Windows 8 beta may arrive in February, no classic desktop for ARM tablets

By on December 2, 2011, 1:00 PM

Microsoft may release the first public beta of Windows 8 as early as February 2012, according to sources close to the company cited by The Next Web. An exact date for the completion and shipping of Microsoft's next major operating system release remains unknown for now, but putting Windows 7's release milestones in a Windows 8 context, the site believes the completed RTM version could hit the market around June.

If their estimates are accurate, Windows 8 could arrive late in Q3 or going into Q4, just ahead of the 2012 holiday season, giving partners enough time to ship the OS with their PCs and tablets. By comparison, Microsoft released a public beta of Windows 7 in January of 2009, with the final version hitting in October.

The site says it hasn't been able to confirm exactly what will be included in the beta itself, as the feature set will be decided based on which components are ready for public testing at the time of release.

A developer preview of Windows 8 has been available since mid-September, but Microsoft has been cooking a number of changes and new features that are due for the beta and final versions. The company has detailed a few of them in their official Building Windows 8 blog, including better memory management, changes to the Task Manager and Windows Explorer, search improvements, among others.

One particular feature that has received a fair amount of criticism from users is the new Metro start screen, a touch-optimized interface akin that of Windows Phone . Microsoft says Metro represents a major re-think of how users interact with Windows, and while users can easily switch to the classic desktop environment, many are concerned that having it as the default start screen for non-touch devices would make no sense.

It seems like an easy problem to fix but it remains to be seen if Microsoft is willing to make that concession.

On a related note, rumors are starting to emerge that the traditional Windows desktop will not be included on Windows 8 tablets powered by ARM-based processors. Instead, these devices will rely exclusively on the Metro user interface and software written specifically for it. That sounds like a reasonable thing to do, at least initially, considering the amount of work it would take to tweak 'legacy' x86 software for ARM chipsets -- not to mention these applications are not optimized for touch environments.




User Comments: 21

Got something to say? Post a comment
Mizzou Mizzou said:

I normally install the Windows betas but may hold off this time around. Not the least bit interested in running the Metro interface, hopefully there will be an option to simply disable it.

H3llion H3llion, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Mizzou said:

I normally install the Windows betas but may hold off this time around. Not the least bit interested in running the Metro interface, hopefully there will be an option to simply disable it.

As far as I know, there is.

Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

All I'm seeing the last day or so is conflicting reports of whether the desktop interface will be included in the ARM version of Win8. The constant flip-flop is tiresome.

Seems to me that not including a desktop UI option for Win8-ARM would alienate many potential users, and put artificial limitations on just what you can do with the ARM platform. I personally would like to see Win8 running on a Transformer Prime (or similar system with tablet/netbook conversion abilities), which would make much more sense with a desktop UI control scheme. Heck, they could even get fancy and have it switch automatically depending on if things are docked to the tablet or not... Hey Microsoft, you listening??? *tap* *tap* Is this thing on?

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I personally would like to see Win8 running on a Transformer Prime (or similar system with tablet/netbook conversion abilities), which would make much more sense with a desktop UI control scheme. Heck, they could even get fancy and have it switch automatically depending on if things are docked to the tablet or not... Hey Microsoft, you listening??? *tap* *tap* Is this thing on?
That would be cool!!

Wendig0 Wendig0, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I used the developer preview extensively, and I wasn't impressed with it at all. I think I'm going to keep Android on my Transformer Prime.

Guest said:

I normally install the Windows betas but may hold off this time around. Not the least bit interested in running the Metro interface, hopefully there will be an option to simply disable it.

Where have you been the past however many months? It's been stated multiple times by Microsoft, and you can see for yourself in the developer build how the Metro and traditional interfaces are handles. No, you can't disable Metro outright, it's the default GUI, however you can launch the traditional interface as you would launch any other program.

To be honest, the Metro interface's Start screen is superior to the traditional Start Menu, it's just a grid of shortcuts, with the most used ones nearest to the bottom left, so ergonomically it's much faster than launching a program by clicking through the Start Menu, and basically identical to launching an application through a desktop shortcut.

Metro applications on the other hand are a mixed bag, and better suited for touchscreen laptops and tablets than a desktop PC. It'll be interesting to see how the general ecosystem pans out. I hope (and I'm pretty confident it'll be the case) that developers continue to make non-Metro style software rather than just dumbing things down.

oranuro said:

Because of Metro I may have to skip Windows 8. As a desktop power user, last thing I want is to dance around a smartphone GUI. I know months after release there will be tweaks and hacks to remove most of the Metro elements but I believe that because Windows 7 is so solid that the general public will be in the position to vote with their wallets and say "NO, give us the traditional desktop back or we'll sit on Windows 7 like we did Windows XP for 10 years".

They can't afford to do that, not with the way the market is shaping now that Android and IOS are a major factor in the PC space. No one in business needs Windows 8, no power users need Windows 8. Who is their target with this balloon of a UI?

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Everyone should at least try it. If you don't like it, don't use it, but I don't see the point of NOT trying it.

At the very least you get to have a lot of ammunition to ***** about the OS until it comes out and you get so respond "yes I tried it!" during internet arguments.

Guest said:

Because of Metro I may have to skip Windows 8. As a desktop power user, last thing I want is to dance around a smartphone GUI. I know months after release there will be tweaks and hacks to remove most of the Metro elements but I believe that because Windows 7 is so solid that the general public will be in the position to vote with their wallets and say "NO, give us the traditional desktop back or we'll sit on Windows 7 like we did Windows XP for 10 years".

