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8 Days a Week: Here Comes the Consumer Preview

I had been posting articles in the 8 Days a Week series pretty faithfully each Sunday for a few months in a row there, but with a cute bout of food poisoning two weeks ago and a family vacation to Barcelona this past week, it's been almost 20 days since the previous installment. Normally, I'd just wait until Sunday to get caught up, but as you know, the Windows 8 Consumer Preview is coming next week. And I've got 15 articles to write about that particular milestone, so I figured now would be a good time to get everyone caught up on what's happened over the past week or so.

Needless to say, it's been pretty crazy.

Catching up with the Windows 8 news

First, some screenshots from a Consumer Preview-era build of Windows 8 leaked, showing off some new themes (with new accent and background colors), a new Start Tip, new Metro-like desktop icons for a more consistent look, and more.

The biggest news, however, was Microsoft's massive brain dump about its plans for Windows 8 on ARM (WOA), which even included a bit of Office 15 action. I posted some screenshots of both, a news story about the WOA revelations, a lengthy article explaining exactly what's happening with WOA, an editorial expressing my excitement that Microsoft is returning to NT's cross-platform roots, and, finally, an editorial discussing the differences between Microsoft's and Apple's approaches to their next-gen OSes. Just in case it wasn't obvious this was a huge deal.

While the leaked screenshots mentioned above suggested that Microsoft was dropping the Start orb (button) from the desktop UI Windows 8, I was able to independently confirm that this was, indeed, happening. But it's being done to make Windows 8 more consistent, since there's no Start orb in the Start screen anyway, but now users can access this functionality consistently in both environments. And, as I noted in Windows 8 Secrets: Windows 8 is NOT Dropping the Start Button, users will have consistent, hardware-based access to this functionality as well.

I was also able to corroborate rumors that Microsoft was dramatically changing its Windows logo to a flatter, Metro-style design that represented a window and not a flag, like most previous logos. In fact, I had intended for this revelation to be article number two in my series of 15 Consumer Preview articles, but then Microsoft announced the change, unexpectedly, this past week. So I wrote about it early in Introducing the New Windows 8 Logo.

There's a lot of fuss about the tablety-goodness of Windows 8, but the truth is that Microsoft expects the Metro-style Start screen and legacy desktop UI to coexist indefinitely. And as you'll see in the coming Consumer Preview, the new interfaces work very well, thank you very much, with mouse and keyboard, and not just with touch. What this change means is that the future of computing--which, remember, is highly mobile and highly connected--will occur via a variety of device types, some of which are established--desktops, laptops--some of which are new--tablets and slates--and some of which are hybrids of the two. I discussed this future in Of MacBook Airs, Ultrabooks, and Windows 8.

And, finally, in the wake of some very credible SkyDrive rumors--in which Microsoft looks to be adding paid tiers, merging SkyDrive and Mesh, and creating native SkyDrive clients for Windows and the Mac--Microsoft announced a ton of new details about its integration of Windows 8 and SkyDrive. I dove deep into this integration in Windows 8 + SkyDrive, partly because I was privy to this information in advance and was in fact already performing my own switchover to SkyDrive from other cloud-based productivity solutions as a result. This, folks, is big stuff, and it's going to change everything. It's already dramatically impacted the way I work today, as I'll soon expand on in an article called What I Use: SkyDrive + Live Mesh + OneNote. Hopefully that will be up soon.

Looking forward to the Consumer Preview

For the past several months, I've been using the Windows 8 Developer Preview almost exclusively, via my main desktop PC, a quad-core Dell workstation, and various laptops. (My main laptop is still using Windows 7, but that's because I intend to upgrade this machine and one other to the Windows 8 Consumer Preview so I can document that process.)

I've written about my daily use of the Windows 8 Developer Preview via my series of "8 is Enough" articles, and to be honest, it's been mostly painful. But that's to be expected, given the developer-oriented nature of that build and the fact that it's nowhere near feature complete. The Consumer Preview will offer a superior all-around experience, as you'll discover in my articles next week. But in the meantime, there's the anticipation.

We know that Microsoft intends to announce the Consumer Preview on February 29 in Barcelona at an event that is taking place concurrently with, but is not part of, Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. I was told that this event was a last minute decision, and that Microsoft had looked at holding a US-based event instead. But since the key Windows 8 team members--like Steven Sinofsky--will be in Barcelona anyway for MWC, that's what they settled on. (This is itself kind of mysterious, isn't it? Why would the Windows guys be at a mobility show that was previously only attended by the Windows Phone team?)

Anyway, stay tuned for a deluge of information next week. As always, the most timely, accurate, and exhaustive info will be had right here on the SuperSite for Windows.

See you next week. :)

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