Windows 8 Consumer Preview Launched

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Microsoft has finally launched the Windows 8 Consumer Preview (Beta) at the Mobile World Congress 2012 in Barcelona, Spain.

Windows 8 Consumer Preview Is Finally Here

The Windows 8 Consumer Preview (AKA the Public Beta version) is now available for free download and is available to anyone with access to an Internet connected PC. The one thing that you will notice first when you download and install it is how new everything is.

Sure, the Desktop environment will look almost the same as it does on Windows 7 but then you won’t find something very important there — the Start Button and the Menu. Those days, I am not very sorry to say, are gone. So allow me to welcome you to the new Windows — where the Desktop is a legacy and the new interface is called Metro. It might look like just a layer on top of the Desktop but soon you will realize that the Desktop is merely an alternative under the main interface.

The first word of warning when it comes to Windows 8 is that most of you will be downloading it on to a machine that does not have a touchscreen and hence will miss out on one of the major upgrades in the Windows experience. Through the beautifully created tiled interface and a full screen approach to applications, the Metro UI makes sure that you can immerse yourself in to whatever app you are using at the moment. Or if you choose, the two apps you are using at the moment by making them share screen space. Everything else is hidden.

The Metro Philosophy Behind Workflow

Metro works on touch. The implications of this will be slightly hard to grasp in the beginning but once you get on to using Windows on a touchscreen, you will know why it is a revolutionary change for the Windows line. This is one OS that has be developed from the ground up to be touch-based. You will be swiping, tapping, pinching and moving a lot of things on screen. And everything sits at the same level. There’s no layering like in traditional Windows.

Once you have an app open, you can quickly switch to another app without having to place the new app on top. Metro works like a long horizontal plane and hence you will be swiping sideways on both sides to come to the apps that are running.

Controls are gong to hidden from sight so that you can focus on what you are doing. But when you need them, all you have to do is swipe from one side to bring them up.

Content sharing is a big part of Metro apps. Inter app communication is built right in to the system. So developers will just have to make apps that can share and receive content. When used together, you can share content between any number of apps that support that content. Here’s an example: –

You click a photo with your tablet’s camera. You now have the photo visible on your camera app. You can now send this photo to your Facebook app and upload it to Facebook after adding caption, tags and specifying album and privacy level. Or you can send it to the twitter app and add it to a tweet. Or you can send it to your photo editor. And you can do the same with any file type you can think of — documents, audio, archives and more. As long as you have the apps for it, you can share.

Real Time Is Everything, As Is Lower Resource Consumption

With Windows 8, Microsoft has taken many steps forwards but they have also taken one very important step back by cutting down on the amount of resource Windows uses. Windows 8 has actually been designed to be so much advanced and yet take less than Windows 7 resource to run. This has never happened before in Windows.

And this matters because Windows 8 has a lot of things happening in the background to give you real time information, updated even if your device is practically sleeping. This is done through the clever design of how apps work at various levels of activeness within Metro.

Windows 8 is a whole new ball game and there’s a lot to know if you have just stumbled on to it. We will be posting more in-depth, feature-focussed over the coming days but you can start on it by reading some of our earlier posts on Windows 8. Then there’s this great post on the Windows Experience blog introducing Windows 8 to newcomers — http://windowsteamblog.com/windows/b/windowsexperience/archive/2012/02/29/introducing-windows-8-consumer-preview.aspx

And if you are looking to download the preview, you should go here — http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-8/consumer-preview

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- Cheers!