Review: Windows 8 Developer Preview

Windows 8 Developer Preview
Windows 8 Developer Preview

 

I decided to check out the latest Windows release to see how much it differs from my Windows 7 install (on my video game/photography computer).  So I installed it into Virtualbox.

 

Windows 8 - Need to change some settings
Windows 8 - Need to change some settings

 

At first it wouldn’t install and I couldn’t understand what was going wrong.  Turns out that in the settings under the motherboard tab I had to tick the checkbox for “enable IO APIC”.  So I finally got it to start installing:

Windows 8 - install begins
Windows 8 - install begins

 

Windows 8 - license terms
Windows 8 - license terms

 

 

Windows 8 - upgrade or install
Windows 8 - upgrade or install

Although most people will never install Windows 8 from scratch (more about that later), it’s kinda weird the way they’ve put a new install under custom.

 

Windows 8 - choosing install hard drive
Windows 8 - choosing install hard drive

 

 

Windows 8 - and the copying/installation of files begins
Windows 8 - and the copying/installation of files begins

The next session was the personalization of Windows 8.  I think it was well setup – it is nice to just have one item to do on the screen even if it is inefficient.  It’s funny that it took Microsoft this long to come up with an installer that rivals that of the best Linux distros.  On the one hand, you could argue that 99.9% of Windows users didn’t build their own computer so they never had to install it.  On the other hand, lots of advanced users would routinely reinstall Windows to deal with the DLL-hell and system slowing.  So it’s good to see them improving things.

 

Windows 8 - Personalize
Windows 8 - Personalize

Settings – another great page that makes things easy for new installers – I decide to go with customize to see what’s there.

 

Windows 8 - Settings
Windows 8 - Settings

 

So that people don’t get things confused a few years from now and accuse Linux of copying: Windows 8 copied Gnome 3.0 and the sliders for on/off instead of check boxes because of compatibility with touch devices.

 

Windows 8 - copying Gnome 3.0
Windows 8 - copying Gnome 3.0

 

Windows 8 - more setup
Windows 8 - more setup

 

Windows 8 - choosing a name and password
Windows 8 - choosing a name and password

 

Windows 8 - welcome screen
Windows 8 - welcome screen

 

And we finally arrive at the famous new “metro” design that everyone knows by now.  Reminds me a bit (but not too much) of KDE netbook edition.

 

Windows 8 - metro
Windows 8 - metro

 

I decide to start with Internet Explorer but then I find out there is a scroll bar that appears at the bottom (like Ubuntu Unity and its disappearing scroll bars – more copying FROM the Linux world).  So I decide to scroll and see what’s there:

 

Windows 8 - metro page 2
Windows 8 - metro page 2

 

Windows 8 - metro page 3
Windows 8 - metro page

 

OK, now that you’ve seen the other screens, I click on IE.  It doesn’t launch.  Could be a bug or could be that I’m in Virtualbox.  I go to socialite to see what that is.  Again nothing happens.  Interesting.  Clicking on Windows Explorer finally causes something to happen.  It brings up a Windows 7 looking interface.  And from there I can actually launch IE.  Windows explorer is mostly the same as in Windows 7 except it has the ribbon.  I’m normally a hater of the ribbon, but I like it in this case for two reasons.  1) it’s easier for all those old people who still haven’t learned control-C and go to edit->copy every time they want to copy.  2) It’s infinitely easier than the keyboard shortcut if you’re using it on a tablet.

 

Windows 8 - Windows Explorer
Windows 8 - Windows Explorer

 

IE:  looks VERY streamlined!  (As is the new trend) Internet doesn’t work so I install Virtualbox Guest Additions to see if that helps.  It doesn’t work and I think it’s because Windows 8 is too new and they don’t have guest additions for it yet.  I find out online that I may need to change the type of network adapter it’s emulating.

 

Windows 8 - Internet Explorer
Windows 8 - Internet Explorer

 

You click on your name to logoff.  That gives me this screen.

 

Windows 8 - logoff screen
Windows 8 - logoff screen

 

And I needed to flip that up to get to the shutoff button.  So I go to change my network adapter to Intel PRO/1000 MT Desktop adapter .  I restart the VM.

 

Windows 8 - networking setup
Windows 8 - networking setup

 

If you hover (instead of clicking) over the Start menu

 

Windows 8 - hovering over the start menu
Windows 8 - hovering over the start menu

 

Using that driver makes networking work.  It adds in my prints and stuff.  I load up IE and point it to the blog to see how well it formats it.  (Interesting note – Windows 8 is less of a drain on my resources in the VM than Fedora with KDE).

 

Windows 8 - this blog in Windows Internet Explorer 8
Windows 8 - this blog in Windows Internet Explorer 8

 

Weather does nothing nor does News.  Twee@rama does nothing.  Stocks does nothing.  Pretty much none of the buttons do anything.  But I’ll willing to chalk it up to the strange things that can happen when running in a VM.  If you right click the items, you can make them smaller.

So it’s hard to come to a firm conclusion.  I can’t really use many of the new features.  I can say that it’s all pretty.  Just like KDE 4.x, Gnome 3.x, and Unity (and Macs) everything is getting prettified.  Which is fine, but often times pretty and functional don’t go together.  For one, I don’t like that all the programs thrown all willy-nilly in the Metro menu.  There’s a reason why I prefer KDE to Gnome and Unity – I like my programs classified.  I don’t mind quick-launch – that’s useful.  I have all my most-used programs on an auto-hide task bar so I can launch them without needing to find them.  But when I want to look for a program I use occasionally, I don’t want to trawl through every other program I have installed.  Also, in my limited run I wasn’t able to see how taskbar/tasktray stuff is handled.  Did they go the Gnome 3 route and say no more program interaction in the taskbar/tasktray?  Or did I just not have any programs installed that use it?

 

My current verdict: if it doesn’t have a compelling reason to move, I’m staying on Windows 7 until support ends.

Author: Eric Mesa

To find out a little more about me, see About Me