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Meet the Windows of the future

[UPDATE 1 ] Tues. 2/29/2012 10:03 a.m.
Windows 8 Consumer Preview (a beta build) is now officially live on Microsoft's servers, so get ready for the rush.  Travel here to get it.
Windows Chief Steven Sinofsky at the unveil event stated, "We are really excited to be here. This is a day that's been long in coming for the Windows team. I just got a picture of the operations center where they're getting ready for the downloads. They've been up since 3 AM."
Let's hope they're ready -- in 2009 a similar beta of Windows 7 saw so much demand that it crashed Microsoft's servers.  It was all for a good cause, though -- the beta process found and fixed 2,000 bugs in Windows 7 and proved a key part of its record-smashing commercial success.  Microsoft hopes to recapture that success with Windows 8.
If you download it and try it, be sure to leave a comment letting us know what you think.

A crucial step in the road towards the launch of Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) next commercial personal computer operating system is set to be taken in just minutes or perhaps hours from now.  Microsoft will unveil a public beta of Windows 8 to the world.  It is pitching the beta both to consumers and to businesses, who might not have jumped onboard the earlier MSDN/TechNet preview builds.

The new OS brings a slew of improvements including a developer-friendly 20-80 Microsoft-developer split for high-grossing apps, less painful Windows Update processfaster bootsdecreased OS resource consumption, and improved file transfers, a streamlined upgrade process for the initial installation, and switching to a primarily online sales distribution model.

Like Apple, Inc.'s (AAPL) forthcoming Mountain Lion, Microsoft is pushing hard to "appify" traditional programs, bringing them in line with smartphone apps in terms of app store distribution, icons, and interfaces.  Microsoft is also pushing its SkyDrive -- its cloud storage scheme.

Metro Apps in Windows  8
A slew of Metro Ui apps in Windows 8 [Image Source: The Verge]

The new Windows 8 beta is being launched in Barcelona, Spain, at a 2012 Mobile World Congress event.  The location is appropriate given that Microsoft's new operating system heavily focuses on tablets, for the first time.

Ahead of the launch, some of the built in wallpapers have leaked via r27, an Italian website.  You can grab the 23.6 MB package from here.

WallPaper 1 Wallpaper2 Wallpaper 3 Wallpaper 4 Wallpaper 5 
Wallpaper 6 Wallpaper 7
(Click to enlarge)

The entire Windows 8 download (X64) is expected to be a bit under 3 GB.

Update: The X64 download is 3.3 GB for the English version, while the 32-bit version is 2.5 GB.

Microsoft has published a guide [PDF] for business.  It suggests how business can put Windows 8 on a USB stick for quick and painless managed boots at remote locations.  Given current USB stick capacities have reached 128 GB, it shouldn't be hard to squeeze a managed copy of Windows 8 on there, space-wise.  

Microsoft's business guide also brags about SmartScreen Application Reputation, a feature that screens downloads.  When you go to open a download, if it is a suspect file type and not from a trusted source a warning is given suggesting the user to abort.

The new OS should go live shortly, we will post a link when it does.

Remember, you can install the new operating system as a fully bootable operating system on a single-boot or multi-boot configuration, or more convenient pop it in a virtual machine like VMWare, Inc.'s (VMW) VMWare Workstation.

Sources: The Verge, r27

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By jeepga on 2/29/2012 9:28:19 AM , Rating: 1
I've been casually following the development of Windows 8. I can see where this will be great for tablets, but I just don't see anything compelling. Am I missing something?

RE: meh
By borismkv on 2/29/2012 9:30:36 AM , Rating: 5
Native ISO mounting and Hyper-V will be useful, but the Metro UI is completely retarded when you have to use a mouse.

RE: meh
By quiksilvr on 2/29/2012 11:32:02 AM , Rating: 2
Actually, I would have preferred the Metro UI to be the desktop background and have the TaskDock on the bottom at all times, and just have an option to hide it completely if need be.

That way for desktop/laptop users, you can see what apps are running at all times, the time, the status of software on the bottom right, and, if need be, click Start for more complex actions.

RE: meh
By mmc4587 on 2/29/2012 3:15:10 PM , Rating: 2
1. The Metro Style UI is very easy to disable: MetroController

2. Win_8 has several significant improvements over Win_7:
...Start-up times are quicker
...the RAM footprint is smaller
...the anti-Virus is built in

RE: meh
By borismkv on 2/29/2012 4:40:55 PM , Rating: 2
Having to use a 3rd party utility or registry tweak to disable something does not count as "Very Easy"

RE: meh
By jvillaro on 2/29/2012 6:45:43 PM , Rating: 2
Tell that to Android users that really like their devices after "only" rooting and loading a custom ROM :)

RE: meh
By kensiko on 2/29/2012 5:05:17 PM , Rating: 3
thanks for the metrocontroller tip

RE: meh
By JasonMick on 2/29/2012 9:39:09 AM , Rating: 3
I've been casually following the development of Windows 8. I can see where this will be great for tablets, but I just don't see anything compelling. Am I missing something?

