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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  • martin5000 - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    "Microsoft would like developers writing applications in runtime or interpreted languages such as C#, VB, HTML5/CSS/JavaScript, and even Silverlight"

    Silverlight is not a language, its essentially just .NET for WP7 (and confusingly for web applications) its language is c#.

    Also, I think the author needs to look up WPF, this technology is already a complete replacement for the old style win32/winforms development. I imagine the new technologies will be related to WPF.
  • DEEPAYAN - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    very original, very ugly. never saw such a bad user .not all people use tablet ms. Reply
  • damianrobertjones - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    Very easy to use, attractive to the non-techies, nearly everyone will eventually use a tablet. Reply
  • robinthakur - Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - link

    Is it attractive though? It looks like a very festive powerpoint presentation...The main reasons that people stick with Windows, against all odds, is compatibility and familiarity. This blows away the latter. You saw how well they all took to Windows 7 Phone. Besides which, tere is always the danger that companies will skip Windows 8 en masse as they did with Vista, and that will almost force MS to reduce the amount of influence and interaction afforded to Metro in Windows 9/10. Reply
  • iwodo - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    I like Metro as a concept, or idea. But i have problem with Microsoft's implementation of Metro. It is, very Linux like. Apart from the Color i can tell it is from M$, almost all things else are like KDE / Gnome.

    Ribbon is a mess. Yes it exposes Far more options to the users. Yes it places the statistically most used function on top. Yes it is, may be easier to use.

    But I am sorry. It is ugly.

    I just wish, Microsoft could have a single switch that will make Windows 8 and Office 2010 all in collapsed mode Automatically.
  • mabellon - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    "single switch that will make Windows 8 and Office 2010 all in collapsed mode Automatically."

    This already exists in Windows 7 and Office 2010. It's been around for years. You can minimize the ribbon in two easy ways.

    1) Double click the top of the ribbon
    2) Right click the top of the ribbon, select 'Minimize the Ribbon"

    Hope this helps,
  • cjb110 - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    I really don't have anything against Metro, and I think Microsoft have to do something drastic to the Windows UI to make it scale from desktops to tablets. And Metro could be it.

    However my problem is that if its currently half and half (like you mention the other settings loads normal control panel) then I don't think that's an going to be a good UIX, in fact I think it'll be damn jarring and piss people of more than it should.

    The OS, and control thereof needs to be fully Metro'ised, (or at least fit seamlessly in, it doesn't look like Vista/Win7 borders on task manager or explorer really fit).

    Basically if MS don't do that, say for control panel, they are basically admitting Metro isn't a comprehensive enough UI design.

    If MS state at some point, yes Win8 is half and half, and Win9 will complete the transition then fine, its the same place Apple is in with Lion I think (transitioning from an open desktop to a locked device)
  • dagamer34 - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    The Control Panel has a Metro UI (you can see it several times in the demo). In fact, unless you need to open a specific app or do file management, you never have to see the desktop if you don't want to. And with the way apps are setup, I doubt you'll really care where the file is stored, as long as you're able to access it through search and it's backed up safely.

    Will the desktop disappear? No. But for a good chunk of what people use their computers for (e-mail and web surfing), it's not really that important. And getting away from traditional file management will be a BIG step forward to the future.
  • faizoff - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    I can't wait to load the beta release whenever it comes out. Looks very intriguing from just glancing at it.

    Would love to start playing with this OS.
  • cjs150 - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    and not succeeding.

    For a smart phone or tablet I can see the point although looks clunky to me.

    For a desktop just awful.

    The concept of yet more "ribbons" appearing is even worse. MS idea of context (especially in Word) is clearly not related to any work I or anyone I know does. Mind you I still think that Word is a much worse word processor for proper business than Wordperfect 5.1 which is only 20 years old

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