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So my Dad calls me up to ask me if I've seen the latest Popular Science article about Windows 8. I don't subscribe to that magazine, even though it's one of my favorites, so I told him that I hadn't. He explained to me that there is a download link for a Developer's Preview edition of Win8. I hemmed & hawed a little, because I don't use Microsoft's software any more than I have to. But being THE geek at the library, I figured I'd better take a look at it because Microsoft will be forcing this "upgrade" on everyone in the next couple of years, and I'm sure it will be as much fun to administer as the last versions have been. You know, fun like a root canal!
                                
The hardware requirements are being billed as a feature -- you can run it on the same equipment as any current machine that runs Windows XP. The following was taken from an About.com article:
Windows 8 Developer Preview System Requirements

You will be happy to know that Windows Developer Preview works great on the same hardware that powers Windows Vista and Windows 7, which means that the final release will most likely work well on computers purchased three to four years ago.

1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
1 gigabyte (GB) RAM (32-bit) or 2 GB RAM (64-bit)
16 GB available hard disk space (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit)
DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver
In order to take advantage of touch input in the new operating system, you will need a screen that supports multi-touch. This is only a requirement if you intent to use touch.
In order to run Microsoft's new Metro style Apps, your screen will need a resolution greater than 1024 X 768.
I was pleased to see that should I have a moment of weakness & install this operating system, I could do it on the machine I currently use at home. Additionally, any other machines in house that are capable of running Windows XP can run Windows 8 as well. So, I attempted to install this on an extra laptop that already had a Linux distribution on it. My mistake, it wouldn't install.

You see, to install the Windows 8 Developers Preview, it has to go on a machine that is already running Windows XP or Windows 7. That means that you will have to either sacrifice everything on your hard drive for the sake of testing, or you will have to use a partitioning tool to make space for the install. According to the hardware specs, you must have a partition with a minimum of 20 GB available. The one I used on this machine is 25.1, as that's all I could spare on it as it is a tertiary production machine. 

Another caveat of installing this preview -- it's just like any other proprietary operating system and wants to take over your computer. In other words, unlike Linux, it's install or nothing. Most Linux distributions will let you run off a live CD that doesn't install anything on your computer; it all runs from your computer's memory. You click reboot, Linux shuts down, spits out the Live CD, and the computer reboots into your installed operating system!


This version of Windows installs light years faster than any previous version, but that doesn't mean ANYTHING, because this is very much a feature-incomplete demo. For instance, none of the included "apps" work (just eye candy to show you what it could look like). Out of the 35 "apps" pictured on the Metro screen, only the Windows Explorer (not Internet Explorer!), the Control Panel, and the Desktop "apps" do what they are supposed to do. The rest are just placeholders.

It is a developer's preview, so there really isn't anything there of general interest. In fact, the "//build/" app for developers doesn't even work. Go figure.

As you can see, this interface is very much geared towards tablets, smart phones & other devices with touch screen capability. There is no Start button - the word Start at the top left is just text - and clicking on any of the tiles or my user name causes things to happen. As a developer, I would have to think that unless I had a huge (touchscreen) monitor (24+") where I could lay out what I'm working on in a logical fashion, this particular interface would be quite annoying. I'm thinking Microsoft may be trying to drive the touchscreen market here, but at least you aren't stuck with a touch screen interface right now. Microsoft may decide that Metro is for everyone, but I doubt even they would shoot themselves in the foot so foolishly. Wait. They did produce Windows ME and Vista. Never mind.

And so, here is the desktop that you get when you click/touch the Desktop tile at the bottom left of the group of tiles. Also notice the icons for Internet Explorer 10 and Windows Explorer, both of which work perfectly.











The Windows lock screen looks more like something you'd see on a smart phone or tablet, with a beautiful landscape picture and a large, easy-to-read clock with the date. And, just like with the iPhone and Android phones, it is designed to use a swipe gesture to unlock the device. In this case it swipes upwards, which you accomplish with a mouse by dragging up from the bottom of the screen,



























which gives you the log in screen, or welcome screen as Microsoft call it:


Well, I've probably used enough of your bandwidth with these pictures, so I'll wrap it up for now. I'm a bit anxious to see how this last gasp from Microsoft goes for them. They have so much catching up to do in the smart phone & tablet arenas that it will be difficult for them to make some inroads. What might make it easier for them is the fact that they have such a large market share of  the PC platform (including laptops & netbooks), that enterprise-level business could integrate them fairly easily. The only problem there is the fact that there is momentum now in corporate policies accepting non-standard, personal devices and operating systems. Plus, many software providers no longer produce Windows-only solutions, making Microsoft's day in the sun just a little more shady.

'Til next time...

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
(Anonymous)
Feb. 8th, 2012 05:45 pm (UTC)
Windows 8
Thanks for the great article. It contained all the info that I wanted to know.

(Anonymous)
Feb. 12th, 2012 02:42 pm (UTC)
Howdy
Mind-boggling article! I am just starting out in SMO and now we are wanting to understand how to best capitalize on social networking for our business.

Thanks for the info!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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