Microsoft has ripped out legacy code that allowed third parties to turn the popular Start Menu back

"It's our way or the highway."

That was seemingly the message delivered by the Windows 8 Release Preview, which is launching today, free for consumers to try.  It's not yet live, but according to a Windows Team blog post, you will soon be able to get it here.

I. Microsoft Outrages Windows Traditionalists

If previous versions ignited controversy that Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) is turning its back on desktop and traditional personal computer users, Windows 8 will likely cause even more hurt feelings.  A key change in the Release Preview has been Microsoft's decision to rip out large chunks of legacy code that allowed third-party app makers to re-enable the beloved "Start Menu" and Start Button in the Consumer Preview release.

Microsoft confidante and Windows Supersite writer Paul Thurrott is also reporting that Microsoft plans not to allow users to directly boot to the desktop.  Instead -- just like anyone else -- they'll be dropped into the rich Metro UI graphical environment.

Further, Microsoft is reportedly going to rip out the current Aero UI desktop found in the Consumer Preview and Release Preview builds, replacing it with a more Metro-Like desktop in the Release to Manufacturer (RTM) build, which will land in a couple months.

Paul Thurrott typically a strong Windows evangelist was surprisingly critical of these changes.  He comments:

Despite my recent attempt to categorize what’s coming in Windows 8 for businesses -- and, seriously, it’s not a bad list -- it’s become increasingly clear to me that Microsoft doesn’t actually expect businesses to upgrade to this new system in any meaningful way. I believe that the software giant is taking a pass on businesses for this release, a calculated risk that enables it to more firmly focus on the consumer market that's on the cusp of slipping through its fingers thanks to Apple and, to a much lesser extent, Android.
Microsoft hasn’t made such an obviously consumer-centric version of Windows since Millennium Edition (Windows Me), and the question isn’t whether businesses will ignore this release, as they did Windows Vista. Of course they will. The question is whether Microsoft is (understandably) ignoring businesses with this release or if they’re being openly antagonistic to a market that, thus far, has been responsible for most of the software giant’s successes. Let’s hope it’s just the former.

In other words, one of the foremost Windows world experts thinks that Windows 8 will be a huge failure in terms of business sales, and to add insult to injury has compared it to the universally loathed Windows ME.

Metro UI
Windows traditionalists are not happy with Microsoft decision to push Metro UI on all Windows 8 users. [Image Source: My Microsoft Life]

To be fair, Mr. Thurrott has offered praise for some of the Metro UI features from a consumer perspective.  But his words reflect the sentiments of many in the public -- shock and dismay at Microsoft decision to throw away its proud (if plain) desktop tradition.

II. Improvements and Extras

For those that want to check out the Release Preview build (previously referred to as the Customer Preview build), it features:
  • Improved core apps
  • Adobe Systems Inc. (ADBE) Flash aboard the Internet Explorer 10 browser
  • Bug and security fixes
  • Hardware improvements
  • Improved multi-monitor support
You can pick up a Visual Studio 2012 (aka VS 11) preview build here and the latest Windows 8 driver kit here.

Visual Studio 11
The Metro-friendly Visual Studio 11 (Visual Studio 2012) will launch alongside Windows 8.

Windows 8 will launch in October and come in three different versions.

Sources: Windows SuperSite, The Next Web

"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007

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