Windows 8 – the best client from Microsoft in many years – part 1


Microsoft has had a reputation of delivering Windows client that was close to perfect (Windows 7) and some not so perfect (Windows Vista), but the facts are that since Windows 2000, Microsoft has delivered a steady and well-built Windows client and server platform. But the really great innovations have been more technical and management that user oriented, this time Microsoft has focused on both the deep technical aspects and the user experience.

According to Microsoft Windows 8 will be available in its final version in Q4 of 2012, my guess is October


The Metro UI has been hyped for the last 12-18 months, but what is it? Well Metro is actually the upgraded user interface from Microsoft Zune player, the same user interface the now drives both Windows Phone and the Microsoft XBox. Metro makes it easy to navigate and find applications on the new desktop, but also defines how the user interface should be built to extend the Metro experience from the desktop to the individual application, so Metro is both the UI for the desktop and for Metro style applications.

This changes your desktop, and some users might find it had to adjust to this new way of seeing the Windows UI. But Microsoft has been stuck on the traditional desktop for a long time (the start menu and so on). Time for a big change, be warned.


Microsoft has for a long time felt the pressure from Apples very successful iPads and now from the various Android “tablets”, so what they did was reinvent the desktop for both touch and non-touch devices, this is in my opinion very hard – because touch and non-touch devices have always lacked usability when trying to cross over between the two. Earlier Windows 7 based touch based devices typically had some kind of OEM “Shell” installed on top of Windows 7, this was a big problem due to the missing features and the mixed experiences depending on the OEM. But not anymore – Metro is the GUI, even though the normal desktop can be accessed, this allows older Windows applications like Adobe Reader and Microsoft Office 20xx to run on a Windows 8.

So what now?

Well the Windows button on your keyboard is not connected to the start menu anymore, but the Windows Start “page” and the Windows button must be present on all touch devices – with the classical Windows flag. It now acts as a “come alive” (from standby) and “return to main screen” button – allowing the user always return to the starting point.

The Metro user interface is created to be as simple as possible, no more fancy 3D effects, no more multicolor icons, just simple squares with only the information you need. When extra information is needed, it is either placed in sub menues or a “tool line” placed at the bottom of the screen (example: settings). This makes the UI simple and fast to use no matter if your screen is 10″ or 27″. Each square can contain static information, of dynamic information – like on the Windows Phone. When the content don’t fit on the screen, you just slide left, and multiple “pages” can be shown (Windows Phone slides downwards).

Installing Windows 8

Windows 8 is really easy to install, just download the ISO file from: Microsoft – and follow the on screen directions. Advanced users can install Windows 8 as a secondary OS either on a separate partition or in a VHD file (Windows 7/Windows Server 2008 R2). Performance and stability is quite good, no major errors bluescreens and so on.
Windows 8 even runs as a virtual machine, screen performance is not too great when running as a virtual machine, but it works.

The official hardware requirements are

•1 GHz or faster processor
•1 GB RAM (32-bit) or 2 GB RAM (64-bit)
•16 GB available hard disk space (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit)
•DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver
•1024 x 768 minimum screen resolution

I personally run Windows on my cheap Acer Iconia W500 tablet, a AMD-C dual core device with 2 Gb RAM and 32 GB SSD disk – no performance issues at all, smooth and nice.

In the next post I will go deeper into Windows 8 and the Metro UI – which will follow shortly…

Selected Windows 8 resources

Windows 8 ISO download:

Windows 8 Consumer Preview Product Guide for Business:

Windows 8 Fact Sheet:

Windows 8 Consumer Preview Stories:

Using a Mouse and Keyboard with Windows 8:

Introducing Windows 8 Consumer Preview:

Windows 8 Consumer Preview Metro style app samples – C#, VB.NET, C++, JavaScript: