Recently, I started experimenting with the new Windows 8 Consumer Preview. More than a "Beta version," this pre-release version is designed to give anyone that wants to try it early to have a chance to try it.
Be sure to understand, this is not a finished product. The license does not permit you to use it in a "production" environment. What does that mean? A production environment is what you or I would call "normal use."
It’s meant to be used on a second PC that is not your primary PC, solely for testing and familiarization purposes.
Don’t use it for purchasing over the Internet, don’t use it for critical programs (like your Quicken program that tracks your bank accounts and investments). Do use it for web surfing, testing programs, and generally trying to understand the user interface.
Whoa! Did I say "generally trying to understand the user interface?" You bet. That’s exactly what I said and meant.
One of the first challenges is figuring out how to get the log-on screen. When you boot Windows 8, you get a nice pretty screen, but nothing that even hints at logging into the computer. Remember that this is coming from the phone/tablet world. Left click near the bottom of the screen — and flick the clicked-mouse towards the top of the screen (the mouse pointer, not the actual mouse!). That’s how you get the welcome screen to go away and display the log-in screen that’s under it.
I’m running the Windows 8 Consumer Preview 64-bit version in a virtual computer using the free program Virtual Box from Oracle, which works on Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7, as well as other "host" operating systems. Yes, the current version already is aware of, and has settings for, Windows 8. I’m running Virtual Box on my normal desktop computer, which is running 64-bit Windows 7 Ultimate with 8 GB of RAM.
One of the neatest things was that, instead of having to convert the Windows 8 .iso image file (DVD image file) into a DVD and run from it for the installation, Virtual Box was able to use the .iso file directly without having to burn it to a DVD.
It is far from being intuitively obvious, at least for current Windows users.
Windows 8 has all the possibility of being an avatar of Windows Millennium Edition (Windows Me) or of Windows Vista, except being based on stable Windows 7 operations. The user interface is totally different. Yes, I’m confused by it. I totally understand some of the comments like "I don’t understand why Microsoft wants us to switch to Apples!"
After 3 days, I’ve finally figured out something. No, it’s not how to get back to the Windows 8 Introduction videos. But, I finally figured out how to end a full-screen application (the applications default to full screen) like Internet Explorer or "Finance."
The important key is one that was added to the keyboard years ago, but that we never really used. Now, it’s critical to get back to the main Desktop screen. It’s the Windows key!
When you press the Windows key, Windows 8 displays the default Windows 8 desktop of "boxes." I would have thought that it would show the currently live application shown in a window, just like the normal Windows 7 screen.
But, anyway, there’s finally a real use for the Windows key on the keyboard. Some applications let you get back to the basic desktop, like Internet Explorer if you click the Wrench icon (Tools) and select View on the Desktop. That will show the desktop with IE in a window. But, not all of even the sample applications provided by Microsoft will do that.
One of the basic things to remember about Windows 8 is that, even for desktop computers, it’s built upon the interface for tablet PC’s.
No longer do we get to ignore the left-to-right scrolling of pages — that’s the one of the basic ways of movement within Windows 8 apps.
Will Windows 8 succeed on the desktop, or will it be the latest Windows Me or Windows Vista, only successful to the extent of the new computers that were sold with a copy of it?
Only time will tell. Right now, it doesn’t look to me like it belongs on the desktop. Windows phone users and Windows tablet users may be happier with it.