February 29, 2012
Windows 8 Consumer Preview Now Available
The Microsoft Windows 8 Consumer preview is now available in 64 bit and 32 bit editions for multiple languages. If anyone hasn’t heard, and I doubt that seriously, Microsoft is using Windows 8 as the way to create a unified operating system for tablets, phones, and the desktop. The Metro interface which is standard on WP7 phones is dominant on all platforms, though the traditional desktop still exists to run legacy apps. The question is how seamless will that be? Now is the time to find out.
Most of the initial reviews of the preview focus on the touch interface on tablets with the desktop working well in that environment with mouse and keyboard. I’m more interested in how well the desktop works on a desktop and will the Metro interface stand up to that environment. I have some suitable hardware lying around, so I’ll be checking it out.
Reviews are at ABC News and CNET, and I’m sure other tech outlets will be putting up their own commentary as the preview trickles out. The Consumer Preview is here, with ISO images coming in at 3.3 GB (64 bit) and 2.5 GB (32 bit) each. Product activation keys are included with the images at the download screen. More on the philosophy, if one could call it that, and development of Windows 8 is at the Building Windows 8 blog from the Microsoft development team. The minimum specifications for running the preview are:
1 GHz or faster processor
1 GB RAM (32-bit) or 2 GB RAM (64-bit)
16 GB available hard disk space (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit)
DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver
These are not the final hardware specifications according to the blog entry on the consumer preview. I am skeptical of the Metro interface on a pure desktop without touch, but my views are subject to change once I try it out. I'll simply say that I'm wary of the trend to turn computers into mostly consumption devices. Traditional desktop machines with hard drives are obviously capable of downloading and storing content for later and multiple view. Tablets, even with cloud computing seem to compromise that capability. I hope the preview can dispel my concerns.
Update: My sense of foreboding is not dispelled by this article in Wired: Windows 8 Hands-On: Your Desktop Is Dead. Then again, I'm looking for functionality, not necessarily the future. [MG]