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Microsoft Operating Systems Windows Technology

Microsoft Launches Windows 8 Consumer Preview 500

suraj.sun writes "Microsoft on Wednesday made the Consumer Preview of Windows 8 available for download to the general public. Built with touch computing and apps in mind, Windows 8 is crucial to Microsoft's efforts to make inroads against Apple and Google in the red-hot tablet market, where the company is significantly behind rivals. Windows 8 marks the biggest change to the OS since the aforementioned 95 flavor (which, shockingly, turns 17 this year). With Windows 8 comes the introduction of a Metro-style interface, inspired by the lovely and intuitive presentation found in Windows Phone. In it, apps and functions are pinned to tiles and, to interact with those apps, you simply tap those tiles. The former Start Menu has been replaced by a full-screen view of tiles that you can scroll through horizontally. You can pin applications, shortcuts, documents, webpages and any number of other things, customizing the interface in any way you like — so long as what you like is rectangular and only extends from left to right." MrSeb wrote on with info on generating a USB stick installer from the available images, and itwebennet with details about IE10.
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Microsoft Launches Windows 8 Consumer Preview

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  • by sconeu ( 64226 ) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @02:37PM (#39200207) Homepage Journal

    I had the Win8 Developer Preview, and I *HATED* the Metro Interface. IMHO it was ugly and a PITA to use. It does not scale well to a standard WIMP interface.

    Maybe for a tablet, it's OK.

    • by ByOhTek ( 1181381 ) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @02:41PM (#39200273) Journal

      I can see it being "OK" for a tablet, like it is "OK" for a phone (not great, and I'd struggle to call it "good"). However, for a non-touch screen, or a screen that is large enough to hold a decent amount of text, this interface is a horrible, inefficient waste of space.

      • by Samalie ( 1016193 ) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @02:44PM (#39200323)

        Agreed entirely. There is absolutley no fucking way my owners will want this at all in our office environment.

        Complete and utter shit. Vista 2.0

        • by DigiShaman ( 671371 ) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @03:35PM (#39200977) Homepage

          And the ribbons interface for Windows Explorer? WTF?! I would rather be waterboarded. Screw that!

      • by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @03:04PM (#39200549) Homepage

        They're dreaming if they think it's anything other than a tablet OS.

        I don't think I have the upper body strength to use it on a monitor for more than half an hour.

        • by NatasRevol ( 731260 ) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @03:32PM (#39200933) Journal

          Next year is the year of Nerds On Steroids.

        • by dave420 ( 699308 ) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @03:51PM (#39201207)
          The Metro UI is not an OS. You can still use the normal desktop UI if you want, which I'm sure most desktop computer users will.
          • by CohibaVancouver ( 864662 ) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @06:22PM (#39202991)

            You can still use the normal desktop UI if you want, which I'm sure most desktop computer users will.

            Except that the start menu is gone - Clicking 'start' returns you to the metro tiles - Sort of like clicking the button on an iPad. So if you consider the start menu to be part of the 'normal desktop UI' then no, you can't use the normal desktop.

            • by SpryGuy ( 206254 ) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @12:36AM (#39205379)

              No, the start menu isn't gone.

              The "Start Screen" *is* the new Start Menu. You can arrange it as you wish, group things as you wish, remove anything you don't want to be there. Yes, it looks a lot different... but the old "start menu" had major changes in every major release of Windows since Windows 95.

          • by bored ( 40072 )

            Except in the developer preview I have, I wasn't smart enough to figure out how to get a proper start menu. I was constantly flipping back and forth to start applications.

            It basically left me scratching my a** a couple of times trying to figure simple stuff out. It might be intuitive for my 5Y/O but anyone over 20 is going to be like WTF? From someone who actually owns a touchpad and an ipad, and didn't find either interface to be that foreign. The developer preview was a mess.

            • by SpryGuy ( 206254 ) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @12:39AM (#39205387)

              The Developer Peview UI wasn't complete. It wasn't for consumers or the UI really. There were place-holders and some things just completely missing.

              The Consumer Preview changes things and is a lot more consistent and usable. There is much better support for mice and keyboards.

