We’re here in Anaheim, California at Microsoft’s BUILD conference. As has become tradition (or at least as much as possible), Microsoft has been holding major developer conferences for their new OSes roughly a year ahead of launch. In 2008 developers and the press got their first in-depth look at Windows 7 at Microsoft’s Professional Developers Conference (PDC), and here in 2011 BUILD is doing much the same for Windows 8.

As it stands Windows 8 is still in its infancy. The build in Microsoft’s demos is 1802, a pre-beta and not feature complete version of the OS. Microsoft needs to balance the need to show off Windows 8 to developers with a need to keep it under wraps until it’s done as to not spook end-users. The result of that is the situation at BUILD, where Microsoft is focusing on finished features while unfinished features are either not in the OS or are going unmentioned. For comparison, at PDC 2008 the Windows 7 interface was not done yet, and Microsoft was using the Windows Vista interface in its place.

Today the show kicks off in earnest with a keynote that begins at the same time as this article went live, followed by some mega-sessions for developers covering the biggest aspects of Windows 8. Yesterday was a pre-show day for press, with Microsoft spending most of the day running the press through a similar series of presentations, focused more on the end-user than developers.

At the conclusion of the press sessions we managed to get some hands on time with a tablet PC development platform running the same build of Windows 8. We haven’t had the chance to give the platform a full working over – not that it would be prudent in its pre-beta state – but we did want to give you a rundown of what Microsoft had to share with us and what we’ve seen so far. Microsoft’s tagline for BUILD is that “Windows 8 changes everything” and while Win8 is not a massive reworking of the Windows kernel, it is a major overhaul of nearly everything else. Certainly based on the pre-beta build on display, you will be using Windows 8 significantly differently from Windows 7.

The big thing with Windows 8 is Metro, which we’ll go more in-depth with in a bit. Microsoft classifies Metro as a style, but in reality Metro is a new version of Windows from the API on up. Metro is the Windows Shell, Metro is an application design paradigm, Metro is a user paradigm, and Metro is the future of Windows application programming. Metro is everywhere – and for ARM it is everything - and it will make (or break) Windows 8.

The Metro UI
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  • kevith - Friday, September 16, 2011 - link

    Read the review, man Reply
  • augiem - Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - link

    I agree. This is an experiment... and one that is doomed to failure. Designers tend to be people of extremes and always push for "change" simply for change's sake. (Because it makes them look good, as if they're thinking outside the box. Contrast is easy to spot.) This is a knee-jerk reaction to the success of iOS. No power user or even business user will accept this because plain and simply it's a huge speedbump to productivity. iOS was so successful because it was targeted at an audience that was only interested in consumption, and even limited consumption at that. Desktops more often than not NOT used in a consumtive manner. (This of all the people sitting at work typing stuff into spreadsheets and running CSR software). This will not fly. It's an attempt to look "modern" by simplifying things for the unwashed masses, but it ain't gonna work. They're going to have to split windows into yet another branch, this time for consumption devices like tablets and media center PC's. This is a joke (and not a funny one) to any power user. Live titles??? Give me a break. Like I said, it's for consumption boxes. Who needs live titles to do your video editing / word processing / data crunching / etc job? Reply
  • futurepastnow - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    Are we, as a society, so stupid and juvenile that we need big colorful buttons for everything? When you use this with a mouse and keyboard, not a touch tablet, you're going to feel stupid.

    Look! It's a button that's four inches across! I hope I don't miss it with the mouse cursor! *click* Oh, good, I got it. Boy, those little icons Windows 7 had sure were hard to click on.

    And I am deeply concerned about my ability to turn this Metro s**t all the way off. Microsoft has stated that you won't be able to use Windows 8 without Metro. Folks saying "just turn it off" don't seem to get it- the Start Menu is *gone* in Windows 8 and this garbage has replaced it. Metro is the shell; it can't be turned off, yet. I think it's probable that MS will backtrack off its idiotic stance of forcing Metro on us, but they may not.

    You think people want live icons? Remember the Sidebar? Neither do I. Nobody uses the Dashboard on OSX, either.
    Reply
  • BioTurboNick - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    The point is that they aren't just buttons, they are ways to see what is contained within the button or display information. I honestly don't get what's wrong. How often do you keep the start menu open? If everything you do is on the desktop, you'll barely ever see it. Reply
  • UMADBRO - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    I know I rarely ever open mine. I have all the commonly used programs and links pinned to my taskbar. People are gonna piss and moan no matter what. Just ignore them. Reply
  • futurepastnow - Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - link

    I don't leave the start menu open. That isn't the point. The point is that the start menu is not fullscreen.

    All of this Metro crap is fullscreen and it's so integrated into the OS that it can't all be turned off. It's silly fluff for touchscreens, and why should it cover up everything else I'm doing, every other window I have open, whenever the OS decides it needs to go fullscreen?

    Fullscreen applications are not progress. They are, in fact, anti-progress, and just because Apple is doing it is no excuse. The olny things that should ever be fullscreen are movies and games and sometimes not even them.

    This is not progress.
    Reply
  • Ratman6161 - Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - link

    As I have said elsewhere, my desktop is always hidden behind the many application windows I have open at any given time. Whatever information the buttons are displaying is irrelevant to me since I will rarely if ever see it. Reply
  • futurepastnow - Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - link

    The big colorful buttons aren't going to be underneath all of your open windows. They're not on the desktop at the bottom. They''re going to be ON TOP OF your open windows any time you do anything that invokes the Metro interface- which will be often. Reply
  • Wraith404 - Thursday, September 15, 2011 - link

    Not if you turn the garbage off. I feel for developers that waste time creating metro applications for anything but tablets. It's going to be hard disabled on 90% of desktops. Reply
  • futurepastnow - Thursday, September 15, 2011 - link

    I'm not sure the average computer mom and pop computer user is going to be proficient enough to turn it off. They're just going to be angry about it, the way they were angry about Vista's aggressive UAC.

    Not good for Microsoft.
    Reply

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