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Windows 8: First Impressions


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#1 Adair

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Posted 23 September 2011 - 07:41 AM

Well, the Windows 8 Developer Preview is out. So, I installed it on my desktop to see how horrid it was.

The test rig:
Computer: Verari TANK GT20
Motherboard: Tyan S5191
CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo @ 2.66 GHz
RAM: 8 GBs DDR2
Keyboard/mouse: Cherry G84-4400
Video: XGI Volari Z7 (16 MBs of Video RAM)
Audio: SoundBlaster X-Fi Pro (USB)
CD Drive: None
Hard Drive: 160 GB Western Digital Caviar (SATA 2.0 interface)

I've heard nothing but awful reviews of Windows 8, so when the Developer Preview was released, I figured I should try it out on my second hard drive that I wasn't really using.

I installed it from a flash drive, which was overall pretty painless.
My computer was connected to the internet, so the Windows 8 installer asked me for my Windows Live ID.

It imported my username and other personal info from this, supposedly it also set up my mail client.. which I've yet to find.

Once installed, I was greeted with this:
Posted Image

This.. seems very ugly to me..
Alright, I'm going to give it the benefit of the doubt here and assume that it can't give me a more.. proper UI because of my very crummy video card.

Alright, well, you can get to the more normal desktop environment by clicking on the Desktop applet on the screen here.
That, looks just like Windows 7, so not really worthy of a screenshot.

Well, this is basically the start menu.. clicking the Start button in the corner of the screen returns you to this menu.

I'll probably keep referring to this, but this probably works great on a phone.. Not too keen on having it on a computer.
This interface just seems so... useless...

Its not that I'm against new things, its that I like things that are useful.
I like certain things in Windows 7 because I find them useful. Like how you can snap windows and how the taskbar groups multiple windows from the same program.

But this....

To add insult to injury, I tried one of the other applets that came pre-installed..
Posted Image

I've yet to figure out how to close the applet, short of ending it with task manager..
Speaking of which..

Posted Image

This is actually kinda cool. It displays a lot of information in a very organized and simple way.

I also really like the file transfer dialog box:
Posted Image

These are the kinds of things I like to see. Again, displaying a lot of information in a neat way.

Then you have this thing:
Posted Image

I'm not sure what this is supposed to replace. I guess some of the things that are missing from the start menu.
This thing is accessed from very carefully hovering over the mouse button and clicking "Settings" if a context menu decides to come up.

Then there's explorer:
Posted Image

I think Microsoft likes the ribbon interface a little TOO much..

Now, most of this is still in the Desktop applet.. It doesn't make sense to me that what seems like the most useless feature is the focus and the more useful bits are demoted to little applets.

Also, the market thing is broken. Oh well.

I did notice that Windows 8 seems to be trying to push my video card to its limits (which aren't very high) with video performance. It's trying to force a full UI experience out of my junky little card. Windows 7 just went to the Classic theme, which suites me just fine.

Thoughts so far:
4 out of 10

Some neat stuff, but.. overall, a lot of useless fluff.
The interface would be cool for like a media system with a big touch screen, but otherwise... not so much.

Go get the Preview and see for yourself.

Personally, its looking like Vista (ME??) all over again. Interested in seeing what Windows 9 brings to the table.

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#2 kmmnderkoala

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Posted 23 September 2011 - 08:58 AM

read the thing botu closing the art app... and loled.
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#3 kmmnderkoala

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Posted 23 September 2011 - 10:17 AM

*sigh* and i thot macs were bad...
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#4 HuskyDog

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Posted 23 September 2011 - 01:59 PM

I have the developer preview on my desktop. I actually like it. I will post more on this later I i have time. :)
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#5 Ryland

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Posted 23 September 2011 - 02:45 PM

Ill keep to Windows 7 now....
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#6 Adair

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Posted 23 September 2011 - 10:41 PM

It also seems to not use dual core processors very well...

It's clocking one core at 2.66 GHz and the other at 1 GHz..

