If you've yet to try the Release Preview of Windows 8 for yourself, fear not, because along with our detailed impressions, Microsoft is catering to your trepidation with a series of blog entries on its MSDN site that explore the nitty-gritty details of its latest OS. In the latest installment, we're given an in-depth preview of the People app, a cloud-connected address book that promises to be one of the many centerpieces in the Metro environment. For starters, Windows Phone users are bound to feel right at home, as the address book relies on cloud services to populate the entries from sources such as Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft and Twitter. Not only does this ensure that one's address book is always accessible and up-to-date -- friend removals come to mind -- it also brings quick access to social feeds via the "What's new" section and lets you keep tabs on specific contacts via live tiles on the home screen.
By leveraging APIs known as contracts, Windows 8 makes the address book available to other apps such as Mail and Messaging, along with other programs written to take advantage of the service. One of the hurdles Microsoft is working to overcome with its cloud-connected services are the inevitable duplicate contacts. Currently, Windows 8 does a pretty good job of identifying and linking multiple accounts to one individual, but for the rare exceptions, the company will soon add the ability to manually edit and link various accounts to specific contacts. Naturally, with such a connected approach, security could be an issue for businesses, and for this reason, one's Exchange contacts will not be synced with their Microsoft account. In this scenario, users must manually add their Exchange accounts for each device they use. Take one look at the length of the MSDN blog entry and you'll be left wondering how Microsoft employees find time to code, but it makes for a worthwhile read.