Living with the Windows 8 Release Preview: Week 2

Windows 8 RP Week 2 - for some reason we don't have an alt tag here

The excitement of my first week with the Windows 8 Release Preview has subsided, but I’m still greatly enjoying the OS. Week 2 was relatively quiet, allowing me to spend a significant amount of time exploring nearly every nook and cranny of the Mail, Messaging, Maps, and People apps.

I’m currently running the Windows 8 Release Preview on a desktop PC with a dual-screen setup. Neither monitor supports touch, however, so it’s difficult to explore the OS’s advanced gesture and touch support. The fact that I haven’t needed to boot into Windows 7 once this week is a testament to Windows 8’s feature set and level of polish. And as I mentioned in my Week 1 recap, the only reason I needed to use Windows 7 last time was for the Zune software client, which I still haven’t installed on Windows 8.

I also spent some time reorganizing the Start screen a bit. I originally had everything broken up into categories like productivity, entertainment, news + social, etc., but I ended up combining them into a single “Basics” group. I’m not entirely happy with the name, and it took me a few hours to get used to having the tiles closer together, but I like the result overall. Late last week, Microsoft also revealed how to make pinned sites look even better on Windows 8. I quickly updated as many of my websites as possible, and I hope other sites eventually do the same. It makes a huge difference, transforming a pinned site from a boring icon into a beautiful easy-to-find tile that looks almost exactly like a Windows 8 app. Looking back, I also find it interesting that I still have yet to change the default desktop background and lock screen imagery. I should probably get around to that, shouldn’t I?

The Mail app continues to work very well. I can’t add some of my IMAP-based accounts yet, but Microsoft has promised to add this functionality in the near future. On the other hand, Chrome’s current implementation of the Metro UI is a joke. I installed the first dev release with Metro support this week, and was shocked at just how bad it was. I like to use a combination of IE Metro and IE on the desktop, something that isn’t possible with the current pre-release version of Chrome.

Aside from that, everything has been working relatively smoothly. I did receive a strange error while attempting to shut down the PC on Tuesday night, but it quickly went away and the shutdown proceeded normally. The best part about using Windows 8 is showing it to other people. Nearly every person I’ve shown has been impressed, and many family members have even asked me to install it on their own computers. I’m usually hesitant to give people who aren’t tech enthusiasts pre-release software – especially a pre-release OS – but I just might give one or two of them the Windows 8 Release Preview.

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William Devereux

William Devereux is the former Microsoft editor at Pocketables, as well as a Microsoft MVP and SkyDrive/Outlook.com Insider. As his title implies, he wrote about all things from Redmond, including Windows 8 and Windows Phone. He is currently carrying a Windows Phone 8X by HTC and a Microsoft Surface with Windows RT tablet.

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