Ok guys, I put together a PC just to test Windows Developer Preview. It's not the best and in reality, it's not the easiest too. That should be a nice way to test how good it is for starters:
Yes, it is running an AsRock 775Dual-VSTA motherboard, with a VIA PT880 Pro chipset. This motherboard was quite famous in 2006 and even deserved a few articles on Anandtech (probably one of the motherboards that made AsRock famous as it is now), as it allowed for a cheap transition to Core 2 Duo technology, while allowing people to keep their AGP cards and DDR memory. But it also allows for PCIe GPUs (x4 bandwidth) and DDR2 533 Mhz or 667 Mhz.
Since it's kind of a complicated motherboard, it's nice to see whether the future Windows 8 would play nice with it.
Here are the full specs:
Case: Gigabyte Triton 180 Black
PSU: Corsair 400w 80 Plus
Motherboard: AsRock 775Dual-VSTA with PC Treiber 3.17a custom BIOS (since updated with 3.19a)
CPU: Pentium Dual Core E2140 1.6 Ghz, 1 MB L2 cache, 800 Mhz FSB, M0 revision
(after the review I have since upgraded to a Pentium E5800 3.2 Ghz, 2 MB L2 cache, 800 Mhz FSB, R0 revision - the boot time is not much different from the E2140, which is a good indicator of Windows 8's boot optimizations, but of course, framerates in games have largely improved).
RAM: 2 x 1 GB DDR 400 in Dual Channel
(after the review I upgraded to 2 x 2 GB DDR2 800 @ 533 Mhz 4-4-4-12 in Dual Channel)
GPU: Gigabyte Radeon HD4670 512 MB GDDR3 PCIe with Arctic Cooling Accelero L2 Pro cooler
HDD: 320 GB WD Caviar Blue SATA II
DVD RW: Sony Optiarc
I'm using the 64-bit version
of the Developer Preview.
Oh, both CPU-Z and GPU-Z are working fine with me:
(go figure why they duplicated the name "Performance Information and Tools", along with the small logo on the left in the window title)
Now, onto what I think of this preview.
I already wrote in another thread that I didn't believe that the Metro UI was going to be mandatory in the final version.
Here is what I said:
This new Metro style simply does not work for a desktop PC, and Microsoft knows it. If you look at this site
, a registry hack is available to re-enable the proper start menu, and for some an NDA is appearing on-screen, along with the usual Preview sayings, meaning it's there and will be available on the Beta.
This was just a test for Microsoft. On the one hand, by making the download available to everybody, without even requiring an MSN / Live account, they can test a lot more people's reaction; on the other hand, the fact that this is a Preview, lets them have the perfect excuse to experiment with whatever they like without having to start apologizing for any mistakes.
One thing is for certain: people who test this will be more accustomed to Windows 8 on a Tablet in an Atom /AMD APU at 22nm / 28nm later next year, and will more easily understand the layout on a smartphone too.
This strategy of making the Metro style UI the only one available in the Preview has that sole purpose. It doesn't make sense any other way, it's just not productive to work with it on the desktop, whichever way you look at it.
On a desktop you are able to do a lot more things than on a tablet. Given today's available interfaces, the keyboard and mouse combo, coupled with a large screen, enable you to to many more things than on a tablet or smartphone, and everybody accepts that. And with that comes the need for diferentiated GUIs.
Otherwise it would be like trying to apply the same principle do someone driving a car and someone driving a bike. For starters, you don't drive bikes, you ride them. Also, you don't have a steering wheel in the same fashion as in car. And there are a myriad of other differences, like safety, speed, etc. The common goal is to go from A to B.
But you can't pretend they are the same means of transportation, and pretend you can go from every point A to every point B in either means of transportation, otherwise you would be making a huge mistake. I sincerly doubt that everybody at Microsoft who worked so hard and well on fine tuning and making Windows 7 the generally acclaimed OS it is today suddenly left Microsoft or suddenly started making rushed decisions based on telemetry data that is meaningless unless it is properly interpretated, and taken with common sense.
However, after reading this article
on Softpedia, I'm not so sure about it. Is Microsoft really going to turn an awesome OS - Windows 7, into something that is absolutely going to tank ?
