October 22, 2011
Feedback submitted!Unable to submit feedback!
There isn't much for a pedestrian like me to say about the Windows Developer Preview yet, but a few thoughts:The blinding startup speed has one catch: it's only on cold startup. This means that any time you merely restart the computer, it will go through its full boot sequence, taking a normal amount of time. My assumption here is that because a restart presumably implies that there's new software or drivers or updates or the like, and that new software needs to have a chance to enter the computer's configuration. The new startup speed is apparently possible because it loads a constant unchanging state from the last shutdown, so a restart is deliberately an attempt to refresh things.Configurability is an issue in this release, but it's not even officially "beta" yet, so I give it a free pass for now. We'll see how things look once we reach Beta and RTM. I'll be looking for start screen background customization, better layout controls on the start screen (too many random executables find their way onto the screen right now, including arbitrary unnamed "uninstall.exe" files), and improved searching (explained just below). It's a bit unclear how to explicitly place an EXE on the start screen, because the desktop's right-click "Pin to start menu" doesn't do anything yet. These are all things that will get cleared up as the product matures in the development process.My qualm with "ease of use" is directly tied to configuration problems, and currently the Metro-like interface and its apps rely on right-clicks to access UI overlays-- it feels weird, but we'll see how this evolves over time. Also, the search feature seems burdened by the fact that it won't yet default you to a useful content type, so typing "Steam" in the search, in order to launch the app, shows you 20 duplicate INI and LOG files, and no EXE at all, until you switch it to "Apps" search.OS X gathers all the drivers your hardware needs for it to run Windows (dual booting on the metal), and although that driver package complained about my OS not being "Windows 7" like I told it when it gathered the drivers, the compatibility troubleshooter offered to lie to the installer about what version of Windows it was, and everything installed beautifully. Never yet encountered a driver problem.The only other bits worth mentioning, but not yet worth reviewing, are the new "Details" pane in Windows Explorer (which doesn't seem fully implemented yet, but is designed to do much of what OS X's column layout right-hand "Details" pane does), the really really awesome new Task Manager, and the cool screen splitting. Microsoft keeps positioning the screen splitting as "multitasking" or "having two windows up", and they've so far taken heat over that, since it's not like Windows couldn't multitask before now. The difference though is that the screen splitting is faster than trying to position things by hand, and it allows apps to have small modes and big modes, since multitasking doesn't always mean that all tasks are equal priority.In summary, this Developer Preview seems to do three things:1: Make the OS entirely usable using only a mouse (minus typing, of course). This is important because it frees non-savvy users from needing keyboard shortcuts. For example, Alt-Tab is paralleled by dragging from the left edge of the screen to flip through app screens. You can even drag out and back in and out again, without releasing the mouse button, to change which app you're about to give focus.2: Make the OS usable on tablets and touch screens. While this probably makes the die-hard among us feel like Microsoft is pleasing the wrong crowd, Windows has never yet been as touch-friendly as this, and it never will be without something like the new Start screen. The traditional Windows desktop environment just isn't touch-friendly. And for that matter, neither is any desktop OS on the planet. The Start screen represents a new paradigm that might be able to help us come to a solution, without abandoning the traditional desktop.3: Make the OS faster to use for desktop/laptop users. The boot time is faster. The OS already takes fewer resources to run, with more improvements already added for the future Beta release. The OS has better application hibernation and resource preservation. The OS gives us a better Task Manager, one that highlights all kinds of incredible information about which apps use the most bandwidth, processing time, and memory. Flying between the start screen, a desktop app, and a Metro-like app is wildly fast-- there's no period where you're like "oh god, I'm going to have to wait for the start screen to open if I want to run that other app". You just wack your Windows key and click and BAM, the app is running.What do all of these things mean? Increased productivity, hopefully. And if that's what Microsoft thinks they've managed to do, without killing the old ideas, then yes please. I'll give it a shot.