24th Sep 2012
As you may already know, Windows 8 is designed to work on desktops as well as tablets. The Release Preview was launched last month and showcases the new Metro UI that's the USP of the upcoming OS. I had a chance to sample the platform briefly at the TechEd Europe 2012 event last week. Here are my first impressions about the performance and user experience of the tablet-optimised OS.
Smooth And Easy Interface - When it was time to discard my old QWERTY smartphone, I was a little wary of switching to a totally touch-based interface. Those apprehensions were laid to rest when I finally got to use the iPhone and iPad. In the same way, Windows 8 also does a fairly good job at simplifying how we use portable computers. It is as smooth, if not smoother than iOS.
Similar To Windows Phone - For starters, the OS is very fluid and almost lag-free. Of course, things may change as you install more applications, but that's the case with most other operating systems as well. The Start screen, just like in Windows Phone, can be considered the same as the Start menu in Windows 7 — albeit with a lot more information being displayed in real-time, such as Facebook, email, weather, and stock updates in their respective tiles. You can access just about everything you need on this screen, with live tiles dedicated for various applications.
Start Screen May Get Cluttered - On the downside, the Start screen will get cluttered as you keep installing more apps, until you will have to scroll right to find the app you want. Even with the pinch gestures to zoom in and out, this can get irritating and inconvenient when the number of apps grows beyond a certain limit. A similar approach to iOS, where you can swipe between screens, would have been better.
Backward Compatible - In case you're still yearning for the old Windows 7 desktop, you can simply click on a tile on the bottom-left corner to switch to the classic desktop, then use the on-screen keyboard to go about your regular tasks.
Ergonomic Design - Most touch gestures have been designed taking into account the way the tablet will be held by the user. Hence, there are quite a few gestures that will have you swiping near the edges of the screen. From what I have seen, it will be a smooth transition to the new OS when it will become available later this year.
A Fresh, Clean, And Snappy Experience - The bottomline is that Windows 8 is a new OS, built from the ground up with a clean interface that feels fresh and is also snappy to boot. A more detailed look will have to wait until we actually get our hands on a review unit.
Preview: Windows 8 For Tablets
A brief look at how the new touch-oriented operating system copes with slates.
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