First impressions from Windows 8 Consumer Preview (W8CP)

metrocharmbarFebruary, 29th: Microsoft releases Windows 8 Consumer Preview at Mobile World Congress 2012.

That was what we all were waiting for: the next major version of Windows, previewed with more functions as the Developer Preview released last year in September by Microsoft.

In this post, I will talk about my first impressions with W8CP until now.

First step to take was the download. As I want to run both Windows 7 and Windows 8 on my PC, I decided to download the ISO-Image, extract it and install from USB Stick. If you want to do the same, here is a quick guide to create a bootable USB drive: http://www.microsoftstore.com/store/msstore/html/pbPage.Help_Win7_usbdvd_dwnTool.

Note: I simply extracted the image using 7Zip, copied the whole extracted folder on my USB drive. Reboot, hit F12 to enter boot menu (depends on your hardware which is the right key), and it was done.

You now may think that the install of the OS will take some time… You are totally wrong. From the moment of reboot until I initially saw the W8CP Metro start screen it took 20 minutes! As I am on a 2 year old hardware, this might be even faster with newer ones.

Some words about the experience

Although I am not an a touch hardware, W8CP introduces a really easy way to use. Well, the experience with mouse is still better than with the trackpad on my laptop. Hopefully Asus delivers in near future some drivers built for W8CP. The apps are opening fast, delivering an easy to understand first start screen (if you have to do something, like contacts and mail).

Let´s go through some of the apps:

First I want to show you the “people”-hub. Yes, it admits to be same as on your Windows Phone (if you have one).Screenshot (4)

You have all contacts, which are connected to your Microsoft Account (former called Windows LIVE-ID). If you connected Facebook and Twitter like me, you have a really long list of contacts. Sadly in this early stage there is no way of filtering your contacts. If you are using a Google account, you will have also these contacts in here.

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In “what´s new?” section you will see recent posts on your network. In my case I see only my Twitter timeline. I think there should be also Facebook things, but I did not see one over the time I used W8CP.

Under “me” you can see your personal information, as well as some notifications. here is opposite for me to what´s new section: I only see Facebook news. I think this is due to the early stage a not so bad thing, hopefully Microsoft will update this while we are waiting for final Windows 8. Finally, you can pin contacts to the start screen.

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The mail app is similar to the one on Windows Phone. You have three columns, one for folders, your mail overview and the mail itself. Currently you can use Hotmail, Google-Mail and Exchange to test the app with. POP and IMAP is not there right now. If you want to get your mail from other mail services, you can easily collect them with Hotmail.

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The photo app delivers nearly the same experience as the picture hub on Windows Phone. You can view your local library with its subfolders, your SkyDrive as well as Facebook. New is Flickr, which is added in here also. Maybe this will come also to Windows Phone?

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Well, the music app is basically what the music section of Zune was, but without the Zune branding. The app contains only basic functionality, such as having a look into a part of the marketplace and a look into your local music library.

That was all about the apps for now. There are several things to still explore, you can expect me to write some more posts over the coming weeks.

Using W8CP

So Microsoft reworked completely the usability. Within every app, you have a own menu, which is called by the “charm bar”. To open the “charm bar”, you have to go to the right botton corner. The charm bar will open you some more options. The charm bar is the key element, where you can do several things:

  • search (apps, people, internet, or within apps, if they use this functionality)
  • share with apps (currently there is no real twitter client, as “Tweet@rama” and “Socialize” are not available any more)
  • devices will let you interact with connected devices, like your digicam
  • settings: if you are in an app, the settings will be app related, while on start screen they are system related.

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Where is the Windows button?

There is no Windows button on your as you have been using since Windows 95. As Microsoft stated, Windows 8 is “Windows reimagined”. And it is totally true. So here is what you get instead of the Windows button, when you move the mouse down the left bottom corner.

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Down the corner is the last app/program you have been using (in this case it is Windows Live Writer). If you move the mouse up now, you will keep an task switch menu with all recent apps/programs which are open. You can navigate within this by using Windows-key+Tab.

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If you are used to use Alt+Tab, you get a task switch menu which is well known to you:

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I really love the usability of Windows 8. For a Consumer Preview, which are only other words for “Beta”, it is at this stage really good.

What are you waiting for? Crab your own copy!

ISO-Download:

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-8/iso

Windows installer:

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-8/download?ocid=W_MSC_W8P_DevCenter_MetroApps_EN-US

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