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At the time of writing Windows 8 is almost ready for public consumption, with an expected release date of October 2012. The Windows 8 Release Preview is now available to download for those in need of an early fix (and tech-savvy enough to handle it), while the Consumer Preview of the operating system was released in February 2012.
Windows 8 is a re-imagining of the Windows OS, with Microsoft aiming to cater to everybody with one operating system to rule them all. It will work on laptops, desktops, and tablets, with its Metro interface designed primarily for touchscreen devices. A nice idea, but it’s going to take some getting used to. As these videos of people trying to get their heads around the Consumer Preview demonstrate.
How Real People Will Use Windows 8?
This is the video that most people reading this will have already seen. It kicked off the trend for presenting Windows 8 to someone for the first time and seeing how they cope with the obvious and plentiful changes made from the previous versions.
We see Internet entrepreneur Chris Pirillo sitting his dad down in front of a computer running Windows 8 Consumer Preview and telling him to just get on with it. He clicks Windows Explorer which brings up the old-style desktop interface, and then struggles to get back to Metro. Oops.
Short Demo Of Windows 8 Preview
This is a short demonstration of Windows 8 Consumer Preview in action, but despite its brevity it contains a lot of information. We get to see many of the main apps and features Microsoft has integrated into Windows 8, and this video shows just how different it all is from what we’re used to.
What I really like about this video and the guy responsible for it is the lack of bias shown, despite the fact he’s running Windows 8 in a virtual machine on his Mac. He actually likes the Consumer Preview and is keen to see what Microsoft does with the finished version.
Random Dad Trying Windows 8
Clearly inspired by Pirillo’s video, this one shows a random dad being exposed to Windows 8 for the first time. The experience is very similar, with the guy clicking through to the desktop interface and then struggling to get back to the Metro interface.
I assume Microsoft will take notice of these videos. After all they show how the normal, non-tech savvy, mainstream user will approach Windows 8 when faced with it for the first time. A learning curve is to be expected, but an impasse where the user gets stuck should never happen.
Windows 8 On HP TouchPad
Something a little different now. Microsoft has done what it’s done with Windows 8 in order to cater to as many form factors as possible. Knowing touchscreen tablets are becoming more important in the marketplace, Windows 8 is designed with those in mind, perhaps at the expense of everything else.
This video shows Brad Linder of Liliputing testing out Windows 8 on the discontinued HP TouchPad. It’s possible only via a workaround but it’s still interesting to see just how Windows 8 will look and operate on a tablet. It actually looks surprisingly good.
Random Nan Trying Windows 8
Continuing on with the theme of older people trying out Windows 8 this video shows a lady sitting her Nan down in front of the operating system. To her credit she finds her way out of the desktop interface quicker than the others, but there are other elements of Windows 8 that are completely alien to her.
Although it’s amusing to see an old person trying to figure out technology – the way they keep doing the same thing over an over as if it’s eventually going to work – there is a serious point to be made here. Microsoft is forcing people to effectively relearn how to use Windows, and some will struggle to do so.
Windows 8 Tablet Vs. iPad
We’ve already seen Windows being tested on an HP TouchPad but how does it stack up against an iPad running iOS 5? The Apple iPad is after all the current market leader in the tablet sector, and if Microsoft hopes to compete it needs to prove Windows 8 can hold its own against iOS.
This video shows The Verge comparing the two operating systems, doing the same processes on each. They conclude that the Metro interface is intuitive and could provide stiff competition to iOS. The only problem is the desktop features lurking in the background of Windows 8.
Random Kid Trying Windows 8
OK, enough of the old people testing Windows 8 out, let’s see how a 12-year-old kid does in the same situation. Let’s remember that this is a person who will have been exposed to computers all his life, so learning new technology will be a much more natural experience for him.
He doesn’t get quite as stuck as his elder counterparts, and there’s less staring into the abyss afraid of clicking on the wrong thing and starting World War III as a result. But it also isn’t exactly a smooth, carefree experience without some confusion.
Long Demo Of Windows 8 Preview
We end with a self-confessed redneck taking a long, hard look at Windows 8. In order to want or need to watch the whole 44-minute epic you’ll have to be committed and/or want to avoid testing out Windows 8 for yourself. But after seeing the experiences of others I wouldn’t exactly blame you for that.
As you can see the reactions to Windows 8 have so far been very mixed. Our own James Bruce gave his views on the Consumer Preview after using it for an hour. The Release Preview will hopefully have fixed things a little, but there’s no going back from the momentous decision to change Windows completely in the manner Microsoft has. I for one am interested in seeing whether this strategy works or not.
Have you tried Windows 8 in any format yet? If so what did you think of it? Has Microsoft made the correct decision in building Windows 8 from the ground up to cater to different form factors? Or would it have been better to release two different versions, one for desktop users with keyboard and mouse, one for tablet users with touchscreens? Feel free to let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.