Windows 8 Release Preview - Ready or Not
Windows 8 Release Preview - Ready or Not
Written by Alex Armstrong   
Saturday, 02 June 2012

A day earlier than expected the Windows 8 Release Preview is ready for download. What has changed and is it enough?

Many regard Windows 8 as a brilliant idea - but almost as many seem to think that it is proof that Microsoft just isn't thinking straight, or at all. Now we have the Release Preview to download it we have the opportunity to look at the nearly finished code and user experience.

It has been around nine months since the whole project became public and the speed of development is impressive. This is no simple upgrade as WinRT is the first new Windows sub-system since the Win32API was introduced with Windows 98.

Most of the changes in the Release Preview from the beta are fairly minor and do not affect any main systems. We have some new apps and the news that IE10 will handle Flash - but not as a plug-in. IE10 now has the ability to display Flash content natively. It isn't clear at the moment how compatible the feature is, but it does mean that Windows 8 tablet users can view Flash-based websites and advertising. Another surprise move is that, by default, do not track is turned on in IE10. My guess is that this will change before the final release so as not to upset the advertising industry.

It is a concession to reality that Flash is supported in IE10 and, of course, Microsoft's own plug-in Silverlight isn't supported, at all. Could it be a last act of defiance that the video at the top of the Windows 8 Release Preview home page is served up to Firefox, Chrome and IE9 as a Silverlight movie?


So what is a Release Preview?

This is a good question. Microsoft says that on the one hand not much will change before the final release, perhaps just some artwork, but on the other hand it also claims that there is scope for some surprises.

If you try the preview out you will also discover that Metro is full of rough edges that occasionally extend to the modified areas of the desktop. Trying to select hot spots in the screen corners, for example, is still a odd if you are using a mouse or trackpad and multi-monitor support, while improved, still seems to be work-in-progress. Of course, under the bonnet any programmer working with WinRT, but particularly anyone working with JavaScript, is aware that there are lots of areas where the kindest description is "work-in-progress". 

So I suppose we have to conclude that Release Preview means  "unfinished code".

For more on I Programmer's reaction to Windows 8, see Windows 8 Release Preview - Marriage of Inconvenience

More Information

Download the Windows 8 Release Preview here.

Building Windows 8 blog announcement

Windows 8 Release Preview - Marriage of Inconvenience

Related Articles

Windows 8: A Frankenstein Monster

Three Windows 8 Editions Clarify the WinRT Position

How Microsoft Could Have Done Metro

Microsoft's Extinction Event

Dumping .NET - Microsoft's Madness

Was .NET all a mistake?

Silverlight is dead, long live Silverlight?


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