Currently Tinkering: Windows 8 Consumer Preview

2012-04-09-win8cp

A few days ago my wife’s laptop was not starting properly, and I got it checked and it seemed that the old hard drive was impossible to recover, and the Windows 7 Starter that was included with the laptop wasn’t working. So, I decided why not use a old working drive and install Windows 8 Consumer Preview. This was an opportunity to experiment with the new operating system and to discover what’s new with it.

First thing, installation, I tried installing it online from Microsoft’s own website. The problem is, it seems like it’s downloading a ton of stuff through the installer alone without any progress report. I tried leaving the computer alone all night while I see the screen telling me that the installer is preparing the computer while I sleep. Once I woke up, the computer was still doing it’s thing. I decided to download the DVD iso instead which is also available on Microsoft’s own site. Downloading it took like 2-3 hours for a 2.6gb iso (I got the 32 bit version since the netbook didn’t have the specs to use the 64 bit anyway. The installation was smoother and it didn’t bother me with too much questions. I have to admit, every new version of Windows setup installer is getting more simpler than the previous one. During installation, it did ask me about having a Windows Live account, which is basically the same as the Xbox Live account. At first I didn’t use it since I wanted to see what it can offer without forcing you to sign up for it, and it did make a local account without a problem.

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Now it starts, the new Metro user interface is now in front of me. I tried clicking the icons, but none would works. It tells me that the minimum requirement is a 1024×768 monitor resolution, which that can be a problem with most netbooks which has a resolution of 1024×600. Although, technically it works, because I can see the Metro interface just fine, but trying to run any apps within Metro is impossible with my current screen. Heck, even the simple Internet Explorer won’t work. But interestingly, you can click the icon “Desktop” to switch to the old interface. There I was able to use Internet Explorer and download the stuff I needed to get the system running as I wanted to. The Metro Icons only have 2 sizes, basically, it’s a box and the other size is just 2 boxes put together horizontally. Metro icons are different since it has a solid color different from the background.

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Next thing I try is hooking it up on a monitor with a better resolution. Suddenly, the Metro UI looks a lot better and apps run more properly (but not perfectly, later on that). Now everything ran as it should, but for a few exceptions. Most of the icons running on Metro UI required the Windows Live login like the Store, Messaging, SkyDrive, Calendar and such. So, that’s the next thing I try to do, login using an Xbox Live account. Now everything works well. If you are familiar with how the new Xbox Metro looks like, then the Windows Apps store and even the Xbox Live page won’t be that much of a shock.

After using Metro UI for like 6 hours, it feels like I’m using an iPhone/Android with a keyboard and mouse. I couldn’t try the touch screen feature since I didn’t have that. It has it’s own software too, which is mostly lightweight, I think because the new software for Windows 8 is for demonstration purposes only. I tried installing XE Currency, WordPress and Dictionary.Com and it was all pretty quick and easy. Although I had a few problems with a few programs not running immediately which just exited the program with no warning whatsoever. I don’t even know if the program failed to load because of an error . All I know it just didn’t start.

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The look of the programs are going for the simplistic look. It uses large fonts, clean images almost no borders. I like it a lot, but with that, it didn’t make sense why it wouldn’t work on a netbook. Really, from a visual standpoint, it just didn’t make any sense to me.

I really like how Metro UI looks, I like how fast everything loads up too. My problem with Windows 8 so far that it feels like your using two very different operating systems that you can switch back and forth, it doesn’t feel unified as I expected it to be. Anyway, this is not a review but a preview of Windows 8. Let’s hope that they improve it more along the way before they actually release it fully.

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