Windows 8 Release Preview (build 8400) was released to the public on May 31, 2012 and it's the last preview build we're going to see because Windows 8 is scheduled to launch this fall. Windows 8 Release Preview is set to expire on January 16, 2013, so I have plenty of time to play around with this new OS and to compare it to Windows 7, to iOS, and Android.
Here are my initial impressions:
- Overall, the performance feels faster compared to Windows 7.
- I miss the Windows "Start" button on the lower left corner of the screen. It's tough to give up old habits. You can install third party apps to get this start button (and menu) back, but I've decided to force myself into the computing paradigm that Microsoft has developed.
- I like the new on-screen keyboard. On a tablet, you can also split the keyboard so that half the keys are in one corner of the screen and the other half are on the other corner. This allows you to type using your thumbs.
- I'm not a big fan of the Metro user interface (based on large rectangles that are easy on the fingers, but make overall navigation a bit cumbersome). This is one of the biggest changes that Microsoft has implemented and it's the backbone of the new Microsoft mobile OS called Windows RT. I find it confusing to run Metro on a PC that has a desktop that is based on legacy versions of Windows. You're essentially running two interfaces on the same machine and I think that will confuse some people.
- I couldn't test most of the Metro apps because the HP Slate doesn't support the right screen resolution to run these apps. Windows 8 requires a resolution of 1366 x 768 to run Metro apps. The HP Slate has a screen resolution of 1024 x 600 (because it has an 8.9" screen).
Based on my limited experience with a preview release of Windows 8, I'm concluding that you won't want to upgrade to Windows 8 unless your PC was built for it.
You don't need a touch screen to use the touch gestures of Windows 8. Many of the touch gestures will be supported on a mouse trackpad/touchpad, so this is certainly going to kill the future viability of those small "eraser head" mouse pointers found on Lenovo ThinkPads and other laptops.
I'll have more to say as I continue to test Running Windows 8 Release Preview on the HP Slate 500. In the meanwhile, I may also load Windows 8 Release Preview on a different tablet that has higher screen resolution so that I can test those Metro apps.