Windows 8 fully previewed, available for download tonight

By on September 13, 2011, 4:29 PM

It's been a long while since Microsoft appeared as excited - and to a certain point desperate - about an upcoming Windows release. With Vista the expectations were not met by a long shot and with Windows 7, though a fine operating system, it was also the polished OS that Vista should have been in the first place.

Since then a lot has taken place in personal computing, but most of it outside of Microsoft. Windows 8 will likely determine the company's future and its relevance in the industry. Today at Microsoft's BUILD conference, Steven Sinofsky, Senior Vice President of the Windows division had a lot to show on its keynote, all of it surrounding the next major release of Windows, code-named 'Windows 8', which he called a "bold reimagining of Windows."

The most obvious new component of the upcoming OS is the use of the Metro-style UI, which has been shown off in tablet format before and in much better detail today. Here's a post and video detailing the Windows 8 tablet experience.

Sinofsky was ready to show Windows 8's developer preview running on a huge range of systems, from ARM and Atom-based tablets, to laptops and ultrabooks, and gaming-equipped workstations. It resonated when all of the systems were called "PCs" regardless of the form factor.

Update: Dev Preview download is now available here or here.

It was a long keynote packed with lots of goodies, here are some highlights (a.k.a. what you need to know):

  • Windows will now live between the Metro interface and the legacy Windows desktop. In the demo both interfaces appeared to co-exist and transition from and to each other just fine.
  • Microsoft is hinting Windows 8 has a smaller memory footprint and requirements than Windows 7. In addition it's more power conscious and offers a new instant-on hibernation mode.
  • The entire Windows 8 UI is hardware accelerated.
  • A newly enhanced restore functionality will be able to reset your Windows install to factory out-of-the-box settings and state. Alternatively you can create a custom baseline state once you're done installing your essential apps.
  • Windows 8 shall remain keyboard-friendly. For example, under the new Metro Start screen, you can start typing and that will automatically start a local search for an application or document.
  • Windows 8 cold-boots and resumes way faster than its predecessors as seen in this video. This is the result of kernel-level optimizations and the use of a UEFI BIOS.
  • IE10 lives in both Metro and desktop interfaces, it remains to be seen what other stock applications are treated the same way. In addition the new browser is multi-touched enabled and offers a chrome-less experience when using the Metro style.
  • Security notifications have been made more subtle. Windows Defender has extended capabilities.
  • The Task Manager has been reworked, can control startup programs and automatically suspends apps when they are idle.
  • There are numerous new dialogs and settings that go from an extensive Metro UI-based control panel, new taskbar settings, multi-monitor options for handling programs and customizing looks (wallpaper, etc).
  • BUILD conference attendees received a free Samsung Slate PC preloaded with the Windows 8 developer preview. The machine is almost identical to the Series 7 model that Samsung recently unveiled that shipped with Windows 7.
  • Windows 8 will ship with DirectX 11. No mention about a newer version than that.
  • There's no word about different editions of Windows 8, but it's expected that most devices will be based on the exact same OS: tablets, laptops, etc.
  • The public Windows 8 roadmap begins with the dev preview, followed by a public beta, then RC, RTM and general availability.
  • Final release "driven by quality and not a date."
  • The Windows 8 developer preview will be made publicly available tonight at 8PM PT from dev.windows.com.
  • The dev preview will come in 32-bit and 64-bit versions, no activation required. It will receive live updates from Microsoft, just like a retail version of Windows.


Windows 8 developer preview lock screen.


Steven Sinofsky, president of the Windows and Windows Live Division at Microsoft -- ultrabook in hand.


Internet Explorer 10: touch browsing and tab management.


Metro search screen using thumb keyboard.




User Comments: 42

Got something to say? Post a comment
unf0rgiving said:

I really want to check that instantaneous boot up times xD And I also like the interface. I haven't read the whole article, but I'm wondering if I will need to reformat, or can I upgrade from windows 7?

unf0rgiving said:

Ok I'm thinking i'll have to reformat according to what I see :(

---agissi--- ---agissi---, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Why cant you resize your partition and install it on a second partition? Hopefully the bootloader isnt different / it doesnt overright the Windows 7 boot loader. But if it does there are programs to easily fix that (EasyBCD).

