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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  • TEAMSWITCHER - Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - link

    I'm sure it will be successful as all the other METRO GUI devices - Zune, Kin, WP7.
    Oh Snap!
    Reply
  • UMADBRO - Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - link

    Cool story, bro! Reply
  • Wraith404 - Thursday, September 15, 2011 - link

    Hey, at least 100 people have accepted free WP7 phones. Reply
  • Krussll - Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - link

    I like it, i think the Metro interface wil provide a much more harmonious windows experience for people who've adopted tablet computing but still use a windows PC for the most of their. I like the fact that it provides you with your key info on start up and is a short cut combo away when you need to check it, i think it has potential to be a great feature if developers can fully utilize it.

    I dont understand the people saying that it will be impractical for the mouse, umm you do have arrow keys on your keyboard i would have though that would have been obvious to use them.
    Reply
  • thrasher32 - Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - link

    I personally do not like the interface. I don't want a windows phone 7 look or OS on my desktop. I don't build $2000 gaming and production rigs to have the OS look like it's made for a 5 year old.

    Microsoft, you need to change direction now or you're looking at another Vista.
    Reply
  • UMADBRO - Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - link

    opinions = facts? Reply
  • smithg5 - Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - link

    Take all of these purely negative comments, and replace "Metro" with "Desktop" and "Desktop" with "Command Line", and I'm sure you could have had the exact same conversation 15 years ago.

    "You mean I always have to boot the desktop? It can't be disabled? I have to access the CLI from the desktop? Why would I use this on a server?"

    The argument might be logical, but it clearly wasn't the end of the world then, and it won't be the end now. In fact, I think it's pretty great. Imagining system administration in 20-30 years, we all want some sort of swoopy sci-fi interface that's pretty and works well - this is the start of that.

    It would be cool if they could Metrofy server management for simple environments.
    Reply
  • UMADBRO - Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - link

    At least someone around here is forward thinking and isnt stuck on almost 20 year old interfaces. Reply
  • Wraith404 - Thursday, September 15, 2011 - link

    full screen, big blocks with no interactive multi-tasking is not forward thinking, it's a return to DOS 6.22 and the task swapper.

    Trying to drive desktop users to a tablet interface is doomed to fail. Windows are containers, they are required for productivity. In grown up land where we do real work, you often have to look at one application and act on another. Flipping between them in full screen would be horribly inconvenient. Metro might be neat, but it's for toys, period. I understand that Win8 can switch between them, but since the two modes clash horribly that's just not a desirable process. I have the preview installed, and disabled Metro already, simple as that.
    Reply
  • ezodagrom - Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - link

    The change from Command Line to Desktop was a good change, not just when it comes to aesthetics, but also when it comes to funcionality (multitasking).

    The change from Desktop to Metro, while good for tablets and other touch screen interfaces, it's just not as functional as a Desktop UI in desktops and laptops that don't have touch screen interfaces, especially when it comes to multitasking.
    Reply

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