On February 29th Microsoft released the Consumer Preview (Beta) of Windows 8 and at that time I installed it on the Build Developer Tablet and in a virtual machine (VMware player). For the most part I have been pretty happy with my experiences with the new O/S so far, so… After a playing with it a few weeks on the tablet (and a little in the VM), I have taken the plunge and Installed it on my primary desktop machine. Ok, I’m only partly committed, I set up a boot from VHD configuration so I can boot Windows 7 still and get things done if needed, but the plan is to try to use the Consumer Preview as my day to day operating system.
One of the big motivating factors for me is that I really want to be able to spend some time developing (or at least playing with developing) Metro Applications. I have done a bit in the VM and on the tablet, but It just seemed it would be easier with a full blown desktop system. Not so much for the horsepower, the Build Tablet has plenty of power and memory, but rather the ergonomics of the situation. I wanted to be able to work on a system with dual displays, and a full mouse and keyboard. (Call me spoiled if you want…)
As compared to the Developer Preview that was released at the Build Conference in September the operating system as a whole seems more polished and more stable. I haven’t experienced any of the hard lockups (requiring a reboot to recover) that I saw a few times with the Dev. Preview. Most of the included applications seem more polished and reliable as well.
I personally have found the mouse interaction better than the Dev. Preview, although I have read a lot of posts to the contrary. I thought a few of the mouse interactions still need a bit of polish, particularly some of the interactions around the corners of the screens seem a bit jumpy, but since I have moved to running on the metal it seems much smoother.
I can’t express how happy I am that I can now close my Metro applications. (Yeah ! ) To close a Metro application via touch grab it by the top edge with a finger and drag it to the bottom of the screen. It takes a little experimenting to get the hang of it, but it quickly became second nature. With a mouse you can move the pointer to the top edge of the screen and it will change to a hand, then just click and drag it down top the bottom edge.
Now that I have things running on dual displays there are a couple of things that are bugging me.
- I can only run the Start Screen and Metro Apps on the primary display which feels kind of odd. Why can’t I put a Metro app on the second screen? Weird…
- Using an app on the desktop on the second screen while having the Start Screen up on the Primary screen results in some odd behavior. (The Screen goes blank)
- If I have an app on the desktop running on the primary screen with the Start Screen up (Covering the desktop app) and I click on the desktop on the second screen I can’t get to my application. The start screen goes blank, so it feels like the desktop has focus, but there doesn’t appear to be a way to get to my app.
If you hadn’t heard, Windows 8 Consumer Preview was released this morning (you can get it at http://preview.windows.com/). So far I have installed it on both the Build Developer Tablet and in a Virtual Machine (VMware Player) and both installs were relatively quick and painless.
So far it seems stable (5 hours in LOL). It seems to be coming together fairly nicely. Once I have had some time to work with it a bit, I’ll post something a bit more substantial. For now here is some screen shots.
The Lock Screen
The Start Screen
Notice you can now choose from a few color schemes and texture patterns for the Start Screen. Also you can now group items.
The App Store
Solitaire (of course)
Visual Studio 11 Beta on Windows 8
Microsoft also released the Beta version of Visual Studio 11 this morning. Here’s a quick shot of the new Dark Theme.
You can download the Visual Studio 11 Beta from http://www.microsoft.com/visualstudio/11/en-us
After Installing Windows 8 Developer Preview in a Virtual Machine or on older hardware, you will immediately find that the interface is a bit clunky without touch of any kind. Hopefully the following list of keyboard shortcuts will help to alleviate the pain.
- The Windows Key takes you back to the Start Screen.
- Alt + Tab brings up the application switcher.
- Windows Keys + Tab cycles through the running applications.
- Windows Key + C or hovering over the bottom left corner of the screen with your mouse brings up the Charms Menu.
- Windows Key + F opens the search screen (or you can just start typing on the Start Screen).
- Windows Key + Z brings up the application bars.
- Windows Key + D takes you to your desktop.
- Windows Key + L Locks the system (as usual).
- Windows Key + I brings up the Settings.
- Windows Key + E opens Windows Explorer on your desktop.
- Windows Key + R takes you to your desktop and opens the Run Prompt.
- CTRL-ALT-DEL brings up a screen to log off, shut down, switch users, etc.
- Right clicking a Tile on the Start Screen brings up options (Unpin, changes size, etc.)
- Right Clicking in a Metro app brings up the application bars.
- The mouse scroll wheel pans through the items on your Start Screen, although it seems a bit buggy on my VM.