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Old 23-09-2011, 02:45 AM
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Lightbulb Rough Preview Windows 8 ,first look an early tour of Windows 8 (photos/hands-on)

An early rough version, first look at Windows 8 (hands-on)

Not unlike an artfully created but tiny-portioned appetizer leading into a flavorful and filling main course that remains stuck in the kitchen, my first hands-on experience with Windows 8 left me eager for what was coming but disappointed with what was set in front of me.

A first, rough look at Windows 8

Microsoft released the first preview release of Windows 8, and we spent all night testing it out and diving into how it all works. Here’s our review, and the normal How-To Geek style screenshot tour, with loads and loads of pictures. Note: this article was so incredibly long that we broke it up into multiple pages, which isn’t something we do often.
So What’s New in Windows 8?

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And you’ll end up on a dialog that allows you to manually choose which files you want to keep, with a little preview of each file. Double-click on any of the files, and you can open them up. It’s extremely useful.

There’s a ton of new stuff in Windows 8, but the biggest change that you’ll notice right away is the addition of the new tile-based Metro interface, which you can see in the screenshot above. Keep in mind that this is the developer preview release, which means it’s nowhere near finished, and you should definitely not install this on your primary PC.
We’ll go into loads of detail about everything as you read further, but first here’s a quick list of just some of the new features:

Start screen
Rough Preview Windows 8 ,first look an early tour of Windows 8 (photos/hands-on)-windows-8-start-screen.jpg
The new Start screen lands you smack dab in the middle of the Metro interface, with numerous apps and services loaded simultaneously.

  • Metro Interface – the new default interface in Windows 8, keep reading for everything about this.
  • Faster Boot Times – Windows 8 will boot much faster than Windows 7, thanks to a partial hibernation mode and a lot of improvements in the loading process. On my old Dell laptop, it boots in less than 10 seconds – on new machines, it’s crazy fast.
  • Less Memory Usage than Windows 7. That’s right. Microsoft is saying that not only will this version use less RAM than Win7, it also uses less running processes.
  • Windows Explorer overhauled, now has the Ribbon UI, Revamped File Copying, and ISO mounting.
  • In-Place PC Refresh will reload Windows in just a couple of clicks, keeping your files intact.
  • ARM processors are now supported, which will lead to an entirely new class of low-power, battery-efficient tablets.
  • Hyper-V is now part of Windows – so now you can create virtual machines easily without installing anything extra.
  • Taskbar can now span multiple monitors – this very simple feature has finally made it into Windows.
  • Wallpaper can now span multiple monitors – yet another feature that should have been around 10 years ago.
  • Universal Spell Check across Metro applications.
  • Windows Live Integration for Sync, Mail, Skydrive lets you sync all your settings across your PCs, including your files, mail, and photos. The sync is available in the preview, but the Skydrive and Mail are not yet.
  • Windows Store will let you purchase Windows apps all in a single place.
  • New Task Manager is completely revamped with much better tools, including a way to disable startup applications, track application resource usage over time, and even easily restart Windows Explorer.
There’s way more changes all over the place, and we’ll try and cover as much as possible, but there’s no way we can get everything. Not to mention the fact that this is a preview, so there’s probably a whole lot more coming in the beta.
How Can I Get Windows 8?

First, you’ll want to make sure that your PC can run Windows 8, and thankfully the Windows 8 system requirements are basically the same as Windows 7. You can probably get away with installing this on a PC with lousy specs, but obviously you’ll have a better experience on a faster machine. Here’s the specs:
  • 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
  • 1 gigabyte (GB) RAM (32-bit) or 2 GB RAM (64-bit)
  • 16 GB available hard disk space (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit)
  • DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver
  • Taking advantage of touch input requires a screen that supports multi-touch
The key thing to note is that you don’t need a touch device to install Windows 8. Keyboard and mouse will work just fine.

What’s This Metro Interface All About?

