Apps and Software Guide

First Looks: Windows 8 Preview

First Looks: Windows 8 Preview

First Looks

First Looks

After the final reboot, we were presented with the message that the system was getting ready.

Boot Times - Windows 7 versus Windows 8 Developer Preview

We decided to time the boot times of Windows 7 and this offering of Windows 8 on our ASUS K43S. We turned off all unwanted start-up programs and services in the Windows 7 environment and kicked off this competition. The boot time for the incumbent operating system was one minute and ten seconds. The Windows 8 challenger shaved off about half the time its predecessor took. And we've not tried an SSD yet!


Boot Manager Gone Metro-style

The Boot Manager has a simple and elegant look. It's evident from the icon/tile layout and color scheme that it has picked up the Metro design language. By default, the new Windows 8 operating system was selected, but the default values can be configured to your liking.

After customising our Windows user profile and other system settings, we were ushered into the Metro environment with abated breath.

Our first impression of the Metro UI was it was as if we were viewing Windows Phone 7's Live Tiles in landscape mode. Scrolling from left to right (or vice versa) on our laptop's 14.4-inch display using a mouse (by clicking the navigation arrows on the bottom) was a clumsy affair. It's obvious once we tried it that Windows 8's horizontal scrolling tile operation is designed for touch-based devices, such as tablets.

It's worth noting that this tile-based interface runs on top of Windows 8 full desktop experience. You could easily switch between the two. The developer preview comes with Metro-style apps for you to try; the 4.8GB download comes with 28 such apps. Metro apps can have multiple views; along with live tiles and 'contracts' (more on that later), they offer a richer experience than desktop apps, and resemble closer in terms of richness in experience to the mobile apps that we've grown so used to in recent years. For developers, there are various languages and technologies to choose from to create Metro-style apps. For example, HTML5/CSS3 for the user interface and JavaScript for the logic. You could also turn to C, C#, C++, Visual Basic, or XAML.

Of course, don't expect all of your favorite apps to go Metro. As Microsoft Windows President Steven Sinofsky pointed out, some apps are best left as desktop apps. For example, Adobe's Photoshop image editing software.