Windows 8 Beta is releasing tomorrow, 2/29/12. I’m excited!
I’m not really a tech geek, but I tend to be an early adopter of technology that truly changes the game. Hence my Asus Slate. It came with Windows 7, but in October I upgraded it to the Windows 8 Developer Preview. This is a really cool OS, that is different from whatever you’re used to. I’m not going to pitch it a lot here; there will be all sorts of articles on the internet tomorrow. It’s not like the Windows you’ve been running for years, and it’s different from Apple’s OS as well.
The folks at Microsoft really did a good job of starting with a blank slate, rather than updating the very worn Windows environment, that hasn’t changed all that much form-wise since Windows 95. This OS works with the traditional forms of mouse and keyboard, but it also works very well for touch. If you haven’t migrated to a touch environment yet, you’ll soon learn that the traditional way of laying out screens to work with a mouse doesn’t work well at all with a finger or stylus (things like scroll bars, the little red X for closing windows, etc, are all too small, and in a bad place, so that your hand blocks the screen when you’re trying to use it). Windows 8 deals with that, very well.
Windows 8 also makes your desktop a useable place, with Live Tiles. If you’re like me, you never saw your desktop once you started your computer, and only used the toolbar at the bottom to switch between the multiple windows you had open. I never really found any use in the gadgets or widgets, or whatever they called the little mini-programs designed to run on your desktop, because I had to minimize 6-10 windows just to see them. Now your “desktop” is your start menu, and it’s a swipe away, to get you to a full screen of very useful Live Tiles. These little animated boxes will launch your different apps/programs with a click/tap, or they’ll give you summary info at a glance. If you haven’t seen the Metro environment in Windows Phone, Live Tiles won’t make much sense from just my explanation, but I’ll give it a shot: Imagine your “app button” on your smartphone, but instead of it being a plain button that you click to get to your email account, it is animated, showing you the number of new messages you have without even opening the app. Or, even better, if you have a Live Tile for a contact, it provides you the current FB profile pic, their current status from whatever social media you have linked to that person (Facebook, Twitter, etc), and will indicate if you’ve received a text or a missed call from them, again, at a glance, without opening the program! Many more apps and cool uses yet to be developed, but Microsoft has raised the bar with this one, and Apple and Google aren’t even in the game yet.
If you’re a traditionalist, or you’re overly emotionally attached to i-anything, you’re probably not going to like it. That’s why Windows Phone is getting slammed by the comments section of any tech website, even though objective testers have come out and said that in many ways it is superior to the iPhone 4.
I’ll be updating from the Developer Preview to the Beta version of Windows 8, probably not until this weekend. I’m not planning on turning this into a tech blog, but I’ll probably post an update or two, just to provide you with an “average guy” opinion.
But it really is cool!