Windows Forum Admin
Short version: It sucks. Let's hope it gets better. Fast.
Long version: The first official public iteration of Microsoft Windows 8 leaves much to offer. The nagging Smart Screen UI (MetroUI) was added for developers at the BUILD conference running in Anaheim, CA right now. The build lacks features seen in older builds of the operating system. Particularly, pattern lock was nowhere to be found, nor user customization off the desktop near the system tray.
The ability to use the system was complicated with a consistent desire for Windows to return to the Metro UI screen like pulling a rabbit out of a hat over and over again. We have seen this technique before in the failed Active Desktop that Microsoft introduced on Windows 98 SE and Windows ME. This feature was one of the largest security holes - and useless features - in Windows until it was finally removed.
The Metro UI provides XML-powered content a long with the ability to stream RSS feeds and launch apps. Cool, if you don’t have a mouse and keyboard. Seems a lot like widgets and programs that do the same thing but don’t take up the entire screen. There is also a type of program called a web browser which functions very similarly. I was not impressed by the Metro UI part of the OS at all, and will be very happy to eliminate it if I do pick up a copy of the final retail bits of Windows 8.
Taking a look at this build, a lot of things were missing from the winmain builds that have leaked in the past:
- Start screen graphics are green-screened and missing.
- User customization elements seem to be missing.
- Local Group Policy settings are totally wacked out.
- New password features were introduced while others were strangely missing.
This is clearly a Smart Screen / Tablet version of the OS for geeks traveling the highlands of Anaheim to drool over. While I can’t say I’m too impressed, I bet viewing it on a 72” monitor or a group of panoramic LCDs must be a big turn on if you are at the BUILD conference. Personally, I wouldn’t bother with it. There are some developer tools to get you started, but they are literally to get you started. Among the offerings in this build include basic versions of Visual Studio. MSDN subscribers can acquire the full deal off the site’s downloads section.
This version of Windows 8 is described as:
The win8m3 tag may indicate that the build has been branched off to display the milestone they have reached for the BUILD conference, but some features were clearly cut out.
Windows 8 came in the following files:
WindowsDeveloperPreview-64bit-English-Developer.iso - 4.83 GB (5,197,092,864 bytes)
WindowsDeveloperPreview-64bit-English.iso - 3.63 GB (3,905,548,288 bytes)
WindowsDeveloperPreview-32bit-English.iso - 2.82 GB (3,033,585,664 bytes)
We tried the developer version, but maybe the other versions have less of a touch screen emphasis (yeah right...). Somehow I doubt it. It is also unfortunate to see that Microsoft is even working on a 32-bit version: a waste of time and resources at this point. The developer version simply includes extra tools like simple versions of Visual Studio for developers.
Overall, it seems like the “Metro UI” will become a succubus for Microsoft if they do not include traditional mouse and keyboard support, as most experienced users won’t want to be floating around a giant widget on system start-up every time they want to perform an operation. The 32-bit version's development itself is an unfortunate step in a backwards direction. If Metro UI continues to behave like it does in this preview, even on PC versions of the OS, Microsoft has learned nothing from the User Account Control complaints it had with Windows Vista and will be inundated with pissed off customers.