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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  • DeciusStrabo - Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - link

    Yes, they function as widgets too. But compared to real widgets they are a very poor tool indeed. Limited in size, limited in what they can show. WP7 has the same problem for me: Even simple widgets in Android or Bada or Symbian blow them out of the water. The Calendar Live Tile shows only one appointment! Reply
  • ilkhan - Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - link

    I have 11 different apps pinned to my 7 taskbar, all but one of them have at least 1 window open (several have 3, the closed one is JUST a jumplist launcher). Doing anything to hide that (as an example, requiring a fullscreen IE experience) is incredibly STUPID of microsoft. Long live Vista2. Reply
  • BioTurboNick - Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - link

    Internet Explorer has both a Metro mode and a normal windowed mode. Reply
  • rdamiani - Thursday, September 22, 2011 - link

    What is wrong is:

    - Opening a new program replaces the existing screen with a new one full of live data that will want to refresh

    - Developers, sure in the certain belief that their program is the best in the world, will add tiles full of live data (that needs to be refreshed) that relate to their wonderfulness.

    - The poor state of PC screen resolution - already dumbed down to a long and skinny VGA-class ribbon - won't allow you to have more than a few of these live-data tiles (needing to be refreshed) at a time.

    - Everyone's computer will look different with stuff in all kinds of different places. Which will make tech support way more challenging than it already is.

    Microsoft keeps learning the wrong lessons from the competition. Just because Apple ported springboard to Lion (as an application you don't need to use) doesn't mean that Microsoft needs to put springboard-on-crack front-and-center in Windows 8.
    Reply
  • UMADBRO - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    Just give it a damn chance before you hate all over it. I bet you were one of the whiners that complained about the changes that were made to Windows 7, and Vista before it, and XP before that, etc etc. FFS, If everything stayed the same, no one would have a damn reason to upgrade. And their is your other potential solution. Stick with Win 7 if you already hate 8 so much and are unwilling to give it a chance. Problem solved! Reply
  • futurepastnow - Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - link

    I have every intention of trying out the public betas and "giving it a chance," but I'm not going to be passively fed what Microsoft thinks people want. I'm going to make it clear what I want, even if they never read these comments.

    And what I want is to never, ever, ever, see anything that uses Metro on a desktop computer. In the builds so far, it can't be turned off.
    Reply
  • piiman - Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - link

    "I'm going to make it clear what I want, even if they never read these comments.:

    Then you're just making noise. Go tell MS, don't post it somewhere they will never see it.
    Reply
  • Wraith404 - Thursday, September 15, 2011 - link

    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer
    set the key RPEnabled to 0
    Reply
  • crispbp04 - Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - link

    It has nothing to do with being stupid or juvenile. It's about understanding the way a NORMAL person uses their computer.

    Yeah, we all get it... you think you're a big technoweenie because you require a high resolution with tiny fonts so you can cram more information per square inch than at least 10 ''normal" users. You like over-complicated menus and 100 different ways to accomplish the same task because it makes you feel special when you can whiz bang all over your operating system while someone is watching. I'm not sure why you're complaining about full screen applications anyway(in post below)... The market already decided where things should be and you're looking at it

    The reality is, you're clueless. You need to change your name to just "past"... since your ideology is stuck there. You resist change, you call progression "garbage". A true power user cares more about performance and usability. We use keyboard shortcuts for nearly everything. When other people see us interact with a windows operating system, they are always blown away. (Hit start key type two letters OMG the right application/doc/email/etc opens).. "how'd you do that!?"... MUST BE MAGIC!? No.. it's called progressing with the operating system. Most people who read this don't even know their start menu can do this. (which is the ONLY sad part of windows, most users still interact with it like it's windows 95)

    If you've used a windows phone 7 you know that metro is BY FAR the best setup for a desktop interface. It's proven itself in the phone form factor and will now become the defacto standard for a tablet. You can quote me on this in 2013. If you're a desktop fanatic I'm absolutely confident that microsoft will get it just right this time around. Quote me on that also.
    Reply
  • jbaumann - Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - link

    "It's proven itself in the PHONE form factor and will now become the defacto standard for a TABLET."

    quoted for emphasis

    I cannot see how it should be a big improvement for anybody who is working at a desktop PC (i.e. no touchscreen, remember the gorilla arm), with a mouse and a keyboard.
    Reply

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