Windows 8 Beta [Review]
In the midst of all the new colours and menus that Windows 8 has to offer, once I hit Windows key + E (shortcut for opening Windows Explorer), I had a flashback of the 16-bit mono-colour scheme and simple menus of the Windows 3.1 File Manager which now seems so primitive and under developed that it makes me giggle. After downloading both 32 and 64-bit versions of the Windows 8 Developer Preview, I tackled the task of getting a beta-state operating system to comply with virtualized hardware via VMWare Workstation 8. If you’re attempting to test this OS using a virtualization app, you will come across complications but nothing Google can’t help you solve. Once up and running the differences are crystal clear as you’re presented with a ‘lock’ screen that consists of the time and date accompanied with a beauteous background (see Figure 1).
The login screen boasts new ways of authenticating users by offering pin, picture and finger print recognition on top of your standard text entry. Once logged in, you’ll be presented with the principle difference of Windows 8 which is it’s very metro-style Start menu (see Figure 2). The start menu alone indicates that this operating system is definitely suitable (or suited) for tablet/touch screen hardware but can be disabled to return the look and feel of previous Windows OS versions.
Being a technical user (so I’m told), I instantly hit Ctrl+Shift+Esc and brought up Task Manager. To my astonishment, it’s new and improved look provides copious amounts of detailed information along with new tabs such as “App History” (see Figure 3) which allows you to view apps that have been previously launched and “Startup” which allows you to modify your start up applications; convenient versus having to use the msconfig.exe route. Fun Fact: the new Task Manager is proprietary to Windows 8 and uses the TM.exe, however the old Task Manager is still available by using taskmgr.exe.
Similar improvements have been made to the Control Panel (see Figure 4) to keep up with all the new features, again, in a very metro-style concoction. Unlike Windows 7 where connected devices are listed in Hardware and Sound window (accessible from Control Panel), Windows 8 shows all the connected devices, including display monitor, headphones, microphone, Fax, and other peripherals under Devices window. The Remove option is available with each connected device to unplug the device from the system.
Under the “Devices” tab you will find the new “Sync PC Settings” tab which essentially enables you to customize synchronization of different Windows features, applications and data across all connected devices and PCs running Windows 8. If the Control Panel’s new look isn’t for you, you can revert to the Category View of Windows 7 via the “More Settings” tab.
Microsoft has announced that they will not be releasing a “tablet-version” and have said it is unclear how many editions (Home, Professional, Ultimate, etc…) of Windows 8 there will be, making this OS interchangeable between various likes of hardware. Considering their boasts about the OS being able to run on a first-generation Atom processor with 1 GB of RAM, it’s safe to say the weight of the Vista-era kernel has been truly lifted and makes great segway for speedy interconnected convenience.
Microsoft’s efforts to have a set OS regardless of hardware is clearly understandable in this tablet driven market, however every new release of Windows has come with it’s Server/Enterprise counterpart and I hope you’re as curious to see how Windows 8 Server will perform in an enterprise environment and if there will be any significant differences from Windows Server 2008 R2, as I am.