Windows 8's lock-screen offers at-a-glance info on battery life and connectivity.
Windows 8's start screen embraces the same Metro design aesthetic that increasingly defines Microsoft's products, from Windows Phone to the new Xbox dashboard.
In a bid to compete against Google Android and Apple's iOS and Mac OS X, Microsoft is offering an app storefront that it hopes third-party developers will soon fill with must-have apps.
Downloading an app to Windows 8 is a very quick process, reminiscent of what you'd find with Windows Phone, iOS or Google Android.Â
App installation is likewise a breeze.
Once added, an app appears as one of many tiles on the start screen.
Preinstalled Windows 8 apps also adhere to the Metro design aesthetic.
With apps on both Windows Phone and now Windows 8, Xbox continues to play an integral role in the Microsoft ecosystem.
Users can see which apps are currently running on their Windows 8 machine.
As part of the Consumer Preview, Microsoft is providing Internet Explorer 10 Platform Preview 5, specifically tailored to Windows 8 devices.
One click or tap will deliver the user from the Metro-style start screen to a desktop interface, with access to elements such as Windows Explorer. This view is familiar to anyone who's used Windows in the past.
However, Microsoft has made some changes to the "traditional" interface, including the addition of a version of its ribbon interface to Windows Explorer.
The preinstalled map app, useful for tablet owners looking for a way from Point A to Point B.
Users can "zoom" out to see all their tiles in a macro-view.
Hovering the mouse (or a finger) over the bottom-right side of the screen will bring up a series of widgets that govern search, settings and other options.
SkyDrive lets users store their work in the cloud—another useful feature for mobile users.
The weather app at work.