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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  • ilkhan - Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - link

    I think MS is going to have even more of a problem getting people off of 7 and onto 8 than they did getting people off XP and onto Vista, for the same reason.
    From what I can see here, visually and productively 8 is going to be even worse than Vista.
    Reply
  • MrBungle123 - Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - link

    I agree... If this is windows 8, I'll be buying 10 or 15 copies of Windows 7 OEMs before the Win 8 launch pushes them off newegg. Reply
  • nofumble62 - Thursday, September 15, 2011 - link

    why bother? Reply
  • thrasher32 - Thursday, September 15, 2011 - link

    I don't want my office PC desktop to look like a windows phone/tablet display. If this is Windows 8 then I'll stick with 7, and I'm usually the guy that buys the new version of Windows on the day it's released. Reply
  • Saidas - Thursday, September 15, 2011 - link

    From what I understand, you will be able to disable Metro. I plan on doing so for my desktop and lappy and using it for my tablet and Smartphone. Perfect. Reply
  • Rand - Thursday, September 15, 2011 - link

    As the article said, and Microsoft said at Build. You cannot disable Metro. It is there from tablets on up to servers.
    Any application launches and system configuration, and bootup etc always goes through Metro.
    Reply
  • Moricon - Thursday, September 15, 2011 - link

    To sum it up, this is just a huge pile of FAIL!!!

    I see a massive backlash from the Tech world.

    Give us improvements to the OS, Give us better performance, Give us new useful features but for GODS SAKE remove Metro from desktop use!

    Its fine for tablets ( MEH to be fair) but it is completely pointless for dektop use for anyone who auctually does any work on the PC.

    As for Windows Live integration, Yeah lets see how happy people are having to create a Live ID just to add on another user acount!

    FAIL FAIL FAIL FAIL FAIL FAIL FAIL FAIL FAIL"!"!!"!"

    I build and repair Windows PC's for a living, have done so for years, and I can honestly say this is all wrong!

    F*****G Social Application Integration into the OS ( FFS Only teenagers and losers want this)
    Stupid gestures to navigate the OS
    Tile based huge icons are crap ( What are we all running VTECH Kit designed for kids now)
    XBOX Live Integration FFS who the blast gives a shit except XBOX Users! People who work are NOT cared about XBOX Integration.

    I do hope they allow metro to be switched off!
    Reply
  • Wellsoul2 - Thursday, September 15, 2011 - link

    I really like the idea of using this OS with my HTPC though since it will make it
    easier to use all my programs with a remote control. The article didn't address
    that but the future may also be using your computer hooked to a TV alot of the time.
    For that purpose this is a good beginning.

    Like Media Center it's clunky but functional for a remote control.

    Wish they had a switch so you could change to high res Win7 desktop for mouse/keybd though.
    Reply
  • Taurus229 - Thursday, September 15, 2011 - link

    It is very sad that Microsoft is building a new OS for tablets and netbooks and totally ignoring the desktop power user. My thought at this point is that win 7 is the desktop os, and win 8 will be the mobile os. Microsoft has made it's bed, and will have to lie in it. Just too bad! Reply
  • Booster - Thursday, September 15, 2011 - link

    MS can't be that stupid, honestly. Even Windows 95 has better multitasking than Metro. They're abandoning the whole Windows concept where you can have multiple windows open at the same time and switch between them. Metro on the other hand lets you do only one thing at a time.

    Just through how many screens of dumba$ tiles do I have to scroll to copy a text for citation from a web page and insert it into a word document, for example?

    Metro is destined to fail epically. It's better if MS realized this sooner than later, gave those responsible the boot and start working on a major overhaul. This isn't going to fly, people, don't you see it? Even Apple wouldn't allow itself to cripple it's users so foolishly. Hell, people resisted Vista like there was no tomorrow, just how exactly MS plans on shoving this disfunctional POS down their throats once users realize they can't do what they need to do with Metro, like at all???
    Reply

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