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Less than 24 hours after it went live on Microsoft’s site, Steve Ballmer reported a whopping 500,000 downloads of Windows 8 Developer Preview. That’s half a million copies, if not eager Windows fans.

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  1. 1. September 17, 2011 Windows 8 on a laptop in-depth preview by Windows 8 on a laptop in-depth preview by curve, if it would get in the way while we tried to go about business as usual. So how’s that working out for us? Suffice to say, we’re not in Kansas anymore, so find your most comfortable chair and meet us after the break — we’ve got oh-so many details to delve into. Windows 8 Developer Preview (user interface and settings) Disclaimer Return to top First off, this is not a review. It might look like one, it might even be longer than one, but it’s nevertheless not a review. Our goal here is to do L ess than 24 hours after it went live on Micro- a deep dive on what it’s like to use Windows 8 on soft’s site, Steve Ballmer reported a whopping a laptop — something, obviously, that we’ve never 500,000 downloads of Windows 8 Developer done, but have been waiting to do for quite some Preview. That’s half a million copies, if not eager time. And, as much as we have to say on the topic, Windows fans. Well, you can count us among them. this won’t be the last you’ll hear from us. We’ll be Although we were treated to some private hands-on following Windows 8 as it incubates, and will reserve time with a tablet optimized for the OS, we hadn’t, full judgment until the final version ships — presu- until now, had a chance to use it on a laptop — i.e., mably, a year from now or more. the computing environment where we spend most of our time, and the one where we’re most used to Secondly, you’ll notice we were pretty thorough seeing Windows, in particular. here. Rest assured, we didn’t do this for nitpicking’s sake, but out of respect for the fact that Windows 8 For the past three days, we’ve been doing just that: is a big deal — not least because it’s a stark depar- getting acquainted with Windows 8 using the good ture from the Windows you’re used to. When we ‘ol mouse-and-keyboard combo. And while that point out bugs or limited functionality, we don’t might read like a redundant statement (what re- mean it as a “gotcha!” moment. We never expected cent version of Windows hasn’t accommodated a the developer preview to have the spit and polish cursor?), Win 8 is a peculiar breed — It’s the first of a final build, and we earnestly believe Micro-joliprint version of the operating system where finger input soft’s going to iron out many of these kinks over wasn’t an afterthought, but a first-class citizen. It’s the next year. We’re going into gross detail because clear that this time around, Windows is optimized we want to do the OS justice and, well, many of you for touch, but we had to wonder if that Windows are curious about such things. So without further Printed with Phone-inspired UI would present a steep learning ado, let’s do this. Page 1
  2. 2. September 17, 2011 Windows 8 on a laptop in-depth preview by User interface See Also: Installation Whether you download now or wait a year for the final version to drop, you’ll enjoy a clean, in-place installation on top of Windows 7. Just know, though, that if you decide to give this early build a whirl, you’ll find that after you download the .iso file of your choice (it’s available in 32- and 64-bit flavors), you’ll need to burn that image onto a DVD or load it onto a bootable flash drive. Even over the relatively speedy network in AOL’s New York headquarters, The first time we caught a glimpse of Windows 8, we downloading the 3.6GB file (64-bit, no developer were as blown away as any of you by how pretty it tools) took about an hour. If you opt for the 32-bit was. So many of us had been aching to see something version, expect a 2.8GB file (the 64-bit version with resembling Windows Phone come to life on a larger tools totals 4.8GB). To make things that much easier screen, and here it was, this tablet-friendly OS that for ya, hit the source link at the bottom of this pre- might just help Microsoft narrow the tablet gap with view to survey your options. the likes of Apple and Google. And yet, we always imagined that when it came to laptops, the tradi- WIndows 8 Developer Build installation tional desktop — not the Metro-style UI — would anchor the experience. That we could shoo away the For the purposes of this preview, we tossed a 64-bit live tiles when we felt like getting real work done, build onto an HP Pavilion dv6t, a machine configu- using the apps we’ve grown used to. red earlier this year with a 2.3GHz Core i5-2410M processor, 6GB of RAM, a 7,200RPM hard drive and As it turns out, even on a laptop the user experience the 64-bit version of Windows 7 Home Premium. is rooted in that