At long last, the newest Windows operating system has an official release date. Microsoft has announced October 26 of this year as the release date for Windows 8. Microsoft has not reported releasing Windows 8 as a standalone product but any users currently running Windows XP or later can upgrade. Or if PC lovers are feeling fancy they can purchase a new Windows 8 PC.
Since the release of the developer preview in 2011 and the consumer preview in 2012, over 100,000 operating system (OS) changes have been made. With over 1 million consumer preview installations it’s no surprise that user feedback was loud and diverse. The signature, revolutionary difference for Windows 8 is the Metro interface which exhibits a radical new direction for Microsoft and, quite possibly, all PC users.
Thanks to Microsoft’s new Metro user interface (UI), Windows 8 is a touchscreen friendly OS designed to give the look and feel of touch-based technology while catering to both mobile and desktop users. This Metro UI is a modified version of Microsoft’s older Metro UI for the Windows Phone and the Xbox 360 dashboard. So unsurprisingly, Windows 8 users familiar with these devices will notice some visual and operational similarities. Microsoft has also proudly introduced Windows 8 as an OS capable of operating on ARM architecture platforms. This means ARM-based hardware platforms, like tablets, can support Windows 8. This marks an astounding technological development that will most likely influence the innovative directions of other tech giants. Although largely optimized for touchscreen, the new OS still functions with desktop tools like the mouse and keyboard. Regardless, it appears Microsoft has developed their new OS in efforts to depart from traditional PC use to touchscreen.
PC previewers of Windows 8 express frustration with the Metro UI. Comments remarked that the Metro on desktop required “ultimate mouse dexterity” and was “not right for desktop use.” Others complained that the Metro “sucks if you don’t have a tablet” and confessed confusion over why Metro OS was replacing desktop OS. Adjectives like “arcane, clumsy, slow” were used in reference to the overall performance of the Metro UI on desktop. One positive commenter reported on the ingenious and unique addition of being able to view two applications simultaneously. However, his positivity among desktop users was few and far between. So while Windows 8 received a positive review on the Samsung slate, it seems to have seriously failed on the PCs many of us know and love. With varying responses like these, October 26 and the following months will serve as an important test for both Microsoft and this radical direction for operating systems.
If you’re interested in trying out the new Windows 8 for yourself, you can download the release preview from the Windows website.