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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.
 
[/UPDATE 1]

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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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
quote:
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
quote:
Not to mention it would be a strain on your body/arms if you had to do it for long periods of time.


This.

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.


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