Windows 8 Developer Preview – First Impressions

Touch friend splash screen.
Restyled task manager IE 10!

In the same reign as the development of Windows 7, an early build of Windows 8 was officially released to the public last week. I have been playing around with it on and off a little bit on one of my test/work desktops since then. See screen captures for the desktop’s specifications.
As you may have heard or read somewhere, a main focus in Windows 8 is optimization for touch devices. The installation process and interface off of the disc is unchanged. After completing the install, you will encounter the biggest change of the new Windows: a new splash screen with programs represented as big touch friendly boxes. What you’re really seeing is the “Start Menu”, because when you click on the Start Menu, this splash screen comes up. Programs installed in a normal way will automatically show up as a new box in this splash screen. Individual executable files can also be added into the screen in a specific way, by adding in its shortcut under C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs. However, I am unable make “My Documents” show up on the splash screen…
When you click on the desktop, everything becomes familiar territory as the desktop essentially functions the same as Windows 7. The control panel is also dressed up in a more touch friendly manner, but the old design can be accessed as well. The task manager received an upgrade. Cool new graphs of resources, and more details on process footprints, presented all in a more clear and stylish manner. I installed the x64 version of Windows 8 Developer Preview, and it has a harddrive footprint of 10GB. The memory footprint is at around 600MB used idling right after startup. If I remember correctly, Windows 7 x64 idle memory usage is closer to 700-900MB. By the way, to no surprise, installing Windows 8 destroyed the GRUB Bootloader, rendering my Kubuntu installation on a second partition inaccessible. Is it too much to ask of Windows, or Microsoft for that matter, to play nice with *nix distributions?
One of the biggest differences in performance is the bootup and shutdown times of Windows 8. Through normal shutdown and startup methods, the durations are around 5 seconds and 10 seconds (BIOS post time removed) respectively for my test computer. This is very fast. Windows 8 introduces a new shutdown and bootup procedure called “Hybrid Boot” that is apparently different than the traditional shutdown and bootup procedures of previous versions of Windows. More details within the link. To do a “traditional” full shutdown and full startup, it can be done through the command prompt by typing “shutdown /s /full”. Then the shutdown time increases to about 25 seconds, timed right after entering the command, and bootup time to 40 seconds, more in line with previous Windows shutdown and startup times.
Personally, as someone who has very little interest in touch devices, Windows 8’s new touch-optimized interfaces falls upon apathetic eyes. As a gamer, the (slightly) smaller resource footprint and quicker boot/shutdown times are certainly welcome, and this an improvement everyone can appreciate.

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Published in: on September 20, 2011 at 8:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

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