Defenestrate Windows 7: Windows 8 Preview Is Out

By Craig Pearson on March 1st, 2012 at 3:32 pm.

wub wub 8
The best thing about Microsoft launching a new version of Windows is watching how they’ll awkwardly advertise it. The Windows 7 party videos might just be the most cringe-worthy thing they’ve ever done, and that’s saying something. So I’m a little disappointed with the launch of the free Windows 8 Consumer Preview. The video on the site is a rather awful, embarrassing attempt to ride the Wub Wub wave by layering dubstep over operating system videos. Incongruous, yes, but I doubt I’ll be linking to it when Windows 9 comes out. It’s just unmemorably awful.

I’m usually keen to download and try early copies of Windows, but after having to reinstall W7 last month I think I’ll pass on Windows 8 for now. I am interested, as I quite like some of the aesthetics: the live info on the desktop apps are a particularly smart addition as I do like integrating of information. Microsoft have enabled cloud sharing as well, so files and settings are imported across devices. So far those that have it installed are reporting it launches speedily and responds snappily.

But I’m a bit wary that they seem to have made two operating systems in one: one for touch screens and one for desktop, and I’m worried that’s it’s specific to neither. In fact, this looks like the beginning of the end of the desktop, with the traditional methods we’re used to being hidden behind that clunky, Windows Phone style interface. A lot of the interaction is about mouse-placement, using the corners of the screen as hotspots for accessing programs. The taskbar and desktop are hidden, accessed in the same way as all the other programs.

But, at the same time, there’s also a lot of changes, really smart tweaks, for the desktop: they’ve finally improved file copying, with proper reporting on the speed and control over what’s copying, and a smart task manager that shows what starts-up with the PC and allows you to disable unwanted programs, and it also shows that applications pause when put in the background, using up RAM but not CPU cycles.

In all this games seem to have been a bit lost: there’s an Xbox Live app that brings a few elements of the Xbox Dashboard over to the PC, which is both a fancy games launcher and market rolled into one. It could signal the end of GFWL, as it properly exists outside the games, but there’s been nothing mentioned about how that will be handled. And given Microsoft have just launched a Flight as a GFWL game, I doubt it’s being wholly ditched.

I guess I could try it and see, as that’s what the preview all about, but when my PC is my primary means for everything ever. So instead I’ll leave that to Lifehacker, who do a good job of showing off a few of those tiny little details, and The Verge who’ve had a good play with it.

Let us know if you’re interested in the direction W8 is taking, as I’m rather comfortable with 7 as it is.

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211 Comments »

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  1. Bantros says:

    Tablet version is plain fantastic

    • Navagon says:

      But when are they going to get around to making the desktop version?

  2. CaspianRoach says:

    Well, that was the last straw that made me willing to upgrade from winxp. I’m glad they’re taking much of the design decisions from win98 and prev. versions. Up one level is back? Thank god! ‘File’ menu is back? Wonderful! Copy dialogue is better than ever? Fuck yes. By the looks of it I’ll get all of the coolest features of win7 (here I come, dx11 games!) and then some.
    And the silly blocky shitty shit can probably be turned off.

    • Enlightend says:

      You could turn it of in the developer preview. Not so much in this Consumer Preview.

      Its starting to look like Microsoft is planning to kill the start bar entirely. Which will be the death of Windows 8 for any person that has any productivity needs.

    • CaspianRoach says:

      I use Win+R for that and it works fine.

  3. trjp says:

    W7 is, indeed, well worth the upgrade from XP. I was pretty late in jumping (just over a year ago) but XP has dated badly in the meantime to the extent I’m surprised anyone would use it unless they were desperate.

    I really don’t see what’s in W8 for desktop users tho – and I don’t see touchscreen laptops/tablets taking off in the face of competition with the iPad etc. (the major issue, for me, being MS’s noted flightiness with anything other than PCs meaning you’d be daft to follow them).

  4. MythArcana says:

    HELL NO. This looks terrible…and that’s being extremely diplomatic. Why would I want a Java applet running on my desktop that looks like it was designed back in the 70’s by peyote gobbling hippies dancing around a burning man effigy of Alfred E. Newman?

    I’d go back to Windows 3.1 before using this…

  5. Enlightend says:

    Have to say though, Microsoft are nothing but persistent and stable in the way they fuck up.

    windows 3.11 OK
    windows 95 Shitish (drivers etc weren’t all there for the longest time)
    windows 98 Great
    windows ME SHIT
    windows XP Great
    windows Vista SHIT
    windows 7 Great
    windows 8 SHIT

    And often the measure of screwup is followed by the same measure of brilliance (Windows 7 is a masterpiece imho).

    So OMG, Windows 9 is gona RAWK

    • LionsPhil says:

      95 wasn’t shit. At least, put in the context of its Windowsian peers (or MacOS, for that matter, which was likewise floundering around in instability). 98SE did improve some things (USB support, features of new IE4 shell like taskbar bands), but was also more prone to breaking itself and fostering that old “fdisk, format, reinstall, do-daa, do-daah” reputation that Windows is still trying to shake. (It’s not a great vote of confidence that if you look under Control Panel in 8, there’s an option to do one automatically for you, preserving your user profile…)

    • spamenigma says:

      This is the second list I’ve seen like this, have the MIB erased windows 2000 pro from people’s memories? :)

    • LionsPhil says:

      2000 was solid and great, but arguably fits in a different lineage that goes NT3, NT4, 2000, then merges in at XP.

