The official release of Windows 8 is fast approaching, and for a few months now I've been using a release preview version of Windows 8. Windows 8 represents a significant evolutionary milestone in Windows development, principally to expand support to tablet devices and to provide a more unified user experience across all of Microsoft's offerings: PC, tablet, and smart phone. To get a proper feel for Windows 8, I've been using it on a traditional desktop PC as well as a tablet – the Samsung 700T.
The new tablet features in Windows 8 are particularly bold and innovative. A few minor issues aside, I'm impressed with its clever integration of a bimodal interface to simultaneously support both desktop and tablet use in the same operating system. I found the gesture navigation on the tablet to be quite satisfying and responsive. And in general, I find Windows 8 to be snappier and more responsive than Windows 7.
I did encounter some puzzling aspects of Windows 8. The bimodal user experience can introduce confusion, especially when two versions of the same application – such as Internet Explorer – can be opened and run simultaneously. Files can also be opened in either of the two available modes. For example, after opening a PDF attachment in Outlook from the desktop, Windows opens the file in Microsoft Reader, an application more suited for use on a tablet, rather than the desktop Acrobat Reader. A manual switch is then required to return to desktop mode. Thankfully, you can alleviate these switching problems by changing file and program associations in Windows, as I will explain later.
In summary, I'm excited about Windows 8 and am confident that existing Windows users will feel the same after they have had a chance to use it. Below are a few additional thoughts on the new operating system. I used green text to indicate tips from my own experience that you might find particularly useful.