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The keynote finished a few hours ago at BUILD where Steven Sinofsky and other members of his engineering leadership team shared a detailed preview of the next major Windows release codenamed “Windows 8” to the thousands of developers in attendance here in Anaheim.
As I look around the room (and look at all the tweets), it seems that everyone is excited by what they just saw. As Steven said during the keynote, Windows 8 is computing reimagined. It’s Windows reimagined. We’re not just showing developers an early look at Windows 8; we’re also giving them access with a Developer Preview release. Steven Sinofsky has published a blog post on Building Windows 8 today that discusses the Developer Preview (including when and where to get it) and building apps for Windows 8 – I suggest reading the post for context.
I was given a chance to get my hands on the Samsung prototype PC with Windows Developer Preview we’re handing out to developers at BUILD today. This was my very first opportunity to play with the Windows 8 preview so once I got the PC, I rushed back to my hotel room eager to get started (it was like Christmas for a geek!).
My experience with the Windows 8 Developer Preview began at a new setup process that brings in the new Windows Metro design style. This is where I had to go through a series of screens to pick a name for my PC, connect to a wireless network, and then choose to sign in with my Microsoft account (my account I use to sign in to Hotmail, SkyDrive, etc.). In signing in with my Microsoft account, Windows 8 created my account on the PC based on profile information from Live such as first and last name and profile picture (which would later become my user tile at the top right of my Start screen). For signing in with my new user account in Windows 8 – it even used my Microsoft account password. Because I used my Microsoft account, I didn’t have to create a separate username or password for my PC. Your Windows 8 PC settings and apps will roam with you from one Windows 8 PC to another via Live – however that functionality is not currently enabled in the Windows 8 Developer Preview. While you can choose not to use your Microsoft account in setting up a new user account in Windows 8, you’ll definitely want to at least consider it for additional “cloud awesomeness”.
Once the process completed, I then signed in to my new user account in Windows 8.
Immediately upon signing in I’m taken to the Start screen of Windows 8’s new Metro style UI. This was a “wow” moment. The very first thing I did was take my finger and slide left to right. It was instinct. This is how you navigate the Start screen. Everything on the Start screen is on a single level. Everything was very responsive and quick. The Start screen is my gateway to all my apps and content on my PC. Instead of icons representing my apps, each app is represented by a tile. Unlike icons, these tiles can be live with activity from within the app. Instead of having to open the app and drill down into it, the most important information is surfaced through the app’s tile (a “Live Tile”). Why should I have to open a weather app just to see what the current weather is? In the above screenshot of my Start screen, you can see that I have several apps pinned to my Start screen that are displaying information.
It’s worth noting that the Start screen shouldn’t be considered a glorified “app launcher” – because it’s not. You can pin your favorite contacts, photo albums, music playlists, websites and more to the Start screen as well. Essentially – you can pin items from within apps to the Start screen. In the Windows 8 Developer Preview, some of this functionality isn’t there yet though.
During the keynote today, you saw several Live-connected apps such as Mail, Calendar, Photos, People, and Messaging that were demoed – these are not included in the Windows 8 Developer Preview.
I can customize the Start screen too. When I first logged into Windows 8, the Start screen was populated by apps that were included in the Windows 8 Developer Preview which included a handful of sample apps developed by interns that are designed to show off what can be done with apps in Windows 8. Below is a photo of many of those interns in the front row at today’s BUILD keynote!
Those apps include a weather app, stock app, news app, Tweet@rama, Socialite and more. It also included all the developer tools needed to begin making Windows 8 apps. Some of the apps I did not personally want on my Start screen. To remove those apps, all I had to do was take my finger and swipe down on the tile. 3 app commands appear from the bottom where I can choose to unpin the app.
Tiles can either be large (rectangular) or small (square). To resize a tile, you do the same thing as you would to unpin it by swiping your finger down over the tile.
Of the apps included in the Windows 8 Developer Preview, I really like Tweet@rama because I do a lot of tweeting (and reading tweets) and I have grown quite fond of the game Word Hunt where you use your finger to swipe out words under a certain time. And I also like Socialite.
These apps are what we’re calling Metro style apps (and they are different than your desktop app like Adobe Photoshop). They are full screen and completely immersive in the experience of the app. With Metro style apps, you can “immerse” yourself in the experience without having chrome getting in your way.