Let me explain, because we are at a time when Microsoft will likely want to hear all the rational criticism it can assimilate:First the good things:
1. Yes, it does seem faster than Windows 7 at boot-up and loading applications. And remember the system I'm using it on. Of course, it's a fresh, bare system with only Firefox installed, and no third party Internet Security package to slow it down. It is only running Microsoft's own Windows Defender. One thing curious that I found out is that Microsoft now states that Windows Defender is an all-round solution that incorporates Security Essentials' features, and the application's interface relfects that - it's Security Essentials' interface. In fact, there is no flag on the first start-up saying you need an anti-virus; Windows Defender takes care of all the items in the Action Center that Security Essentials used to cover. Read more about this here
2. The Task Manager is improved and does remember what you set it to the last time you viewed it. There is now a small mode that merely lists the applications that are open, much like Windows 95 / 98, and the expanded mode which shows you a better version of what you get right now with Windows 7 (and it's inability to always show processes from all users, especially since I'm actually the only user of the PC).
Here are two screenshots:
One thing I don't like is the fact there is too much white. This is not the only place where it happens, and it causes a bit of discomfort and hurts the eyes.
3. Yes, Windows Developer Preview installed just fine on the AsRock motherboard, I didn't have to install any chipset drivers; the sound and USB work just fine. I still haven't tried LAN because I'm using a Linksys Wireless pen, but there is nothing to suspect otherwise as the device manager says everything is ok.
I also didn't follow Linksys' advice to install the bundled drivers first (one of the programs installed is actually something that pops up everytime you turn on the PC and is just a trial version, and you have to pay for it if you want to use it). I just plugged in the pen into a USB port. Windows installed the Wireless pen without a single problem and I was browsing the web in no time.
Edit: since the original review I replaced the Wireless pen with a PCI Wireless N 300Mbps card from TP-Link. Windows 8 didn't recogznie the card, but that may have to do with the fact that I originally had a TV Tuner in that slot. Eventually a reboot could let Windows detect the card. Anyway, the bundled drivers work just fine.
4. Graphics card drivers ? Windows installs a preview driver which they confusingly call Engineering Sample - actually it's the card that is called an Engineering Sample, but apart from that nomenclature problem, it all goes well. Just don't try to install Windows 7 64-bit drivers. The Catalyst Control Panel does not work. Since it was not working but was being displayed in the Metro menu (and not on the taskbar), I decided to uninstall the drivers. Bad idea. Blue Screen. But this is to be expected. Problems with GPU drivers are one of the few that will cause a Blue Screen, and I knew what I was getting into. So, just keep the drivers that Windows installs for now. AMD will probably release official drivers through their channels once the OS reaches the Beta or RC status.
5. Is there a fifth good thing ? Maybe gaming, but I have yet to try it.
Edit: since the original review I installed Steam and tried a few games. Crysis Warhead works fine, for example. And so does Batman: Arhkam Asylum, with one caveat though: for now games that require Games for Windows Live will not work properly because you can't login to Windows Live - the program (not the game) ends up crashing - rumour has it that since Windows 8 is going to have Xbox integration, they are doing a redesign of the system, hence why it currently doesn't work.Now for the bad stuff:
Ok, so while the Kernel guys have been doing an excellent work improving the internals of the already excellent Windows 7, the GUI guys have just messed up a beautiful concept which is 16 years old and works!
As I said above, it looks like you will definitely be able to re-enable the standard Start menu - I wouldn't want to imagine a 50 or 60 year old person having to re-learn how to use the OS after 16 years of learning how this works. With young people it could work, but Microsoft must cater to everyone.
So, what is exactly wrong ? Everything. The concept is wrong. Like I said in the beggining of my quoted post, a desktop or a laptop enables you to do more things than a tablet; our physical interfaces - keyboard and mouse - are superior. You can't just pretend to use the same interface on a phone, a tablet, a laptop, a desktop, a media center and eventually even a car. They just need proper customization.
And the start menu works.Let's start with something light: take a look at this ridiculous thing - how do you shutdown your PC in Windows 8 ?
For a desktop there is an easy solution - you can just press the pysical button. But what if you are on a laptop that might have a different preset for that button ? Or if you simply don't want to reach to your desktop's button, which might be under the desk ?
This is the question the writer on Softpedia talks about in here
and he reports that a little real world experiment with some non tech savvy people revealed the obvious: it's just too complicated. With Windows 7 you just have to press the Start button and click Shut down (or choose another option from the mini menu available). I still remember Windows Vista having a different preset for this button on my Laptop and I spent quite a few minutes trying to figure out how to change that preset to make it shutdown. This is something that Windows 7 greatly improved, to the point of putting it in words rather than a potentially misleading symbol. And now it's a mess again with Windows 8.
