Windows 8 Developer Preview
I’ve finally decided to test the next Windows edition, probably to be called Windows 8, although things like that are never certain in Microsoft-land.
I did a Virtual Box install, which is fairly straightforward. There are many tutorials on-line now which show how to do this, so I won’t do a walk-through. I installed the 64-bit version which I downloaded from MSDN using my licence. You can get the installs from the Microsoft Website here, which come in ISO format. You can also find out more from the horse’s mouth here.
You can also set aside a partition on your hard-drive and install to that. However, Virtual Box is the safe way to go should the partition install fail and corrupt your current installation somehow.
What I will say, is to use more memory allocation to the virtual installation than recommended elsewhere or as the default, and to use as many virtual processors as your host machine has.….. My machine is an AMD 955BE, which is quad-core running at around 3GHz. In other words, if you don’t want it to run like treacle, give it plenty processor and memory room; at least the recommended values for Windows 7. You can see all of this in the VirtualBox settings screenshot above.
Fast Install (added 24/11/11))
Microsoft, on their MSDN blog, have made a big thing about the rapid installation for Windows 8, particularly for the upgrade route. See Improving the setup experience. I can say now that the clean install into the VirtualBox environment was very fast….
- You make a virtual machine in Virtual Box
- You set it’s parameters – processors, memory size, footprint size, IDE/SATA storage etc
- You set the downloaded ISO image to boot from in the settings.
- You boot by “Starting” the virtual machine.
- You install Windows into the filespace that you’ve previously set aside for it – I gave it a dynamic sized 50Gb.
- After that, let windows do it’s thing. It took 10 minutes or so.
- Let it reboot.
Following this, you get a green screen from which country specifics are added, a username and finally, you enter your Live.com identity, if you have one, and if you want to!
It’s a big green screen. I don’t have a touchscreen, but it’s obviously designed for one. It has massive buttons to a host of online services like weather & stocks, plus a few to your computer’s functions.
If you log off, you get presented with an American Rockies vista of a lonely winding road. Essentially, the entry into Windows 8 is like a smartphone. But what’s it like beneath the surface?
Windows 7 Legacy, and Vista Too!
Obviously, this is a development preview release, and we can expect more of the same to come.
But most work has gone onto the main intro screen because beneath the surface, all the various apps and settings controls are the old (current) Windows 7 interface.
Bizarrely, some screens even have vestiges of the green Vista, notably the main screen itself.
Personally, I think it’s very, very dour. I can’t believe that two years of effort has gone into doing something that Android does on a more than twice-annual cycle….
Accessing the menus is the most unintuitive thing I’ve seen for ages! Following on from the impressive Windows 7, it’s truly not just a user let-down, but somewhat infuriating as well……. Whereas previously I just typed into the run bar to do almost anything, now I can’t even find programs or files! No doubt there’s a way – but after Win7, it’s not intuitive and not helpful either.
I hope that’s not the end of the run box, because that feature in Windows 7 is awesome.
I haven’t checked through many apps (except a few desktop ones like the weird child-like paint thing and the weather which won’t do anywhere except California) but this is the control panel.
You then drill-down to get the old Win7 control panel on “More Settings”.
Initial Investigation Ends
Well that’s it for now. To say I’m un-impressed by the big green monstrous front doesn’t give my opinion justice. There doesn’t appear to be an easy way out of the front-screen apps and to have an app made for a 3-inch screen sat on a 23 inch desktop monitor really demonstrates the infantile apps for what they are.
Way back in the nineties Microsoft tried their in-house Microsoft Network (MSN) which was a disc install that gave you a black desktop that gave dial-up access to features giving almost the same as this big green toy-town monster.
Watch this space as I delve more….