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#7 HuskyDog

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Posted 23 September 2011 - 10:53 PM

It also seems to not use dual core processors very well...

It's clocking one core at 2.66 GHz and the other at 1 GHz..


How is that not using it well? If it's only using one of the CPU cores heavily, then it definitely should be downclocking the others to improve power usage. As an OS that will also be used in mobile computing devices, this would be a major boon to battery life. But, desktops certainly benefit from it as well. 
So, as I mentioned that I installed this as well, I will post up what I have.

It's on my main desktop in a 40GB partition. Hardware specs (grabbed from hwinfo64):

Computer: MSI MS-7640
CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition (Deneb, RB-C3) @ 699 MHz (4.00x174.9)
Motherboard: MSI 890FXA-GD65 (MS-7640)
Chipset: ATI RD890 + SB810/SB850
Memory: 16384 MBytes @ 582 MHz, 9.0-9-9-24
- 4096 MB PC10600 DDR3 SDRAM - Patriot Memory (PDP Systems) PSD34G13332
- 4096 MB PC10600 DDR3 SDRAM - Patriot Memory (PDP Systems) PSD34G13332
- 4096 MB PC10600 DDR3 SDRAM - Patriot Memory (PDP Systems) PSD34G13332
- 4096 MB PC10600 DDR3 SDRAM - Patriot Memory (PDP Systems) PSD34G13332
Graphics: MSI R6970 (MS-V237)
ATI RADEON HD 6970 (CAYMAN XT), 2048 MB GDDR5 SDRAM
Graphics: MSI R6970 (MS-V237)
ATI RADEON HD 6970 (CAYMAN XT), 2048 MB
Drive: AMD 2+0 Stripe/RAID0, Disk drive
Drive: ATAPI iHBS212 2, BD-RE
Drive: ATAPI iHBS212 2, BD-RE
Drive: AMD RAID Console, Processor
Sound: ATI SB800/Hudson-1 - High Definition Audio Controller
Sound: ATI Cayman/Antilles - High Definition Audio Controller
Sound: ATI Cayman/Antilles - High Definition Audio Controller
Network: RealTek Semiconductor RTL8168/8111 PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet NIC
OS: Microsoft Windows 8 (x64) Build 8102

When I booted up, it instantly was able to recognize all my hardware. It's a dev build, so it's allowed to be buggy (and it is) but that was impressive. It downloaded, off Windows Update, test versions of the Windows 8 drivers for my hardware. This is what I get greeted with (yes, I changed the theme to Angry Birds :P):
Posted Image

I have three monitors, and it picked up all those just fine. I have hardware acceleration. Windows 8 actually auto-detected my 3D monitor (the center one). In the display settings, it has a checkbox. I don't know what it'd use the 3D for but it's neat that it's built-in support:
Posted Image

Also, yes, it came up with the new Start screen (which replaces the Start menu). I like it. It's a bit different to get used to using. You can still access all your programs as easily as before using the mouse and keyboard. You can still hit +start typing to search, like in Windows 7 and Vista (which is really, really handy). It also searches everything, and lets you categorize, and then let you click on an app below the categories that lets you search it online.

Getting around the desktop, otherwise, is similar to Windows 7. For normal Windows apps (not Metro apps), it's pretty much no different. Screenie:
Posted Image

The things that Flechmen posted above and likes, I like too. File copying and the new task manager are pretty sweet.

Regarding the full-screen Metro apps (like what Flechmen demoed above) are truly more geared towards tablet PC usage. We don't have to use them. Like this, we still have our old and trust paint program (and yes, I drew on that using my Wacom Bamboo tablet, which worked instantly, though calibration is in order):
Posted Image

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Closing out Metro apps is not supported without killing the process. I am not sure that they will add that support (but still, this is a pre-beta developer preview). The fact is that Windows Phone 7 already operates this way. When they go in the background, they aren't still running, but are "tombstoned". Basically it's the same thing as hibernating your computer, except on a per-app basis. They aren't taking up resources so it's not really a big deal, anyway. Alt-Tabbing with this all going on though is a bit awkward. However, either I'll get used to it (like I got used to how Windows Phone 7's 'back' button worked, which is similar in concept) or they'll clean it up (which they're going to do anyway since, again, this is a pre-beta developer preview).