Here a screenshot I took of the same problem:
Where is the shutdown option ? There isn't. And don't forget you had to click on the Start icon to get here and another to get that little white menu - not to mention you had to move the mouse pointer all the way to the opposite corner of the screen. You have to log off first, and then you will have the option of shutting down. Ridiculous. How many wasted clicks for no good reason ?
Moving on: I wasn't given the chance to bypass setting up a password. At home I just want to get straight into my desktop so the Internet Security package can start updating, as well as Steam. This is probably a feature only in the Preview though, so it's probably not worth complaining much about it.Now onto the real problems with the Metro UI:I can't stress this enough. It just doesn't work. It artificially creates another concept that you really don't need. It completely takes you away from the action happening on the desktop for no good reason and breaks the seamless experience. What once was a place where you could "Start" everything from, now Microsoft broke that concept and unnecessarily introduced a second layer, a second concept, called the Metro UI. It's like having a second desktop.
They are even talking about letting users change the background color of the Metro UI
. No! We already have the desktop to customize. Metro UI is just another layer of complication.
Let's just move away from the Metro UI for a moment: Microsoft's sudden and inexplicable disdain for what happens on the desktop is so apparent that this is the menu you get when you click on the wireless connections in the taskbar:
What is this huge thing for ? Yes, I can now know the names of around 15 wireless networks without having to scroll up and down that small but convenient pop-up window that Windows 7 has, where I normally connect to MY OWN, single network, which conveniently is the first on the list. What is this pointless exercise for ? All of a sudden I can no longer even see the clock or any widgets I might have on that area of the screen. And what is the net gain of this ? Zero.
Let's go back to the Metro UI, or the lack of the Start Menu if you like. All of a sudden simple tasks that you could efficiently achieve on the desktop can no longer be done.
Even the simple fact of being on the Metro UI takes you away from the desktop. Before, you could be doing your work (accessing frequently used programs on the Start Menu, for example) while watching a video or looking at web sites automatic updates (facebook, etc). No you can't, because you're taken away from the desktop. Given that you don't have the taskbar accessible you don't even know what the other programs you have running are up to, nor can you alternate between them.
Now take the control panel, for example. I want to acess the control panel from Windows 7. How do I do it ? Simple, just click on the Start menu and then there is a large button that says "Control Panel". Ever since Windows 95.
Now with Windows 8 you have to click on the Windows icon (or hit the Windows key on your keyboard), and, in fact, there is Control Panel option right there:
(Notice something funny - the wheather app is showing the temperatures in Fahrenheit when for my country it should be showing in Celsius - and there is no way of changing it. Another thing they messed up. Their widget in Windows Vista an Windows 7 works just fine. Also, funny why they name my country in two different ways - POR in the taskbar, and PRT in the wheather app. Even funnier because in Windows 7 it's just PT, just like the long established .pt for web domains. It looks like they have different companies writing their software LOL).
Problem is, this is an incomplete, tablet friendly version of the control panel:
As you can see, to acess the complete version - and without all this irritating white, you have to scroll down to the very end of the options list, and then the desktop will appear where the control panel window will appear. Funny thing in this Preview it that this is one of the few ways of getting out of the simplified / tabletized version of the Control Panel. Pressing Escape doesn't work. Probably fixed in the next version, but funny nonetheless.
Remember "My computer" ? It's on the Start Menu, and you can also tell Windows to show it on the desktop. I do. I like to quickly click on it on the desktop and view all my HDD's and browse through the contents of the secondary HDD. Also, by clicking on it's properties, either from the Start Menu or the Desktop icon I get easy acess to the advanced options like Device Manager and Windows Update.
Now you can't. You have to open the Windows Explorer in the taskbar, but, as you can see, you can't even tell Windows to show "My Computer" on the desktop:
Now, I've been taking all these screenshots of the Preview and pasting them onto Paint. Problem: I don't want to pin Paint on the taskbar. One of the arguments Microsoft gives for ditching the Start menu is that, according to their telemetry, people started using the Start Menu between around 20% something and 50% something less since they had the option of pinning programs to the taskbar and also the fact they had jump lists.In my humble opinion this is complete nonsensical reading of the telemetry data. I can talk for myself: I now do more because of this arrangement. Some things are on the Start menu, others are on the taskbar.
Firefox, Outlook and Steam are on the taskbar. But I would never put Notepad or Paint on the taskbar, although I use them frequently. But it's a different kind of usage - I may use it a lot in a given day, but not in others at all. Microsoft seems to forget that the taskbar has a limited size, unless you want to grow it big, in which case you have to also enable auto-hide so programs running don't just use half the screen.
