Windows 8 Consumer Preview Review Part Two
Welcome to Part Two of my Windows 8 CP Review. In the first part of the review, we looked at the new elements of Windows 8, and in this review we’re going to look at the updated multimedia and other parts of the new OS. Let’s start off by taking a peek under the Metro UI hood and see what the Windows 8 desktop looks like.
The first thing you’ll notice is that it looks similar to every other Windows Desktop (since 95) except for one big thing-- The ‘Start’ button is missing! I would guess that since the Windows Key is now tied to the Metro UI, they felt the need to remove it. However, I think they might have made a mistake. The advanced Windows User is going to spend just as much time out of the Metro UI as they will in it. My hope (and I know others that think this way as well) is that Microsoft will offer a Metro UI version and a Classic UI version. I, personally, would rather not have to pin programs that I don’t use very often to the Metro UI start area.
The next big difference is a small fly-out that emerges when you hover over the right side of the desktop. This is called the ‘Charms’ bar:
The Charms Bar gives you the ability to ‘Share’ any article, file or image with family, friends or co-workers. This particular item brings me to a great article that discusses whether or not Windows 8 can satisfy both the Desktop and the Tablet. I think that it can, but it most likely will require some more ‘tweaking’ to the OS.
Now that we have poked around the new desktop let’s take a look at the new Multimedia features of the OS. First up we have Windows Media Player 12:
You’ll see that WMP12 doesn't look a whole lot different than past versions. Well, that’s because it isn't—except for some new Audio/Video formats. This is probably because Microsoft wants you to use Audio/Video apps from the Store.
Speaking of apps, let’s take a look at the Video App from the Store:
If you’re a gamer, you might notice that the Video App looks exactly like the new UI for Microsoft's Xbox Live system. The ability to watch movies using Zune Video has been available for awhile, but new Graphics API should mean better playback quality in Windows 8.
Now that we’ve talked a little bit about multimedia, let's get into some of the other cool features of Windows 8.
Next up, we have the new Mail app. This takes place of Windows Live Mail and shows off Microsoft’s new naming convention. Instead of Outlook Express, Windows Mail or Windows Live Mail, it’s just called Mail. Here’s a look:
The new Mail App is clean and easy to use. While it doesn't have the advanced features like past versions, it now syncs your Calendar across multiple email accounts, which is incredibly useful. So, if you use Outlook for work and Google Calendar for personal items, you don't have to worry about switching between several different calendar programs to figure out what is happening that day!
As we wind down this review, I want to point out one of my favorite apps for Windows 8. I give you the Weather App! If you are a weather nerd like I am, you probably enjoy tracking the current forecast as well as analyzing how it compares to years past. This app does that and more:
Finally, we have what I think is the crown jewel of Windows 8—the integration of your documents to the cloud via SkyDrive. Now I know some people may be skeptical, but I think it is a great idea. This gives you the ability to work on a document live (an already existing feature of Microsoft Office) and then save it into the cloud:
Here’s the icing on the cake. You never have to worry about losing precious memories if a photo is lost or deleted!
There are many other useful and interesting features on Windows 8 , such as Internet Explorer 10 and updates to WordPad and Paint, just to name a few.
Despite some glaring bugs and UI issues that need to be addressed, my brief experience with Windows 8 has been favorable. After ironing out a few kinks, I think Windows 8 has the potential to be the future of Microsoft’s Operating Systems.