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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  • UMADBRO - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    Thankfully, I dont agree. Im actually going to give it a shot before I completely make up my mind about it. Maybe you should too. Reply
  • martin5000 - Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - link

    I said I trying to like it, i.e. I haven't finished concluding my opinion of it. The problem is that every detail of metro I've seen so far is very disappointing. Reply
  • cfaalm - Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - link

    I don't hate it. IIt just hasn't sunk into mee how this will be usefull for a deskttop, especially with professional applications that mostly require the whole screen, and want to run without much else going on. We need to know if we can tone it down and shut some of that stuff off. Reply
  • SteelCity1981 - Thursday, September 15, 2011 - link

    This will be Vista 2.0. i'll be waiting for Windows 9.

    The ribbon menu is dumb if people didn't like it in office 2007 people aren't going to like it on their Windows!

    The start menu is dumb. Why make the change to using a metro start menu when the regular one in Windows 7 worked perfectly fine.

    Metro UI is really dumb. I want an actual desktop not something with a bunch of tiles all over the place as my main screen.
  • Ahmed0 - Thursday, September 15, 2011 - link

    I actually got used to the ribbon in Office 2007. However, the problem lies in that the ribbon needs to be well executed for it to be useful. And to my frustration there are some programs that fail at it (like AutoCAD). After I install a program I shouldnt have to start customizing EVERYTHING just to be productive.

    Sadly, change doesnt necessarily mean progress. Its certainly not very wise to take one step forward in one area but two steps back in all the other areas.

    With that said, Im not going to criticize W8 before I try it myself.
  • LoneWolf15 - Thursday, September 15, 2011 - link

    I am trying it in a VM. And I'm hating it too.

    The thing that makes it perfect for smartphones and tablets (limited screen space, or lack of a keyboard) makes it crap on the desktop, at least so far.

    I have a strong suspicion that MS will make it optional (turn on/off) in the final version. It's probably great for people who have a net-top with a touchscreen, but for a power-user, it just dumbs down the Windows interface to a point where it's inflexible, perhaps more difficult to use.
  • lurker22 - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    Here's the deal. MS by changing the UI so dramatically in an attempt to keep the consumer market is going to now threaten its corporate customers. Fact is corporations use an OS to run applications, new UI means the corporation gets to re-train people. If you have to re-train people it's often not worth the expense, and it also opens the door to the question of "If we have to re-train everyone, do we really need to stay with Windows?"

    MS is damned either way I guess.
  • quiksilvr - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    Who says this will EVER be in Windows Server? And you can disable Metro UI. You don't HAVE to use it. Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    From MS: "Metro is the Windows shell [...] from the smallest tablet to the server". Reply
  • quiksilvr - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    Then their server team is just lazy. Why would you want this on your server? It makes no sense. The Windows 8 interface, yes, but that Metro UI skin? Hell to the no. It's like Themes and Desktop Backgrounds for Windows Server 2008, it makes no sense not to have it. Just a waste of space. Reply

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