Windows 8 Windows 8 Developer Preview Review


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Jul 22, 2005
New York, NY, United States

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:

BuildLab 8102.winmain.win8m3.110830-1739
Build 8102.101.amd64fre.winmain_win8m3.110830-1739

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)
MD5: 116eb08542bb48fe4314bb6dea39335e

WindowsDeveloperPreview-64bit-English.iso - 3.63 GB (3,905,548,288 bytes)
MD5: dfcb53c7b32351784c37e5de0a7b1167

WindowsDeveloperPreview-32bit-English.iso - 2.82 GB (3,033,585,664 bytes)
MD5: 9b7798438fa694ecfa465c93a4c23c97

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.
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I have downloaded Windows 8 Developer Preview (I absolutely require a 32 bit version, most of my favorite software is not 64 bit friendly. hardware-yes; software-no) but have not installed it on anything yet. You seem to imply in your comments here that conventional mouse and keyboard functions do not work. Did I misunderstand what you were saying? I thought there would be a choice that could be made even by different users on any given computer. I will format and wipe clean whatever computer I decide to install the OS on.
It will work with a mouse and keyboard but barely. The Start Menu is gone. Watch the video. More research needs to be done but compared to earlier leaks they nerfed the entire desktop in favor the Metro UI (a giant embedded browser that likes to turn itself on repeatedly and consistently over and over again). Do I recommend this for any extended trial or production use? No way. The unofficially leaked builds had better functionality.
I agree Mike, the Developer Preview is not really worth getting if you are someone that just wants to show off the fact that you have the "latest version of Windows".. ;) It does work, but as stated barely.. It definitly is not a finished OS though so my advice to most would be just wait a little bit longer and we'll all have a version of Windows 8 that we can play with, show off, or whatever the case might be.. ;)
Just installed w8 preview now trying to learn my way around. Loaded easy set up ok mouse works. HP g72 laptop 4gig memory noticed some jumping around without input
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