back to article Windows 8: We kick the tyres on Redmond's new tablet wheels

The surprising thing about the Windows 8 Release Preview just delivered is not how much has changed from February's Consumer Preview, or even the Developer Preview from September 2011, but rather how little. Microsoft is set on delivering this hybrid tablet-and-desktop operating system pretty much as-is, despite widespread …


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    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's about the app store

      The iOS App store was launched with iPhone GS3 in 2008, not quite 3 years after the Microsoft Xbox marketplace (2005). Its taken until now for Microsoft to come up with a way to bring a marketplace to Windows without incurring the wrath of regulatory authorities. It must have been frustrating for them to see Apple copy the marketplace model for apps without need to avoid legal issues.

      Greedy maybe. But competitors like Amazon have had several years to create and market a Windows Store in advance of Microsoft. Open Source too. They didn't even try. Redmond can't be blamed for this. If their store concept is successful, expect Microsoft to be forced by law to allow other stores into WinRT/Metro space.

  1. Captain Scarlet



    "Although some people had critical reactions and demanded changes to the user interface, Windows 7 quickly became the most-used OS in the world"

    I thought most users were vocal about Vista not 7, in fact everyone just said 7 is better than Vista. Still I fail to see much difference between Win 2000 and 7 apart from the eye candy.

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: Confused

      Still I fail to see much difference between Win 2000 and 7 apart from the eye candy.

      There speaks a man who never tried to install anything other than business software on 2000. XP and 7 I'll grant, but 2000 was a right bloody dog for non-business use. ME was actually better for compatibility, but unusable for a variety of other reasons.

      The obvious big plus in 7 over XP is 64-bit support that doesn't b0rk compatibility with most applications.

      1. Nigel 11

        Re: Confused

        Win 7 UI works as well as XP. It P*ssed me off simply because it was different, so I had to spend time out from thinking about the work and start thinking about the s*dding interface again. I'm over that now. Same as learning to drive a new car, but worse, because a desktop UI has a lot more controls than a car.

        Metro is far, far worse. It's an enforced paradigm switch. That can only make friends when everyone who uses the old one is crying out, "there has to be a better way", and you supply the better way. And even then ... everyone knows what is said about better mouse-traps, and that it's not true.

        Metro fails at the first. It's not better. It's a huge leap backwards. It's the equivalent of taking away the pedals and controls that are universal on all modern cars, and re-introducing the pedals and controls from a model-T Ford.

        1. Philip Lewis

          Re: Confused

          We had a model-T ford when I was a kid - comes from having a "spanner" for a dad. But anyway, watching him drive it was bizarre. IIRC "spark" and "accelerator" on the column, gears (2) on the floor, floor brake applied to the gearbox and a hand brake. (Corrections from veteran car buffs allowed)

          When Cadillac (yes, apparently it was Cadillac) settled on the, what is now the "standard", user interface for a car, they made some lasting and well thought out decisions.

          I am confidently predicting that the Metro-UI will be gone long before the accelerator pedal or its location.

  2. LetsReason
    Thumb Down

    What Is Most Annoying

    The Metro side can be viewed as an elaborate Start Menu and you can use the Desktop side. That is what I do and it has not been a big issue. I do not even have an appropriate tablet to use it on and I'm okay with it.

    I agree that Microsoft is screwing up here because they are ignoring user input on many ground level things. It just seems so conceited and ignorant for them to proceed as they are. I just do not get why they would ignore good suggestions.

    The most annoying thing is that I refuse to be part of the Cult of Apple and am stuck with Microsoft's mistakes.

  3. Simon Jones [MSDL]

    Mail Forward

    To forward a message in the Mail App, tap the Reply button in the top right and you get a context menu of "Reply, Reply All, Forward". That's been there since the Developer Preview ISTR.

  4. I sound like Peter Griffin!!
    IT Angle

    Just Geddit People!

    1. Bake a half decent OS

    2. Bake a pos OS, price it low, and mark up the price of the half-decent OS

    3. Watch the masses buy the half-decent OS at a higher price to avoid the pos OS

    4. Rinse and repeat

    1. Nigel 11

      Re: Just Geddit People!

      Not true. Linux is a lot cheaper than half the price, and a lot more than half-decent, so it should have put Microsoft and Apple both out of business.


      1. WatAWorld

        Re: Just Geddit People!

        Apparently the problem is Linux doesn't meet the needs of ordinary consumers, and doesn't meet the major needs of big corporations and governments, because yes, Linux is cheaper but regular folks and IT managers people think its so bad you can't give it away to them.

