[MWC 2012] At Microsoft’s Windows 8 Consumer Preview today, we are stoked to see what Microsoft has in store for the masses. Of course, we already know that Windows 8 wallpapers were leaked earlier this morning, in addition to it being available for testing purposes,  so let us take a closer look at how Microsoft intends to bring the best of PC and the best of mobility under one roof. Microsoft intends to build a unified operating system experience, and Windows 8 might just be their big ticket item to achieve this for a seamless user experience. Windows 8 saw more than 100,000 code changes introduced – so you ought to be able to reap the benefits of that almost instantaneously when you use it.

Right after the jump is the long and short of Windows 8 at Mobile World Congress 2012, but if you can’t be bothered to trawl your way through words and want to get hold of Windows 8 Consumer Preview, you are able to download it here.

The Windows 8 user experience has been touted to be “fast and fluid”, where it will come in the widest range of form factors, and looks alive at but a glance. Not only that, apps on Windows 8 are easy and powerful, and they complement each other by synergizing. Cloud-connected, you know for sure that a decent Internet connection would be essential to your Windows 8 experience.

Microsoft intends for you to get the app of your choice within the shortest time possible, and hope that individual apps will make the entire system far richer than as a standalone app. They hope to make it more fun and natural to use, and will target users of all sorts, from those who use multi-monitors to others who prefer tablets. The Metro style interface will hold everything together, and Windows 8 was specially designed to scale with the capabilities of the device using it.

The user interface was specially designed after taking into consideration just where the average hand is positioned when holding a tablet. On stage, a “touch to draw” password was demonstrated – nothing groundbreaking here, but it is still interesting to look at. Microsoft claims that there will be hundreds of apps available, so the design needs to be different enough to accommodate such changes in ensuring everything remains fast and fluid. Zooming in and out does seem to happen all too easily – which is a good thing, of course. All apps run in full screen (as seen below), and I believe that it will take some getting used to at the beginning.

Flicking the app from the left will let you switch between apps in a similar manner like the current Alt-Tab combo, while closing an app requires you to make that swipe from top to bottom. If you happen to have a couple of apps running simultaneously, say, IM and Video, individual partitions of the screen can be resized, which means you no longer need to micro-manage the Windows border that could prove to be time-consuming. As for the people Hub (see below), it does resemble what can be found in Windows Phone. This could potentially be a nifty social network app, and we do think that it might eventually end up better than plenty of native social networking apps.

Demonstrations of Windows 8 occurred on a tablet and a Lenovo Ultrabook which has no touchscreen display, and you know for sure that you won’t go wrong with a mouse and keyboard combination. To put it in a nutshell, current Windows users would be at home with Windows 8. The Windows 8 Desktop has definitely changed though, where it functions like other Metro apps, allowing you to place it on the left or on the right in a seamless manner. For file copying processes, it is a whole lot cleaner since graphical statistics are made available to you for easier reference. Copies can even recover and continue when you wake up the computer from a sleep state, now how about that?

Fret not if you want to install Windows 8 across a range of machines and devices, since Windows’ cloud service, SkyDrive, is there to help you shift your settings and data all over the place to maintain a sense of uniformity. SkyDrive shows up as a storage location on all Windows 8 devices owned by that particular user. All apps are free on the Windows 8 store during the consumer review period.

There are concerns that a full fledged operating system might not be too hot in terms of battery life on mobile devices, but Microsoft has reassured us that Windows 8 has been specially redesigned for power efficiency on mobile platforms. Not only that, the huge issues about drivers has also been “solved” so to speak, with Microsoft having developed a completely new driver system that allows a broad range of devices to run on any Windows 8 system.

All in all, we are extremely impressed with Windows 8 and its capabilities. With the Consumer Preview being so impressive already, it would be something to see the Release Candidate roll out sometime down the road. CeBIT will be the next stop for Windows To Go.


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