All in all, I like what I see so far. I think a lot of people just don't like change. And honestly, every time Microsoft comes out with a new OS, there are always a lot of people complaining (legitimately or no) about how they made it worse and they should just stick with their current one. But eventually people get used to the new shinies and learn about the host of other improvements that make it great under the hood. So that people complain is par for the course. I like seeing change and innovation (where it makes sense). I think it does, here. Besides, I also do feel that we're way too entrenched in the desktop + grid of icons + app list menu + windows GUI paradigm. We've been on that for almost 3 decades, now. We need some fresh new ideas to make things better. So I'm glad that Microsoft is rolling out Metro across the board. It's a great UI to work with on the phone. They are putting thought into how they're bringing it to the desktop. I'm excited to see what's in store.
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#8 Adair

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Posted 24 September 2011 - 12:12 AM

Yea, the metro apps seem like they need to be closed with a hardware "close" or "home" button that phones and tablets usually have.

I opened the Copper applet. It wanted me to do a pinch gesture as a control. How do you suppose I do that with a trackball? :P

Reading the wrong speed on a core makes me think more that it's not using it properly. I would think it would balance the load between them.

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#9 HuskyDog

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Posted 24 September 2011 - 12:25 AM

Yea, the metro apps seem like they need to be closed with a hardware "close" or "home" button that phones and tablets usually have.

The Windows key would serve that function. Does your keyboard have one? When I hit the Windows key, it brings me back to the Start screen.

I opened the Copper applet. It wanted me to do a pinch gesture as a control. How do you suppose I do that with a trackball? :P

At least you got them working at all. I can't use the Metro apps. They all crash on me. :P

Reading the wrong speed on a core makes me think more that it's not using it properly. I would think it would balance the load between them.

Was it the wrong speed? You can't load balance all the time, anyway. To take advantage of dual cores, you have to write it into the program code. And besides, sometimes the task at hand can't do any better with more than one thread. Maybe when it's just sitting idle, it only needs the power of one core, likely. I'm pretty sure that if it isn't a bug (which is possible), it's probably one energy-saving trick they use.
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#10 Adair

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Posted 24 September 2011 - 12:39 AM

I specified the specs of my build. Both cores should be clocked at 2.66GHz.

What I mean, is like, I can understand clocking both cores down to say, 1.6GHz, but not have them out of sync like that.

And no, I don't have a windows key. My keyboard is a Cherry G84-4400. Far from a standard keyboard.

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#11 HuskyDog

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Posted 24 September 2011 - 12:42 AM

I specified the specs of my build. Both cores should be clocked at 2.66GHz.

What I mean, is like, I can understand clocking both cores down to say, 1.6GHz, but not have them out of sync like that.

Well if they are true cores, then I don't see why they couldn't clock one down but keep the other clocked up. Yes, you wouldn't see that in Windows 7, but this is a new OS. No reason they couldn't have added that kind of control.

EDIT:
Interesting thing. I just looked on Windows 7 and it seems that it has the ability to independently control the clock speed of the CPU. I see it changing them back and forth a lot. So it would be expected that Windows 8 does it too.

And no, I don't have a windows key. My keyboard is a Cherry G84-4400. Far from a standard keyboard.

Ah. I couldn't tell based on googling the keyboard. The pictures were too compressed. :P Well, if you had one, that's how you'd get to it. You can also, alternatively, move your mouse cursor to the bottom left corner of the screen, and it will pop up your menu which I think should let you get to Start.
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#12 Adair

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Posted 24 September 2011 - 09:54 AM

Yeah, I noticed the left edge of the screen lets you go to another window (applet??).
The start menu is iffy.. sometimes it comes up, sometimes it doesn't :P

I killed task manager somehow too....