        1. Chemist

          Re: Just Geddit People!

          "regular folks and IT managers people think its so bad"

          Strange then that we had several hundred installs in a major pharma that I worked for that were necessary because only Linux or Unix ran the necessary software and was stable enough to run for days on end at 100% cpu ( this is dual Xeon workstations I'm talking about - long before multiple cores )

          "Ordinary " consumers will need to be able to buy PCs with Linux installed before it stands a chance there

  5. Mad3218
    Thumb Down

    The next Vista is here and you will love it. Just ask Microsoft!!

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Microsoft are playing the long term game

    Yes a lot of techy peopleon here hate Windows 8 Metro interface and they can't understand why it is on the Desktop / laptop when it has no place, but Microsoft aren't daft.

    The shift is moving to mobile computing to tablets and powerful smartphones leaving companies like Dell and HP dead in the water, so Microsoft are playing the long game by forcing Windows 8 on all new PC's and when companies upgrade to Windows 8 employees will be used to the Metro interface and then when they go into their Phone 4 U stores in 18 - 24 months time what will they see? Phones with a recognisable OS that they know how to use.

    Microsoft are taking a hit on their Desktop share because they know it's days are numbered, but this is going to help their smartphone and tablet share in the long run, which is where the gold rush is. It pains me to say it but in three years the result will be Apple iPads and iPhones will be used by the minority (like MacBooks and iMacs) and Windows / Phone 8 will be shipping on majority of Tablets / Smartphones and PCs

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: Microsoft are playing the long term game

      "The shift is moving to mobile computing to tablets..."

      Not while people sit in offices it isn't. Consumer sales are peanuts to the big boys.

    2. Paul Shirley

      Re: Microsoft are playing games. Badly

      That 'stating the bleeding obvious'.

      Metro is a fullscreen experience. Once you fire up an app you aren't seeing much of Metro any longer, just the chrome from it. And that chrome is very thin, a side effect of the stark simplified styling of Metro itself. So how is that going to hook people on the UI?

      They won't be seeing the Metro front end while actively using the machines, particularly in the tablet default 'consumption device' mode. Won't be staring at Metro while not using the device. What is it ordinary folk are supposed to get used to that drives them to seek out Metro?

      Renaming 'widget' to 'live tile' didn't magically make them a unique, must have feature and there's not much else to talk about. Several so called vertical UI versions (the fashionable label for Metro) ship for Android and all have failed, people just don't find this approach compelling.

    3. Putonghua73

      Re: Microsoft are playing the long term game

      I think your prognostication is correct if you simply reverse the order of MS and Apple. My company Win Server 2003 on desktops / WYSE terminals and Win 7 on laptops. Tablets are iPads. BBs for Senior Management and Nokias for everyone else. Personal? I see MacBooks and either iPhones or HTCs, with a few Samsungs [Android].

      Companies upgrade to 8? I think you are severely underestimating Corporate culture and Production environments. Stability in terms of uptime and supporting business critical applications is King and Queen. If Windows is still used in the Corporate environment in years to come, Win 8 will be skipped for the next iteration (or iterations).

      If Dell and HP are "dead in the water", then so is MS in the tablet stakes. As in 'dodo' dead. There's Apple. Then everyone else. The boot if firmly on the other foot. Of course, that could change but WOA ain't the disruptive product that will re-order the playing field.

      1. WatAWorld

        Re: Microsoft are playing the long term game

        I think most companies will skip Windows 8 because it is too different from Windows 7 and offers no major human productivity or IT security benefit.

        I find it hard to believe MS doesn't realize this about corporate customers after all these years, years in which almost all corporations and governments skipped Windows Me and Windows Vista.

        But who knows, maybe you're right in MS's thinking. But if so, MS is going to be very disappointed when Windows 8 is not on office desktops and so doesn't prep employees for Windows 8 phones.

    4. Richard Plinston

      Re: Microsoft are playing the long term game

      > Phones with a recognisable OS that they know how to use.

      Corporates are unlikely to move to Windows 8 for several years, if ever, many are still making their plans to roll out Win7. Many of the Metro features are for consumers (facebook, twitter) and corporates will not like the requirement for using appstore when they develop their own apps (I think that MS has backed down on this).

      Win 8 will first show up in retail stores, and it will have "a recognisable OS", the one that consumers saw in their phone shop when they decided to buy an Android or iPhone.