    • spamenigma says:

      I see your point, however 2000 was heavily used as a desktop OS by many, at least enthusiasts.. and especially as the alternative ME sucked balls :)

      Disclaimer: Thats Windows ME.. not me!!! ;)

  6. mandrill says:

    I finally got around to installing win7 yesterday due to a hdd failure. I don’t expect to be installing 8 till sometime around 2016.

  7. Weed says:

    I am not sold on Win8 either, or smudgy monitors, but the integration of systems is interesting, especially when one looks at gaming.

    Games where your touchpad device work in conjunction with your desktop machine…..an extension of the gaming surface, whether it be control switches (for simulators) or what not for other games, like equipment screens, etc.

    Wouldn’t a large monitor with touch interface be an enhancement for RTS games? Able to have two hands working on the battle as opposed to one input device – mouse pointer. Sure there are hotkeys, but I think touch interface has a long way to go/innovate, especially in game design.

    I agree with Enlightend though. Win 8 is so novel that it will suck and Win 9 will be the true OS that gets it, well at least gets it better.

    I’m all for systems running faster/cleaner/smoother. And let’s face it. MS had to do something in the touch interface or they would be the dinosaur hit by an asteroid.

    • Enlightend says:

      For RTS, the speed you have from hotkeying and mouse micro can’t even be nearly approached by a touchscreen.

      As for Touch Interface, they seem to be forcing it on all users, including desktops.

      They should be smart and maintain the same OS base with different inferfaces for touch and desktop usage.

      I really don’t get why they are having such a problem doing this.

    • Dan Puzey says:

      They’re *not* forcing anything on the desktop users. If you spend three minutes actually using Win8 you’ll find that the only thing that’s changed about the mouse/keyboard experience is that the start menu *looks* different. In terms of function and interaction it’s not changed.

      People should be smart and get some first hand experience before they deride something for looking different. But then, we don’t have a great track record of that, do we?

  8. Dan Puzey says:

    I’m finding the Win8 experience so far slick, responsive, and a great combination of “just working” for the simple stuff without losing any control. And the metro stuff – for day-to-day browsing/etc – is slick and clean.

    Games still work fine so far…

    As for not wanting to hose your machine: install to VHD and dual boot. Dead easy, simple rollback, and no impact on your core OS (beyond 60GB of disc space).

  9. Mctittles says:

    I don’t understand how marketing managed to shorten applications into “apps” and then get people excited they about installing programs on their computer again?

  10. Navagon says:

    Well this is the most mentally deficient crap I’ve seen in a long time. Do they really think that we’re all using bloody tablets now?

  11. SiHy_ says:

    When it comes to operating systems I’m reminded of shampoo adverts. Every so often they have to be “BRAND NEW”, “BETTER THAN EVER!” and “NOW WITH MORE SCIENCE” whereas in truth shampoo formula hasn’t changed in decades. That’s because it doesn’t need to change – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
    Windows 7 works. As much as some people hate Microsoft even they must admit that from a user perspective it simply works. Things that were difficult and fiddly at one point are now fairly intuative. I don’t have conflicts between my hardware, my network worked flawlessly off the bat, my drivers are fine, etc. So my question is why would desktop and laptop owners want to upgrade?
    I can see Windows 8 being successful on tablets and possibly even phones but devices that primarily use a touch-screen are a completely different species to devices that primarily use a mouse and keyboard. One unified OS isn’t the answer (unless using touch-screen mode was an option rather than a necessity).
    Plus I fucking hate ‘apps’.

  12. Eynonz says:

    OMG the horror! What is that!? Take it away!

  13. Premium User Badge

    Carra says:

    Mmm, where is the search bar for my apps? A list is fine for people with ten apps, I want to quickly search through dozens.

  14. Roshin says:

    Seriously, this is it? Some minor improvements I don’t care about, everything has been moved around a bit, and a clunky looking UI on top. I kept waiting for a big rabbit to pop out of the hat, but maybe there isn’t one?

    W7 was and still is really good. I thought MS was on to a good thing there and now this, Vista’s unwanted spawn. Don’t think so, guys.

  15. Initialised says:

    This PC has been repeatedly upgraded from the first Win7 beta, now it’s installing 8 (aka Window 7 Plus Pack) cos I pressed the wrong button

    A while back I was testing the Dev Prev, I confused the hell out of some PC shop staff by asking if a WiFi stick would be Windows 8 compatible! From what I see it’s just Win 7 with a funky reskin so I have no qualms about installing it, besides it’s now small enough not to need an 8GB DVD/USB thingy.

    When it all goes tits just call me Charlie.

  16. SpaceAkers says:

    I use a mac laptop for all my run-of-the-mill computing and have a PC I built just for teh gamez. Thus, my Windows 7 is little more than Steam.

