Microsoft unveils Windows 8 Release Preview
Microsoft has unleashed the Windows 8 Release Preview as a free download available to PC users wishing to take it for a test drive. As expected, this third and final pre-release version shows significantly more polish than its predecessors and offers increased personalization options in addition to some welcome new apps in the form of News, Sport and Travel.
The Release Preview follows on from the Developer Preview and Consumer Preview and offers more than a mere nip and tuck. The team behind Windows 8 will certainly have been keen to listen to the feedback which has trickled in from the legions of Windows 8 testers and one of the signs of this is the redesign of the Store, which has been altered to offer easier navigation and a greater depth of content.
While the Windows 8 Store cannot yet compete with the quantity or quality of apps found in, say, Apple's own App Store, it does contain a respectable amount of software for a still new platform and the Wikipedia app was a particularly pleasant experience - its combination of eye-candy and utility makes it perhaps the most compelling Wikipedia app we’ve yet to experience on any desktop computer platform.
The all-new News, Sport and Travel apps each rely on data fed from Bing but promise to offer an experience which exceeds that which one usually gets from the web browser alone. We found that they largely delivered, offering content broadly along the lines of an easy to use RSS app, though Travel feels more like a gimmick rather than long lasting essential core feature, however pretty it is.
Internet Explorer 10 (IE10) has also been visited by Microsoft’s makeover team and now comes with "do not track" turned on by default, allowing users to more easily manage cookies and other such privacy concerns. Overall, the browser is a vast improvement over those older versions of IE which were the misfortune of millions of office workers throughout the previous decade.
Windows 8 definitely has the capacity to impress and this Release Preview shall appeal to those who like the uncharted territory into which Microsoft is steering its flagship product, and appall those who do not. The latter camp should be somewhat appeased by the ability to access the classic Windows desktop view, but we'll find out what the verdict of the masses is when Windows 8 ships in roughly two months.
About the Author
Adam scours the globe from his home in North Wales in order to bring the best of innovative architecture and sustainable design to the pages of Gizmag. Most of his spare time is spent dabbling in music, tinkering with old Macintosh computers and trying to keep his even older VW bus on the road.
All articles by Adam Williams
I was using the consumer preview and now the release preview. I could see some success for Windows 8 on tablets and for pushing some developers to write more metro applications which Microsoft needs for mobile but as a workhorse I'm just not as productive with 8 as I am with Windows 7.
I plan to spend a lot of time avoiding metro if I continue using Windows 8.
Interestingly enough in the last preview IE was a metro application and now it runs as a normal desktop application again by default.
I'm nearing an upgrading cycle and was thinking of OSX but I use a tower with 2 monitors and the Mac Pro line starts at $2500 and hasn't been updated since 2010 (ie. they have completely abandoned that market). The current $600 machines from Dell/HP are faster than Mac Pro.
It was nice of Apple to give Microsoft some room to leverage their desktop position to gain some mobile market share.
And still no access to the store apps if you're outside the USA. /rolleyes
@Lee Storm I live in Brazil and since the Consumer Preview I am able to access the Store App.
The Mac Pro is expected to be updated within the next few months, possibly with Ivy Bridge Xeon chips. But if you really can't afford it, a little time and effort finding the right motherboard and reading up on the process (with the right hardware, almost as easy as installing OS X on a genuine Mac) can let you build a Hackintosh using current generation Core i5/i7.
Many people interested in using Microsoft products won't like this remark, it could be you can guess what is coming next.
All in all, of course 8 will hit the shelves with many improvements, and it needs to if it will be able to justify the hefty price predicted. Price in these times is important, while governments and corporations which experience typically greedy Windows upgrade prices soon find their formerly consumed market share 'emigrating' to competitors.
I've used "Ubuntu" since version 04 and will continue to use it, as I watch the market share of the basic release and Ubuntu's 'spin off,' "Mint," compete between themselves for the market share Microsoft is contributing to them annually, the reason is clear. Not only are the economics a huge factor, with even the US Government agencies turning away from Windows, please pardon me if that desk top I see repels me.
Ubuntu already has a much more competitive desk top out, and then there is the ever-frustrating matter of updating each and every app plus the system. Unbuntu accomplishes that all in one encrypted stream.
To each his own, I began computing with various DOS choices, finally exiting Windows during the XP period.
If you've never tried 'Mint,” the transition is easy, the performance is superior, and I think you may be surprised about the price, which is right for everyone.
If you subtract mobile computing (android) Linux on the desktop hasn't changed much gaining from about 3.3% is 2005 to 4.9% now.
It the same time frame Mac went from 3.3% to 9%.
The problem with Linux is that back when people were interested in its potential it was difficult to use, now not only is it simple and still free, but the movement of many applications to the cloud means there is less dependency on windows compatibility yet here Linux remains at nearly the same percentage of market share as when installers were hard, you chose hardware based on what had Linux drivers available, and you had to manually solve endless strings of RPM dependencies but people stopped caring about Linux for the most part years ago and because of GPL3 it will probably stay that way
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