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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  • dagamer34 - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    If you don't like the Metro UI, no one is forcing you to use it. Reply
  • jeremyshaw - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    yeah, seriously. MS isn't making Metro UI for desktops, just tablets and users who want it... Reply
  • futurepastnow - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    Yes, they are. The Explorer shell is gone and Metro has replaced it completely. In these early builds, at least, Metro cannot be turned off and you cannot boot to the desktop. Reply
  • dragonsqrrl - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    Yes, in these early builds that may be the case, but Microsoft has stated publicly on multiple occasions that the metro UI will be optional on desktops. You can use it in combo with the traditional explorer interface (similar to the demo), or disable it entirely. Reply
  • UMADBRO - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    He just wants to go around crying because he might have to learn something new. I think a complete redesign like this is needed. Windows was getting rather boring, even with some of the new stuff added in 7. Give it a chance at least. Im sure for all the old fogeys that have an aneurysm at the thought of anything changing, there will be some classic options. And also on note, ITS A PRE-BETA DEVELOPER RELEASE. NOTHING IS FINAL YET! SO CALM THE F&*$ DOWN! Reply
  • loll123 - Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - link

    And you seriously think that Windows is made primarily for people like you? The corporate customers (the ones that are Microsoft's bread and butter) who resisted upgrading from Windows XP up until this day aren't going to accept change like this just because Microsoft says it's the way forward. They are going to have backtrack and redesign just like they did with Vista -> 7, unless the board of directors decide to clean up this mess and rein the design in before final release (as seems to be business as usual at Microsoft). Reply
  • BioTurboNick - Thursday, September 15, 2011 - link

    You seem to be suggesting that 7 was a backtrack on Vista. That is far from the case. Reply
  • mlambert890 - Thursday, September 15, 2011 - link

    +1... in addition, corporations are refreshing more and more slowly and are more and more out of sync with consumers. This is to the extreme detriment of IT as consumerization is a real trend. IT is reaching an "adapt or die" point in time and it is almost certain the latter will happen. Eventually businesses will simply allow the 'bring your own' model and contract services to provide capability.

    These are well known and understood industry trends and are real to anyone who *actually* works in the industry. The only folks who don't 'get it' are IT cube workers in denial or kids posting on blogs who think they understand the industry by reading comment threads.

    This is actually a big problem for Microsoft because consumers are becoming a bigger force, but they are failing against Apple to capture enthusiasm with new consumers because legacy IT people, and out dated Windows users, want to keep the product stagnating.

    Lost interest on the consumer side coupled with absolute inertia on the IT side is a killer for MSFT. They have to try to do something. Maybe Metro isnt it, but the nay-sayers on this thread have zero clue and are irrelevant.

    The massive success of Apple has been absolute proof that consumers want a commoditized experience and the increasing presence of macbooks and ipads (guerilla style) in even *large* enterprises is proof that business is more than happy to pass the end user technology burden *onto* users.

    If someone is willing to BUY and SUPPORT their OWN MacBook and ipad, why NOT let them if you are the CFO? All you need to do is ensure that your corporate apps are all presented via browser and/or managed service and enterprises are fast moving to make that happen.

    It is do or die time for MSFT. if they listen to the eternal bitching and moaning of forum malcontents, they'll end up dying.
    Reply
  • loll123 - Friday, September 16, 2011 - link

    People like you say all this while Microsoft are enjoying record sales with Windows 7 (and record profits as a company as a result), and while no one can show any numbers that tablets other than those made by Apple are actually selling. In the end, although it might take the intervention of shareholders or the BoD, I think Microsoft will know better than to throw out their existing (and extremely profitable) business for what is increasingly looking like a new IT bubble. Reply
  • loll123 - Friday, September 16, 2011 - link

    I understand your point, but a backtrack is exactly what it was. Windows 7 took all the good stuff from Vista like UAC, aggressive disk caching and the re-designed audio kernel and put them in a system with more mature drivers, important tweaks and with a smoothness and a UI that users actually liked rather than reviled. They responded to the criticisms of Vista and the result was an excellent operating system. It's no coincidence that Windows Vista failed miserably whereas Windows 7 was a huge success, but the difference was definitely in the finer details and in the user experience. Eventually Microsoft are going to have to bow to customer pressures in the case of Windows 8 as well. Reply

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