Every time I've looked at the clock speed in Windows 7, it's kept the processors at full speed constantly.

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#13 Carson Coyote

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Posted 24 September 2011 - 11:42 PM

I'm currently downloading Win8, but my internet is being slow, so it will probably be a few days until I can try it out.

#14 Guest_Wolfin_*

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Posted 25 September 2011 - 07:14 PM

Incidentally, logitech already has a Magic Trackpad like device for Windows desktop that makes this UI make a lot more sense...

#15 HuskyDog

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Posted 25 September 2011 - 07:20 PM

Every time I've looked at the clock speed in Windows 7, it's kept the processors at full speed constantly.


Ya, it doesn't have to, though:
Posted Image

Note: It doesn't keep it constantly at that for me, either. It jumps around a lot, depending on what it's doing at any given moment. Took me a few tries to capture it at a state like that. Usually it keeps things pretty low (again, for power consumption reasons). :P
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#16 Guest_Wolfin_*

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Posted 25 September 2011 - 07:42 PM

Another sidebar, I'm testing out Windows 8 on a Netbook; and getting pretty good performance. It's x64, which is making it take up slightly more RAM that it really should. When an actual beta or refresh comes out I'll install the proper x84 version and give it another go. But, yeah, nothing feels slow, and it seems to work nicely. That said, I'm a total non-fan of the metro launch menu. I'd rather have seen Metro-apps run on a more "classic" desktop with normal WinAPI applications only load WinAPI when needed, and have that quassi-VM "sleep" when those applications run in tray or are minimized.

/Robin

#17 Carson Coyote

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Posted 26 September 2011 - 01:02 AM

I'm currently downloading the rest of it at my sister's school (8Mbps FTW!), so I should be able to try it out later tonight. I'll let you all know what I think of it when I get the chance. :)

#18 SpaceFox

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Posted 26 September 2011 - 01:22 AM

* still runs XP on net and 2 machines running 98 (not on net) *

Maybe I'm old fashioned but if it ain't broke don't fix it. All these new updates with frills and fluff- If I want to be Ooo'd and Aaaah'd i'd go to the movies- why can't I just have a machine that works and MS leave it alone! Between MS and Apple, the technology edge is forcing me to learn new software every year- perhaps I should go back to writing on stone, using pigeons and morse code...
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#19 HuskyDog

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Posted 26 September 2011 - 01:40 AM

* still runs XP on net and 2 machines running 98 (not on net) *

Maybe I'm old fashioned but if it ain't broke don't fix it. All these new updates with frills and fluff- If I want to be Ooo'd and Aaaah'd i'd go to the movies- why can't I just have a machine that works and MS leave it alone! Between MS and Apple, the technology edge is forcing me to learn new software every year- perhaps I should go back to writing on stone, using pigeons and morse code...

I've heard someone say, and I like this note, that in this day and age, it actually *is* broken.

On behalf of the modern-day Internet, thank you for not running the Windows 98 computers online. :)

They aren't broken. But if you are going to plug into the modern world wide web, it is imperitive that you have modern security practices and patches. Once XP loses official support (which is soon), it won't be getting these patches anymore, and will become the weakest link in the chain, since it will be less secure than other computers online. But even still, it wasn't designed with the current always-connected-to-the-internet climate in mind, and can't fully or properly utilize a lot of new hardware the way it could or should be (like multiple core processors).

So ya, while it might work for your purposes for now, it isn't working as well as Windows 7 might, and ultimately, will be (if not already is) less secure than its more modern OS brethren, just by the nature of it being older and built for an older era of computing.
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#20 The Lone Wolf

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Posted 26 September 2011 - 01:51 AM

Once installed, I was greeted with this:
Posted Image

This.. seems very ugly to me..


Did you pirate that image? I am pretty sure I saw something that looked identical to this on the front of a newspaper sta-... oh wait, that was the newspaper. Never mind.

How do you turn the page? :P It looks like it should fold right down the middle.

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