Let's go back to Paint. So, I took a screenshot and then wanted to paste it into Paint. Where is Paint ? I have to click on the Start icon and then start typing (remember, there is no indication whatsoever that you can do this - so much for the OS being intuitive). So, Paint comes along and I click on it.
After doing this a few times, Paint would surely be on my frequently used programs in Windows 7's Start menu, along with a jump list of the recently saved screenshots. But it's nowhere to be seen on Windows 8. Result: I have to search for it every single time.
Also, how is Microsoft going to let me see which programs I have on my computer without a Start Menu ? Many applications put secondary executables, along with help files, etc in those program folders you can get access to in Windows 7. Without the Start Menu, how will I even know they exist ?
Another thing: Microsoft argues that the search function contained within the Start Menu has limited space to display it's results and that you have to open a Window to look at all of them. My answer to that is: so what ?
If you are looking for something specific, like changing the UAC settings, Windows 7 will show it as the first option, and will put different types of things in different categories. And most of the time you will find what you want. If you are looking for a set of photos or documents of which you have many, in different folders, it's inevitable you will need a bigger space to view all the options. But is that a valid reason to ditch the current system ? That's nonsense.
Take a look at what happened when I searched for "uac" in Windows 8 (I want to change the UAC settings so that it doesn't dim the desktop):
Right, so now Windows 8 categorizes things. Funny thing is, it does not show anything in the first category because obviously changing the UAC settings is not in the "Apps" category, but in the "Settings". So, now if I am paying attention (some people might just look at that result and think Windows found nothing), I have to click on the "Settings" category. How is this making my life easier by having a dedicated search screen that doesn't show me the relevant results immediately ? It's not. Windows 7 puts that result in first place and I only have to click on it or even better, just press "Enter".
Simple, and it leaves the rest of the desktop free while I do it, so I can, I don't know, know what time it is, look at what other programs are doing (flashing icons on the desktop if something is ready or needs my attention), or even looking at what auto refreshing websites are displaying.
You may ask: "Yes, but the search is so fast that you can come right back to the desktop. It's not that easy: what if I want to keep all the search results in a separate window to look them up with more time while I multitask ? I can do that with Windows 7- something Microsoft ironically cites as a disadvantage (the fact that you have to open a separate window to view numerous results that don't fit in the Start menu). I can't do this with Windows 8.Again, what Microsoft did with Windows 8 is such an oversimplifcation that it only makes sense in a tablet or smartphone where you don't multitask so much.
Now let's looks at the new ribbon in File Manager:
This is utterly pointless and space wasting. Now, that super useful "New folder" button is only available if you are willing to live with a bloated ribbon. Windows 7's vertical menus interface is so much better. Less used functions are in those menus, other useful and often used are at hand. With Windows 8 Microsoft just gave equal visbility to all, wasting vertical space in a world where we have 16:10 and 16:9 screens. Ridiculous.
And when I open a folder that has pictures and Windows 7 displays them as small icons ? With Windows 7 I have the "Change your view" button right there to turn the small icons into thumbnails I can identify more quickly. Now I don't. I have to change ribbon, because that feature is not even listed in the first one. Unlike stuff like copy / paste which is, and is a complete waste to use so much space in the first place. You can do that with the keyboard or have it in a vertical menu, just like in Windows 7. Who uses the mouse to do copy / paste or delete files anyway ? Disabled people ? Sure, but then it could be made optional / customisable for everybody else.
And a move button ? Wasn't it touted that Windows and GUI's in general have this great advantage of having a graphical user interface and the ability to move things around with the mouse ? Why is this option not in a vertical menu ?
Why did they have to mess up Windows 7's layout ? Isn't Windows 7 an acclaimed OS ? Why mess up with what works ? Ribbons are nice in other programs, but you don't need to implement it everywhere. Web browsers for example are getting rid of all the buttons and space wasting things they can get, putting the useful things at hand and through keyboard shortcuts, and the rest in a nice menu. Why is Microsoft doing the opposite, especially given that they got it right with Windows 7 ?It just seems to me they got the usability all wrong on the desktop and laptop front. I can now no longer do certain things efficiently like I do in Windows 7, like I demonstrated with the examples above. They sure have a lot of work to do.
Or perhaps they can just let some things stay the same and just improve upon them. Innovating just because you need to sell something new may be a big mistake.
And I sure hope this was all just a test like I said in my quoted post above.
Well, that's it, ladies and gentlemen. If you have any questions, feel free to ask!
I hope you liked this mini review!
Edit: small update
on how to bring back the Start Menu, with some screenshots.Edited by tpi2007 - 6/3/12 at 6:41am