Windows 8 – first impressions

I downloaded and installed Windows 8 Release Preview on two of my computers since one (the laptop) was up for selling to a friend and the (up to then) unused desktop was OS-less.

The installation is well streamlined, just like Office 2010 (or maybe even 2007?) in that it provides a large and attractive “Install now” button so you have very little to think. If you need to customize the installation there is a small link beneath that allows you to do just that. I didn’t opt for that.

It took, I think, 20 minutes to install completely which is pretty decent in my opinion. At this moment I need to state the hardware involved :

As you can guess the major visual difference is the start menu which looks pretty freaky as in the picture above. You will need some time to get accustomed to it. The tiles at the left are metro apps (which work pretty different, running in full screen and having the same visual style). At the right there are non-metro apps (should we call them “legacy apps”?). The desktop itself is a metro app.

The taskbar does not have the start button anymore since the start menu is a full screen thing. So you’ll probably start up, by mistake, IE 10 a few times since by default it is the leftmost thing on the taskbar. IE 10 seems to be pretty much the same thing as IE 9 but snappier.

I also struggled a bit to change the audio volume but I found that “touching” (with the mouse cursor) the top right corner brings up a band/pane which contains several settings such as audio volume, power commands and others (search, share, start, devices and settings).

A similar “charm” (it seems this is the name) exists on the left, for switching apps. You can get used to these, it ain’t too hard.

A really nice improvement is the copy/cut files dialog :

It’s nice because it has a graph and shows actual average as a horizontal line which varies depending on the actual speed of the process. It also has a nice new addition : the pause button which can be pretty handy if you need to relax a drive’s load.

The Win-TAB 3D animation for switching apps seems gone (or at least you won’t be able to trigger it with Win-TAB) which kinda sucks.

The dialog boxes are somewhat improved in the way they are simpler to understand and to decide what to do further. The file searching seems faster and app searching too.

All in all it seems like a real upgrade.

  1. One nice thing : pressing DELETE on a file / icon / etc deletes the thing immediately, without confirmation. It’s easier this way. Deleted by accident? CTRL-Z or look in the trash can..

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