Not everyone wants a giant phone ... some of us never understood "Going Metro"

Subject: General Tech | March 5, 2012 - 12:12 PM |
Tagged: win8, windows 8, Metro

As many have done recently, The Tech Report downloaded the consumer preview of Windows 8 to try out the new interface from the perspective of a power user.  While many glowing reviews of the OS have come from those who love the idea that their computer could just become a big phone, those of us who do far more with PCs have run into issues.  One of the nastiest changes seems to be the complete removal of the Start button and breaking the registry hack that would restore it on the earlier beta version.  The obvious preference for a touch interface makes keyboard and mouse control awkward at times, though once you manage to start the program you are looking for the response is the same as it was on previous versions of Windows.  Not all was doom and gloom however, there are some positive points to designing a consistent touch interface which will work on your phone, tablet, laptop and desktop.

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"In his latest blog post, TR's David Morgan gets acquianted with the Windows 8 Consumer Preview and explores how the Metro interface affects the traditional desktop."

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Grab the Consumer Preview of Windows 8 while it's still hot

Subject: General Tech | February 29, 2012 - 11:59 AM |
Tagged: win8, Metro

[H]ard|OCP has a direct link to the shiny new Windows 8 Consumer Preview, which weighs in at 3.3GB for the 64-bit and 2.5GB for the 32-bit.  From testing that their forum members have been doing we know that VMWare is not fond of this release either, just like the developer preview.  The Start button is indeed gone and the war it will trigger has just begun.   ExtremeTech noticed that you can upgrade the Developer to the Consumer and preserve your settings and files however if you do an update from Win7 be advised that there is no going back.  See their preview here.

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Last chance to see?

"Windows 8 Consumer Preview is prerelease software that may be substantially modified before it’s commercially released. Microsoft makes no warranties, express or implied, with respect to the information provided here. Some product features and functionality may require additional hardware or software."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Tweak Windows 8 With The Metro UI Tweaker Utility

Subject: General Tech | September 25, 2011 - 06:56 PM |
Tagged: windows 8, windows, Utility, ui, tweaker, microsoft, Metro, developer preview, beta

Are you trying out the Windows 8 Developer Preview that was released earlier this month and finding the new Windows Explorer Ribbon and Metro UI start menu frustrating? If so, Lee Whittington has just the tweaking utility for you!

A freeware tool developed for The Windows Club dubbed Metro UI Tweaker (for Windows 8) is the first third party tweaking tool for the upcoming operating system. It provides several tweaking options to make the transition to the Metro UI more palatable including the ability to completely disable (or enable) the Metro Start Menu and new Ribbon interface in Windows Explorer (which can also be easily hidden without the need for this tool via an icon in the corner). When disabling the Metro Start Menu and Ribbon, the Metro style Task Manager and new lock screen will also be disabled.

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Such sweeping changes are not the only tweaks possible, however. The Windows 8 utility also lets you add power options including sleep, restart, and full shutdown to the Metro interface (when clicking on your user name’s picture), as well as adding any application or file to the Metro Start Menu.

Now at version 1.0, the Metro UI Tweaker is available for download from here for those adventurous enough to use a beta tweaking tool on a beta operating system. How do you feel about the new Windows 8 interface? Will you be checking out this tool? Let us know in the comments.

No question which way Microsoft headed with Windows 8

Subject: General Tech | September 15, 2011 - 11:53 AM |
Tagged: win8, Metro

Windows 8 is a Microsoft product that has undergone a little bit more than a makeover.  A company that has been made famous for a slavish devotion to legacy software and hardware has completely turned around and headed straight for the new.  That is not to say that there isn't legacy support included in Win8, but considering that addons like Flash are not supported in the Metro interface you can tell than Microsoft made some different decisions as to how they want to interact with legacy apps, something Flash is quickly becoming as you can read about at The Tech Report

The thing is that you feel like you are missing out on something if you don't have a touchscreen interface.  The Metro interface feels like a cell phone interface not a PC interface, which it seems is exactly what Microsoft wanted.  There is no doubt this was designed for tablets first and PCs second, though with very little time to play with a pre-beta build it could be that there is more included for the PC user than it first seems.  However with users already using a registry entry to disable the Metro interface altogether, the new interface is going to be a hard sell to those who use Win7 let alone the WinXP hold outs. 

