The big change in the "legacy" PC version is the Start button. In the Developer Preview, clicking on the Start flag (it wasn't really a button) switched you to the Metro interface. Apparently the Consumer Preview does away with the button, but not the behavior. As I explained recently, the overriding problem is that the "legacy" Windows desktop doesn't have a "legacy" Start menu. A small cottage industry has grown up with registry hacks and lightweight programs to bring back the Start menu in the Developer Preview. Will Microsoft make it easy for admins and users to unlock the menu in the Consumer Preview?
What has changed beneath the Win8 covers When you're going through the Consumer Preview, be sure you check the new features with your current environment -- and sound off if you hit any snags. Here are some potential sticking points.
Virtualized storage -- called Storage Spaces in Windows 8 -- brings fully redundant backup and easily extensible disk pools to any Windows 8 client system with two or more hard disks. It's a brilliant concept, popularized in Windows Home Server's Drive Extender, now adapted for Windows 8 clients. When the Consumer Preview arrives, you should spend time testing it with your corporate data backup routines. Although there shouldn't be any problems, it's a very new way of interacting with clients.
Much has been made of Windows 8's new refresh and reset capabilities -- analogous to a wipe command on a tablet or smartphone. Reset completely erases the client computer and reinstalls Windows. Refresh is supposed to keep personal data and settings, retain Metro apps, and reinstall Windows. It isn't clear at this point precisely which personal data and settings are kept in a refresh -- and whether everything is obliterated in a reset. Make sure your apps survive.
All new PCs with the "Made for Windows 8" sticker must implement Secure Boot, a UEFI option that may bring you grief if you have users who need dual-boot capabilities. Secure Boot enforces electronic signature checking on operating systems before they're loaded. Windows 8 will pass muster, but other OSes may not. Most -- but not necessarily all -- x86/x64 "Made for Windows 8" PCs will have an override capability. WOA devices will be able to boot only into Windows 8 Metro.