We’re here in Anaheim, California at Microsoft’s BUILD conference. As has become tradition (or at least as much as possible), Microsoft has been holding major developer conferences for their new OSes roughly a year ahead of launch. In 2008 developers and the press got their first in-depth look at Windows 7 at Microsoft’s Professional Developers Conference (PDC), and here in 2011 BUILD is doing much the same for Windows 8.

As it stands Windows 8 is still in its infancy. The build in Microsoft’s demos is 1802, a pre-beta and not feature complete version of the OS. Microsoft needs to balance the need to show off Windows 8 to developers with a need to keep it under wraps until it’s done as to not spook end-users. The result of that is the situation at BUILD, where Microsoft is focusing on finished features while unfinished features are either not in the OS or are going unmentioned. For comparison, at PDC 2008 the Windows 7 interface was not done yet, and Microsoft was using the Windows Vista interface in its place.

Today the show kicks off in earnest with a keynote that begins at the same time as this article went live, followed by some mega-sessions for developers covering the biggest aspects of Windows 8. Yesterday was a pre-show day for press, with Microsoft spending most of the day running the press through a similar series of presentations, focused more on the end-user than developers.

At the conclusion of the press sessions we managed to get some hands on time with a tablet PC development platform running the same build of Windows 8. We haven’t had the chance to give the platform a full working over – not that it would be prudent in its pre-beta state – but we did want to give you a rundown of what Microsoft had to share with us and what we’ve seen so far. Microsoft’s tagline for BUILD is that “Windows 8 changes everything” and while Win8 is not a massive reworking of the Windows kernel, it is a major overhaul of nearly everything else. Certainly based on the pre-beta build on display, you will be using Windows 8 significantly differently from Windows 7.

The big thing with Windows 8 is Metro, which we’ll go more in-depth with in a bit. Microsoft classifies Metro as a style, but in reality Metro is a new version of Windows from the API on up. Metro is the Windows Shell, Metro is an application design paradigm, Metro is a user paradigm, and Metro is the future of Windows application programming. Metro is everywhere – and for ARM it is everything - and it will make (or break) Windows 8.

The Metro UI


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  • MGSsancho - Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - link

    If we can not run explorer on out desktops then we will see the return of desktop shells ala lightstep, anston shell etc Reply
  • Adronson - Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - link

    At about 6:20 in the video: "One big thing in Widows 8 is going to be the store."
    That about sums it up. Looks to me like all these active buttons will be there using system resources to get your attention. Little spam generators whose ultimate goal is to keep the user online so that it is easier to spend money.
  • PolarisOrbit - Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - link

    Windows 8 looks like the best tablet OS by a tremendous margin.

    As a desktop OS, it looks terrible.
  • TEAMSWITCHER - Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - link

    That's the problem. Tablet users will likely run ARM processors, and using an ARM processor the METRO GUI will be the only GUI on the system. And you can't run *ANY* existing windows apps, it must be a METRO app. I predict failure! Reply
  • BioTurboNick - Thursday, September 15, 2011 - link

    Is that so different than current Tablet OSes? So you can get high-powered full Windows classic/Metro-capable tablets or a limited Metro-only ARM tablet. Reply
  • versesuvius - Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - link

    On Windows 7, the single click option, just selected a file and executed it at the same time, in the windows explorer file manager. There was no clear space in the file manager windows to click in and set the focus to. It was the same with every other file manager I could find. It then just became useless to me. I reverted back to XP and am quite happy with it. It was the most ridiculous thing about Windows 7. I suppose usability now, three decade after the first PC or Mac is defined a bit differently. People now, know what computers and GUIs are. And most importantly they have a prior understanding of what a GUI should behave like. I hope that they have fixed that in Windows 8, although I am at no rate going to use it before the first service pack is released. Reply
  • piroroadkill - Thursday, September 15, 2011 - link

    I use single click, have done for years, even on XP, but I never noticed this issue. I tend to use middle click to switch focus, especially when doing file operations. Reply
  • saganhill - Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - link

    I love reading everyone’s comments how they hate the new GUI. Its reminiscence of the WinXP release and only now are users abandoning that OS for a new version.

    I have a premonition that all the people who "hate" the new GUI in windows 8 will in 5 years hate to give it up for the new one that MS will release. Very ironic.
  • UMADBRO - Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - link

    All too true. Everytime something gets changed in a newer version of Windows, people piss and moan and act like they are going to pick up the pitchforks and torches and go raze Microsoft for their Blasphomy. Then after it comes out and people actually try it, theyre mostly like "Hey, thats not that bad after all! HERP!"

    I just wish all these complaining jackasses would go and give it a shot before whining and proclaiming their utter hate for it, without having ever tried it out. Wishful thinking, I guess.
  • Shinya - Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - link

    most people have tried it ( like myself) and simply don't like it. i don't like have 20 FAT icons on my "desktop" that eat the entire landscape of my monitor. i want small icons. i want to be able to have 2 or more windows side by side while i multitask. As it stands right now (until other or myself figure it out) you cannot do such things with the Metro UI.

    working in the IT industry it is a must to have web and email side by side LIVE on the screen. not switching back n forth between the two.

    but you're a troll (going just by you name), or a macf*g (in which case go back to engadget) so you wouldn't understand the words 'Computer" and 'Real Work'

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