Changes in the Windows 8 consumer preview
Below are some of the changes we noticed w.r.t. the developer preview
- Usability - There is tremendous improvement from the usability perspective. For Touch the edges have been given special importance while for keyboard and Mouse Users, the corners are important. There is an option for viewing 'All Apps' where the experience is more like using traditional icons which is more likely to be used by Business users (see figure below)
- Start Screen - The Start Button is no longer present in the Consumer Preview. However, the start screen can be reached by either sliding (or hover with mouse) around the left bottom edge or from the Charms Bar.
- App Switching - Switching between applications was painful in the Developer version as one had to sequentially slide across each application. However the consumer preview has an option to view a vertical list of all open apps and users can get to another application that is open much faster. For a keyboard user this option appears on hovering the mouse near the top left corner and then sliding slightly downwards. This has evolved similar to the ALT+TAB behavior on traditional desktops. Below is a snapshot which shows a quick way to see and open all recently accessed apps.
- Closing Applications - There is also an interesting way to close the applications. You need to take the mouse pointer to the top edge until it turns into a hand. Then drag it down the bottom edge. The application then gets closed and disappears from the list of recently accessed applications.
- Applications and App Store - Some of the preinstalled apps that we had in the developer preview like Tweet@Rama, Socialite etc. are not there in the consumer preview. However, it has 18 preinstalled apps which include important ones like Mail, Messaging, SkyDrive, Maps and Videos among others. The release of Consumer preview also coincides with the launch of Windows Store (see figure below) for Windows 8 applications. More information on the Windows store is available here . There is a growing number of Apps on the Windows Store.
- Connectivity to Cloud - Signing in with Microsoft Live Id provides access to roam application level settings across devices, use cloud storage and access mail\calendar contacts across all devices which have cloud access.
- Visual Studio - Again, since this release is targeted to Consumers who may not be Developers, Visual Studio and Expression Blend do not come pre-installed with the Consumer Preview. VS11 can however be downloaded and installed separately. Expression Blend gets installed with Visual Studio. My colleague Dhananjay is exploring VS11 for creating Metro Applications and will be posting a blog on the same shortly.
- Development - There are more than 100000 code changes in Windows 8. While we are working on migrating the applications we created using the Developer Preview, we found these blogs useful
1. What's changed for app developers since //build/ (part 1) - http://blogs.msdn.com/b/windowsappdev/archive/2012/03/01/what-s-changed-since-build-part-1.aspx
2. What's changed for app developers since //build/ (part 2) - http://blogs.msdn.com/b/windowsappdev/archive/2012/03/06/what-s-changed-for-app-developers-since-build-part-2.aspx