Metro is a tile-based interface focused on being clean and simple, with simple icons and beautiful typography instead of the typical shadows and raised button interfaces that we’re used to. Many tiles are more than just an application launcher, they contain live data that updates automatically—a weather tile will automatically show the latest weather report, a news title will scroll the latest from your feeds, the social widget will show the latest photos from Facebook, and your stock ticker will automatically show you what those greedy Wall Street people are up to.
This interface was first released on Windows Phone, and while it’s definitely ideal for a touchscreen environment, it’s also quite usable with the keyboard and mouse—though you will find that scrolling multiple pages is much more tedious using just the mouse than using a simple swipe on the screen.
Metro Features
  • Universal Sharing across applications allows applications to easily share files or text with cloud services (and each other). You can load a picture from Facebook into a photo editing app, then share it on Twitter once you’re done. And it’s all hooked into the common file open dialogs, and the new Share feature.
  • Universal Search allows applications to register with the global search in the Metro interface, so you can search across any application that supports it.
  • Hardware Acceleration – all Metro applications are automatically hardware accelerated, making the entire experience much more smooth.
  • Process Suspending – Windows can automatically suspend Metro applications for better battery life when they aren’t being used.
  • New WindowsRT runtime provides these features to any application in almost any language, with almost no extra code. That means existing applications can be easily modified to connect to social networks without writing any networking code.
To bring up the Metro Start screen when you’re in any other application, just hit the Windows button.

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The main Start screen is also a complete replacement for the Windows 7 Taskbar—you can just start typing at any point while viewing the main Metro Start screen and you’ll be able to quickly find any application on your system the same way that you could on Windows 7.
Metro Keyboard Shortcuts
These are a few keyboard shortcuts that I’ve personally been using. There’s others, but I haven’t figured out whether they work for mouse/keyboard mode or only if you’re using a touch screen with a keyboard also connected, so I won’t include them.

  • Windows+F – Opens File Search
  • Windows+C – Opens Charms Bar
  • Windows+I – Opens Settings
  • Windows+Q – Opens App Search pane
  • Windows+W – Opens Settings Search app
  • Windows+Z – Opens App Bar
If you aren’t at the Start screen, all you have to do is hit the Windows key to get back to the screen, and then start typing to launch an application—it’s the same set of keystrokes you would use before, but a different interface.

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Using Windows 7 Applications (and Taskbar) in Windows 8

My Twitter feed has been flooded with people asking about whether you can use Windows 7 applications in Windows 8, and also if you can use the Windows 7 style Taskbar instead of the Metro interface. The answer is that yes, all applications will continue to work perfectly, and the Windows 7 taskbar is still there—but sadly, as of right now, the Windows 7 Start Menu is completely gone, replaced with Metro instead.
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To reach the Windows 7 style desktop, you can either click the Desktop tile in the Metro interface, hit the Windows + M shortcut key, or you can simply Alt+Tab or open a Windows 7 application some other way. You’ll immediately be taken to a very familiar screen, albeit lacking the Start Orb. Everything else throughout Windows 8 works just about how you’d expect it to, except clicking on the Start button will take you to the Metro screen.
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Start at that screen long enough, and you’ll start to ask yourself the question I did… wait a second! Where’s the Shut Down Button! How do I restart?! And you’d be right to ask that question. The answer is that you need to use the Win + I shortcut key combination to pull up the Metro settings menu (more useful for Metro applications, of course)…
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And here’s a close-up of the bottom right-hand corner, where you’ll find the new Power options. From here, you can shut down or restart your PC. You could also create a shortcut on the desktop to shut down or restart, but it’s nice to know how the built-in method works.
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Since we’re already looking at the Windows 7 style side of things, we should talk about Explorer.
Windows Explorer Updates in Windows 8
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There’s been a lot of complaints about the new Ribbon interface in Windows 8, especially since it does take up a lot of screen space—but after using it for a while, it’s actually quite natural to use, especially since you can keep the Ribbon minimized most of the time. Update: turns out, you can force the Ribbon to stay minimized all the time.

For instance, here’s the default view with the Ribbon expanded:
Since we’re already looking at the Windows 7 style side of things, we should talk about Explorer.
Windows Explorer Updates in Windows 8
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And here’s what it looks like with the Ribbon minimized. So much simpler, even clean looking. All the functionality is there, easily accessed from the Ribbon should you need it.

