A deep dive into Windows 8 Consumer Preview

After a few days of working with the new version of Windows 8, it looks as if desktop users may be shortchanged.

By Preston Gralla, Computerworld |  Windows, Microsoft, windows 8

Where the Metro apps generally shine is in their ability to grab information from elsewhere and display or use it in some way. For example, the Calendar app automatically grabs the birthdays of your Facebook friends and displays them on the proper day. And if you've created a Google account, it will also automatically populate and sync the Calendar with your Google Calendar information. But once again, powerful tools are missing. I found the display of people's birthdays distracting and looked in vain for a setting that would tell the calendar not to display them. And I also didn't find a way to display multiple Google calendars; it only displayed the default one for my account.

Other apps are more useful, and some play to Microsoft's strengths, such as one that lets you link to Xbox 360. You'll be able to not just review your account and make changes to it, but play Xbox 360 games as well. And I found the Remote Desktop Metro app to be a paragon of simplicity. Within a minute or two I was able to take remote control of another computer on my network.

Metro apps do take some getting used to. They don't have menus, and so it's not clear at first how to access certain features. But right click anywhere on the screen, and a serious of icons appear for that app, such as adding locations in the Weather app, or viewing all of your accounts in the Mail app. There is one a very simple and useful navigational tool missing, though: There's no minimize button. That's because you don't minimize Metro apps -- you just you switch away from them.

A disappointing cloud

Microsoft is betting part of its future on the cloud, so it's no surprise that one of the built-in Metro apps is for Microsoft's cloud-based storage service, SkyDrive. The SkyDrive app, as with other Metro apps, is simple to use, colorful and easy to navigate.

But rather than being integrated throughout Windows 8, SkyDrive is a standalone cloud-based storage service, so you can't automatically back up data to the cloud and make it available to multiple devices, or have data on SkyDrive automatically sync to Windows 8. Cloud-based syncing is relegated at this point to syncing your settings across devices, such as language preferences, background themes, your account picture and browser settings including bookmarks.

One of the built-in Metro apps is for Microsoft's cloud-based storage service, SkyDrive.Click to view larger image

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