I have now spent a few hours in and out of Windows 8 since installing the developer preview and want to share some insights that I have picked up along the way. These are in no particular order and also includes links to other Windows 8 resources you can use if your trying out the preview of Windows 8. Most of my observations are based on using the mouse and keyboard in Windows 8.
- Backup – Backup – Backup. This is pre-beta software and can possibly cause havoc with your system. Make sure you have a copy of your data and if possible an image/backup of your entire PC. Over 500,000 people have downloaded the Windows 8 installation media in less than 24 hours. Many of them are not going to heed this advice – please do not be one of them.
- Do a clean install on a separate disk or in a virtual environment. It is much easier to recover from an error with those then your main machine – unless of course you have a good backup.
- The setup of Windows 8 is much like Windows 7’s so there should not be any learning curve issues there.
- During the personalization phase of installation you get asked to use Express Settings or to select the various settings yourself. The Express Settings seem to work pretty good but obviously you get much more detailed control of you go through all the settings yourself. I recommend the Express Settings. By the way, two settings that can not be turned off in this developer preview are being part of the Customer Experience Improvement Program and Error Reporting back to Microsoft. This is the telemetry you hear people talking about that Microsoft uses to figure out how we use the OS. I believe this telemetry is a big part of why Windows 7 is such a good OS. Plus it is a small price to pay for taking a peek at the Windows 8 OS at this stage in development.
- There are two log on/user account options either Windows Live or a Local Account. If you choose Windows Live ID you will use the same password to log into your Windows 8 system as you do Windows Live/Hotmail. You can change this password afterwards, choose a PIN instead or use a Picture Password it will not change your Windows Live ID/Hotmail password. You will have to confirm that it was an authorized use of your Windows Live ID for your protection. It will pull your current Windows Live account avatar and use that for your user tile on Windows 8.
- If you do not have a Windows Live ID/Hotmail account then you can sign up from within the personalization process and use those new credentials immediately on Windows 8.
- In the new Metro interface apps/programs do not go to the taskbar and consume CPU cycles but they do go into a suspended mode and take up some RAM. When you re-access those programs they come back to live very quickly. ALT-TAB and WINDOWS KEY-TAB still work to cycle through open programs. Another option in the Metro interface is to hover your mouse anywhere along the left hand screen border and a small image of the next program will appear and you can role your mouse wheel to cycle through open programs or click on the graphic image to switch to it.
- Steven Sinofsky did say that updates would be released for the Windows 8 Developer Preview that will be downloaded from Windows Update for system updates. I do not believe he meant OS builds would be released to everyone. I am sure this pertains to security updates, malware and anti-virus signatures, etc.
- Everyone has focused on the touch interface of Metro but if you watched the Day 2 Keynotes all the presenters were using Windows 8 with a mouse and a keyboard so they are not ready to be thrown away just yet.
- To access the charms, which is a menu for interacting with the OS from the Metro Interface, with your mouse just take the pointer down to where the old Start Menu button used to be and it will pop up. Using touch they show up on the right hand side of the screen.
- You can still search from the Metro interface just like you did in Windows 7 except there is no need to hit the Windows Key first – just start typing and matches will pop up in a right hand side column and show you matches between Apps, Settings and Files. As you click on each area you will see a list of matches in the main window next to the search column.
Finally, I just want to point you towards a great post from MSDN that shows you a few Windows developer preview keyboard shortcuts to help you navigate the OS.
I would really like to hear from you all and what your experience is with Windows 8. Let us know in the comments below – thanks!