The metro UI looks like the 1980s have been resurrected.

---agissi--- ---agissi---, TechSpot Paladin, said:

overwrite* sorry I cant believe I typed what I did.

Nima304 said:

Holy crap, that's an amazing feature list. I might use Windows 8 after all. Seems they're putting all of their blood, sweat, and spirit into this.

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Meh...still no interest. It's geared toward portable devices and will have that stupid ribbon UI that I detest. There's nothing in that list that has me even marginally excited about upgrading.

Guest said:

what's the difference between dev preview and public beta, if both are available to public?

Guest said:

drivers for it? and when will it have only 64 bit version ?

Eddo22 said:

AMD has drivers for it. [link]

batmang said:

I'm guessing these will provide windows 8 support despite not specifically saying so in the notes.

[link]

lawfer, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Guest said:

what's the difference between dev preview and public beta, if both are available to public?

The dev preview is more of a pre-beta (although not an alpha). The public beta is well, a beta, but a lot more polished than its predecessors.

matrix86 matrix86 said:

TomSea said:

Meh...still no interest. It's geared toward portable devices and will have that stupid ribbon UI that I detest. There's nothing in that list that has me even marginally excited about upgrading.

You must not have read the article about the ribbon that stated it would be collapsible. I am glad to see that everything is more accessable, though. And since I got my Win7 from a friend for free, i'll have no problem upgrading to Win8 (if I like it). It'd probably be a different story had I paid for Win7, though. It's still too early to tell anything.

Xclusiveitalian Xclusiveitalian said:

It doesn't look bad, but considering I threw down so much money for windows 7, windows 8 better be $30 or less.

Guest said:

I've already seen a "Preview"...in Ubuntu 11.04's goofy Unity interface. Good god, when something works, can't dev's just leave it alone?? I understand the growing need for "Goofy" interfaces on small screen touch devices, but I'll be sticking to Debian on my home box and XBMC on my media server. Windows 8? Sure I'll have to have it on a partition and use it..I have to be able to fix it, IT's my job, but when I get done working on other peoples crap, I'll settle back and unwind on Linux.

Guest said:

Anyone know hardware requirement?????

Guest said:

Security notifications have been made more subtle. Windows Defender has extended capabilities.

Damn you Microsoft. No more Defender. Just integrate MSE already!

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Guest said:

Security notifications have been made more subtle. Windows Defender has extended capabilities.

Damn you Microsoft. No more Defender. Just integrate MSE already!

Agreed, MSE disables Defender and takes over anyway? Microsoft, this would be a nice change. saves me a couple of minutes when i'm building my rigs!

Leeky Leeky said:

Its unlikely MSE will ever be integrated into the OS because it would be unfair for other AV companies. Its the same scenario as the IE lawsuits in Europe - where users are now asked what browser they wish to install to prevent MS having a monopoly.

Guest said:

Downloading it now. Can always restore my Win7 image if I don't like it.

Tekkaraiden Tekkaraiden said:

Going to have to give this a spin on my very neglected netbook.

Tomorrow_Rains said:

I'm Running This on OPENBOX and i must say, i'm actually pretty impressed. i was never a fan of the tablet and now..i definately could see myself getting a windows 8 tablet

Leeky Leeky said:

Thought I'd give it a run in Virtualbox before committing it to my laptop, and I have to say I'm really not sure about it now.

I don't mind the dashboard, but if I'm on the desktop I want to use it like a desktop. Hitting start just brings up the dashboard, I'd have expected the normal menu to work when in desktop mode.

I'm sure it would make great sense on a touchscreen, but it just feels totally wrong used with non-touchscreen computers.

caravel said:

I'm Running This on OPENBOX

Pretty sure you mean "virtualbox"?

AlanCasseb said:

Leeky said:

I don't mind the dashboard, but if I'm on the desktop I want to use it like a desktop. Hitting start just brings up the dashboard, I'd have expected the normal menu to work when in desktop mode.

I'm sure it would make great sense on a touchscreen, but it just feels totally wrong used with non-touchscreen computers.