              You should try the Consumer Preview, give it a few hours so you can get used to it, check out the right-click menus and keyboard short-cuts, and realize it's not that bad at all.

              But yeah, there are some things that are lacking in the "Discoverability" aspect. But hopefully constructive feedback will help polish the remaining rough areas.

      • by dave420 ( 699308 )
        You don't have to use it - a perfectly normal desktop is there if you want to use it. Bitching about this is like complaining that Calculator is a piss-poor Control Panel. Technically correct, but entirely pointless.
        • a perfectly normal desktop is there if you want to use it

          The start menu is gone - Clicking 'start' returns you to the metro tiles - Sort of like clicking the button on an iPad. So if you consider the start menu to be part of the 'perfectly normal desktop' then no, you can't use the normal desktop.

    • by w.hamra1987 ( 1193987 ) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @02:56PM (#39200459) Homepage

      Well, as a computer technician, i loved the few years of Vista. I had so many customers buying new laptops, and asking me to downgrade them... Those were the good time, cash pouring in all the time.

      Then came 7, it was good, no one wanting a downgrade, but certainly lots of people needing help to upgrade. Maintenance-wise, 7 didn’t prove to be a challenge, and fixing its problems is usually simpler, especially with the addition of repairing tools to the boot partition.

      I guess now with windows 8, we'll go back to the downgrade frenzy phase... I look very forward to it.. and even more hopefully, Microsoft will again, as with Vista, learn the errs of their ways, and produce a good windows 9.

      whatever the result... I’m happy with my Linux and KDE here... windows is nothing but a huge job opportunity to me :)

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @06:22PM (#39202983)

        It's always been this way.

        • 3.1 == Meh
        • 3.11 == Woot
        • 95 == Meh
        • 98 == Woot
        • XP == FUCK YES
        • 7 == Oh thank fucking god.
        • 8 == Windows for Metrosexuals

        I suspect Windows 9 will bring orgasmic joy to those who opt to suffer through 8.

        Also, the conspicuous lack of 2000 is intentional; while it is unarguably the best Windows ever(tm), it (like NT before it) was not targeted at the LOL I M USING TEH INTERNETS crowd.

  • by Kenja ( 541830 ) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @02:41PM (#39200269)
    As such I will not buy any computer with Windows 8 on it. Hope Apple realizes this before the next OS X is released, but I doubt it.
  • "Consumer" Preview (Score:5, Insightful)

    by redneckmother ( 1664119 ) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @02:42PM (#39200289) Journal
    Does anyone else take exception to the use of the word "consumer" instead of "customer"?
    • by sixtyeight ( 844265 ) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @02:45PM (#39200329)

      Yes. It's somewhere between "helpless end-user" and "grazing cattle".

    • by DogDude ( 805747 ) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @02:47PM (#39200355)
      No. "Consumer" is used to differentiate between regular people and developers and corporate partners and such. Those developers and businesses are "customers" too, so using the word "customer" for today's release doesn't make any sense.
  • Ooo, look! (Score:4, Funny)

    by msobkow ( 48369 ) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @02:43PM (#39200305) Homepage Journal

    We called iconic borderless buttons "tiles"!

    Aren't we cool and relevant and creative and all that shit?

  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @02:43PM (#39200307) Homepage

    My organization is in the middle of deploying Windows 7 to replace XP desktops.

    Given the costs and time of doing this, it will likely be several years before this gets replaced.

    I wonder if other organizations are only just getting to Win 7, if Win 8 might become one of those releases that everyone bypasses since they just finished upgrading. That would likely hurt MIcrosoft.

    Anybody got any screenshots for the new interface? I'm curious to know how trying to make something optimized for phones and tablets is going to work as an actual desktop interface. It sounds like they might be trying a bit of a "one size fits all" approach, which doesn't always work so well.

    • by dan828 ( 753380 ) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @03:23PM (#39200803)
      Perhaps MS realizes this and figures they've got a good 9 more years to experiment before they need to make a solid desktop OS that'll be adopted by their enterprise customers? I mean, Windows 7 looks like it's going to have all of the staying power that XP did. Perhaps they're thinking they can do some radical experimenting and still maintain their user base with windows 7.
  • by Quiet_Desperation ( 858215 ) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @02:53PM (#39200429)

    Huh. So Microsoft hired the ghost of Piet Mondrain as their lead designer?

