Windows 8 nears the finish line: What's good, what's bad

Microsoft lifts the Windows 8 kimono one last time before the finish line. Here are the improvements and inconsistencies

By Woody Leonhard, InfoWorld |  Software, Microsoft, windows 8

The app has some interesting new depth: Slide down or right-click on an individual stock, index, exchange, or fund list, and you can pin it to the Metro Start screen. Pull down the navigation bar from the top of the screen (or right-click inside the app) and you can convert currencies and track 10 of the world's largest stock market indices.

No doubt some serious brokerage firms will come up with a better Metro-style financial app soon. It's hard to take Bing seriously when Microsoft won't cough up the bucks to display real-time stock quotes.

The new Metro Bing News app follows the same big-shot-for-the-tile layout with news categories that mirror the major categories on Bing's news site. Each group consists of three tiles, for three different stories. Just like the Metro Finance app, you can tap on a topic that interests you and see links for dozens of stories.

If you slide from the top of the screen (or right-click on the app), the News app reveals four separate feeds: Bing Daily, the main "newspaper" you see when you start the app; My News, in which you can specify a term and Bing dutifully assembles stories about the term; Trends, which follows trending topics; and Sources, for following your favorite newspaper, TV network, blog, or other content generator. Many of the linked sites are decidedly touch-unfriendly, and some require paid subscriptions for full access. Some of the sites have Flash videos that won't play inside the News app, but will play inside Metro IE.

The new Metro Bing Sports app has drawn praise from many quarters. Not only can you keep up with news from various sports leagues, but you have instant access to a bewildering array of scores, schedules, statistics, photos, and detailed news about most major teams.

The new Metro Bing Travel app uses the same basic layout, with a greater emphasis on pictures. The main page houses a spectacular array of photos. Pull down the navigation bar and you can choose from mini-reviews of specific destinations, or you can use Bing to book a flight or hotel. Most of the articles are from Frommer's, Fodor's, or Bing's travel writers, and many seem to be dated.

Other apps have minimal face-lifts. Metro Music, for example, now puts your music in front of the music Microsoft is trying to sell. Imagine that. It still requires a log-in to Xbox Live, and the new version has tiles to help you buy Zune Music Pass and more Xbox Live titles. There's a new overlay for music that you're sampling, but the same Microsoft-cobbled background when playing music -- and no volume button on the navigation pane. The song list for an artist isn't even grouped by album, which is tough if you have 2,478 Grateful Dead songs. Metro Video follows many of the same trends, with added offers to get movie showtimes and sell you movie tickets.


Originally published on InfoWorld |  Click here to read the original story.
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