Microsoft Corp. released a consumer preview of its next generation operating system Windows 8 on Wednesday and early reviews about the software have been largely positive.
Microsoft finally previewed its new operating system for media and analysts on Wednesday in Barcelona at the Mobile World Congress trade show. Microsoft had released Windows 8 for developer previews since last year but this is the first time average users will get the chance to play around with the new software before its commercial release in a few months time. Interested users can download the preview at Microsoft's website.
Windows 8 is based on Microsoft's Metro interface that the software giant designed for smartphones and tablets. Windows 8 doesn't have the "Start" menu that many long-time Windows users' are familiar with instead applications are spread across tile menus. The tiles can be navigated with a finger swipe for tablet users or with the traditional keyboard and mouse.
"It's beautiful, it's modern, it's fast, it's fluid," said Steven Sinofsky, president of Microsoft's Windows division. "Windows 8 is a generational change in the windows operating system."
Sinofsky calls Windows 8 a change for Microsoft's operating system and a sign that Microsoft considers tablets to gain more prominence in the computing market. Windows 8 is a big gamble for Microsoft as it scrambles to maintain its dominance in the PC desktop and laptop markets. If Windows 8 is a hit it could drive consumers back to PCs. The software could also inspire PC makers to manufacture hybrid machines that is part tablet and part laptop.
Fortunately for Microsoft early reactions on the new software seem positive. Wired said: "Your desktop is dead. The next few years of computing are going to be very interesting to watch unfold. But one thing's for sure: Microsoft is at least one step ahead of Apple in putting the desktop interface to rest."
Tech blog Gizmodo said: "By the time the final version ships later this year, it's clear that Windows 8 is going to be a remarkable, daring update to the venerable OS. It is a departure from nearly everything we've known Windows to be. You will love it, or hate it. I love it."
Another tech site, Mashable, was equally impressed but a little wary of the number of ways users can control the new software: "In the end, Microsoft isn't just asking you to get used to a different interface for Windows. It's asking you to get used to multiple within the same OS. I'm not sure how many people have the patience for that. Still, Metro is gorgeous enough to keep me looking forward to Windows 8′s final act."
Boy Genius Report was enthusiastic about the new software calling it the future of computing: "We are now entering the post-post-PC era, and its focus is the PC. A new, smarter, more versatile PC. This is the future of computing. That is not to say Windows 8 is an 'iPad killer' or that media tablets are going away. While their functionality may overlap in a number of areas, light-duty tablets and full-fledged PCs will continue to coexist for some time."
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