Will it be so much better an interface on the tablet than the current choices however?  The OS its self will support multi-touch and multitasking better than current competitors products but they will be running on the same hardware and one very good reason that most tablet or even cellphone OSes don't preform very well when multitasking.  Once dual core chips become more common in the ultramobile devices it will make more sense, but is Microsoft really changing so much that it is going to release an OS before the hardware is capable of fully utilizing it?  That would be a big turnaround for a company that didn't want to drop support for any legacy applications or hardware, no matter how ancient.

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"Microsoft let out an interesting bit of news early this morning: Internet Explorer 10 won't support plug-ins in its Metro incarnation. That means no Flash support. Apparently, the only way to get Flash to run will be to toggle over to Windows 8's classic "desktop" mode and use IE10 in there. Justifying the move, Microsoft says not supporting plug-ins in the Metro version of IE10 "improves battery life as well as security, reliability, and privacy for consumers." That all sounds awfully familiar..."

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Windows 8 Developer Preview Build Sees Public Release At BUILD Conference

Subject: General Tech | September 14, 2011 - 01:04 PM |
Tagged: windows, windows 8, Metro, developer preview, microsoft

While some folks may be dissapointed that Microsoft's first public beta download was not released this week at their BUILD conference, we did get the next best thing; Microsoft released a developer preview build for 32 and 64 bit systems yesterday. The download page went live at 11 PM Eastern Time, and hosts three versions of the Windows 8 build available to the public-- despite the name an MSDN subscription is not required.  The download page does hint that MSDN subscribers are able to access additional downloads, however.

The three available downloads include a disk image (.iso) with developer tools, a 64 bit Windows 8 disk image, and a 32 bit Windows 8 disk image.  Of the three versions, the last two will be most applicable to the public and enthusiast users.

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The Windows 8 Start screen

The Developer Preview with applications for software development work weighs in at a hefty 4.8 GB .iso and features a 64 bit copy of Windows 8, the Windows Metro SDK for applications, Microsoft's Visual Studio 11 Express, Microsoft's Expression Blend 5, and 28 Metro style applications.  Because of the hefty download, you will need a dual layer DVD or USB drive if you plan on installing it on bare metal (single layer DVDs need not apply, in other words).

The next largest download is the 64 bit Windows 8 Developer Preview build that drops the development software and features only the 64 bit Windows 8 operating system and Metro style applications.  This download weighs in at an easier to manage 3.6 GB .iso disk image.  The minimum system requirements for both 64 bit builds include a 1 GHz or faster x64 CPU, at least 2 GB of RAM, 20 GB of hard drive space for installation, a WDDM 1.0 supported DirectX 9 capable graphics card, and a touch screen to utilize the touch functions.

The final download is a 32 bit version of Windows 8 with Metro style apps suited for older computers with less than 4 GB of memory or lacking 64 bit capable hardware.  At 2.8 GB, this disk image is the smallest of the bunch.The Developer Preview.  The minimum system requirements for this build are a 1 GHz or faster x86 processor, 1 GB of RAM, 16 GB of available hard drive space for installation, a DirectX 9 graphics card with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver support, and (I am embarrassed Microsoft believes this needs to be listed) a touch screen in order to take advantage of the touch screen functionality of the OS.

All three builds are of the English language variety and are available here for your downloading pleasure.  Note that if you do choose to install the Windows 8 download on bare metal, you will need to wipe out your current installations, and a clean reinstall of your old operating system will be required to restore your system; therefore it would be prudent to at the very least make sure everything important is backed up before attempting the installation.  For those less adventurous a free Virtualization program might be in order.  Keeping in mind that performance will impacted by running it as a virtual machine, Virtual Box seems to handle Windows 8 very well using the Windows 7 64 bit settings after allocating 4 GB of RAM and the maximum amount of video memory.  VM Ware and other paid solutions should also handle the operating system well enough for you to get an idea of Microsoft's vision for the operating system by using tweaked Windows 7 presets.

What features of the Windows 8 developer preview would you like to see tested out?  After you've had a chance to check the operating system out for yourselves, let us know what you think of Windows 8 in the comments!

Source: Microsoft