      What you say is exactly what MS's plan is: "If we force it down their throats they will grow to love it".

      Another aspect of this is to force OEMs to build in 'secure boot' to make it as difficult as possible (or impossible on ARM) to avoid Metro by booting something else.

      However, OEMs are not in business to further Microsoft's empire, they are there to make money. If they see that the desktop market is falling and that Win8 is not selling then they will make machines that _will_ sell and make a profit. Currently they are locked into Windows by the 'discounts' that are related to 'loyalty', but it could reach a tipping point where they lose more by staying with Windows than by selling something else.

      It seems that HP's dropping of WebOS may have been because MS would have taken away their discounts on _all_ machines when WOA/WinRT became available. If Metro is avoided, as WP7 is, them maybe HP dumped the wrong products.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    nominal price for W7 upgrade to W8 - not

    it's gonna be 15 quid or so. Cheap, etc, but not nominal.

  8. Tom 38

    Adobe Flash is now baked into Internet Explorer 10

    There is a catch though: Flash support only applies to sites on a compatibility list distributed by Microsoft.

    This project seems like it is being managed by Ballmer. Whilst world+dog move to rid themselves of shitty Adobe products, MS go one further and embed it even closer into their OS - but only if you pay them first.

    PS: The user who thought that the ad companies wouldn't get whitelisted for flash - dream on pal.

    PPS: Burn in hell Windows 8.

  9. ScottME

    Just not interested

    I'm glad to say that all this fuss over Windows 8 is simply passing me by, merely causing some slight amusement as it goes.

    Moving to Linux three years ago is looking more than ever like it was totally the right thing to do. There's been some whining from my fellow Ubuntu users recently, bitching about the Unity interface, but that is going to be utterly overwhelmed by the wails of anguish from Windows users when they're faced with Metro.

    The good news for anyone who thinks they won't be able to put up with Windows 8 is that just about any WIndows box will most likely run Linux, and I can promise you that it'll feel a lot more like home than Metro.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just not interested

      Maybe one day I'll be able to download any arbitrarily selected PC game from Steam and run it successfully under Wine on Linux. If / when that day comes, Wine will have achieved the level of compatibility required for people to seriously consider moving legacy binaries to Linux. Not before.

      1. ScottME

        Re: Just not interested

        Well sure, if you're a gamer, and you're addicted to PC games (though actually I think you'll find they are Windows games, not specifically PC games), then you won't be a happy bunny running Linux. But game developers will likely to come up with Metro versions of their stuff, so Redmond's brainfart won't be such a pain in the ass for you.

        The kind of everyday, Joe and Jane Public user who's going to get royally hacked off with Metro, on the other hand, might find that for most of their purposes there are "good enough" Linux alternatives which are open source, and free-as-in-beer as well as free-as-in-speech, so as well as getting a more familiar UI, they can stop bleeding cash on proprietary software.

        1. WatAWorld

          Re: Just not interested

          Joe and Jane can live with metro, or they can install Windows 7 for free using their Windows 8 license (99% this is going to be permitted like it was with earlier Windows versions).

          Joe and Jane cannot live without their favorite games and applications.

          If Linux met their needs, they'd have switched to it when Windows Vista was making a mess.

      2. Steve Knox

        Re: Just not interested

        Maybe one day I'll be able to download any arbitrarily selected PC game from Steam and run it successfully under Wine on Linux. If / when that day comes, Wine will have achieved the level of compatibility required for people to seriously consider moving legacy binaries to Linux. Not before.

        Maybe -- although Wine may actually not be a prerequisite...

  10. Ravenger

    Tap? TAP?

    I just tried installing a game on Windows 8 release preview. When I inserted the disc it put up a box asking me to 'tap' it to choose how windows handled the disc.

    It's another sign of the ludicrous tablet and touch-screen focused of Windows 8, and it really, really irritates me. I have a PC, not a tablet.

    I shan't be buying it, in fact I'm going to get another copy of Windows 7 for my spare PC just in case they decide to stop selling 7 to force people to go to 8.

    1. Test Man

      Re: Tap? TAP?

      Only the mentally paranoid would think that. Have Microsoft stopped selling Vista? Nope. They are not going to stop selling 7 for years until maybe when Windows "10" is out. So stop talking nonsense.

      1. Jordan Davenport

        Re: Tap? TAP?

        Have Microsoft stopped selling Vista?

        Yes, actually.

        "Microsoft no longer sells Windows Vista, though we will continue to support it."

