Thursday, 20 September 2012

Fun with Windows 8 Preview

I've spent the last few days playing with the Windows 8 Consumer Preview. Indeed I am using it now to post this entry.

I am using an Asus EP121 as a test machine:
  • 64GB hard drive
  • Additional 64GB SD Card
  • Bluetooth Keyboard (essentially a Microsoft 6000 keyboard re-branded by Asus)
  • Microsoft Arc Touch Wireless Mouse (with RF dongle)
First impressions were very good, I had more issues backing up my existing Windows 7 installation than I did installing a fresh version (Windows backup really needs to be left on it's own... Don't try and do anything whilst it's working, just be very, very patient!)

The installation itself worked flawlessly without the need for a mouse or keyboard, it picked up the touchscreen and configured itself perfectly. Several minutes later I was faced with a fresh looking 'Metro' interface, clean and uncluttered with a nice new desktop behind all using what looks like a cleaner font and nice new background images that fade in and out.

However beyond the skin things get more difficult. I needed to join my home domain; normally I do this by right clicking the computer entry on the start menu and choosing properties. But there is no start menu in Windows 8... OK, system in the control panel, um control panel is on the start menu. Choosing settings from the Charms menu (slide finger in from the right of the screen) produces no sign of the control panel. Eventually I cheated (Windows key + R -> run menu -> type control) and hey presto the control panel appears and I could choose system to join the domain. I have found since that the charms menu is context sensitive, so that when you are in desktop mode (traditional windows interface) the settings button takes you to a sub menu that does have the control panel. It is somewhat less than intuitive!

Windows 8 joined the domain fine, as usual all the homegroup stuff stops working. Many of the sample applications seem to use aspects of homegroup and library functionality mixed in with live/Xbox sign in, much of which doesn't work properly at the time of writing.

Lets see how it progresses!