When I swiped from right to left on the right side of the screen with my finger, I noticed the clock and date showed up which includes icons for wireless connectivity and battery life on the lower left and then also a series of commands that slides out from the right. This icon bar has 5 of what we’re calling “charms” that provide access to essential Windows features: Search, Share, Start, Devices, and Settings.
If I ever want to search my PC for something, all I have to do is bring up charms and choose the Search charm. From there, I can search my PC for anything I want including apps, settings, and of course files.
However I can also search within apps too. For example – I wanted to check out all the latest tweets from BUILD using the #bldwin hashtag. I typed #bldwin into the search box, chose Tweet@rama and got tweets from people using that hashtag.
Everyone is sharing content with loved ones whether its photos in email or to Facebook or links to articles found online in a tweet. Windows 8 makes it easy for apps to share to each other. In my case, I wanted to share the link to the BUILD website from within Internet Explorer to Twitter.
I brought up the charms and clicked on the Share charm and then chose Tweet@rama and it automatically placed the link to the BUILD website into a message I then tweeted to my followers. The idea here is that Windows 8 can enable apps to work together to complete scenarios.
The Start charm is an easy way back to the Start screen.
With the Devices charm, this is where I can choose certain devices on which to share my photos, music, or videos or manage printers. I didn’t have any devices around me when I wrote this blog post to try this out unfortunately. Our hardware partners can write their own Metro style apps that can be utilized to manage their devices which can happen directly through this charm.
And of course the Settings charm gives me quick access to the settings within each app but also access to wireless networks, volume control, screen brightness, notifications (turn them off) and to shut down or restart your PC or put it to sleep.
To configure my PC just the way I want it – Windows 8 has a Metro style Control Panel app for quick access to what matters to customers, things like personalizing your Windows 8 PC by changing your user tile photo or lock screen background. I changed my lock screen background to one of my favorite shots of Mt. Rainier I recently took.
In regards to the lock screen – I discovered as I was going through options for the lock screen that you can choose a special app that displays a detailed status on the lock screen and up to 6 other apps that would display status badges. I can imagine seeing a status badge for a Twitter app letting me know I received a Direct Message or a “@” reply.
Windows 8 also allows you to create a “Picture Password” to unlock your PC from the locks screen (see above shot). Choose a photo and 3 points or gestures on that photo that will unlock your PC instead of using a password (although you can switch to password if you need to).
Other options in the Metro style Control Panel are wireless (you can put your PC into “airplane mode” when traveling), privacy for controlling which and how apps access your personal info, search history, share and send options, devices, PC sync, HomeGroup and Windows Update just to name a few.
Speaking of notifications, I got a first-hand look at how notifications work in Windows 8 by plugging in a USB drive. A little notification popped up at the lower right hand corner with a familiar Windows “ding”.
It asked me what I wanted to do with the storage device I just plugged in. I clicked on the notification and gave me a list of options to choose from.
Here is what the alarm notification looks like from the alarm sample app:
I can’t talk about Windows 8 without talking about Internet Explorer 10. In Windows 8, there is a Metro style version of Internet Explorer that makes web browsing so fast and fluid – especially with touch.
Internet Explorer 10 builds upon the awesome work we did with Internet Explorer 9 with web standards and GPU-accelerated HTML5. Web sites load quickly. You’ll notice in the above screenshot that I can easily switch between tabs in Internet Explorer on Windows 8. I can also pin my favorite websites directly within Internet Explorer or to my Start screen.
I found myself tweeting in Tweet@rama and someone I follow mentioned the weather in Seattle. Being that I’m in Anaheim, I wanted to check the weather here. Because I had opened the weather app earlier, to bring it up again all I had to do was swipe my finger from the left to right on the left side of the PC. Doing this lets me quickly go through my open apps.
However, I can also slowly pick a app from the left and ”snap” it while using another app so they run side by side. You’ll notice in the above screenshot, Metro style apps can run in a smaller window size when running snapped to another app (the main app). I was able to quickly look at the weather in Anaheim AND keep tweeting at the same time.
So what about desktop applications? Applications that ran on Windows 7 will run just fine on Windows 8. Matter a fact, for the writing of this blog post I went and downloaded Paint.NET for my screenshots. It installed flawlessly and once it was finished installing, it appeared on my Start screen just like any Metro style app would. I tapped on it and it fired up in Windows desktop just as it would in Windows 7. You still have your Windows desktop in Windows 8. It just behaves like an app on the Start screen.
