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Thursday September 15, 2011 11:05 am

How the Windows 8 Developer Preview works on a MacBook Air

Windows 8 Macbook Air

Microsoft released its Windows 8 Developer Preview and free developer tools to the public for download last night. It's intended to help developers start building apps for the forthcoming newest version of Microsoft's operating system. But that won't stop hordes of regular users from installing it anyway, just to get a sneak peek.

We got our hands on a copy of the software and figured that the most compelling system to install it on was a Apple MacBook Air 13-inch running Boot Camp. For the most part, the Windows 8 Developer Preview installed and ran smoothly on the Air despite being the first public build. It's stable enough that I didn't encounter heat issues, the infamous blue-screen of death (yet), or even a single application crash.

There are some key MacBook Air components that Windows 8 didn't recognize, however. These included the speakers, SD card reader, webcam, and Bluetooth, although a sophisticated user could probably tinker with current Windows drivers and get some of them to work. The good news is that the essential ones, such as Wi-Fi, the keyboard, trackpad, and USB ports, worked perfectly.

Cold-booting the Air took about 45 seconds, and resume times were instant in large part because of the Air's flash storage drive. Since Windows 8's Metro-style interface is very touch-centric (and the Air lacks a touch screen), knowing a few keyboard shortcuts will come in handy (you use the Mac's Command key as the Windows logo key instead).

With Wi-Fi working, Web surfing with Internet Explorer 10, tweeting with Tweet@Rama, and checking stock prices and weather information were swift on the Air 13-inch. Trackpad gestures didn't work (for obvious reasons), so attaching an external mouse can get you the scrolling features so handy for Web surfing. The game apps—Piano, Labyrinth, WordHunt, Sudoku, TreeHouse Stampede—played beautifully.

I connected hard drives, thumb drives, a DVD burner, game controllers, various keyboards and mice, and they all worked when plugged into the Air's two USB ports. If you're wondering about software, Adobe Photoshop CS5, Cyberlink's PowerDVD, Apple iTunes (though the Air didn't have sound), and several games all installed and ran fine.

I'm sure there are countless other things that I can test Windows 8 with on the MacBook Air 13-inch. If you have ideas, please leave a comment and let me know. Otherwise, if you have an Intel-based Apple laptop with Boot Camp loaded, Windows 8 Developers Preview is definitely worth trying out.

This article, written by Cisco Cheng, originally appeared on PCMag.com and is republished on Gear Live with the permission of Ziff Davis, Inc.

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