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Last Thursday, we announced the availability of the Windows 8 Release Preview. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been living with the Windows 8 Release Preview on all my devices – from my laptop, to a tablet, to my All-in-One PC at home, and my desktop PC here in my office at work. Windows 8 brings together all these devices and has changed the way I use these devices and PCs. I wanted to share these experiences with you. If you have the Windows 8 Release Preview installed, most of what is in my post are things you can do yourself today with the Windows 8 Release Preview. And if you haven’t installed the Windows 8 Release Preview, perhaps this might change your mind! Or if you are simply not comfortable running a pre-release OS on your PC, then hopefully this post serves as a sort of “sneak peek” for you on what is to come with Windows 8 later this year.
To begin, I thought it was only natural to begin with the “heart” of the new user experience in Windows 8 – the Start screen…
The Start screen is the dashboard to everything important to me
I love the Start screen in Windows 8. The Start screen serves as the dashboard to everything that is important to me on my device. On the Start screen, I have all my favorite apps pinned. Many of these apps have tiles that change and update in real-time (live tiles) and all these tiles together “light up” the Start screen with all kinds of content and information. For example with the Weather app, I am able to constantly see the latest weather for my area. Or with the People app, I can see when people leave comments on my Facebook Timeline or replies to me on Twitter.
Another great example is the CW app. If you have the CW app pinned to your Start screen, it will show you the evening’s schedule of shows.
It’s not just apps you can pin to your Start screen.
I have many of my favorite websites I visit regularly throughout the day in Internet Explorer 10, such as Techmeme and TrekMovie.com, pinned to my Start screen as well. I have Project Prometheus pinned too.
You can also pin content from within apps too! I have stocks that I am tracking pinned from my Watchlist in the Finance app (one of the Bing-powered apps in Windows 8 today) whose tiles update throughout the day with the latest stock information. I also have my favorite sports teams such as the Portland Trail Blazers and Seattle Mariners pinned from the Sports app whose tiles update with the latest news and scores (the NBA season is over so the Blazers tile just gives me the latest news for the team).
I’ve also got my mom pinned to my Start screen from the People app. Yes… my mom is on my Start screen. And her tile updates with whatever she posts to Facebook.
What the Start screen has done is it has enabled me to see everything I want to see in one view really quickly. I don’t have to flip through multiple apps or open windows or a variety of different menus. The Start screen exposes just the right amount of content I want to see. And I love this. And this works out great regardless of form factor. I wrote this blog post in Microsoft Word on my desktop PC here in my office at work (multiple monitors FTW!) and with the press of the Start button on my keyboard, the Start screen comes up super-fast and I can quickly see if my mom has posted embarrassing photos of me as a kid before proceeding to press the Start button on my keyboard again to go back to writing in Microsoft Word. I do this on my laptop too. It really is fast and fluid. Start screen = everything I want in one spot on all my devices.
Windows 8 is personalized just the way I want it
I just wrote about all the things you can pin on your Start screen. But how about making the Start screen look just the way you want it? You can. In Windows 8, you can choose from a variety of different colors for your Start screen and designs for its background. I like blue so blue is the color of my Start screen with the circles design on the background.
In choosing colors for your Start screen, you’ll notice each color has a middle square color and then a border color that surrounds it. The middle square represents the color of text and selected items in menus while the border color will be the color of your Start screen.
Aside from colors and designs – you can arrange your apps and other items pinned to your Start screen in any way you want including into their own groups. Then with Semantic Zoom, you can zoom out on your Start screen for an all-encompassing view of everything on your Start screen and name those groups. Then you can move and arrange those groups into whatever order you want!
I have everything arranged in a variety of groups beginning with “Favorite Apps”. These are apps I use most often with live tiles of information I want to see first when I go to my Start screen. Then I have my Entertainment apps grouped together, Games, etc.
My Start screen looks different on each of my devices because the screen sizes are different. And Windows 8 is designed to work great on large range of screen sizes and resolutions. I customize my Start screen based on the device.