Just type in what you need, from what i've heard...

Zilpha Zilpha said:

Just type in what you need, from what i've heard...

That doesn't address Leeky's concern though. That's a workaround, and a bit of a crappy one for those times when you would "know it if you saw it" but can't quite think of the name.

That's why us old skool PC techs like our menus.

Leeky Leeky said:

Just type in what you need, from what i've heard...

You can do that in W7 to great effect in the search box, after clicking "start" first.

I like the general direction they've chosen in regards to making it the same on everything (and have respect for the work that must involve in the backend), but if your in "desktop" it should behave like one.

That means a start menu, your local folders, your applications, your control panel and all the other associated drivel that appears when you click start.

Using the desktop and click start and having the dashboard appear is not what I'd have in mind to happen. That function should come up if you hit the windows key or something instead - Or better yet, have a taskbar icon for it like the "show Desktop" feature we're used to, that displays the dashboard instead.

That doesn't address Leeky's concern though. That's a workaround, and a bit of a crappy one for those times when you would "know it if you saw it" but can't quite think of the name.

That's why us old skool PC techs like our menus.

Aye, thats the one. I thought I was alone with those thoughts when trying to find something in the menu that I can't quite remember the name of!

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Leeky said:

Its unlikely MSE will ever be integrated into the OS because it would be unfair for other AV companies. Its the same scenario as the IE lawsuits in Europe - where users are now asked what browser they wish to install to prevent MS having a monopoly.

Which is an ultimate example of stupidity IMO, generally most users have much more IT knowledge nowadays, hence, if someone want to have an alternative browser on their machine they are just a site/click away. I think EU is becoming an ideal example of nanny state (on a much more grander scale though), although it is in utter chaos right now

Guest said:

The reason this OS "APPEARS" to be so fast is they are using a more load on demand approach.

This will speeds up booting and a few other things however when you start using applications that need drivers and other files loaded this is where you pay for their so-called speed inprovements.

Nothing is free even in software related issues. I am going to guess and say that they are using some form of virtual application to launch only what you are wanting to run at a given time, similar to Vmware Thinapp. IF this is the case there are benefits and drawbacks, to it which I dont want to type that much. IF this is the route they are going and I am fairly sure it is then, optimizations are going to be very important and in my opinion Microsoft has never been very good at that especially when they launch a new OS. The one instance they are that meticulous is usually in Game development.

I am not disregarding any new developments only pointing out their past philosophy. They canceled thier virtual PC application with vista except when running XP virtually inside vista. I believe the reason is revamping it for Windows 8. Another real KEY issue is security. Virtual app's offer more security in the form of isolation if programed correctly. This will add another level of difficulty to so called hackers and "poisonous" software, IF applications and the virtual application environment are written correctly. Those of you with multiple processors and threads say hello to what will be Microsofts first OS that will "hopefully" make REAL use of all of them and tons of ram. Those of you with one processor and one thread you are pretty much screwed, you will see the smallest improvements in the OS and I do mean SMALL. I dont hate or love the improvements they are stating, I am simply cautiously reserved.

fl21289 said:

As long as you download the preview and not the Developer tools run you can upgrade it.

Guest said:

I really couldn't read past the sentence "Windows 8 will likely determine the company's future and its relevance in the industry."

Relevancy in what industry? If you mean the operating system installed on 90% of computers worldwide, then I guess Microsoft's fifth place operating system had better come out like gangbusters if it wants to have more purchasers than OSX, WebOS, Linux, iOS and Android.

Oh wait, it has more than all those combined? I better go back to my fact checking software on my Kaypro.

Guest said:

Downloaded it, installed it, run it; it then decided to die on me. Whatever I did, I was unable to log in (not even getting past the pre-log in screen).

Nice features, but it was clearly developed with tablets in mind.

suredrift said:

can someone tell me why the metro style apps do not work on my MSI Wind U160DX 10.1 inch netbook, and how do we get rid of that watermark.

