I started playing around with Windows 8 when I got my hands on the Developer Preview a while back. At the time poking around in there showed me a lot of things that looked very promising. I saw an OS that was setting itself up to be a decent touch-based platform for mobile devices that retained some (some) of the old school "Start Button" love from previous Windows iterations. Today I started working on Windows 8 Pro (the actual retail version). It'll be available to the general public in October, but my tech pro ilk and I are kind of special, and those of us that are TechNet / MSDN users are pulling it down to play with now. So I got a chance to see what's up. Keep in mind that I installed this on a laptop though, so I don't have the ability to review any of the touch features here.
What I noticed wasn't really wholly different from the Consumer Preview that was released a couple of months ago. It still has the same look and feel, but the user is offered a few additional options for personalizing their start screen and user profile designs. It's quite a bit more colorful and bright than users of XP of Windows 7 are probably used to. And sure, it does look nice. So for those of you that put a premium value on colors and look and feel, there you go. But if you haven't seen anything on Windows 8 yet then you're probably more interested in function. In the words of King Arthur in Monty Python and the Holy Grail when asking about the holy hand grenade -
"So, uh... how does it work?"
After logging in with your Microsoft ID (or an unlinked local account if you choose), Windows 8 operates in 2 modes - the first is what you start off in, which I'll be calling "8 Mode" for lack of a better term. Call it whatever you want, really, as long as you don't call it "Metro." They kind of frown upon that one now. 8 Mode made my laptop feel like a huge phone, with apps and live tiles for basic settings and social media. 8 mode is also what triggers when the user clicks the Start button. Then there's Desktop mode, or what I call 7.5 - it's reminiscent of Windows 7, only minus the traditional start button and minus aero glass. It's where users can still get to regular things like "My Computer" and document/picture libraries.