        Source: or

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Dave Robinson

      Re: Tap? TAP?

      Yeah, I sat there tapping my non-touchscreen 24" HD vertical stand-mounted tablet, and it just completely refused to do anything :-)

  11. IGnatius T Foobar
    Thumb Down

    It's "Active Desktop" all over again.

    Remember that kludgy old "Active Desktop" that everyone hated? Microsoft was using its desktop monopoly to force everyone to use its piece of crap web browser. Now with Vista 8, Microsoft is using its desktop monopoly to force everyone to use its Vista Phone UI, even though it isn't on a phone.

    1. WatAWorld

      Re: It's "Active Desktop" all over again.

      True, except for the "force" part.

      People do have the options of Linux and Apple and Windows 7.

  12. Test Man
    Thumb Down

    "Clearly Microsoft believes that history will repeat; though Harris conveniently forgets the warm reception Windows 7 won even in preview."

    Clearly the author forgot about the UAC furore.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Trying this on my spare laptop. Metro is insane on a non-touch device, and pretty certain I won't be going there for my multiple PC business use scenarios.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Been running it for a while...

    .. and the dev preview before that, why?

    Well, I've only got one windows 7 license, so I installed it as dual boot on my hackintosh, to play Steam games, Diablo III, etc.

    In short, I haven't used it for much else - busy typing this in windows 8 now, as I've just finished a gaming session, will shortly boot back into Mac.

    I completely ignore the metro interface - it's absolutely pointless on a desktop, I can't stress how completely bad it is UX wise. Heck, other people have already stressed that :)

    So, what is the difference between massive tiles and icons? - I guess the tiles can display additional information prior to launching the associated app - but heck, widgets on a desktop can do that.

    It's amazing to me just how arrogant desktop developers can be.

    We've seen it with Ubuntu, we've seen it with Gnome 3 - and now we're seeing it with the biggest desktop computer OS in the world - "We're right, this is the future", completely ignoring their user base screaming "this is so wrong, please stop!"

    Perhaps microsoft will relent and provide a simple way to just turn Metro off, but therein lies the big problem here.

    With Metro off, windows 8 is effectively windows 7. What a shame.

    Really, they should take a leaf from MacOs X and concentrate on software enhancements, new features and a measured approach to interface enhancements and most importantly *separate the mobile OS from the desktop OS!*

    In a world where windows XP, after 11 years, *still* has a massive user base and where uptake of windows 7 is only now starting to overtake XP, surely microsoft would learn an important lesson?

    It seems not - the bean counters hold sway - "we need a new release! Everyone is going mobile, we need Touch on *everything*"

    WIndows 8 will no doubt shift in large quantities, but only through OEM - I suspect this will be another Vista for Microsoft. In the meantime, Apple and Android will continue to dominate the mobile space and windows XP and windows 7, the desktop space.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Been running it for a while...

      Ubuntu, now Microsoft, all screaming up the same path.

      Yes, it's arrogant (Why can they change all these things? Because.), its stupid, its madness.

      A thousand upvotes. Except only one is allowed.

  15. Johnny Canuck

    Maybe this is a "new Coke/old Coke" strategy. Make such a reviled product that people clamor for the original and flock back in even greater numbers when the "new Coke" is axed and production resumes on the "old Coke".

  16. Anonymous Coward

    The thing bothering me the most...

    Is knowing that by the time we'll have the ultimate Windows version which will make everyone on the planet happy we'll only have a few days left to enjoy it.

    Because right then Andromeda will come crashing in and disrupt our whole solar system.

  17. adnim


    As a geek ;-) I am not impressed. If I was a person who did not have a clue about computers and how they worked, I might be impressed. Everything is in the right place and simple to use and the default settings are fine for those who don't know better and don't mind sharing their activity with Microsoft.

    Personally I don't like Windows 8. I shouldn't have to develop a whole new usage regime just to use my PC. It really is a pain. I am not prepared to do the research or put in the time to make it behave the way I want to work. What would be useful is a Windows classic theme and an uninstall Metro option, but then I guess I would just be left with Windows 7 and no reason to "upgrade". For myself I see no point in Windows 8.

    Why can't I uninstall and remove the store application. Why wasn't I given the choice of an alternative browser during install? Why have Microsoft stopped asking me where I want to go today and started telling me where I should go today and making it damned difficult for me to change what they think is best for me.

