Author Topic: Windows 8  (Read 2362 times)

Spectere

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Windows 8
« on: October 06, 2011, 07:15:16 PM »
I started toying around with the developer preview of Windows 8 a wee bit and...well, I'm kind of torn.

On one hand, I'd love to use it on a tablet.  I dare say it'd be about the best thing since sliced bread on that platform.  However, with the way that things are going, I almost dread the thought of using it on a desktop computer.  While you can certainly use it as you would any other version of Windows, for the most part, the second you tap the start button you get thrust into the reimagined start menu.  That wouldn't be a problem if my computer had a touch screen but, alas, it does not.  Navigating through it with a mouse really isn't too terrible, as the system appears to intelligently detect touch screens.  It doesn't allow you to do some gestures that wouldn't make sense with a mouse while you use a mouse (example: you can't swipe through menus, but you have the option of using a mouse wheel or scroll bar).

The ribbon took over the UI in the non-touch sections of the OS, which I welcome.  The ribbon takes the guesswork out of the old icon views, taking up slightly more space but conveying significantly more information without dealing with unintuitive tooltips.  The new task manager is simply fantastic, allowing the user to monitor not only the CPU and memory usage of the tasks, but also the disk and network bandwidth that each program is using in a much cleaner fashion than the task manager of old.  At the same time, it's also significantly more simple.  The default view is a simple box with a list of the currently running applications, not at all dissimilar to the well-designed Force Quit box from Mac OS X.  If you want the juicy details, it's just a click away.

As with any other Windows preview release, the OS contains elements from the old and the new.  In some windows, scroll bars are thin and long to facilitate touch control.  In other windows, like even the new task manager, things look Windows 7-esque.

Aero has been significantly tweaked, the glass becoming considerably more opaque (by default -- you can't make it as clear as Vista/7, though) and the rounded edges becoming very square.  This is no doubt an effort to make Windows more Metro-esque, giving the full OS and the phone (and, by extension, the recently deceased Zune) a bit more of a consistent look.  One thing that is immediately noticeable after booting the system is that Microsoft finally gave us the ability to have a taskbar on each display, with the option of having each taskbar monitor only the windows on the given monitor.  The only real caveat with the "unique" taskbars (as opposed to the one that displays all icons open on any screen) is that you can only pin applications on the main taskbar.

I've had relatively few stability issues so far.  I had the OS slow to a crawl (as in, totally unusable) once, but I have a feeling that was the VHD disk driver (I have the OS booting natively on my computer from a VHD image), and I had the graphics driver reset once.  All in all, not bad considering how much I've used it so far.  It'll all get ironed out by the time the actual beta makes its way out.  It always does.  I used the Windows 7 beta as the primary OS on my laptop for a while, after all.

All in all, I'm excited to see where this goes, but am little worried about people, like myself, who are content with a keyboard and mouse.  I'm hoping that the touch screen elements were simply the primary focus of the preview and don't wind up overshadowing everything else in the final release.

More as I discover it!

Edit: One last thing to note: Windows 8 appears to have a built-in, autocorrecting spellchecker, no doubt intended for the touchscreen keyboard.  I only discovered it while I was typing this post (I transposed two letters and it corrected it for me).  Strangely enough, it only auto-corrected me once and did the traditional red underline on all of my further misspellings, so it might have just been a bug.  The rest of the OS seems to intelligently react to whether you are using a keyboard and mouse or touch screen, so I'd imagine that this is yet another one of those things.

Regardless, I don't doubt that it can be turned off, I just haven't bothered to look for the option yet, since it seemed to have only been a one-time glitch.

Edit 2: Intriguing feature in the new control panel:



Well, dang.  Considering the most user-visible part of Windows 8 is essentially going to be a restricted and, if I recall correctly, a well-sandboxed tablet interface, Windows might finally be able to shed its reputation for "having tons of viruses" (though I tend to consider that more "having tons of ignorant users," but that's why I'm an elitist prick).
« Last Edit: October 06, 2011, 07:26:56 PM by Spectere »
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MortifiedocAlot

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Re: Windows 8
« Reply #1 on: October 06, 2011, 08:29:13 PM »
I really hope the novelty of touch-screens doesn't bleed over to desktops. I'm already sick of it.


Bobbias

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Re: Windows 8
« Reply #2 on: October 06, 2011, 09:57:01 PM »
Ok, "Refresh your computer" is the single smartest thing I've seen out of microsoft in ages. Took them long enough!

