Within a day of Microsoft releasing the Windows 8 Consumer Preview to the general public, the company reported that more than 1 million people had downloaded the beta of the upcoming operating system.
For those considering whether to load up the Consumer Preview, Microsoft has now offered up a list of system recommendations for running the software. They include a device with a 1GHz (or faster) processor, 1GB RAM (32-bit) or 2GB RAM (64-bit), 16GB available hard-disk space (32-bit) or 20GB (64-bit), and a DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 (Windows Display Driver Model 1.0) or higher driver.
Windows 8 has been engineered to work equally well on tablets as desktops and laptops; the Metro-style start screen (Metro being the name for Microsofts new design aesthetic, which increasingly unites products from Windows 8 to Windows Phone) is composed of a set of colorful (and touchable) tiles linked to applications, with the old-style desktop interface accessible via a single click or finger tap. In theory, the evolution will allow Microsoft to hold onto the PC OS market while expanding in a major way into the mobile segment.
This setup gets you going with Windows 8 such that it is functionally equivalent to Windows 7, Grant George, Microsofts corporate vice president of Windows Test, wrote in a Feb. 29 posting on the official Building Windows 8 blog, and as we have talked about previously, you should see measurable improvements in performance in a number of dimensions with a system at this level.
There are some Windows 8-specific twists, however. For one thing, any Metro-style apps require a minimum 1,024 by 768 screen resolution (with 1,366 by 768 for the snap feature), meaning that any app launched with less than that resolution will receive an error message in return. We chose to allow Windows 8 to install even when a system doesnt meet this requirement because, even without the Metro style applications, your Windows 7 workloads on these PCs will improve, George wrote, and you can benefit from all the other features of Windows 8, including enhancements to the desktop.
In terms of virtualization, he also advised that IT pros run Windows 8 on hardware. The most important reason is access to the rich experience powered by accelerated graphics, and the fast and fluid operation that youll experience when running this way.
In its own internal testing, Microsoft used devices, including the Asus EP121 tablet, Dell Inspiron Duo convertible, Lenovo x220t convertible and Samsung Series 7 slate.
The Consumer Preview can be found in a special area on Microsofts Website. The betas ISO files (for those who wish to install it on another partition or virtual machine) are also available. Microsoft has opened the Windows Store, making a variety of Metro-style apps available to download and try at no cost.
Microsoft executives have cautioned about bugs still present in the software. It represents a work in progress, and some things will change before the final release, Kent Walter, a member of the Windows Team, wrote in a Feb. 29 posting on The Windows Blog. One of the great things about widely releasing a preview like this is that it gives us a chance to get a lot of feedback through telemetry, forums and blog posts on where we can smooth out some of the rough edges.