    It looks... really... straight and... yeah. It sure is a thing.

    (sudden panicked thought) They still have the Ribbon, right? How will I live without the concentrated awesome of Teh Ribbon?!

  • Copying (Score:4, Funny)

    by sixtyeight ( 844265 ) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @02:59PM (#39200497)

    I was just watching the Developer's Preview []. They were touting "a new kind of copying files ... you don't have to copy files to your hard drive anymore, they can just stay in the cloud".

    Well how nice! Why have the tedium of being sure your files will be there when you go for them, when you can suddenly become dependent upon a third-party service? It's not like they've ever ratcheted up the price on their customers before.

    I'm just waiting for them to abandon the hard drive entirely, in favor of a coin slot. Using your computer will be just like internet video poker.

    • Re:Copying (Score:5, Insightful)

      by adonoman ( 624929 ) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @03:12PM (#39200665)
      I think you missed the point of a new kind of copying - they're finally fixing the wild guesstimates, uninformative dialogs, and constant interuptions when copying files using the GUI. It finally lets you queue up copy operations, has a helpful keep/replace dialog that only prompts once at the beginning, and actually maintains a graph of copy performance if you go to the advanced view.

      The cloud thing is a whole different issue.

      • Wasn't all the changes to the file copying interface in Vista supposed to fix all that? Oh wait, it made it worse. It turn file copying into a twisted "choose your own adventure" game.
    • That's funny they want your files in the cloud considering Windows Azure just went 'tits up' for an extended period (possibly due to them not being able to handle a leap year - that would be amazingly dumb if true).
  • what's new? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DaveGod ( 703167 ) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @03:06PM (#39200587)

    So what are the significant changes? Other than the UI.

    I did try Googling a few previews, they talked about the UI.

    • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

      well, server version has a new filesystem option.

      3 processes less(MEANS NOTHING! but fills a powerpoint slide) running by default.

      screenlock screen has some data on it, about how many mails etc. you know, the kind of thing you'd usually just use some 3rd party sw. could easily be shipped as a win7 sp extra.

      you'll have refresh points. you know what restore points are? yeah, those. but they're refresh points.

      it's like they gave 7 to a fucking UI modder and then lied to him that the dominant platform for runni

    • A few actual things (Score:5, Informative)

      by cbhacking ( 979169 ) <been_out_cruisin ... om ['yah' in gap> on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @07:07PM (#39203413) Homepage Journal

      Since you'll otherwise just get a bunch of sarcasm...

        * Memory page de-duplication (automatically reduces system memory usage in most use cases).
        * Lower base memory usage than Win7 (pretty impressive, IMO).
        * Improved file operation interface (copying/moving files now shows all ops in one window, allows pausing, and generally provides more info).
        * IE10 is built in (I assume it will be backported; it's a nice release).
        * ISO mounting without additional software (finally!)
        * App Marketplace (not mandatory, but convenient).
        * Sign in with your WLID (now called "Microsoft Account"; enables syncing favorites, settings, and user-selected files/folders, plus downloading your Marketplace apps on other PCs).
        * Automated ability to restore the OS to basic post-install state without losing the user's files or customizations (simplifying and speeding up the "pave-it-over" solution).
        * Vastly improved multi-monitor support (taskbar spanning both monitors, wallpaper spanning the monitors, separate wallpaper on each monitor, each monitor gets taskbar icons for the apps open on that monitor only, and other options).
        * Improved theme capabilities (automatic selection of chrome color based on current wallpaper, even during "slideshow", for example).
        * Built-in antivirus option (Microsoft Security Essentials is now integrated into Windows Defender).

      There's more, that's just what I remember from some of the demos I saw and my own personal experimentation.The "BUILD" conference demoed a lot of stuff, and that was before the release of the previous preview. I'm also just mentioning things that matter to the user, not mentioning the new developer features (though of course BUILD had a bunch of info about those).

