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Microsoft’s Windows 8 Consumer Preview

 

Pre-Download Disclaimer:

Windows 8 Consumer Preview is prerelease software that may be substantially modified before it’s commercially released. Microsoft makes no warranties, express or implied, with respect to the information provided here. Some product features and functionality may require additional hardware or software. If you decide to go back to your previous operating system, you’ll need to reinstall it from the recovery or installation media that came with your PC.

-Microsoft

Few Months earlier Microsoft announced the Developer Edition of Windows 8 and the developers went wild with the OS. Neither the Developer Edition, nor the Consumer preview edition is supposed to be the Beta version of Windows 8. Instead it is more of a showcase edition, a preview of what’s to come where Microsoft expects the Consumers to accept the good and reject the bad as they are supposed to fix them before the final version of the OS is out for Public.

Basic Hardware Requirements

Windows 8 Consumer Preview would run on the same hardware that powers Windows 7,  but in general, in order to run  Windows 8 Consumer Preview  on your PC, you would require the following:

  • 1 GHz or faster processor
  • 1 GB RAM (32-bit) or 2 GB RAM (64-bit)
  • 16 GB available hard disk space (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit)
  • DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver
  • 1024 x 768 minimum screen resolution

Advanced Hardware Requirements

  •  A PC with a 1366×768 resolution or higher is needed in order to use the Snap feature.
  • You’ll need a multitouch-capable laptop, tablet, or display screen, If you want to use touch.
  • An Internet connection to try out the Windows Store, to download and install apps, and to take your settings and files with you from one Windows 8 PC to another.

Installation

Download the Windows 8 Consumer Preview Installer from here.

Click on the .exe File and follow the Instructions.

Windows 8 Consumer Preview Setup will check to see if your PC can run Windows 8 Consumer Preview and select the right download.

Setup also features a compatibility report and upgrade assistance.

And then begins the actual downloading of the OS. It might take upto 3 – 4 hours on an internet connection of bandwidth 1 – 2 MBps.

At this point, the installer gives you two options to either creates a USB flash Drive or to burn the ISO on the DVD.

And then the Final Installation Screen appears.

You are done with the Installation. Its time to spin up a little and get your hands on the ‘Metro’ UI.

The START Screen

Unlike the monotonous ‘Dekstop’ Screen in the previous version of the Windows, Windows 8 starts up with the START Screen. The User Interface is somewhat similar to what you must have seen and experienced in Windows Phone.

Windows 8 has the’Metro’ UI,  popularly known as the Tile based UI.  The apps, Programs and tasks can be launched by simply clicking on the dedicated tiles.  The tiles show real-time updates— news, sports, weather and what your friends have the latest to share.

You don’t need to open an app to see your next appointment or find out the current weather or check if you have any new email. This design on Windows Phone was quite likable and adaptable as you get the content you want easily and quickly. Extending the same ideology to the whole screen of a PC,  is going to make the user Experience even better.

To make the Start Screen more personal, you can customize it to match it up to you needs. You can place the useful and most frequently used apps on the front side and the less frequently used on another, thus making the navigation and accessibility more faster.

Windows on Cloud ’8′ :  Sharing is Caring

Just like Apple offers the facility of ‘iCloud’ which stores your information and lets you share data on different PCs, Microsoft offers a similar Cloud approach with Windows 8. From Windows 8 onwards, It won’t matter where you’re sitting or what device you’re using, your music, photos, files, contacts, and settings are in one place: the cloud. The cloud is associated With a Microsoft account and It stores all the data related to that account.

Whenever you sign in to a Windows 8 PC with your Microsoft account, you will be immediately connected to all of your people, files, and settings, including themes, language preferences, and browser favorites which were stored in the Cloud the last time you used a Windows 8 powered PC. In addition to the general settings, You can also connect the services like Hotmail, SkyDrive, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter with the Cloud in your Microsoft’s Account.

Charms Fastens your Working Experience

Charms in Windows 8 is an extended version of the Quick Launch Bar of its previous versions. When multitasking, Charms will let you navigate to key tasks in Windows 8.

You can either Swipe in from the right edge of the screen or move your mouse to the upper-right corner, for the charms bar to appear. You can also use the Windows key + C shortcut key combination to open up the Charms bar.

Searching Charm

Just like we used to searched for various files, folders or applications from the Start Menu in Windows 7, with Windows 8, you can easily search for apps, settings, files or folders on your PC.