    I DO NOT NEED OR WANT YOU WINDOWS 8. GOOD DAY.

  17. Zakk Scar says:

    The squares thing is a great design for the phones, but not so much for a desktop.

    When I first heard of the design for W8, I thought the entire damn OS was the squares stuff, but at least there’s still that regular desktop we all love.

  18. Premium User Badge

    dangermouse76 says:

    I just installed the preview on a 2004 Dell Dimension 4500. And It actually ran fine. There was some delay between apps starting up but not so much you would get annoyed.

    I have only been using the UI for about 2-3 hours. Tweaking and changing it around to contain shortcuts ( for thats all it is really ) that make my life easier.

    Which meant all the web based ones except a browser were taken out and programs added in, plus system shortcuts. Using the corner system takes some getting used. And I am still not sure if I will grow to like it or not.

    But switching from the UI to desktop mode was easy and hassle free. I would add that for me the desktop is no more than a glorified links page so moving it all to the new UI has not bothered me so much. All my Adobe stuff runs fine.

    We will see. I am not a Sith so I have no extreme views on this either way. It all comes down to this for me.

    Does the new system hinder or make easier my daily activities and workflow ? That I cant tell at the mo, but initial impressions are that it has not made it worse in any stand out way so far.

  19. therighttoarmbears says:

    I would literally pay double the asking price for the “Ultimate” version of this OS if it had a Metroid interface instead of a Metro interface.

  20. Bane2087 says:

    I’m suprised nobody else has mentioned the spyware that seems built into Windows 8. Well it’s optional spyware but likely your average user won’t turn it off. By default 8 beams all sorts of info back to MS including what you are doing with apps you got off their app store, your location info and probably a load more without notifying you.

    I can see it actually violating some privacy laws if there wasn’t a hidden off switch that relies on you knowing enough to actually want to use it.

  21. Dol says:

    Soon Microsoft will addon their kinetics with all window 8 and you don’t have to touch your monitor at all.

  22. Premium User Badge

    RobF says:

    This is the first time I’ve felt like an OS was trying to encroach on what I wanted to do.

    I’ve been using computers for years from the Speccy on, I’m a Mac and iOS user so I’m fully aware of how munty Apple can be at times but yeah, never before have I felt like the OS was a wall between me and the things I choose to do with my computer. Windows 8 feels like it constantly doesn’t want me to be doing things and that I’m wrong to want to do them when LOOK AT THIIIIS LOOK AT THIIIIIS. It’s horrible.

    I should have known after what MS did with the Xbox dash that right now, their focus isn’t on enabling the user to do things, it’s making sure the user sees and does everything MS want them to do. Windows 8 is the exact same mentality that turns a games console into a media box with the focus on adverts, where things the user might want to do are buried behind what MS want you to do. Except it’s fucking magnified a hundred fold because this isn’t a games console, it’s a desktop PC.

    This isn’t about being afraid of the new, I’d *happily* take a nice clean OS reboot if it made my existence easier, if it enabled me further to do whatever the hell I wanted to do. I don’t want to be playing a game of guess the magic corner, I don’t want to be typing something, move my mouse and the window loses focus, I don’t want to be manually pinning everything to a task bar for quick access and I certainly don’t want that stinking mess that is the ribbon interface.

    I just want something that boots up and lets me get on with things. Every iteration of Windows prior has managed this. Now, Win 8 doesn’t. And it makes me work for things by hiding shit away all the time, making me learn keyboard shortcuts just to get around at any sort of reasonable speed and I can’t be fucked with any of that. I have enough dealing with the myriad of programs I have to contend with when making games without having to deal with the OS on top of that.

    It’s not intuitive, discovering anything is a game of guess-what-the-designer-wanted and as I say, it never feels like I’m meant to be using it. It’s barely designed for actual human use at all.

    So I guess it’ll be Win7 for quite the fair while because Win8 needs putting out of its misery not launching to the public.

    • Jesus H. Christ says:

      exactly. I mean wtf is with all this window snapping, and things having to take up a minimum of 1/4 of your monitor’s real estate? It’s as if this version wants to control what windows I can open, how many, and where I can put them…and multimonitor, just forget about it. Who would have thought that the desktop would be reduced to nothing more than an app.

  23. Cryptoshrimp says:

    The death of general computing is getting closer, slowly.

  24. int says:

    To quote Richard Briers from Extras: Tacky shit!

  25. netizensmith says:

    Why?

    That is all.

  26. uh20 says:

    i have been going the free route and am using linux ever since
    and when you finally look at it, microsoft is a bad, overpriced operating system, everyone uses because its the only supported thing out there, windows would be screwed if video games were opengl instead of directx,

    but seriously, all this talk about desktops is unknown to me
    i have a gnome-unity hybrid thats better than any desktop in the world, this windows one looks too like a tablet and a desktop energy hog

  27. Ragnar says:

    Wow, that video was truly awful. I couldn’t even last half way through it. What marketing genius came up with that, and who in their right mind signed off on it? My ears feel violated.

  28. pmanpman says:

    I’ll try dual booting my linux machine pls