Posted by: Ed Tittel
Windows 8, Windows 8 Preview
OK, so now I’ve got a few more hours with the latest Windows 8 release under my belt, and so far, so good. My biggest initial beef with the latest release is that it seems not to have absorbed too many new drivers in the time between the Customer Preview and the Preview Release. Now that I reflect back on my experience in bringing the latest release up to snuff as compared to the previous one, driver clean-up is still a little to intense unaided. Of course, now that I’ve done it once I can use Sysprep to building a reference installation and then add those hard-found drivers so that I don’t have to go looking again. I wish somebody would tell me about how to do that across minor releases for Windows, or clue me into some automagic tool I have yet to discover on my own.
The current release definitely boots up, resumes from sleep or hibernation, and shuts down more quickly on the same hardware than it did for the previous release. It also seems more responsive to “edge gestures” on the touch screen — a big relief to me — than the previous release felt as well. And in general, the touch interface seems easier to use (though I’m not sure if that’s because I’m more familiar with the Windows 8 UI by now, or if it’s a real change to my systems’ touch behavior).
I restored my favorite desktop gadgets, too, only to learn that one of my personal favorites — it’s called Vista Shutdown Control 2 — is munged on C|NET where it shows up as only 227 bytes there. It’s 425 Kbytes in actuality: the best working link remains on the old Vista-era Microsoft Desktop gadgets page which had been taken off-line some time back, but is now up and available again (there was a period late last year when MS said “No more gadgets!” and took the page down, but they’ve definitely reversed course on this for Windows 8, so gadgets are back in full force, and I’m very glad about this: they remain pretty handy desktop status or quick access indicators, Metro or no Metro notwithstanding).
Next, I’ll start playing with the much-touted improvements to the Metro apps. Looks like I’m going to have to sign up for Exchange-based e-mail (been wavering on this for some time for lots of other reasons, but I can’t see any way to fully explore what Win8 can do with mail without this capability). Had to hit the Escape key to get the bottom-of-screen menu to show up in SkyDrive (so I was a little non-plussed until I recalled that essential detail).
I keep running into some interesting desktop behaviors that surprise me from time to time, too. For example: I can’t just right-click an Explorer item to call up its associated menu. I must first left-click to select the object, then right-click to provoke the options menu for that object. Thanks to a new touchpad driver, however, my issues with accidental UI element tear-offs has stopped (that was a true PITA).
I’ll keep digging, and keep reporting back. Again, my current opinion remains: so far, so good.