One other thing to highlight: everything I talked about above was done using touch however I also went through the same scenarios and used a mouse and keyboard as well and it works just as well.
Eventually, developers building Windows 8 apps will be able to make their apps available for purchase and download via the Windows Store. However, the Windows Store is not available in the Windows 8 Developer Preview.
There is so much more in the Windows 8 Developer Preview than I can cover in this post. However I’ve decided to keep this focused on the new user experience of Windows 8. The Start screen is like what the Start button was to Windows 95. It really is a reimagining of Windows. I have to say that Windows 8 will change how I use the PC.
For a long time, I will remember the first time I logged in to Windows 8 and saw the Start screen come up. The Start screen is what I am most excited about right now with Windows 8 but then again I’ve only had less than a day to play with it. There is so much more to discover.
Awesome! Loved it - even watching live in Aussie land from 2am to 4:30am LOL Now bring on the WP7 Mango news at Day 2's keynote please! Lets hear Carrier testing is done ( www.wpdownunder.com ) for most markets and MS hit the release button at Build!
Downloading Win8 Developer Build now! Well Done Microsoft :D
Great job guys,I'm really looking forward to Windows 8,don't disappoint me with regional restrictions of features as it is currently with Windows Phone,Just keep it the PC-way of doing things.
@Strider_Auz,where can i download the developer build??please
Ugh, trying out the preview, and I have to say, Metro without touch.... well, kinda stinks. Not very desktop friendly. I wish and hope there will be a way that I can access the "classic" desktop, and stay there, not be forced back into Metro. That includes access to the classic Start menu as per Windows 7. There really needs to be a way to switch Metro off completely.
This is pretty frustrating. Microsoft finally has a good thing going with Windows 7. No... a great thing with Windows 7. Unfortunately, seems like Windows 8 is gonna be a giant step back. Windows 8 is most definitely built for the tablet... trying to use the OS on a regular desktop or laptop is gonna be one huge pain. Microsoft's thinking too short-term with Windows 8. Tablets are a fad--there's no way it can accomplish what a real PC can. I've been pro-Microsoft all my life. I even used Windows Vista, which in the end, wasn't SO bad. Windows 7 is definitely one of the company's best operating systems to date. Hate to say it, but I don't see Windows 8 being a big success. The Metro UI is not impressive at all. It's not innovative, and it doesn't seem like it'll work efficiently with REAL PC's. For the first time, I think I'll sit this one out... maybe if we're lucky, Microsoft will come to their senses and we’ll have the Start menu back in Windows 9. I'll just stick with Windows 7 'til then.
is it only for touch desktop or laptop??
i heard that the metro UI can be turned off. maybe not in this build. have you looked at control panel or settings of some sort?
Downloading the Preview,So excited to get this on a tablet,by when in 2012 will the windows 8 tablets start appearing on the market?
look at 9:10. he can just switch to the "regular" desktop screen with a click:
as far as i know, win8 is for all form factors, from desktop, laptop to tablet.
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@atisho, yes, I have and as far as I can tell, Metro cannot be turned off yet, but the constant scrolling left to right and up and down, isn't very desktop friendly and is quite annoying to be constantly doing. In this build you're forced into it no matter which UI you're running.
I'm excited for a Windows 8 tablet, but if this is any indication of where Windows is headed, my desktops might remain on Windows 7.
Fabulous post - I am SO looking forward to the release of this!!!!
This looks really great. Thanks for the great preview.
Great Job guys! Any plans to reimagine F12 developer's tool for windows? Like 1) previews of embedded images, 2) quick update of DOM, when we select a DOM object and click Edit in it, it shows the entire content of the body to edit rather just the selected objects and 3) fluidity etc. more on... connect.microsoft.com/.../extensibility-in-f12-developer-tools
P.S. Windows 8 redefines the concept of Operating Systems. Great Job Microsoft !!
Just like windows phone 7. Take all the experience and lessons of preceding years, learn nothing from what has and hasn't worked for the competition then release something that's very pretty but useless for anything other than tweeting and facebook. My next phone will be Android.
Much as I hate Apple I can see OSx being my only future option, though I have some hopes for a Google OS being released before MS can actually get their act together enough to release Windows 8. Look at Chrome, a browser that does what people want from a browser and it does it brilliantly.
I expect the corporate user base will insist on XP being supported for another 10 years or move to Apple. I expect MS will continue to have nothing to do with their users nor care what they want. So sad.