It will be faster, use less memory, and have a cleaner update process... both nice improvements over Win7.

Built in app store, is great if you're a developer.

Even as a consumer, you should have much broader access to apps -- like Steam, but on a broader scale.

There's a lot of new stuff, don't write it off so soon. It looks at least on par with Win7 in terms of iterative improvements.

RE: meh
By Sazabi19 on 2/29/2012 1:03:06 PM , Rating: 4
I've had a developer copy for a few months now and I wasn't really all that impressed with it. Win7 update process never seemed invasive to me, and I have 12 gigs so the running a little leaner doesn't mean much to me. The start button is annoying as hell and keeps bringing me back to the stupid app menu, do not like that at all. All of my traditional options are gone, not even a "(My)Computer" or anything of that nature, just the annoying little folder that you click to open file browsing. A lot of Win7 drivers can be used on Win8 (found that out from my Auzentech soundcard that doesn't have dirvers for 8). Overall I have to say I did not like the developer copy and didn't use it much. Maybe they switched some stuff up for the Beta, but if it stays the way it is I honestly don't like it and think I won't move to Win8. 7 is great and unless I see some real gains on my side (XP-->7) then I won't do it. I don't know about "faster" either, not saying it's not, but on a clean OS install I boot in about 15 seconds, I have my OS SSD and then storage/program drives. I don't honestly see a lot businesses moving towards this either, and I can see this being a technicians nightmare.

RE: meh
By ShaolinSoccer on 2/29/2012 2:05:20 PM , Rating: 3
I've had a developer copy for a few months now and I wasn't really all that impressed with it.

I feel the same way. Not sure why someone rated you down but it's been a major headache trying to use it. Not to mention it's a resource hog. Maybe the consumer preview will be a lot better?

RE: meh
By B3an on 3/3/2012 11:34:24 AM , Rating: 2
A faster, lighter OS that uses less memory and has less processes running is a resource hog? Riiiight. Even if you disable Metro it has zero effect on resources.

RE: meh
By Mitch101 on 2/29/2012 2:06:49 PM , Rating: 2
Just turn it off if you dont like it.

1. Open regedit by typing regedit at the Start screen.

2. Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Curren tVersion\Explorer

3. Modify the RPEnabled key to a “0” instead of the default “1”.

4. To return to the Metro UI, just change the value back to a “1”.

RE: meh
By Sazabi19 on 2/29/2012 2:43:04 PM , Rating: 2
It wasn't just that, did you use it at all? If you did then you know what I am talking about when I say I also hated the old "Start" menu. If you click it then you go straight back to the Metro UI and it is just a huge pain. I didn't play with the registry or anything like that though. I also had a hard time trying to find a button in the actual OS to turn off the computer. I could only find it when I logged off. It's not that it just wasn't devoped yet, it was an alpha, I get that, it's just that it looks so poorly designed that the actual desktop experience and making it scale well for being managed (enterprise) is either an afterthought or just non existant. I support an enterprise of 10,000+ users and we are about to migrate to Win7, this is fine because it is easy to manage, I do not see anything happening with Win8 unless this beta and/or the final retail version are drastically better than the dev copy.

RE: meh
By Mitch101 on 3/1/2012 10:08:04 AM , Rating: 2
Your using an old Windows 8 release because the start is no longer there IE is where the start button was so there is NO START to click on any more you hit the windows key to get to the metro interface.

Let me solve 99% of your navigation issues with 6 Tips.

ALT+F4 to close an application
ALT+Tab to switch between open applications
WINDOWS button to get back into metro gui
Click DESKTOP TILE to get to the familiar desktop
JUST START TYPING and windows will find the application and or document you are looking for.
To Shutdown just touch your power button which will start the shutdown process.
Along the bottom you will see a slider you can drag to move the window view if its larger than your screen can display.

All of the above have been built into Windows for a very long time with the exception of Just Type which I think started in Vista and let windows find what your looking for.

Microsoft recently released the Kinect for the PC and I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of the navigation could be done by waiving gestures in the air as if it was a tablet.

RE: meh
By Mitch101 on 3/1/2012 10:14:04 AM , Rating: 2
I thought so - Kinect for Windows 8

This should solve the navigation through the metro interface.

RE: meh
By 91TTZ on 2/29/2012 4:39:35 PM , Rating: 2
All of my traditional options are gone, not even a "(My)Computer" or anything of that nature, just the annoying little folder that you click to open file browsing

I noticed that the trick I use in Windows Server 2008 R2 works on this. If you go to Search and type in "show desktop icons" you'll get a hit which enables you to change the icons on your desktop.

