windows 8–the road so far

So it’s official, the Windows 8 beta, nicknamed Consumer Preview, will hit the worldwide web on February 29th. Time to list what we know so far.

For consumers:

  • the classic start menu has been replaced by a Metro interface, still unsure if there will be an option to bring back the classic menu
  • the windows desktop has now been extracted from the kernel and is just an app
  • Windows 8 utilizes much less resources then Windows 7, allowing it to run smoothly on weaker hardware
  • boot time is impressive, it takes mere seconds to launch. The cause is the fact that Windows 8 doesn’t shutdown completely, it’s kernel goes into hibernation. When you do a hard reset of the device you’ll notice that booting takes more time but it’s still noticeably faster than Win 7
  • Windows 8 will have two types of applications, the classic ones like we know them on Win 7 and Metro style applications. These Metro apps run completely full screen, no chrome like titlebars or borders
  • Metro apps run either full screen or snapped, running side by side with another app (even desktop apps)
  • Windows 8 comes with it’s very own Marketplace. Here you can download all kinds of Metro style applications
  • the ribbon that has been in Office since version 2007 now makes it’s way into the Windows explorer but it will be collapsed by default
  • Pinball and solitaire are installed games by default. Available in the store at launch will be:
    • Hydro Thunder
    • Toy Soldiers
    • Reckless Racing
    • Angry Birds
    • Ilomilo
    • Rocket Riot
    • Full House Poker
    • Tentacles
    • Crash Course
    • Ms Splosion Man
    • Wordament
  • Following apps will be included in the Consumer Preview
    • Camera
    • Messaging
    • Mail
    • Calendar
    • SkyDrive
    • People
    • Photos
    • Video
    • Music
  • Win 8 will be available on x86/x64 cpu’s and for the first time on ARM, mostly used in tablets
  • ARM versions of Windows will have both desktop and metro interface and comes with Office 15, a new Office version
  • Your profile (settings, wallpaper, …) will be synched to skydrive so that every time you buy a new Win 8 pc you don’t need to set everything manually
  • Refresh and Reset options, a refresh will keep all files and folders but will put Windows back in a fresh installed state, removing all installed applications and settings while a reset will do the same but also deletes all files and folders for all profiles
  • native USB 3.0 support
  • Windows 8 can mount and browse ISO and VHD files
  • UEFI Safe boot to prevent boot sector virusses
  • full backwards compatibility

For Developers:

  • anyone with XAML experience will be able to build Metro apps
  • Metro style takes a lot of the concepts of Windows Phone 7 and Silverlight
  • Instead of using the dreadful Win32 API developers can now use WinRT which provides a much cleaner way to interact with the OS
  • Metro apps are NOT .net code
  • .net 4.5 is included in Win 8
  • Metro apps in C#/VB/C++ + XAML or Javascript + HTML


Windows 8 will be pretty different compared to win 7. The developer preview has been out since September and I’ve been using it on a Iconia Tab W500 tablet since December. At the time I started using it I also had an iPad 2 but there’s just something special about a full blown OS on a tablet device, especially when running Win 8. I like the OS so far. The developer preview has lots of bugs, obviously, so I’m very curious about the performance and stability of the Consumer preview. Due to the stability problems I haven’t spend much time developing metro apps, this will change with the consumer preview. I’ll probably start by converting my WP7 apps to Win 8. More about that when I get to it.

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