Have to agree with JoelRules87. . . Windows 7 is by far the best OS todate. It's humanly impossible for everyone to upgrade to a new OS each release Microsoft makes. The majority of people simply cannot afford the cost. Why doesn't Microsoft continue releasing Service Packs, as many as required for previous OS, i.e. Windows 7. You get to learn one OS, come to love it, and a few years down the road Microsoft is releasing another OS and announcing End-of-Support dates for previous OS. Doesn't make any sense. To echo JoelRules87, I'm staying with Windows 7. I think Windows 8 will go the way of Windows ME.
XP is dead. It's been "unsupported" for a few years now. Most businesses are running or upgrading to Windows 7.
I still wonder who it was who came up with the brilliant idea that PCs, SmartPhones, and Tablets all require the same user interface. It's just wrong. And even tough this is just an early preview, the point is clear to me, it was even before: The Metro UI works perfectly for tablets and small form factors with touch-enabled screens, but it doesn't work out for the desktop if you want to do some serious work. It's like being forced to use the Media Center in Windows 7 - and what an awful experience using keyboard and mouse that is!
Metro is nice, but I wonder why it had to be integrated into a deskop OS. I don't see any use for it on the desktop. It perfectly hides all the professional aspects of Windows I use as a developer every day. But I'm being forced to stick with Metro - at least for this preview.
It's all about branding, as you can see in "Windows Phone 7", which has nothing to do with Windows. It's just the name. They want to bring Windows to the Tablets, instead being smart and develop a proper OS for the Tablet using this Metro stuff and let Windows belong to the desktop.
Another point is the Windows Store, I highly dislike the idea of it. It's a giant money machine built into the system à la Apple App Store, nothing more, nothing less. Open Source solutions have no space in this world driven by control.
I don't like to see the Windows Desktop degraded to an app - I want to work with it like I'm used to it, I want it full featured. I don't want to see Metro on the desktop. No compromise.
Lol, I was watching live also from Queensland haha! I didn't make it right through tho.
Damn we suck lol :)
Great Work by microsoft......After Window 7 microsoft launches Windows 8 it is very efficient window for ourselves
The UI of Windows 8 looks totally cool. Totally excited about it, I do hope it pushes forward the windows legacy.
To get back the old start menu, open regedit, goto
change value of RPEnabled from "1" to "0"
close regedit, you get your old start menu......the catch is, no more metro UI because you just disabled it. To get back the Metro UI, change the value back to "1"
awesome, the metro style display is really good. I am waiting for the final version to be released :)
it's very good i hope that microsoft do accept iranians as cutumers for windows....... i like windows very much.... it's beter than apple's mac.... i'm waiting for final vesion of windows 8
Every other windows product is a flop or doesnt work well for some reason vista was a flop 2000 was a flop ect every other time they get it right
I'm eagerly waiting to get a developer version of this tremendous Win8
I Downloaded it and installed it ,,, WOW cant wait for it,,, it invites you to have a touch screen :P
i was planing to buy a tablet ,,, but now im going to wait for this wonderful OS
any idea when will be the final release date :) ?
Awesome!!! loved it. looking very cool.
while working with new start menu in windows 8,we remember xp Media Center Edition.a close look can find a lot of similar in build.
So nice Windows 8 , But I want to Ask the subject , All of us noticed that in Windows 7 and Visit The windows can't remember the last folder we use in (Open Folder , Save as ....etc.) that make complication for us espicially in Viasual studio and Web Developer Programs . I hope Microsoft noticed this in Window 8 ... Can any one tell me ???
Just wondering but does anyone else notice a correlation between this UI and the KDE Plasma UI available for kubuntu? It seems like they took some of the ideas from the KDE interface and then redesigned it in a manner that isn't nearly as useful or user friendly. Can anyone tell me why microsoft can't support multiple interface types that a user can choose between for a more customizable experience. I run windows 7 and Linux. While I don't think windows 7 is terrible or anything I prefer its UI to that of windows 8. Overall I prefer the user friendliness and look of linux. On linux I can freely switch between the Gnom3, Gnome classic, KDE plasma, Metacity and unity intefaces for a different look and feel to my desktop environment and how I access my files and perform different functions. This switch doesn't require any effort at all. I just choose at the log in screen which interface I want to use and then log in. Simple. Why can't windows do that. For people who want the shiny new interface let them log in to that interface. For the others who aren't just impressed by flashy icons and touch screens and actually want to get some work done on our computers let us log into the classic interfaces.