[Screenshots above from left to right: Start screen on my All-in-One PC, Start screen on my tablet, and Start screen on my laptop]
For example, I have tiles for some apps displayed as large tiles on some devices, while the tile for the same app is displayed as small tiles on others. On my tablet – because the screen size is a bit smaller than my laptop or my All-in-One PC, I am particular about what app tiles are large size because they take up more space on my screen. But on my All-in-One or desktop PC here at work – I have plenty of screen space for apps to be displayed as large tiles. Again, it is important for me to see certain things up-front when I first hit my Start screen and I optimize my Start screen on all my devices for this.
I recently went on an Alaskan cruise and for the trip – I only brought my tablet. Before heading on the trip, I created a special group on my Start screen with guides for each of the ports we would be stopping at from the Travel app and weather for each of those ports from the Weather app. I had all the information I needed for these ports during my trip in this group on my Start screen.
You can also customize the Lock screen in Windows 8 too.
I currently have a photo I took of my parents’ new dog Dexter as my Lock screen background. The Lock screen in Windows 8 will show you the date and time but you can also customize which apps can show a quick status on your Lock screen and what app can give more detailed status. On my work laptop, I have the Calendar app showing a more detailed status (e.g. what’s next on my calendar) but at home on my All-in-One it shows the weather.
I have all the apps I want
The Mail, Calendar, SkyDrive, Photos, People, and Messaging apps all come with Windows 8. And these apps are connected to services that I use daily like Hotmail, Facebook, and Twitter simply just by adding them to my Microsoft account. I use the People app regularly to see what is happening with my friends and family on Facebook. And of course I use the Mail app quite a bit for emails and the Calendar app helps me keep track of what I have coming up on my schedule.
Those of you who have read my blog posts regularly know I love taking photos. The Photos app provides an immersive experience into all my photos. I can set any of my photos at the background image for the app for example and see photos not just from the device I am on, but also from my connected services such as Facebook and Flickr. On any device running the SkyDrive client, the Photos app will also fetch photos from those devices as too.
So what about entertainment such as music, video and games?
This week at E3, our friends over on Xbox made some announcements about Xbox on Windows 8 that are very exciting. Xbox on Windows 8 will launch with 4 apps: Music, Video, Games and Xbox SmartGlass.
The Music, Video, and Games apps will be included with Windows 8 while Xbox SmartGlass will be available to download in the Windows Store. The Music and Video apps will be powered by Xbox Music (a brand new service from Xbox) and Xbox Video and provide Windows 8 users with the ability to listen to music or enjoy their favorite movies and TV shows in Windows 8. And the Games app will allow you to download Xbox LIVE enabled games and play those games with your friends and earn achievements on Windows 8.
Xbox SmartGlass will allow you to start a movie or TV show on your Windows 8 device and finish it on your TV through your Xbox 360 console. It will also enable you to discover more fun things to do by showing new content and rich interactive activities related to what you’re watching.
In the Windows 8 Release Preview today, you can check out the Music, Video, and Games apps which are just previews of the apps to come when Windows 8 is generally available. As I write this, I am listening to the Foo Fighters through the Music app and just yesterday I watched the season finale of Fringe in the Videos app.
There are also other apps I use pretty regularly from the Windows Store today. I am a pretty regular Twitter user so I use the Twitter app Rowi quite a bit (which recently got updated to 0.6!). I love the games Cut the Rope and Fruit Ninja. And I have my collection of books I like to read on my tablet through the Kindle app.
Tweeting and reading a book at the same time?
All my stuff syncs and roams with me amongst my devices
Windows 8 connects me to my people and my files but it also connects all my devices together. I absolutely love how my device settings will roam with me from one device to another through my Microsoft account.
Settings such as the color and design for my Start screen for example will roam to all of my Windows 8 devices. My Start screen looks the same on all my devices but as I mentioned above, customized a bit differently depending on what device I’m on.
My desktop personalization also roams with me. So whatever background I have on my desktop will in Windows 8 will be the same on all my devices.
And app settings! Whatever stocks I have on my Watchlist in the Finance app or whatever locations I have saved in the Weather app – they all roam so I have the same settings for these apps on all my Windows 8 devices. I’m never left having to add the same thing into these apps.