The major change in the Search tool is brought about by the Charms feature. Searching with Search Charm now goes even more deeper as you can search within apps and on the web right from one single place on the Start Screen. Instead of using the Browser to log in into your email account and search for a particular email or login into facebook and search for a specific person or interest topic , you can easily search the same using the Search Charm also get search results from within apps right from the Start screen. If you want to search the web about a particular topic, all you need to do is Choose the Internet Explorer in your Search Results and the app will automatically bring in the desired web pages right on the START Screen.

Sharing Charm

This is one of the most amazing feature on an Operating system of a PC. The Sharing Charm lets you share the most likeable and great content with your connections, be it on Facebook or in your Mailing Contacts or on any other Social Platform.

It easily lets you share photos and videos onto Sky Drive. The most frequently used apps are listed for quick access and it also lets you create filters for the content you are going to upload/share on social platforms.

Devices Charm

The devices charm lets you connect with the other devices without any hassle.

If you want to connect to your digital Camera to transfer the photos, or you need to stream a video from your PC to your Smart TV, you can easily do so with the Devices Charm.

It is basically a Connection Hub kind of an app which connects your PC with other sharable Devices.

Settings Charm

For the basic settings like increasing the brightness, volume or Restart/Shut Down your PC, you would be required to visit the Setting Charm. Setting Charms is also Application Specific.

It shows the Settings for a particular app from which you opened the Setting Charm. It also lets you change the themes, User group and other similar settings as seen on the previous versions.

The App Store

One stop Shop from where you will be able to download all the apps and other utility items for your Start Screen is the App Store.

All the apps are grouped according to their genre and you can navigate through the Store easily and find out the desired App. For the time , All the Apps in the App store are FREE, but the developers are expected to release the paid apps as the final build of the OS launches out. The store also provides an Update Section wherein all the updates to the app by the developer will be noticeable and applicable.

We do get some default apps in the Consumer Preview, but almost all of them are the Lite Version and are still under development. A majority of apps are powered by Bing. It also incorporates the xBox integration and synchronization.

Internet Explorer 10

No matter how far Microsoft may work upon its Internet Explorer, there are always some or the other specifications which fails to attract the users to use the same. There wasn’t a much of an improvement in the Working of Internet Explorer 9, but this time around, It does looks as if they have completely reimagined the design and working of the Internet Explorer. Websites, by default, extend over the whole screen, and tabs and navigation controls appear only when you need them and then quietly get out of the screen when you don’t. This might be a plus for the visual appeal, but it seriously annoys you if you like to work on a number of tabs simultaneously and need to frequently switch between them.

The browsing and navigation is quite simplified and Microsoft says that the browsing is lightning fast as it uses hardware acceleration, modern browser standards like HTML5, and the quick core of Windows to make browsing fast and fluid. Well, User experience and feedback will decide whether the above said things about the Explorer are correct or not.

One (and might be the only) thing which I personally like about the Internet Explorer is it keeps you protected against the malware and phishing, and it does keep you secure when browsing the web. In Internet Explorer 10, SmartScreen Filter identifies scams and sites that are known to be malicious and warns you when your security might be threatened and the privacy controls in Tracking gives you choice and better control over where your personal info goes on the web.

Start Fresh, Only Refresh

If you ever experience any problem with your system or having any issues with the programs which might force you to re-install the Windows, With Windows 8 installed on your PC, you will not be required to Re-install the Windows and start all over again.  With new options to refresh your PC, Windows 8 makes it simple to go back to a fresh installation of Windows without losing your personal files or settings, or any apps you’ve installed from the Windows Store. You don’t have to get out an installation disc or burn DVDs to back up your photos, videos, or music. All you have to do is to just initiate the Refreshing process Windows will do all the work and get you back in action.

Security, By Default

Windows 8 has an Anti Malware and an Anti Virus Defender pre installed for your Monitor. Now if ever your PC gets infected by any kind of Virus or Malware, Defender will detect and will attempt to remove the same and will keep your system run smoothly. If you use another Antivirus Software to protect your Monitor, The defender will back off quietly and will let the third party software do its work efficiently.

Desktop – The Primitive Carrier

Even though the START screen fulfills almost all of your requirement, Still Microsoft has carried the most primitive feature of the Windows which has been their trademark from decades now.

The familiar Desktop is still around and it does support all your apps and other widgets. A handful of improvements here and there and the rest is all the same as seen in Windows 7. The Control panel has been revamped and the Task Manager has been simplified.

All in all, The desktop and all the other stuff which you are familiar with is still there. To get the Screen of Wonders, The START Screen,  just move your mouse to the lower-left corner of the screen, or press the Windows key on your keyboard and you are all set to Go.