RE: meh
By jvillaro on 2/29/2012 6:47:31 PM , Rating: 2
The CP presented today is leaps and bounds more usable and has way more features. I mean it was a developer preview

RE: meh
By Sazabi19 on 2/29/2012 1:06:25 PM , Rating: 2
Oh hey Mick, I forgot to ask, do you know if it is possible to update the dev copy to this Beta or does it need to be a fresh install?

RE: meh
By PrezWeezy on 2/29/2012 1:39:28 PM , Rating: 2
They always want you to do a fresh install on pre-release versions because of stability and upgrading the old pre-releases is not their focus. Some people have been able to hack around it and upgrade, but it's not the preferred method. You should do a format/reinstall for each beta version.

RE: meh
By Sazabi19 on 2/29/2012 1:40:41 PM , Rating: 2
Figured as much, already grabbed the .iso, was just wondering if anyone knew for certain. it's only like 10 or 15ish minutes, not bad. Thanks for the info.

RE: meh
By Gnarr on 2/29/2012 2:55:26 PM , Rating: 2
there is no problem doing an upgrade from the developer preview. It does a clean install but keeps your files.

RE: meh
By jeepga on 2/29/2012 2:19:53 PM , Rating: 3
Those are certainly nice enhancements and bug fixes. But, those things aren't all that compelling unless you're coming from Windows XP or Vista.

As a developer I'm not all that excited about being herded to a single source selling model (app store). I understand that it certainly can be beneficial to certain breeds of developers. As far as I know we're not being forced yet.

I like the Metro interface, but not for the desktop. I think their strategy of designing to the lowest common denominator is flawed. Desktops/laptops have different advanced features than tablets/phones, so a one-size fits all mentality will come at the expense of one or the other. We still have the desktop as an option, but I've been in the Microsoft camp long enough to know that it'll get starved.

RE: meh
By Reclaimer77 on 2/29/2012 9:34:06 PM , Rating: 3
But Windows 7 is clearly made for desktop use. Windows 8 might have some great features, but I can tell you right now from what I've seen, Windows 7 users have absolutely NO reason to upgrade to 8.

To use Windows 8 to the fullest you need a touch screen monitor. And I'm just really NOT sold that those are ever going to be more than a gimmick.

RE: meh
By Skywalker123 on 3/1/2012 11:52:18 PM , Rating: 2
You're an idiot, go ahead and upgrade from windows 95

RE: meh
By Valahano on 3/2/2012 10:53:53 AM , Rating: 2
Skywalker13, well said. Now go back to your cave.

RE: meh
By MikadoWu on 2/29/2012 9:46:29 AM , Rating: 2
Most complaints I here is about having to use a mouse. I believe and from information spoken in certain circles, we are going to start seeing a huge push towards Touch screen desktop next year.

Question is more will they be able to produce enough glass.

RE: meh
By Makaveli on 2/29/2012 10:29:33 AM , Rating: 5
I already hate dealing fingers prints on my touchscreen phone.

Now I have to deal with that on my desktop display no thanks!

RE: meh
By MrBlastman on 2/29/2012 1:55:41 PM , Rating: 5
Fingerprints on the monitor do not just bother me, they piss me off. The last thing I want is my daughter with her mac n cheese covered hands groping on the screen to select things on the internet. I love my daughter but, well, I love my monitor being tidy too. I want to look at the internet when I use it, not mac and cheese stains. :)

RE: meh
By rburnham on 2/29/2012 10:55:48 AM , Rating: 1
Acer has a nice 23 inch touch screen monitor for sale that people seem to enjoy. I would imagine we will see more of this. Touch on the desktop will probably be a secondary method of interacting with your computer. We'll probably use the touch screen to browse programs, then touch the icon of the software we want to run, like a game, and then we'll use the mouse and keyboard as usual. It's gimmicky, but kind of neat.

RE: meh
By borismkv on 2/29/2012 11:18:56 AM , Rating: 3
Ick. I don't think I could stand having a touchscreen monitor hooked up to my desktop. It'd be useful on a laptop (can't stand the freaking touchpad mouse on laptops) but a desktop would be just annoying to use with a touchscreen.

RE: meh
By ShaolinSoccer on 2/29/2012 2:14:00 PM , Rating: 2
but a desktop would be just annoying to use with a touchscreen.

Not to mention it would be a strain on your body/arms if you had to do it for long periods of time. Wouldn't be so bad on an angled table, though...

RE: meh
By Nexos on 2/29/2012 3:02:00 PM , Rating: 2
Not to mention it would be a strain on your body/arms if you had to do it for long periods of time.