Metro-inspired layout, and igno- Once we got that hefty download squared away, ring it isn’t an option. We first realized this when the installation took 35 minutes, during which time we clicked the Start Menu, wanting to search for our PC restarted multiple times. Before we hit the some app or file. Instead, clicking Start whisks you install button, we clicked through the requisite straight into Metro-land. We can’t overstate how EULA, submitted to a quick compatibility check and huge this is. We avail ourselves of the search bar in confirmed that we did, indeed, want to preserve Windows 7 about as often as we Google miscella- our user accounts and files. Once it was all over, neous tidbits. It’s something we do unconsciously we set up our WiFi network and skipped the part at this point, and while we did start to master the where we could have handed over our Windows learning curve after just a few hours of hands-onjoliprint Live account credentials (we ended up doing that time, we felt ourselves making a concerted effort to later). After little more than half an hour, we were circumvent the problem using keyboard shortcuts. up and running, and had to do very little along the way to make that happen. In fact, this might be a good time to mention that Printed with you’ll be using shortcuts a lot in Windows 8 — so- Page 2
  3. 3. September 17, 2011 Windows 8 on a laptop in-depth preview by metimes out of necessity, and sometimes to compen- Web browsing sate for what would otherwise be a tedious ordeal of leaping from the desktop to lives tiles and back. After sampling several shortcuts, we decided our favorite way to search for something is to click the Start button and then, once you’re inside the Metro UI, simply start typing. You don’t need to start typing inside a search field, mind you, but once you start writing you’ll see one appear on the right side of the screen. Other ways to circumvent the search conun- drum include pressing Ctrl-F or (a more circuitous option) hitting Ctrl-C to bring up the settings menu on the desktop, where you’ll find system search, among other things. This early build comes with a preview of IE10. In other scenarios, too, the OS feels shockingly un- Though it looks glossier on the Metro side and more familiar. It’s not obvious enough how to shut down like Internet Explorer’s old self on the desktop, it’s the PC or put it to sleep. You can’t press the Escape the same version. (However! Only the desktop ver- key to exit programs, although you can use it to leave sion will support Flash, Adobe confirmed to us.) the Start screen and return to the app you were last In our tests, we found they loaded webpages at a using. To leave an app, you have to press the Start comparable pace. button — a process not unlike tapping the home button on a phone to minimize what ever app you You could, in theory, have IE open on both the des- have open. Funny how something that’s become ktop and Metro-inspired side, and each instance of second nature for us on the mobile side feels so the browser would have its own open tabs. The two unnatural when we try it on a desktop. don’t talk to each other so if you migrated from the And yet, as alien as Windows 8 seemed at times, we desktop to tiles and then opened IE, the blog post you often felt charmed. There’s the inviting lock screen, left open on the desktop side wouldn’t follow you. for one — customizable to your heart’s delight. The What’s more, IE looks and feels slightly different on log-in page has gotten a face lift, as have the simpli- each side, which means the shortcuts aren’t identical fied Control Panel, Task Manager, Windows Explorer either. For instance, pressing Start-Z brings up a list and even the onscreen volume bar that appears if of open tabs on the Metro side, but that’s obviously you press your laptop’s volume or mute buttons. In not necessary on the desktop, we’re all of your tabs particular, we loved seeing our home screen grow are already visible. What we’re getting at here is more and more personal as we began to configure that this is another instance where migrating back Twitter, our RSS feed, Facebook and our preferred and forth between two different interfaces can feel weather location. It’s precisely this slick UI and disorienting. personalization that’s left so many of us Engadgetjoliprint editors enchanted by Windows Phone, and despite Windows 8s steep learning curve, we’re glad these things made a cameo in Windows. CloudTag: Windows 8 , laptop , in-depth , samsung SB-LSM80 battery , sony NP-FH100 battery , JVC BN- Printed with VF707 battery , Sony np-f960 battery Page 3
  4. 4. September 17, 2011 Windows 8 on a laptop in-depth preview by Did you enjoy this post? Why not leave a com- ment below and continue the conversation, or subscribe to my feed and get articles like this de- livered automatically to your feed reader.joliprint Printed with Page 4