They can't afford to do that, not with the way the market is shaping now that Android and IOS are a major factor in the PC space. No one in business needs Windows 8, no power users need Windows 8. Who is their target with this balloon of a UI?

A) You most likely haven't tried the new interface. B) If you have, then you're not a power-user, you're just afraid of change. Every power user basically uses the Windows 7 UI the same way: most-used shortcuts pinned to the Start Menu, Windows key on the keyboard to access everything else. Metro reduces the two-click process of launching a progam/file/folder in Windows 7 to one click in Windows 8, whilst encouraging more use of the Windows key - which is basically used exclusively by power users at present.

killeriii said:

what exactly does windows 8 bring to the table besides metro gui and arm compatibility?

so far i'm not seeing a reason to upgrade from windows 7.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Windows 8 with a easy way to toggle between the two interfaces or I stay with Windows 7 as a desktop user.

It is sad that I am a moderator to a Windows 8 site and I am not compelled to use Windows 8. I may need to renounce my title as moderator. A tablet user may actually fit the roll better than a desktop user.

Guest said:

Let's face it, Microsoft was compelled to develop WIN8, because of tablets and fear.

In work and now in retirement, I have used Windows tablets. There were and are work machines.

Ipad and Android are entertainment devices.

I love my EP121 (tablet/slate) and I'm anticipating more WIN8 tablet choices. WIN8 should make the MS tablet experience better.

I think that WIN8 tablets are best suited to the business world.

I don't see WIN8 overtaking IOS or Android in the entertainment tablet world any time soon.

I see tablets tablets for business as similar to the old MS-DOS days--provide a base platform

for VARs, developers, etc. to solve business problems.

MS WIN8 should provide a business friendly platform for that.

ikesmasher said:

Windows 8 is looking like a flop IMO.

Except the xbox live integration.

If it lets me join my friend's xbox live parties, than i might have to consider it.

lawfer, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Guest said:

Because of Metro I may have to skip Windows 8. As a desktop power user, last thing I want is to dance around a smartphone GUI. I know months after release there will be tweaks and hacks to remove most of the Metro elements but I believe that because Windows 7 is so solid that the general public will be in the position to vote with their wallets and say "NO, give us the traditional desktop back or we'll sit on Windows 7 like we did Windows XP for 10 years".

They can't afford to do that, not with the way the market is shaping now that Android and IOS are a major factor in the PC space. No one in business needs Windows 8, no power users need Windows 8. Who is their target with this balloon of a UI?

A) You most likely haven't tried the new interface. B) If you have, then you're not a power-user, you're just afraid of change. Every power user basically uses the Windows 7 UI the same way: most-used shortcuts pinned to the Start Menu, Windows key on the keyboard to access everything else. Metro reduces the two-click process of launching a progam/file/folder in Windows 7 to one click in Windows 8, whilst encouraging more use of the Windows key - which is basically used exclusively by power users at present.

"Every power user"?

I would greatly appreciate if you stopped generalizing your habits and you used them as the basis of your argument.

Guest said:

i like windows 8 even in dev its just as stable as windows 7 currently are

Emexrulsier said:

tbh I don't give a rats arse what the interface looks like provided I can access all my programs/settings etc easily. I have seen many vids how the metro gui kinda sits side by side with the the classic desktop which for many is the best of both worlds (all those people moaning about no classic obviously aint actually looked at the system). What I am looking forward to is the rumoured possabiluty of playing xbox 360 games in almost like a virtual xbox (similar to how xp mode). If it works 100% this could bring in a massive cash boost for Microsoft with millions of software titles all ready and available for pc owners to purchase.

Guest said:

In the Dev Preview you can disable the Metro interface with a registry change.

jonny702 said:

They say clearly in the article that the classic desktop is available. The metro UI is rumored to just be for the ARM tablets (which is more sensible anyways). If you don't see a benefit in upgrading check out the windows 8 blog to see the improvements they are putting in. Lots of better features in windows explorer

yukka, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Emexrulsier said: What I am looking forward to is the rumoured possabiluty of playing xbox 360 games in almost like a virtual xbox (similar to how xp mode). If it works 100% this could bring in a massive cash boost for Microsoft with millions of software titles all ready and available for pc owners to purchase.

There has been no confirmation that this will happen. It would open MS up to huge piracy issues with the entire back catalogue of 360 games if you could play themon Xbox live on an open system like a PC.

Guest said:

My take is this:

Apple iPads & iPhones have iOS, but Mac's have MAC-OS

Google phones & tablets have Android, but for PC hardware, they have Chrome.

Microsoft is bridging the gap between mobile devices and the computers that so frequently compliment them. No more crummy iTunes to take over the interfacing. I don't even know if Google has a bridge app for their systems. Cheers to MS for coming up with the logical next-step. Let the others go through the growing pains and discovery process. Now give the public what they want - seamless interaction.

This time next year, I expect to have a Windows 8 phone, tablet and PC all working in harmony together without a clunky synchronizing interface.

-EJ - Daytona Beach, FL

Guest said:

There actually won't be any tweaks to get rid of the Metro UI. In the leaked Beta screenshots, the close, minimize, and maximize buttons look like metro tiles, and the Aero UI is fairly gone, the back and forward buttons are also metro. Which means for the most part the entire UI will be metro.

Load all comments...

Add New Comment

TechSpot Members
Login or sign up for free,
it takes about 30 seconds.
You may also...
Get complete access to the TechSpot community. Join thousands of technology enthusiasts that contribute and share knowledge in our forum. Get a private inbox, upload your own photo gallery and more.