A technology freak friend of mine bought a 15" touchscreen back in 1999 for a crapload of money and I got to try it out. Web and Windows navigation was ok, but playing Starcraft (which worked reasonably well with touch screen input) or doing any real work for more than 15mins made my arms hurt like hell. quote

RE: meh
By 91TTZ on 2/29/2012 4:44:35 PM , Rating: 2
Due to the way the desktop sits on the desk, it won't make much sense to have a touch screen desktop. With a keyboard and mouse your arms get to rest on your desk which makes it easier. Imagine having to hold your arms up all the time to type on the thing.

On a tablet or phone the device is in your hands so it's natural to touch the screen that way.

RE: meh
By ShaolinSoccer on 2/29/2012 6:07:56 PM , Rating: 2
They should just stick to the old Windows formula. At least give us an option to go back and forth from regular Windows to the new UI. And when I say "regular Windows", I mean just that. The entire OS turns off all the running apps from Metro. Kind of like how you can have more than one 'profile' for what programs/services you want running for each account.

RE: meh
By Reclaimer77 on 2/29/2012 9:51:14 PM , Rating: 2
Touch screen monitors aren't practical for another reason besides fingerprints, viewing distance. I really can't see people sitting a large LCD right up to their face to the point that they can easily reach it. Hell I only have a 32" and there's just no way I would want it any closer to me than I already have it. As it stands my desk has a special shelf for the monitor and it's far back enough as to be impractical for use as a touch input device.

RE: meh
By TakinYourPoints on 3/1/2012 2:15:33 AM , Rating: 2
For a touch interface, large size trackpads make more sense for desktop use. It rests on the desktop while allowing for touch input and gesture commands. Global gestures for large trackpads and OS X work very well in terms of getting touch functionality out of a desktop UI. For something small and portable like a phone or tablet, this also makes total sense, and Windows 8 is aimed very well at that.

Desktop monitors are another thing entirely. I absolutely do not want to control my desktop by reaching up and touching a screen all day. For a 22"+ desktop monitor it doesn't make sense. It certainly doesn't make sense for my big 27". Consumers will reject it for normal desktop use. It'll work for convertable laptops and tablets though.

Either way, Microsoft has completely disregarded ergonomics and efficiency if they think people are going to use touchscreens on a desktop monitor. Why would I use that instead of a mouse or trackpad where I have my arms resting on my desk? For a tablet it absolutely works, but not so much otherwise.

RE: meh
By tonycova on 3/1/2012 9:08:49 AM , Rating: 2
I could see a way to really exploit this type of interface: use a Kinetic type input like what was used in Minority Report for navigation as a replacement for a mouse. I don't see any suitable input replacement for the keyboard though.

RE: meh
By TakinYourPoints on 3/1/2012 2:05:10 AM , Rating: 1
I don't see how they possibly think this will be used in any office.

Going forward we'll basically have server products going back to a command line (I'm fine with this, nobody should have to RDP onto a server to do tasks) while the desktop OS goes to what they are presenting in Windows 8.

This unfortunately leaves power users such as myself in the dust. I really wish that there would be some segmentation between the tablet features and the desktop OS features. At least OS X Lion did a fair job integrating some iOS tablet features without getting in the way of the normal window/folder desktop functions. Otherwise the main Windows 8 additions I'm interested in, native ISO moutning and PDF viewing, have been in OS X for over a decade. Nice to see it is finally in Windows. Otherwise I really don't care for it so far, I'm done with it at the moment.

Since 2000 I've gotten my copies of Windows from a friend at Microsoft for about $35. I can get Windows 8 for cheap and I still don't know if I'll be upgrading from Windows 7. This is the first time I've ever felt that way about a Windows upgrade. I thought XP fans were nuts for not upgrading to Vista after its driver issues were hashed out after about six months, but this I'm not so sure about. :/

RE: meh
By TakinYourPoints on 3/1/2012 3:21:49 AM , Rating: 2
Remove the Metro UI or give an option to bypass it completely, add the start button back, and you have an updated Windows 7 with a tweaked kernel and some needed improvements (ie - ISO mounting and PDF reading). That would be cool and much more compelling than this tablet oriented OS.

RE: meh
By masamasa on 3/1/2012 11:27:17 AM , Rating: 2
Completely agree. It's a mish mash of tablet/desktop in one, but they've taken away desktop user functionality that is convenient and made it inconvenient. The wow factor where's off pretty quick once you spend some time on it and realize they are hampering desktop users. Great for users of tablets who want to use desktop, but not the other way around.

If they don't do something about the desktop interface (e.g. lack of convenient start button, too many click to access programs, etc.) the masses will not upgrade to this. This will gain nothing and lose features they already use.

Really feels like they didn't think that one over too well, but we'll see if changes are coming in the RCs.

"If you can find a PS3 anywhere in North America that's been on shelves for more than five minutes, I'll give you 1,200 bucks for it." -- SCEA President Jack Tretton

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