

Postby Captain Picard's Hair » Wed Feb 29, 2012 5:59 pm

I can't get a screenshot of it but there's a new app switcher in Metro (move mouse pointer to top left corner)

http://www.anandtech.com/show/5612/windows-8-consumer-preview-the-four-corners

example from the Win 8 presentation by Microsoft:

Image

This is one of the things I was looking for that makes Metro a lot more usable compared to the developer's preview (though that was a very early preview). It's sort of a Metro-ized taskbar in "auto-hide" mode

Edit: here's the switcher locked to the side of the screen

Image
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