Windows 8 is expected to be released come October 26 this month – which is only ten days away. I do like the direction Microsoft are going in – it appears they are shifting more towards a hardware and software company, with their first entrance in the computer hardware market with the Microsoft Surface tablet computer. It has become a pretty clear bet to say Microsoft are in the hardware business for the long-term, so it will be interesting to see whether Microsoft produces their own Windows Phone at some point in the future.
When you first start Windows 8, you’re greeted by the metro Start screen which primarily comprises of Metro applications that are preinstalled with Windows 8. If you were using a tablet, obviously you’d swipe in either direction to scroll through the list. On a mouse, you’d use the scroll wheel – which works as expected. The complications start to arise when you have opened an application. How do I close this application and/or get back to the Start screen? (In fact, closing the application is the most unintuitive aspect of it all)
To close a Metro application, you have to either click and drag your mouse cursor from the top of the active application to the bottom to “quit” the application, or invoke the left overlay sidebar by going to the top-left or bottom-left with your mouse cursor, right-clicking on the application and selecting Close.
To search within a specific app, an end user needs to understand that the right sidebar overlay Charms “Search” function is app-specific if the app has been programmed to take advantage of it. So if you’re in the Windows Store, to search the store a user needs to understand that the Search function in the Charms bar actually searches the Windows Store and isn’t a search function for applications and files on your computer like the Search field is in the Start menu in Windows Vista and Windows 7.
I’m not sure whether the Metro version of Internet Explorer included with the RTM version of Windows 8 has some new features, but a few things that I hope are included (and wish Microsoft would include them) is the ability to view website source code and perhaps some developer tools as well. I don’t want to have to use the desktop version of Internet Explorer just to be able to have some developer tools as simple as viewing website source code.
I’d be surprised if Microsoft does not include an introductory video tutorial on Windows 8 when a user first starts up Windows, because for a lot of users, Windows 8 is an entirely different environment and experience (see the video below of a non-technical user trying out a pre-release version of Windows 8 for the first time).
Of course, you may say any opinions about Windows 8 are premature because we’re all using pre-release versions of Windows 8, but the Release Preview of Windows 8 and the RTM version likely have very little user experience changes and there are reports from various online technology outlets that this is the case. It will definitely be interesting to see the reaction and feedback from users who upgrade to Windows 8.
Windows 8 will be available from October 26 and can be purchased from 12 AM on the Microsoft online store. Microsoft will have a promotion running from the start offering Windows 8 as an upgrade option for Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 users for $39.99 USD (approximately £24.97 – although UK retail pricing will likely be more due to VAT and other factors). You can also purchase a boxed retail version for $69.99 USD (approximately £43.70 – although UK retail pricing will likely be more due to VAT and other factors).