Here’s the detailed review of Windows 8. Check here:
Microsoft has kept on to its tradition, by releasing the consumer preview of Windows 8 just like it did with Windows 7. The consumer preview is available for free download on Microsoft’s website. This consumer preview gives the users a chance to try out the new features of Windows 8 before they actually buy the finished product. This also means that the consumer preview is in the beta phase and might contain a few bugs here and there.
According to Microsoft, Windows 8 is optimized such that it will run on any PC that can run the Windows 7. To be specific, the minimum requirements are as follows:
- 1GHz or faster processor
- 1GB RAM (32-bit) or 2GB RAM (64-bit)
- 16GB available hard disk space (32-bit) or 20GB (64-bit)
- DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher drive
- 1024 x 768 minimum screen resolution
These are the basic requirements of Windows 8. To make the experience an enjoying one, you might want to have a much powerful rig and a lot of other hardware. Moreover, in order to utilise the much anticipated touch based features you will require a multi-touch enabled laptop or tablet.
The installation of Windows 8 is a very simple process just like installing any application. You might also have to make DVD or prepare a 4GB flash drive to install Windows 8. If you have an earlier version of Windows installed the program will ask you whether you want to upgrade to Windows 8 or install it freshly on a new partition. A few more questions and the installation will start.
After the installation the installer will ask you some other details to customise you PC. Moreover, it’ll also assist you in setting up wired or wireless networks. The whole installation process is very user friendly and takes about 15-20 min tops (on a 2.3Ghz Quad-core processor+ 4GB RAM ), which is, again, significantly less while compared to the time taken by Windows 7.
Start Screen/Tiles Page
This is one of the few things of Windows 8 that you WILL have to get familiar with. Yes, you have no choice you will have to get familiar with it because Windows 8 will keep throwing you on this page again and again which sometimes gets a bit irritating.
When you boot your computer, instead of the desktop, we are greeted with this tiles page showing the tiles for all applications and tasks. There one desktop tile too, which allows you to go to the desktop by clicking on it. The tiles screen is also shown when you press the windows button on the keyboard. And to add to the surprise, clicking the start button (which is now a black box with windows logo on it) also takes you to the tiles page.
Design wise the tiles page follows the strict Metro-ish look followed by Windows Phone 7 and the Xbox 360. There are tiles present for each application and these tiles are very well organised on the page. These tiles are basically squares which show the app icon and some useful data along with it. This tiles screen can be easily edited and the tiles can be rearranged into personalised groups by simple drag drop actions. The tiles can also be zoomed in by pinch action if you have touch support or by using the scroll wheel if you are using keyboard and mouse.
This Tiles Page is one of those features which keeps reminding you that Windows 8 has been developed keeping into mind the fact that the same windows is going to run on ARM based multi-touch enabled tablets as well.
By and large Charms is a Metro implementation of Start Menu which provide options like Search, Share, Start, Devices and Settings. The options provided in the Charms Bar are app specific, i.e. if you search while you are using IE; you will get web search results first. Same with choosing Settings, you will be offered to change the basic settings of the Metro app you were currently using. Share feature allows you to share information on the web to your connected accounts. Selecting Settings tab when you are on the desktop gives you links to access Control Panel and also gives options to adjust, brightness, volume, notifications and other utilities such as Turn Off button.
Again, this aspect is also designed taking care of touch screen tablets as well as PCs. There are a lot of added features most of which have been inspired by either Android/ Blackberry Playbook’s OS, or from Mac OS. The interaction begins from the Start screen itself; the tiles showing important notifications in themselves just like the live tiles in WP7.
Many swipe and mouse over gestures have been included. Move your mouse to the right bottom or top of the screen and the Charms Bar appears. Hold and drag from the left side of the screen towards the right to switch between apps. Keep your mouse to the left corners and a bar pops out. This bar also gives you options to close your application (Don’t be surprised, the developer preview did not allow you to close apps except from the task manager).
Zooming in and out of apps is also done with help of scroll whenever possible. These familiar gestures are very easy to get used to as most of us have already used this on some other tablets or phones.
Finally, a full-fledged Notifications feature is present in Windows, which allows users to select which notifications to receive and which ones to ignore. It works by letting the user choose which applications can show notifications. Moreover, you can also decide how you should be notified.
A lock screen is introduced in Windows 8, for making it more tablet-friendly. Just like windows Phone 7, this lock screen will display some important information about the computer such as the battery status and the messages or other notifications as well as show Wi-Fi signals, clock, etc. The computer is unlocked by dragging the screen form the bottom edge and swiping towards the top.
Split Screen Multitasking
This is one of the most amazing features of Windows 8. Split Screen is one of those features which will make you wonder how you did work on your PC without this feature. This feature enables us to do tasks on two or more applications simultaneously. This is done so neatly as to reserve a portion of the screen for one application and the desktop is resized to fit in the remaining portion of the screen. This is one of very clever and useful features introduced by Microsoft.
Following the lines of most of the mobile OSes (as well as OSX and Linux) Microsoft has also introduced the Windows Store. Windows 8 Consumer preview comes with a plenty of applications to try and Microsoft has also announced that for the duration of the preview all the applications will be free to use.
The applications are easy to find and are classified according to the genre, as well as in the top paid and free apps categories. Just like all the other appstores you just have to go to the appstore select the application you want to install and click on the install button and tada!, your application will install.
Microsoft has finally understood that to get the users to adapt to its OS it will have to provide a huge number of applications for Windows 8. Microsoft is trying pretty hard to fulfil this. There are quite a lot of choices available suited for the Metro interface. These applications can be accessed from shortcuts on the desktop or through the start page tile of the application.
Windows 8 has strong integration with the cloud, especially Microsoft services, but that doesn’t mean that adding third party cloud based services like Facebook, Twitter, and Google is cumbersome. Integration with SkyDrive, Bing, other Windows Live, XBOX and MSN services is amazing. SkyDrive essentially act as a link between your WP7 device and Windows 8 device, as it helps in sharing data between devices of the two platforms.
As far as Email is concerned, Microsoft has surely hit the right spot this time with the over simplified, and the extremely interactive Mail application. Setting up a new account is very easy and getting mails is also very easy. There are three columns in the app: the leftmost showing your email accounts, the mid one has the received mail list and the rightmost one with the mail itself.
There is one People app similar to the one we saw in Windows Phone 7. This application keeps tracks of you Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts. Similarly there is a messaging application that allows you to chat with friends via MSN and Facebook. A few other messaging services are also expected to be added before the final version of Windows 8 is out. Calendar app is synchronized with your Hotmail calendar.
IE10 also seems a lot more different from the previous version, and the change is for the better. It seems to be faster, prettier, and again over simplified. Browsing is full screen by default with only a few basic extra buttons which appear on the bottom of the page. One of the major changes that will take time to get adapted to is the new position of the address bar. The address bar now sits at the bottom of the page.
Windows 8 really seems like an honest attempt from Microsoft’s side to bridge the gap between the Tablet and the PC worlds. Although in this attempt Microsoft ruthlessly forces users to adapt the Metro UI which is sometimes not only a bit irritating but also a bit frustrating. One such case is when you download some mp3 from the net using IE10 and play it from downloads just to get irritated with the functionally-disabled Metro Music app instead of WMP.
To sum up, we’d just say that Windows 8 is a lot different from the previous versions of Windows. Though it will be exciting to see how people really respond to the interface of Windows 8, which is primarily tweaked to suit tablets. Normal users may adapt to that quickly but the main problem may lie with the less dynamic user with daily works with windows and also the business professionals who are very habitual to do work on non-Metro interface.