  • by G3ckoG33k ( 647276 ) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @03:13PM (#39200689)

    "inspired by the lovely and intuitive presentation found in Windows Phone"

    Is that just mean, or plain ignorant? The Windows smartphones have no market share any longer. Look at the stats for smartphones - []

    That expensive effort from Microsoft was killed by Android and Apple.

    Why copy a product with a sinking market share? Do they believe the new Nokia hardware will sell their operating system for PCs?

  • by BudAaron ( 1231468 ) <> on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @03:24PM (#39200815)
    I used the Developer Preview as my main OS for a few weeks. On Windows 7 I pin all of my apps to the taskbar. I did the same thing with Windows 8. So I had all the goodness of Windows 8 but all the availability of Windows 7. I came to think of it as Windows 7 on steroids.I may well go back to Windows 8 as my OS of choice.
    • Pinning the apps is all well and good, but I don't want to pin all the crap that I need only occasionally (and there wouldn't be enough space for that, in any case). So I would normally use search to find those, i.e. press Win and type whatever it is. Which, of course, still works in Win8, but the fact that it pops up the Metro UI is so distracting that it drives me nuts.

      Yeah, yeah, get off my lawn.

  • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @03:47PM (#39201123) Journal

    Remember them? When your ISP still thought that you would visit their home page for anything else but to find the way to cancel the service?

    Yahoo was just one of many to do this and often it meant that what you came for was completely impossible to find. MS has never lost this, its web presence is a design nightmare. There really even isn't one. Every little thing gets its own site, often barely working and then gets forgotten. It also happens to bigger things, MS pushed its own solution for selling music for music players, then it dropped it completely when it launched the Zune and then it dropped the Zune. Games for Windows has had many forms, launched and forgotten again.

    But now... this approach has made it to the desktop and it ain't new at all. Active Desktop, widgets,gadgets, someone at MS seriously believes that people spend all their time looking at their desktop. Are you? Right now, how much space on the screen in front of you is taken up by the browser?

    Right... where are all those Metro blocks supposed to go?

    The engadget article doesn't suprise me. Did you see the monitor in the video? I didn't even know they still made them that small. The original Mac had a bigger screen for fucks sake. Now try the same interface and the scroll down for start menu on a triple 30 inch monitor setup. And I am thinking of going to 6. Apples unified menu system, Unity, Gnome 3. They ALL suck with big screens. Of course not everyone has a big screen... even more reason to use the available space for what you are working on. Where are the metro apps? Hidden... now you want something else... so you are supposed to minimize all applications, then click on the desktop and get that app running fullscreen because you need full details... that is handy?

    No... this is a classic designer mistake, it looks pretty but it isn't usable. If you demo it, you have only one app running and as you make the metro desktop appear you pause and show the wealth of information available to you and how easy it is to get a detailed view open... very nice, very smooth and totally NOT how you do it when you are working.

    Jagged Alliance 2 was a turnbased game that on every move, had the bottom 3rd of the screen drop out and appear again to change the display. Very pretty... once... the millionth time, you want to exterminate the designer and everyone he ever met.

    I just don't see people use their PC's the way the metro app seems to think. Most people I know work with either full screen applications or have them covering the desktop and switch them the taskbar or by alt-tabbing. The desktop just never is in view. That is why Active Desktop never got anywhere, people never saw it. With the new linux desktop Enlightenment it is possible to make animated wallpapers... cute... and there is a reason nobody else has bothered with it, because you never see the damn thing. The desktop and start menu are there to get you started... from then on, you switch between applications and never ever close them. Only the most infrequent users and under powered constantly shut down their PC and start it up again. I know one person like that and she has firefox on autostart and arranges it to cover the desktop with her IM.

    The Metro style is the domain of movie UI's. I remember one Sci-Fi movie with I think Robert Sellect (magnum PI) in which he goes through a morning routine with a robot. It is a common enough scene in future movies and it just doesn't happen. A: No human being can possibly care to be informed in detail about the weather outside, the news, appointments, social chat with relatives, banter with the AI before they got a cup of coffee. B: Any AI system at the moment that would display so much information would display the wrong thing at the wrong time and C: INFORMATION OVERLOAD.