Tomorrow_Rains said:

APPS only run at a minimum of 1024x768

make sure your screen resolution is set at 1024x768

i've used windows 8 developer edition as my main operating system for a couple of days now.

i'm impressed but now having a touchscreen is actually hindering the experience. therefore i hope microsoft has plans for us too poor to afford touch screens

Phraun said:

---agissi--- said:

Why cant you resize your partition and install it on a second partition? Hopefully the bootloader isnt different / it doesnt overright the Windows 7 boot loader. But if it does there are programs to easily fix that (EasyBCD).

The metro UI looks like the 1980s have been resurrected.

That's exactly what happened when I installed it; it wrote over the bootloader and I lost access to all my other OS installs. It was trivial to fix once I figured out what had happened, but still... Completely ridiculous.

Zilpha Zilpha said:

I have very mixed feelings about it. I popped a spare drive into my m15 and installed it, and first impressions was that it's just not as intuitive as I would have liked. First, the Metro desktop wouldn't display. All I saw was a blank greenish color screen. It took me a good 15 minutes to figure out how to get to the start menu. There was literally no indicators of where to move the mouse - and I had to move it to extreme bottom left corner.

So I finally get to a desktop that makes more sense, and see there's an update to my GPU. Fine, I figured that's probably got something to do with my issues, so get it updated and rebootski.

So there's the metro desktop now, and IE is the very first thing there so I go ahead and click. Surf a little bit, try to get used to the navigation bar being on the bottom, and now I want to go back to the main screen.

Where's my close button? ESC, backspace, trying to "drag" sides of the screen - nothing. There's that "sweet spot" start menu again, but I ended up just CTRLALTDEL out of it - I don't want it running.

Now, I consider myself fairly intelligent, but this was a bit much. This clearly isn't ready to be a desktop PC's OS. I'm all for them using Windows 8 to compete in the tablet market, but I don't think that it's got much of a future for becoming the OS of choice for the rest of us, at least not in the near future. It needs to be a heck of a lot more intuitive and controllable.

Guest said:

I must say... with speeds like that, you'd be hard-pressed to get in an F8, if ever a safeboot is required :p

fletchoid said:

I have been playing with the download for a couple of days now and so far I am not impressed. I am having a heck of a time finding things, and figuring out how to get out of something once I get into it. I bought my first Android smartphone ever a few weeks back and it took me about an hour to figure out where everything was and how to use it. No such luck with this OS. I consider myself a power user of Windows 7 on my home computer, an experienced user of Mac OSX, which I use at work, a fairly competent noob with Linux, and a total noob with Android on my smartphone. Windows 8 so far has me flummoxed. I then watched a video demonstration by Sinofsky, where he wanted to show how a traditional Windows 7 program looked in Windows 8, and what a laugh... he had trouble finding it!! This better be a really crude alpha version, or Microsoft is in a lot of trouble. Could this be Vista 2 the sequel?

Staff
Julio Franco Julio Franco, TechSpot Editor, said:

@Guest "I really couldn't read past the sentence 'Windows 8 will likely determine the company's future and its relevance in the industry.' "

Microsoft recognizes the future of personal computing is not just inside desktop and laptop PCs, but in equal measure on tablets, smartphones, home entertainment systems (like the Xbox) and other form factors.

They have a dominant position in computers and are doing well with the Xbox, but are seriously lacking in the mobile department. And so I will say it again, Windows 8 which is their next-gen OS for many of these devices will dictate their future, not their present.

Guest said:

its typical windows ......cr@p

pmshah said:

Just wondering :

How many auto configuring scripts will it break or What new scripting language will we have to learn? I am still not over with the Win 7 changes!.

Det Det said:

You guys post such weird comments. Don't know how else to say it.

sammydad1 said:

I finally had to go look for some information about how to disable the "Start - Metro" Thankfully I found such a handy utility by googling.... It resets the registry item to make the start button behave like WIndows 7....So now I can actually turn off or restart instead of having to go hunting each time....

Of course this was after I got one of the new CSOD - Clown Screen of Death (my phrase) that wouldn't go away after rebooting,,,,some crash in Wdf01000.sys wouldn't let me boot to login so I had to re-install the preview (Refresh)....

Luckily it kept my dual boot stuff intact...crossing fingers for future reference...

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