Microsoft Launches Windows 8 Consumer Preview - InformationWeek

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Microsoft Launches Windows 8 Consumer Preview

Windows 8 beta software gives public first chance to check out OS that will be crucial to Microsoft's efforts to become relevant in the tablet market.

Microsoft on Wednesday made a trial version of Windows 8 available for download to the general public, several weeks after releasing a preview of its widely anticipated new operating system to developers and IT pros. A final version is expected in the fall.

Built with touch computing and apps in mind, Windows 8 is crucial to Microsoft's efforts to make inroads against Apple and Google in the red-hot tablet market, where Redmond is significantly behind rivals following a failed campaign to convince hardware makers and telecom carriers of Windows 7's suitability as a tablet OS.

Windows 8 Consumer Preview Debuts At MWC Barcelona
(click image for larger view)
Windows 8 Consumer Preview Debuts At MWC Barcelona

Windows 8 Consumer Preview can be downloaded for free from Microsoft's website, which also offers a diagnostic program users can run to verify that their systems are compatible with the OS.

To run Windows 8 Consumer Preview, consumers will need a PC or laptop with at least a 1 GHz Intel or AMD processor, 1 GB of RAM on 32-bit systems or 2 GB of RAM on 64-bit machines, 16 GB or 20 GB of disk space respectively, and a graphics card compatible with DirectX9 or higher.

[ Interested in Win 8? Read 8 More Ways Windows 8 Could Be Great. ]

Users will also need a touch-enabled PC to take advantage of Windows 8's touch features. A version of Windows 8 that is built to run on tablets powered by chips designed by ARM is not included in the preview. Windows on ARM is currently only available to developers.

Windows 8 Consumer Preview marks the first opportunity for the general public to see and weigh in on Windows 8, which represents a radical departure from previous Windows operating systems, including Windows 7, which debuted in late 2009.

The most notable difference is Windows 8's Metro interface, which Microsoft borrowed from Windows Phone 7. Metro is based around a home screen that eschews standard application icons in favor of so-called Live Tiles, blocks of screen real-estate that display real-time updates from social networks, instant messaging, email, and other services. Metro is also designed to run full-screen mobile-style apps.

Microsoft's goal was to introduce an operating system designed from the ground up to be used on touch-based devices like tablets, as well as touch-capable PCs. Windows 8, when run on a standard PC, also allows users to switch to the familiar Windows Explorer interface so they can interact with their system via keyboard and mouse.

"With Windows 8, we reimagined the different ways people interact with their PC and how to make everything feel like a natural extension of the device, whether using a Windows 8 tablet, laptop, or all-in-one," said Steven Sinofsky, president of Microsoft's Windows division, in a statement. "The Windows 8 Consumer Preview brings a no-compromise approach to using your PC."

Also on Wednesday, Microsoft is expected to open a beta version of its Windows Store, which will be the sole source of Metro-style apps for Windows 8. During the preview period, the store will offer apps that consumers can download and use at no charge.

Microsoft demonstrated Windows 8 Consumer Preview during an event early Wednesday at the World Mobile Congress in Barcelona, Spain. The company warned consumers that Windows 8 Consumer Preview is trial software, and that they should back up important data and applications before installing the OS on their systems.

The Enterprise Connect conference program covers the full range of platforms, services, and applications that comprise modern communications and collaboration systems. It happens March 26-29 in Orlando, Fla. Find out more.

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Leo Regulus
Leo Regulus,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/1/2012 | 5:22:17 PM
re: Microsoft Launches Windows 8 Consumer Preview
If you have a Netbook or other device that does not have a minimum screen resolution of 1024 X 768, Win 8 will install but you may encounter serious issues. Most Netbooks have only 1024 X 600. Metro graphic icons will 'click' but not function and there will be many menus whose bottom line will not show on the screen and you can't scroll down or readjust the window to get to it. Remember, this is where you find the 'OK', 'Cancel', and 'Accept' buttons.
I have been using the 'Developers Preview' since Sept. This Win version may prove to be an excellent platform for Tablets and Smartphones but I question its' applicability to Laptoip / PC units.
User Rank: Apprentice
2/29/2012 | 7:03:07 PM
re: Microsoft Launches Windows 8 Consumer Preview
I just read the MSDN blog comments describing system compatibility and laughed out loud. It seems that Win8 will NOT support Metro apps at the native resolution of netbooks, effectively orphaning hundreds of thousands (millions?) of those devises.

A classic Microsoft F.O.& D.

I doubt seriously that this was an oversight.
User Rank: Apprentice
2/29/2012 | 6:15:18 PM
re: Microsoft Launches Windows 8 Consumer Preview
Boy do I agree. I'm looking for performance, reliability, security, ease of use and interoperability with the mobile world. I don't need all the cosmetic bells and whstles. Above all I'm not looking to relearn core functions with every new release.

In terms of colors things started to get daffy with Windows/Office 7/2007. In Office I have to go layers deep to get the standard highlight and font colors that I use. The canned options look like makeup palettes in a department store. Spring blossome anyone? How about pumpkin fest? There are good reasons that most of us prefer to use blue, red, etc. The new schemes are creative but at least make them optional.

Windows 7 OS added translucent frames to the mix. The result is that neither me or my mom can see the buttons above the ribbon, \including the save button, without making a humongous effort. I can't find any documentaiton for how to change that attribute.

Since I haven't met anyone who likes these things and since Microsoft seems to be listening to the marketplace these days, I was optimistic that we'd at least get back options for the old look and feel. Apparently not so. Looks worse than ever. Microsoft needs to lose the change for change's sake mentality. There are plenty of substantive fixes and enhancements that Windows needs; the cosmetic we can handle ourselves via add-ons.

With OSX/iOS, Androind/Chrome, etc. in the marketplace and BYOD coming to the workplace, Microsoft can't force feed us mediocrity anymore. If we have to start over with each upgrade, relearning how to work and how to configure our environment, we just as easily move to a new platform. A word to the wise. . .
User Rank: Apprentice
2/29/2012 | 4:55:06 PM
re: Microsoft Launches Windows 8 Consumer Preview
I was there at the beginning (Windows 1.0) and have used every version since. So far I hate the new UI and especially loathe the default color scheme! My current Windows 7 Ultimate Desktop is black w/ four icons + the Recycle Bin. I would prefer MS focused on speed and security and had allowed the UI to evolve organically via 3rd-party widgets and customization options.
User Rank: Apprentice
2/29/2012 | 4:53:39 PM
re: Microsoft Launches Windows 8 Consumer Preview
Can you say "Vista 8" ?
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