    I check my mail... then I read the comics... then I check the weather. Display them all at once... and WHERE ARE YOU GOING TO PUT THE ADS FOR THOSE FREE SERVICES?

    I think this will be another MS Bob. Vista? To small a disast

  • Mixing metraphors (Score:5, Insightful)

    by psydeshow ( 154300 ) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @03:51PM (#39201203) Homepage

    I'm a longtime Apple guy who also owns, uses, and mostly enjoys Windows Phone 7. Metro is a fresh take on what software should look like, and since Apple hasn't done any graphic innovation since 2007 I really appreciate it.

    But on the desktop? Mixed in with traditional Windows applications? On your boss's computer? OMG train wreck!

    Mixing two UX metaphors is an unbelievably bad idea. It's a big reason why Linux on the Desktop is a hard sell. It's why people intuitively avoid Java applications. It's why Adobe has struggled on OS X. And in all three of those cases we're talking about power users having trouble switching UX contexts.

    If you do this in plain vanilla Windows you're going to have confusion on a whole new level. Grandma is not going to understand why some apps work this way and some apps work that way. Or why there are two versions of Internet Explorer. Or what happened to the Start button that I've been clicking to do *everything* for the past 15 years?

    I have a lot of respect for Metro and what the team behind it is trying to do. They should just stick with a phone/tablet OS that is Metro-only all the time and not try to do this unholy mix on the desktop.

  • Too soon (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Lawrence_Bird ( 67278 ) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @03:51PM (#39201219) Homepage

    Uncle with the OS do overs. Win 7 has been out less than three years. Heck I still have two desktops running XP because a) it works and b) I don't have to buy new hardware just to make the OS work. Win 7 is stable enough that they should be doing incremental point releases to that and not wholesale changes like win 8. Who is crying for this crap any how? And you mean there was no way to modify 7 to work as desired on a tablet? Hard to believe. Freaking NetBSD runs on damned toasters and mega servers for gods sake!

    • Re:Too soon (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Your.Master ( 1088569 ) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @04:44PM (#39201915)

      Much as I'm not a fan of this interface on the desktop, I think this *is* the way to modify windows 7 to work as desired on a tablet.

      Windows 7 ran on tablets for years and it sucked because the entire interface was designed for a mouse and keyboard, with some bones thrown in for keyboard-only users. Tablets have fundamentally different constraints -- not nearly as precise as the mouse, so you need much larger hit targets and hit-testing correction; there's no "right-click" or any other button, so contextual UI has to be redesigned; can "instantly" move the pointer and even have multiple pointers simultaneously, enabling new interactions; no hardware keyboard means the UI has to dynamically account for a software keyboard; etc..

      That's what the original iPhone got right: a phone is not a small desktop. People weren't asking for specifically what an iPhone was because they lacked the words to express it, like the tale of Ford and "faster horses". However, Apple seems to think that tablets are huge telephones -- and to be fair, iPad sales aren't exactly lacking, so they have a point to some extent. I think there's a different optimum to be found in that form factor, though. Microsoft seems to be betting on something that's a bit more phone-like but not really a big WinPhone, coupled with the old desktop which continues to work as crappily as ever on a tablet. From an approach perspective, I think it's interesting and promising for tablets. I think it's a mistake for any machine that doesn't primarily use touch input. I would recommend Microsoft make Metro the second-class citizen when you use mouse & keyboard, and make desktop the second-class citizen when you use a Touch device. Of course they don't want UI divergence because it would bisect their famously large 3rd party software market. But that's going to happen anyway because the compatibility is still there and the desktop is still better for mouse & keyboard. I think it's cool that you can run tablet-optimized software on a desktop and desktop-optimized software on a tablet, but I don't think that's what you should spend most of your time doing.

  • Wait for Win9 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kirkb ( 158552 ) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @04:11PM (#39201475) Homepage

    Honestly, I think Win8 would be better off deprecating the desktop and being metro-only. But this can't happen on day one, because users will be in a situation where half their apps are metro and half are legacy. So Win8 forces us to endure the jarringly schizophrenic clash between Metro UI and the Classic Desktop. It's the "transition version" of windows. Win9 will get it right.

Air is water with holes in it.