If you love clean design, the minimalist aesthetic and figuring out new user interfaces, rejoice! This writer got a chance to get his grubby hands on a consumer preview version of Windows 8, so you don’t have to go through the trouble of installing and uninstalling a preview OS on a PC partition to learn about upcoming changes.
I’m happy to report that despite some beta issues, it’s shaping up to be an exciting next leap for the most-used operating system in the world.
Microsoft has certainly taken a bold step in its next version of Windows, eschewing the traditional start bar and icon-based desktop designs for a sleek, dynamic layout of squares and rectangles. Transitions and animations between opening and closing programs are smooth and slick, though learning the correct gestures might take a little time.
Though it’s likely to be disconcerting to traditionalists, I quite enjoyed the new look and feel. It’s bold but not too showy, striking a nice balance between customisability and utility. Gone is the unspeakable horror of seeing a million cluttered icons on your desktop upon booting up, I think.
Some GUI features are clearly meant for use on a touchscreen surface, with certain swipe motions more suited for a tablet interface. Dragging and dropping using a mouse is an odd experience for sure, but I guess the future of technology is touch, and Microsoft’s obviously signalled that this is the direction they’ll be going into.
Exploring the Accessories
However, the old Windows Desktop interface isn’t gone, finding a place in a tile labelled ‘Desktop’, so it’s a good starting point for those who are insistent on managing their content old-school. One thing I like is how the space on each tile is fully filled with relevant data after opening, updating itself to effectively convey realtime information at a quick glance.
For a preview, there are a surprising number of apps in the Store. Some of the main draws would be the award-winning Cut The Rope, Cookbook by Bewise for the foodie in all of us, and Mahjong Deluxe as one of the top downloads. Unfortunately for the mahjong ‘kakis’ out there, this isn’t the Singaporean version of mahjong played at various family gatherings around the island, but a Mahjong Solitaire game that isn’t quite as satisfying. An odd blast from the past was a Carmen Sandiego app that couldn’t start up properly, displaying a temporary loading screen only to revert to the Start Menu when clicked. Windows’ usual error reporting function was mysteriously absent, but hopefully will be added later.
The Finishing Touches
All in all, I think there’s certainly something for everyone, and this is for a platform still in its early stages yet. Full integration across all its services seems to be what Microsoft is gunning for, with Live ID logins, Xbox companion services and Skydrive just some of the services that are collated under one roof, made accessible at a single click. Now that’s what I call stylish practicality.
About Nicholas Tan
Nicholas is a freelance writer fascinated with emerging technologies and the end-user adoption experience. In his spare time, he writes music and watches too much television.
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