Doing the things I want
Windows 8 allows me to do all the things I want to do without compromise on any device. Whether it is writing a blog post in Microsoft Word to reading my email in the Mail app or showing off photos I’ve taken on a recent vacation from the Photos app.
I have never had to move to another device to do something as basic as, say, opening an email attachment. I can do everything I used to do with my PC with Windows 7 plus a ton more.
Give Windows 8 Release Preview a Try
I hope you enjoyed reading about my experiences with Windows 8. I encourage you to download and explore the Windows 8 Release Preview for yourself!
> The Mail, Calendar, SkyDrive, Photos, People, and Messaging apps all come with Windows 8.
These simplified Metro-style apps certainly have their place, but would you really choose to use them when you have the desktop equivalents available? Please don't stop developing for the desktop, even if the focus right now is on the WinRT platform.
From what I've seen so far, the Win8 experience leaves quite a bit to be desired on the desktop. It's TOO touch-centric. Multiple monitors make the special zones at the edges difficult. Touch screens aren't really useful in the desktop environment because you have to be too close to the monitor to use them.
Hello Brandon LeBlanc!
My personal experience with the Windows 8 Release Preview is:
1) I can't get notifications when my contacts signs in Messenger... So I have to use desktop to receive this notifications...
2) I can't configure POP or IMAP account to use in Mail... So I have to use desktop to use my work account...
3) I can't see Flash in sites... So I have to use desktop to see these sites...
4) I can't update my status in Facebook/Twitter with People app...
5) I can't organize Favorites in folders... So I have to use a browser in desktop to do that...
6) There is a lot of apps about news, but no one runs like a RSS Reader that allows me to select just the sources I want...
7) When I use Music site (like Youtube, TunesAccess) to play music in Metro Internet Explorer and changed to another app, the music stop to play and also I can't use Google Street View with IE in Metro... So I have to use a browser in desktop to do that...
If i just had this features in Metro I definitely would change to Metro... but for me it is a throwback to use Metro...
I hope that Microsoft does a good job and include at least these functions in the Metro
Here's my personal experience: xpwasmyidea.blogspot.com/.../features-removed-in-windows-8.html
After testing Win8 RP for a while. I can fairly say Win8 metro is not as polished as Windows phone when it got released. For some reason pictures and fonts were not as nice as Windows 7 in my Inspirion 1520 - 1440x900.Happily In win7 now.
My personal experience is; Metro is great for desktop if you guys fix the existing issues (and glitches) and route the desktop notifications to Metro when the current view is Metro. I second @luisfelipe’s opinion and I am sure by the time you guys release RTM, it would be way too polished compared to RP and bundled with lots of other sophistications..
Incidentally, I have a tip for people who are experiencing Windows 8 for the first time. When you are using a metro app, always remember the Charms controls (Ctrl+C or move mouse to either of the right corner and drag it to right-center). The Charm bar is somehow analogous to the "menu bar" on regular desktop. If you like to use the functionality in a metro app, you can use search control in the charms menu. It will search in the ONLY in current app (if the developer of the app implement the search contract of W8 Metro paradigm!). Same goes for settings, devices and share controls. This will save lots of effort!
The underlying platform of Windows 8 is impressive, but the current crop of Metro Apps are toys with too many bugs. See gcoupe.wordpress.com/.../whats-not-to-like-in-windows-8
So you really love the Windows 8 start screen? Well, most people I know (and that's quite a few) don't, in fact they find it terrible. You should really listen to the overwhelming response on the net and give those of us who like optimized usage the traditional start menu back. It doesn't hurt anyone if it's there, in fact, you might possibly *not* loose lots of potential customers. I for myself am not going to upgrade *ever* if you keep forcing desktop users into the [for desktop/mouse usage] highly inefficient Metro experience.
Just my two cents (or in fact lots of Euros).
This post is total rubbish. It's a blatant sales pitch for Windows 8. "I have all the apps I want" for instance? Spare me the BS. The apps provided (mail, photo etc...) are next to useless. There's no usable Metro apps and the Desktop is lobotomized.
I'm usually not so critical and I am a long time Windows supporter but this is just crap !!!
I think Windows 8 is the best OS ever (and I'm only using it on a desktop, mouse and keyboard only PC and yes, I use metro apps), but a few requests:
1) Sort out the bugs! Some PCs won't even shut down properly with the Release Preview: see answers.microsoft.com/.../2e7a868f-81a0-4db8-af60-dd6bda29d658
2) Improve some of the built-in apps - Calendar needs to be able to set events to repeat every 4 weeks on a Thursday etc., Mail needs to let you customise the footer (no more "Sent from my Windows 8 PC", thank you very much!) and Messaging could do with Skype integration, HD video calling and file/photo sharing.
3) PLEASE include Weather, Maps, Finance, News, Travel and Sports in the final release of Windows 8. They're brilliant apps, and people shouldn't have to download them to use them.
4) Make tutorials for non-tech people
5) Metro IE10: allow more than 10 tabs (this is a real deal breaker for me - I currently have 17 tabs open in IE10 desktop, and this is impossible with Metro IE10), allow organising/viewing of Favourites (pinning to the start screen is great, but I need space for sites I need to locate but not see all of the time) and allow homepages (I would like a set of sites to automatically load when I start it).
Otherwise, Windows 8 is a great OS and I think that even putting it on a desktop, mouse/keyboard only PC with a HD screen will make people benefit from it (that is what I have done).
I look forward to getting Windows 8 Pro later this year!
Almost everything I do is on desktop apps, and the context switching whenever I want to start a new one slows me down a lot. I have about 7 PCs running Windows 7 at home, and at best maybe one of them will get Windows 8, just for development reasons... I would just go insane if I had to deal with that start screen all the time on my main PCs because it forces you to use it. I usually run high resolution and multiple monitor setups with many windows open at once staggered in a way that I can see many things at once. Having to contantly toggle back and forth from the start menu really breaks that whole process for me.
I hope this RP is a Windows 8 Tablet Edition Release Preview!!!!....
and I hope Windows 8 Professional it's with normal desktop and without METRO!!!
Otherwise Microsoft it's working for Apple Marketing!!!!!! :-(
If you don't change route you lose a lot of users (milions!!!!??).... they'll go with Apple or Linux... soft chang than go to METRO!!!!
It's like a tale of two experiences:
1. Win8 is GREAT on touch screens. Some of the apps are hokey though. There are some key missing features that are in Windows Phone like precision cursor control and bing vision.
2. Win8 is HORRID with mice/keyboards. You can solve this by adding a start button and start menu. Adding these items would also prevent large ocmpanies from skipping this release like we did with Vista.
@controlz - While I have goods and bads about Win8, I completely disagree about the basic Metro apps. The lack of functionality and configuration options makes them pretty useless to me.
For example, the News app: it is Bing-only as a source, you can select other sources but the next time you start it, you are back to Bing. No ability to change anything - don't care about politics? it doesn't matter because you cannot remove the column or move it to the end. If you click on an article, you get a text-only article, want pictures? sorry you cant have any. You can customize somewhat using the "My News" option, but the only ability is a simple 1980's-style string match, want a category of information? sorry, you can't.
I think Microsoft is doing the right thing in making the apps uninstallable and unless there are major changes in functionality I won't be downloading them when it is finally installed.
Its not fair to judge anything off of what you've seen. Windows 8 is not an OS that you just look at......... Windows 8 is an experience which you may only interact with in order to gain that 'experience'. So if you're judging purely on what you've seen, than your opinion is completely invalid to Microsoft in terms of feedback, and completely not fair to the ones whom took the time to develop it.
I still have yet to like a Live Tile. I see the potential, but it's has yet to happen. It's possible that the issue is that I don't feel like organizing the Start Screen. Just like how I never organized the Start Menu and how I keep my desktop clear of icons, I'm not going to put forth much effort to organize my Start Screen. Perhaps some mode where Windows will organize for me, based off of my usage patterns, might help me want to use the Start Screen, but at the moment it's just not there.
I do like Windows 8, and I don't mind the Start Screen, because it's not like the Start Menu was critical to my usage of a computer.