(I should point out that I've been doing that manually for years because I never back stuff up)
« Last Edit: October 07, 2011, 12:35:07 AM by Bobbias »
This is going in my sig. :)


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Spectere

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Re: Windows 8
« Reply #3 on: October 07, 2011, 01:19:32 AM »
I really hope the novelty of touch-screens doesn't bleed over to desktops. I'm already sick of it.

I somewhat doubt that it will be a mandatory part of the OS.  The more I dive in the more apparent it is that the preview is aimed at Metro-style application development.  Namely, touchscreen applications.  It would be more analogous to a tablet manufacturer giving away their OS a year early so that they could have thousands of launch apps on release.

Mice and keyboards are not going to go away anytime soon.  With Microsoft's reliance on developers, developers, developers, developers, they aren't going to risk losing them by making it harder to write code all of a sudden.  Most of the appeal of Windows 8, I feel, is going to be the tablet market.  Tablet support has been a part of Windows since XP, but very few computers have actually taken advantage of it.  We are starting to see more computers with touchscreen interfaces (such as the HP TouchSmart and the Dell Inspiron Duo) and that is, what I feel, going to be Windows 8's strongest market.  For traditional desktops and laptops it's going to be more of a standard upgrade.  The Metro start interface works well with mouse clicks and can convey quite a bit of application without the clunkiness of desktop gadgets or widgets, so that won't be a complete write-off for most people, but it certainly won't get as much use as it will on the tablets.

Windows 8 is looking like its final design is going to be that of a hybrid OS, equally suitable for desktops, laptops, tablets, and slates.  One of the things that you can expect to see, with a Windows 8 network, is being able to write up a Word document, pull it up on your tablet via a Homegroup-enabled network, take it with you on the road, show it off, modify it, and bring it back to your desktop later for further editing.  It would be like if an iPad ran OS X.  It gives you an platform that you can use to run both tablet-optimized applications (such as immersive Internet Explorer, which resembles WP7's version of IE far more than the desktop one, and even runs with less privileges to help keep the nasties out) as well as full desktop applications without having to jailbreak or do anything else to unlock the device's full potential.  Furthermore, Windows 8 is going to be available for both the traditional x86 and x86-64 processors as well as the energy-efficient ARM processor.  Considering Microsoft's strong push toward .NET in these past few years, that means we're going to see programs that can potentially run natively on all three architectures.  Also: what if Microsoft decides to allow Windows Phone applications to run on Windows 8?  It's certainly not out of the question.

One important thing to note: the ARM version of Windows 8 will most likely be tablet-only, sort of like a big Windows Phone (I wouldn't want to see an ARM take on the full Windows OS, or any modern desktop OS), but the way things are going I can sort of envision two classes of tablets: basic Windows 8 tablets and bloody amazing Windows 8 tablets.  The OS was clearly built to handle both.

I'm very interested to see what becomes of it.

Ok, "Refresh your computer" is the single smartest thing I've seen out of microsoft in ages. Took them long enough!

To be fair, disk space was a real issue until recently.  It wasn't really practical to stuff two whole operating systems on hard drives until recently, as we seem to have hit a plateau in space utilization while the available space just keeps going up.

Microsoft has been building up to this for some time, too.  System Restore, in theory, offers many of the same benefits without the disadvantage of taking up a ton of space.  Its downside, of course, is that it is both not thorough enough and not selective enough.  I'm not sure if this feature can be used from the installation DVD, as I didn't install it using that (I unpackaged the WIM onto a VHD and told BCD to boot to that, because apparently the Windows boot system has gotten really fucking awesome since NTLDR), but I would assume so.

At the very least, it'll help keep asshole tech support reps from Dell, HP, Lenovo, and the like from instructing users to restore their computer to the factory image without telling them that they'll lose data.  Nah, I'm probably being too optimistic there...
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Bobbias

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Re: Windows 8
« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2011, 03:06:08 PM »
lol, well its nice to see that as an actual option though. And all things considered, there are a lot of people who are getting computers with massive amounts of space and barely using any of it, so something like that taking up extra space wouldn't mean anything to them, but the bonus of not having to lose all the stuff they do have when their system runs like shit is worth the extra space.

Also, I can't wait till we hit the point where SSDs are everywhere, and cheap.
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