Saturday, March 10, 2012

Windows 8 Consumer Preview

Everybody has heard about the Windows 8 Consumer Preview. Like millions of others I downloaded it. I installed it in a VirtualBox virtual machine.

UPDATE: I had done this install on VirtualBox v4.1.8. Recently I upgraded to v4.1.10 and the associated Guest Additions. The Guest Additions killed Windows 8. The problem is described here. I didn't try the recommended solution. I was able to get the Windows 8 recovery dialog up after I reset the virtual machine and restored to a good recovery point.

I've played with it for a week or so and wanted to write this post with a ton of screenshots. But my use of VirtualBox is aggravating this. I run the virtual machine on my "Big Honker." Then I mostly access it via VRDP from my T420s. This really complicates the subtleties of interaction with the target system.

The upside is that Windows 8 has a clever new shortcut. Pressing the Windows key and the PrtSc key at the same time takes a screen shot and puts it in your Pictures library. Clever. The default viewer for the resulting .png file is the Metro Photo app. Interesting.

By the way, the Metro apps in the Preview are just demonstration applications. They all work but aren't full function. Not a problem.

As I was writing this I made some progress in taking screenshots so here's the boot splash screen.

Hint: That's a "beta" fish.

This is the pre-lock screen.

There are no instructions on this screen but if you click and drag toward the top...

(Please ignore the timestamps.)

You get the login screen.

The Metro interface is beautiful and provides an interesting connection back to the traditional (dare I call it "legacy") Desktop. But the transition is "jarring." It would be less so if I could figure out how to use a common background but the Metro will only let you chose from a few colors.

The Windows key toggles you between the Desktop and the Metro interface.

Hovering in the top left corner shows you a thumbnail of the previous app(lication). Carefully sliding your mouse down the left border expands this into a mini Task Manager with thumbnails of other running apps. At the bottom is a thumbnail of the Start screen. Windows + Tab also brings this up.

Ctrl + Tab lets you toggle through running apps as you'd expect.

To dismiss a Metro app, click near the top and drag to the bottom reminiscent of webOS! While this doesn't actually close the Metro app, Alt + F4 still works.

Windows + C brings up a "charms" overlay that has "Search," "Share," "Start," "Devices," and "Settings." The "Settings" here are pretty limited.

Obviously there's lots more to Windows 8. Go play with it yourself and discover some.

I also found another post that covers many of the points that I wanted to make and they have screenshots.

Update: In TWiT's Windows Weekly 252, Paul Thurott made a couple of interesting statements:

The very notion of a productivity application is counter to Metro.

You can bitch and moan all you want ... but I've got bad news for you. It's not changing. (about the schizophrenic personality of Windows 8)

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