I'm still not sure why I should switch my main laptop to Windows 8. I've been using 8 on my #2 laptop for a while now and, while there are certainly some nice features and upgrades, the Metro U/I poses problems on both practical and philosophical levels. Practically speaking, it's an extra step (or two) to get to my Desktop Screen, and the apps are basically useless to me as I prefer many non-Microsoft options for my browser, email, document, and media needs. Philosophically, it really bothers me that Microsoft has decided to impose itself upon my chosen experience by adding extra steps to the process of bypassing Microsoft's idea of what my chosen experience should be. I don't like IE or Hotmail or "Office" in comparison to some of their competitors, why the heck should I switch to an OS that doesn't respect the choices I've cultivated over the decades? That said, if there was a choice offered wherein users could bypass the Metro U/I, I would certainly "upgrade" from Windows 7, but that doesn't seem to be the direction in which this thing is headed.
Windows 8 is very great that's real! i hope the developer team will do something for the music app, particularly when the app download song's informations like covers, artists picture and more!
- First, it will be better if the app can keep these informations and give you back even if you are not connected to the internet because everybody don't have internet 24/7.
- And second, please release more artists informations. I have 224 Artists on my collection but the app has download less than 10. It seems like this is just a "demo"
I think the music experience will be better like that. And thanks for the good job!
after reading several comments here, the only reason why i quit the release preview after a day was that all desktop apps you install create tiles on your start screen, imagine installing visual studio and it add 15 tiles and no way to group them into a single one.
Customize Windows 8 will be a réal pleasure !
I can see where Metro has a place on touch devices like a tablet, but for a regular computer I still prefer the traditional desktop, which means Windows 8 offers me little incentive to upgrade my tower. Also, on the off chance nobody has pointed you guys to this: www.theverge.com/.../windows-desktop-ui-concept <-- that is a fresh, metro-style desktop UI. Hire this guy!
Hey, I hate to doubt ones sincerity even reading a blog written by Microsoft employee gushing over Windows 8 so I'll take you at face value.
Obviously there are people at Microsoft sold on Metro because despite many mediocre reviews and tons of consumer complaints I see no compromise on their part even though most fixes could be user options that are already developed features being ripped out like Aero and the desktop start menu. The only exception is Microsoft scaling back the Metro-ization of Visual Studio following a developer revolt.
Microsoft took the extreme and bizarre step of referring to the Aero UI as "cheesy". So they give us Metro restricted to an old CGA or VGA color palette with background styles like curly cues from the 1970s and return to the flat, full screen apps of Windows 1.0. This is European clean they say. I call it butt ugly. Butt ugly has a practical price in obscuring controls in Metro apps.
I've used Windows 8 extensively. As a desktop UI it sucks so bad it makes me angry. As a touch screen tablet UI it is very immature and unpolished. Did I mention it is butt ugly? Sure, the live tiles offer promise but there are just far too many bad decisions in Metro.
Ironically, I may be forced to upgrade the hybrid I'm typing this on running the Release Preview to the final product. Its a better tablet than Windows 7. However, I've advised work we're probably better off waiting for Windows 9 unless Microsoft wakes up and fixes the Metro mess.
Clearly a sales pitch Mr LeBlanc. The response is pretty overwhelming when it comes to Window 8 on a desktop. The transition between desktop and metro is still a complete eye sore disaster. Your hypothetical situations and how they fit perfectly to your needs and what matters to you is just that, a hypothetical situation. We aren't idiots and it's insulting that you would take us for such.
I have never wanted something to fail so bad in my life. I hope MS releases this garbage on desktop to crap sales numbers and realizes that the desktop is not dead and that this touch centric garbage is useless on the desktop.
can we upgrade to final version if i am using win 8 RP and there is no option of ad-hoc in make new connection!
many apps crash or just force close!
I gave Windows 8 Consumer Preview a try on our 2007 Dell XPS 13. It worked pretty well, but there were ongoing issues with using Chrome as the default browser. The Metro thing was cool and easy enough to bypass when I wanted to get to the desktop. I really liked the new Task Manager and I dug the Control Panel, too. Overall, things seemed to run faster on the XPS with Windows 8.
