Windows 8 A New Beginning
Windows 8 is Microsoft’s first attempt to create a new operating system that would allow users to work the same on a PC as they would on a tablet or smartphone.
Windows 8 uses a tiled dashboard as its home screen (called Metro) that looks much like the touch interface on a current Windows Phone 7.
These tiles are designed to allow folks with touch screen interfaces to bypass the mouse to make a selection, thus making this new interface usable on tablets and special touch screen monitors as well as traditional PCs with a keyboard and mouse.
Under the pretty tiles you’ll find the traditional Desktop minus some old familiar items like the Start button, which was a little confusing at first. I can already hear longtime Windows users screaming “I want my old Windows back” when they first begin navigating this semi-familiar portion of the operating system, but over time, the new interface allows faster access to the information and programs that you want.
As of this writing, Windows 8 is still in a test version (currently called Release Preview) and should only be installed by IT pros and software developers with a spare computer that can be sacrificed for testing purposes. DO NOT install this on a production computer. What I’ve done for testing purposes is created a virtual machine to put Windows 8 through its paces and when I’m done, I can simply delete the VM without harming my normal PC operations at all.
IMPORTANT and I cannot stress this enough!!! Test or ‘beta’ versions should never be installed on a computer that contains any important data or on the one and only machine you own as you are almost guaranteed to have problems. Error messages, hardware that isn’t recognized and programs that don’t function properly are a common result when installing test versions of any operating system, so it isn’t something average users should never consider doing.
Microsoft hasn’t announced a release date as of yet, but the latest information I have suggests that computer manufacturers may start getting their ‘Release To Manufacturing’ version so they can start their build process in late July. If the process follows previous releases, we might start seeing computers pre-installed with Windows 8 hit the market starting in October.
Even then, unless you are an ‘early adopter’ that doesn’t mind dealing with being the first to discover a new problem, I’d suggest holding off jumping on the Windows 8 band wagon. Letting a few million hardcore techies play with the public release version before you take on the challenge will generally save you a lot of grief. Lots of websites and YouTube videos will publish all the do’s and don’ts for migrating to Windows 8 if you give the tech community some time to experience and report the issues. After all – why should you give Microsoft your hard earned cash for the dubious honor of “testing” their software?
Microsoft always offers special upgrades for those buying a new computer with an older operating system close to the launch of a new OS. The Windows 8 upgrade will be available for those buying a new Windows 7 computer between June 2nd and Jan 31st, 2013 and allows an upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for only $14.99 (via a download).
If your plan is to upgrade an existing computer to Windows 8, you will definitely want to wait a while after it’s released as this scenario is traditionally the one that has the highest likelihood of issues and problems.
If you simply want to get a better understanding of how Windows 8 will work, you can view a handful of videos that Microsoft has posted here: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-8/consumer-preview-videos
Do you have a spare computer kicking around or perhaps, like me, you run Parallels Desktop or some other virtual machine tool – you can download the Windows 8 Release Preview here: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-8/release-preview