Columnist Wayne Rash decided to download Microsoft’s Windows 8 Consumer Preview on the first day. If only he had a touch-screen for his HP PC.
Windows 8 is supposed to be a real threat to both the current iPad 2 and the
upcoming iPad. While most people understand that it resembles the tiled
interface that runs on Windows Phone 7, and while most people also know that
Windows 8 was developed for a touch-screen interface, the fact is that there arent
that many Windows tablets or touch-screen interfaces lying around so you can
try Windows 8.
I downloaded the Windows 8 Preview from Microsofts Windows 8 page
, to see
what this is like. Since this is intended to be a tablet operating system
designed for a touch-screen, I wanted to have some idea what I was doing when I
started seeing all of those newly minted Windows 8 tablets when I got to CeBIT.
first thing you should know is that youre probably not going to be using this
version of Windows 8 in your business. This is a consumer version thats heavy
on entertainment, including games, music, videos and social networking. But it
has the same Metro interface that youll see on tablets when they arrive.
Thats what I wanted to get used to using.
the interface wasnt something totally foreign. Ive been trying out a Nokia
Lumia 710 running Windows Phone 7
for the last few weeks so at least I knew
what to expect when the Windows 8 home page appeared on the screen before me.
It looks a lot like the screen on the Nokia, only a lot larger. Of course, I
didnt have a touch-screen.
can use Windows 8 with a mouse if you wish, and youll wish you had a touch-screen
when you do. Its so much easier to simply move tiles back and forth with a
swipe of your finger than to do the same thing with a mouse pointer. Its also
a lot nicer to get the desktop to appear by simply touching the lower left
corner of your screen than to hover the mouse pointer there until the computer
realizes youre there, and shows a tiny representation of the home screen, upon
which you click while the mouse pointer is still in the corner and not on the
image of the screen thats appeared.
youve started using the mouse, the transition is fairly easy, but it would be
a lot easier with the tip of your finger. You can also get to the standard
Windows Desktop, which now appears as an application for which theres a
separate tile. It looks a lot like the Windows 7 desktop, except that the start
button is missing. All those things that you used to invoke with the start button
are available, but you need to go to the "Computer" tile to find
them. As you can see, this new version of Windows will take some getting used
tiles themselves are either a replacement for application icons, or theyre the
latest iteration of folders, in which clicking on a tile will get you a choice
of applications. Some of the tiles contain active content. So, for example, the
music tile shows whats playing even when you dont have it open.
real reason for using the Consumer Preview edition is that this is the
interface youre going to see when Windows Tablets start arriving. Once that
happens, Windows Phone 7 and Windows 8 will have a lot of commonality, and in
some ways, both present a very intuitive interface, unless youve been a power
Windows user since the days of Windows 3.1. If you fit that description, then
youre likely to feel lost for a while. The standard Windows 8 pages are
nothing like the desktop youre used to, and even the "Desktop" is
missing the one thing you could always count onthe start button.
this is what Microsoft plans to use to battle both the iPhone and the iPad. In
the right environmentmeaning something besides a keyboard and mouseits
actually a slick, well-thought-out way to use a device youre holding in your
this point, its impossible to know whether Windows 8 will really bring the
battle to iOS. Its easy to see the potential, but whether that potential is
realized remains to be seen. The Windows Phone 7 interface on a Nokia Lumia is
very slick and very intuitive, but when translated to the mouse and keyboard
environment of a computer, its still a little clunky. In fact, its a lot
clunky; things frequently dont work as you expect, and a number of functions
are missing. But its early in the process, the software is still under
development, and its very possible that Microsoft will deliver a tablet and
computer operating system thats as nice as the one on
the phone. If that happens, youll be glad you started learning Windows 8 now,
because youll have a lot of users to support in a few months.