We are now one step closer to the next-generation of Microsoft's Windows operating system.
The latest beta, called Windows 8 Release Preview has been released and is available for download from Microsoft.
The last beta version, the somewhat confusingly named Windows 7 Consumer Preview was unleashed only a few weeks ago. But, as time marches on and so must all the behind-the-scenes work to polish the software before it's final release later this year.
The new Windows 8 Release Preview takes about an hour to install - slightly less if you're upgrading from the Consumer Preview. You need a minimum of a 1 GHz processor (and up to 16GB of empty storage space) for the software to install properly on your laptop or tablet..
Among the newest features in Build 8400:
- Improvements, overall in look and feel of all operations.
- Adobe Flash, Although Microsoft had said that W8 wouldn't support Flash, there is now a slimmer version included with the OS's new Internet Explorer 10.
- Improved software drivers for W8 input devices. The move to USB 3.0 support right out of the box.
- Better apps in W8's “Metro” Mode (as opposed to traditional “Desktop” mode). Better integration of Microsoft's Zune Pass.
As for first impressions, there is a definite learning curve for Windows OS users. A number of well-used features – like the old, familiar START button in the lower left corner of the screen are gone in this new version. What that means is you need to re-learn how to use Windows and bone-up on its new features.
I appreciate the “Metro” interface with its multi-colored interactive boxes. It's similar to what I'm used to on my Windows Phone 7's (only horizontal). But getting used to the new controls as well as all the “nooks and crannies” is going to take time.
That means I'll have a lot more to say about W8 in the near future.