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.
Yesterday at its Build conference, Microsoft unveiled Windows 8 to the world during the opening keynote. We know that a lot of you don't have the patience to sit through over an hour of presentations, so we've got the short version above. Get a look at all the new Windows 8 developer preview hotness in the five-minute video above. Get a look, and let us know what you think in the comments!
Microsoft has officially launched the Windows 8 Developer Preview at its BUILD conference this morning, with the download actually becoming available later this week in the new Windows Dev Center, but if you're at BUILD, you'll get your copy there. In addition, they've also announced the Windows Store - yep, it's pretty much like the Mac App Store, but, for Windows. The store will include Metro-style apps (think Windows Phone 7 UI) as well as the more traditional Windows apps that you're used to. We'll be going hands-on with the Windows 8 Developer Preview in just a bit, and will report back with our thoughts!
We're expecting the Windows 8 tablets to debut this morning at Microsoft's BUILD conference, but as is the norm nowadays, we've got what we believe to be a legitimate spy shot of the device right here. Rumor has it that this tablet is a quad-core slate, made by Samsung, and rocking Windows 8 software...and it looks strikingly similar to an iPad. We'll have more later today, once BUILD kicks off.
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I upgraded my MacBook Pro to Apple OS X Lion in a lunch hour. Okay, it wasn't a lunch hour—I couldn't wait that long—but even more astonishing than the expediency (30 minutes to download and 35 to upgrade) was the effortlessness of the process.
At 9am yesterday morning, I opened the Mac App Store, clicked purchase, and let the installer work its magic. When I returned to my machine, it donned a fresh new log-in screen and a new OS. As tech journalist, this ought to have delighted me. Instead, I was left hungering for more.
It's not that Lion isn't a graceful creature; Apple's latest OS adds poise to an already agile predecessor. The 250 new features—Mission Control has already changed how I work—touch every corner of the OS and surpass the 150 additions of the refinement-focused Snow Leopard. Yet I can't help feel that something important is happening—has already happened—to very concept of the OS.
In the first public unveiling of the upcoming Windows 8 interface, Microsoft's president of Windows, Steven Sinofsky, showed off a radically altered Windows start screen that features user-configurable tiles and looks almost nothing like Windows 7. The demo took place during this week's D9 conference in southern California.
The new interface supports gestures, snap, pin, cloud apps, new concepts like a basket for files you'll want to share between apps and services, and a hidden task bar on the right side of the screen. The updated OS is designed to work on "the hundreds of millions of PCs already out in the market," Sinofsky said.
Since it's still Windows, all devices and apps that work with Windows 7 will run on Windows 8, said Sinofsky, adding that consumers will only have to choose which device to run it on. "The interface scales from about 7-inches to a wall-screen display," explained Sinofsky.
In addition to the development screen, Microsoft showed Windows 8 running on tablets from Samsung and Lenovo.
The latest rumor is that Windows 8 will incorporate the "ribbon" interface with Windows Explorer. The feature - which put more functionality front-and-center rather than hidden behind drop-down menus - was first incorporated into Office 2007. With the release of Windows 7, it was also added to Paint and WordPad. A version of the "ribbon" interface is also included in Microsoft Office for Mac 2011.
According to Within Windows, Microsoft is thinking about adding the ribbon to Windows Explorer in the next iteration of the OS, but nothing is set in stone.
"In early builds of Windows 8, this Ribbon UI is only half-finished and, frankly, of dubious value," the blog wrote. "In fact, based on the divergent ways in which various related UI elements are repeated around the window frame, we get the idea that the use of the Ribbon in Explorer is, in fact, quite controversial inside the halls of Microsoft's Redmond campus."