You can also use the Quick Access Toolbar, and add a couple of useful options on there. This ends up with an Explorer window that’s actually a lot cleaner than before while giving you more functionality.

One of the nicer changes in Windows 8 is the new file copy dialogs, which came in really handy during a bunch of file copy jobs I was doing. The default view gives you way more information about your file transfer, and seems to be a lot more accurate than all the other versions of Windows.
Since we’re already looking at the Windows 7 style side of things, we should talk about Explorer.
Windows Explorer Updates in Windows 8
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Where it gets really interesting is once you hit a few conflicts—you’ll see a dialog that’s somewhat similar to previous versions, but cleaner. Click the “Choose” option, however…
Since we’re already looking at the Windows 7 style side of things, we should talk about Explorer.
Windows Explorer Updates in Windows 8
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And you’ll end up on a dialog that allows you to manually choose which files you want to keep, with a little preview of each file. Double-click on any of the files, and you can open them up. It’s extremely useful.
Mounting ISO Images!

That’s right, you can finally mount an ISO image or VHD directly from Explorer. So useful.
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Keep reading for more about the new Task Manager, more details about Metro-style data sharing, the new Control Panel, and the new Refresh feature.

New Toast Dialogs

When you insert a USB drive, you’ll see a new Metro-style interface asking what you want to do with this drive. Awesome.
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Hmm, wait… what’s that File History thing? Sure enough, if you look through Control Panel, you’ll see a new File History panel, where you can configure a backup drive to store a history of all your user files. It’s a backup solution.

New Control Panel

If you click on the Control Panel icon on the Metro screen, you’ll see a new full-screen dialog with loads of options. Most of them are pretty self-explanatory, so we aren’t going to go into detail here. You can use Personalize to easily change your lock screen picture, and change the applications that show notifications on the lock screen—though no applications are currently available to use.

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Using the Search and Share sections, you can configure which applications are available to the search engine and sharing features, how much history is kept, and a lot of other options.

Internet Explorer 10
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Windows 8 will come with Internet Explorer 10, optimized for touch-based browsing. Don't look for any fundamental changes from IE9, although you will see some features such as notifications and security from IE9 leveraged to Metro.

App switching
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If you browse to a site that offers its own Metro app, Windows 8 will ask if you want to just load the content in the app instead. This feature wasn't working in the build Microsoft provided us. You can also swipe from the left to jump to a previously used app, including the traditional Windows desktop.

Dual-monitor setup
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Dual-monitor support is nothing new to Windows, although Microsoft says that you'll now be able to display the Metro Start screen on one monitor and the traditional desktop on the other.
We haven’t tested this yet, so this image is from Microsoft, but as you can see, it’s now possible to put both the Taskbar and wallpaper across both screens. There’s even a bunch of options that let you configure it.

Lock screen
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Windows 8 brings an entirely new lock screen experience. Not only does your desktop look beautiful when it first boots up, but it can actually display useful data on the screen when it’s locked—a count of emails, messages, and other interesting data. In fact, you will be able to install applications that hook into the login screen and show whatever data you want there, as long as it fits the Windows 8 UI specs.

Photo picker
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Images can easily be shared in Metro across accounts, making it easier to share photos from, say, Flickr to Facebook friends.

Task Manager
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The Task Manager sees its first major update in a long time, with a heat map of activity, and the ability to examine traffic in use across your RAM, memory, hard drive, and networks.

Managing processes
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Here's a closer look at the Task Manager heat map, emphasizing which processes have been most active.

Onscreen keyboard
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The onscreen keyboard felt natural to use, and comes with options to accept handwriting from your finger or a stylus, and can also switch to a split keyboard mode for thumb typing.

Keyboard for thumbs
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The thumb keyboard option ought to make it easier to type two-handed on a tablet. Thankfully this option was included, as the demo tablet was too heavy to comfortably hold in one hand.

Visual Studio

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Visual Studio 2011 Express is a lightweight and free version of the developers tool that Microsoft has created to make it easier for devs to build their Metro apps. It works with HTML5 and XAML.


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