    This post has been typed into Firefox running on Windows 8 in a VM. (2Gb RAM allocated and 2 cores). It does feel a bit quicker than 7 but then again this is a fresh install to a fast HD (Caviar Black). PC is i5 2500k @ 4.5Ghz with 8Gb RAM so it's pretty quick anyway.

    My honest opinion.... Meh

    I might install virtual box to this Win8 install and install Win 8 to that VM and then install virtual box to that win 8 and.... it just might be turtles all the way down ;-) but to be honest I would rather just watch a music vid and down this rather nice Shiraz I have. Win 8 is 40% fail 60% Windows 7

    1. WatAWorld

      Re: Well...

      Right, MS is giving you all the reasons to avoid Windows 8 that made you and me avoid Apple all these years -- no choice, and too much stuff forced on us.

  18. David Strum
    Thumb Down

    Ages of Empire - ?

    Well, like any Empire, there comes a slow take off which gathers momentum, a plateau, then the inevitable decline. Windows 3.1 through to Windows 98, was the start of the Microsoft climb to greatness: NT sowing the seeds of future success. It sort of spluttered with Windows ME, then came back triumphantly with indomitable XP. We’re now in the zenith with Windows 7. Anything after this will only confirm Microsoft inexorable fall into ruin as the hangers on rewrite Bill’s success story, to read “Micro-soft – a small software company, that had it all.”

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The toddlers might like it

    Fisher Price interface.

  20. Trollslayer
    Thumb Down

    Ohhhh dear

    Anyoen remember the Soviet five year plan and what happened?

    This is what happens when products are driven by commercial needs instead of consumer needs.

  21. bazza Silver badge

    Tried it once more...

    ...and still can't stand it.

    The ridiculousness of it is amply illustrated when you find that you can turn on the Administrative Programs tiles. Then it truly goes to pot. How on earth are you supposed to use that?!?!

    Other crap - it is heavily biased towards being signed in with a Microsoft Account. How's that supposed to work in a company domain?

    I'm not going to buy it, that's for sure.

  22. Furbian

    So a solution to the Start Menu having become a Start Screen..

    .. using two monitors, clever, but here's my problem, I have a 28" 1920 by 1200 monitor (you can imagine just how HUGE metro looks on this, I launched 'solitaire' and the whole screen filled with it!)... and there's not enough room on my desktop as it accommodates a 17" laptop (HP Envy), docks for my pair of phones, a proper Teac Hi-Fi system etc. So no start menu, is still a gigantic fail.

    I started using Windows 7 since is Beta releases and never looked back, but started abusing Windows 8 since I installed it's Beta, and went back to the comfort of my Windows 7 desktop.

  23. mark daly

    So how much of my 16 GB tablet will I need to install Windows 8

    Ummm. 16 GB.

    So it appears that you are going to have to buy a fairly costly tablet just to run this beast.

    The interface may have changed but the bloat remains the same

    1. Nanki Poo
      Black Helicopters

      Re: So how much of my 16 GB tablet will I need to install Windows 8

      Netbooks rinse-and-repeat... how long before MS insist on hard drives in tablets...?

      Except this time they wont be able to destroy the market...


  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Games as Metro Style apps

    WinRT/Metro style apps can work very well for games. I'm talking native code high performance 3D not just Solitaire (I've ported some Direct3D game world code to Metro so that is experience speaking, not speculation). Full screen is traditionally normal for many games and the Windows store eliminates the size and complexity of the install that is often associated with Windows gaming. One very positive step forward for Windows as a platform. You can also use the same game on laptop, tablet and desktop (one Windows store purchase gives you 5 install licenses and expect many free games too). Often on Windows RT as well as 8. Not beyond the bounds of possibility that Xbox next will support Metro games transparently too.

    There are no examples yet in the Windows store but there will be. Most likely this will be a very attractive feature for many consumers.

    Admittedly, this fact is not relevant to many business scenarios but wanted to point out the glass is not quite as empty as many net chatterers take pleasure in predicting.

  25. PaulR79

    Metro for servers too..

    I read the other day that Windows Server 8 / 2012 is going to have the Metro UI too with it being the only option for a graphical interface. The same article also mentioned MS removed legacy parts so the old, familiar desktop can't be put back in by users.

    Just how stupid do you have to be to force not only desktop users but also server admins. to use a touch driven interface? I can just see it now..... network and server admins. flocking to the new version and loving the interface. Flocking to the new version of Linux or UNIX I mean.

  26. Dana W


    Yes, you will have to come to OSX for an ADULT Interface! hehehehehehehe.


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