When W8RP came out, I upgraded the Dell and things got really wonky. I eventually uninstalled the Release Preview and switched to Ubuntu 12.04. It's not the main PC in our home, so it's often used as a testing ground for new products.
Anyway, I recently installed the Release Preview on my new Alienware M14x R2 and it was almost comically buggy. Chrome kept freezing and crashing and the OS itself froze up a fair amount. Plus, it was pretty obvious that the nifty Alienware graphics and sound and other cool stuff, wasn't really in evidence in Windows 8 RP. I stuck with it for a few days, and then did a clean install of Windows 7 Home Premium and re-installed all of the Alienware drivers, etc.... It's a shame because I really did like the layout of Windows 8 and it seemed like the sleek design and speed it brought to the XPS 13 would be even cooler on Alienware. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case.
I may upgrade from 7 to 8 in October, but only after doing a load of research concerning Windows 8 compatibility with Alienware and other powerful laptops. That said, I'm digging the new Outlook email and the Office 2013 trial. It all makes even more sense with Windows 8, but not at the expense of my laptop's performance.
Here is the thing, as I sit here reading this using XpPro thinking about future options for myself and others, I reach out my hands to both of the screens in fornt of me, and still have about 1 1/2 inches to go before I could touch them, so all the stuff about that sort of has little significance for me as desktop usage will be really important for us fro quite a long time into the future.
May be for regular Desk Top users to make the visual interface more relevant to us Microsoft is going to provide a special finger extender pack, perhaps marketed as DigitPlus (R) TM Microsoft. or make screens heat sensitive and provide little bluetooth/microwave powered heat elements for the extremities of our hands so we don't have to actually touch the screen? :)
Otherwise the design features will actually be counter productive for people who don;t want/can't comfortably touch the screen, or don;t want to make gestures or faces at the camera, or talk to the computer. Who just want to be able to rely on it being what it always has been - and not loose productivity and speed in trying to transition to interfaces that don;t suit serious endeavour?
@chadzo69 - There are a lot of reported issues using Google Chrome as the Browser. You should be fine if you don't install it. IE10 (desktop version) is pretty good as it is.
@PaulANormanNZ - Why do you really have to use a touch screen on a desktop computer????
Win 8 is easy to use with Keyboard/mouse. I work in IT and have been using the Win8 RP on all computers at home and on my Work computer, everything works faster and better than Win 7, the only change is the start screen in place of the start menu. Once you've used Win8 for more than a few days, you'll get used to it, and become more efficient at normal tasks.
These people are brilliant. When I read through these comments, I see all of the people who complained when Microsoft moved away from a dos shell. I see the people who complained when XP came out with a new start menu that rearranged the norm. The people who complained that Vista was a dog after they bought that shiny new $500 dell that didn't meet the min specs.
You'd think at some point these people would just acknowledge that it's they themselves who can't handle change and would stop trying to handicap and dumb down things for the rest of us.
If you really like XP, keep using it. Why would Microsoft re-release XP?
Yeah....IE10 is nifty but I much prefer Chrome. I suppose that sums up another problem I have with Windows 8; the whole thing is so Microsoft-centric to begin with, it would be nice if the choices a consumer made to personalize it with products outside of the Microsoft Universe didn't cause freezes and crashes. I mean....do they really think most people will suddenly switch to IE when their preferred browser option doesn't work on Windows 8? If that's the case, I'll stick to Windows 7. Windows 8 and Chrome being compatible shouldn't be considered "a plus", it should be considered "an expectation".
It's happy to note that you are happy with win-8
However, I am not at all happy with any of the Windows OS.
Yes, windows is No. 1.
It is not because it is best, but because of "Compatibility"
All applications are developed on Windows Platform.
All Laptop/Desktop/Printer, etc., gives driver mainly for Windows.
This has made people to get tied-up with windows.
Do not think I am against MS.
The best product of MS is the office suite. I love it 1000%.
The nest best product not so popular is MS Small Business Accounting Application
Their ERP - AXAPTA is great.
But their OS is the most crappiest thing in this world despite the graphical displays & compatibility ...