Just when you thought it was safe to return to your desktop, Microsoft spoils it all by introducing another version of Windows. Today, on leap day, Microsoft takes a leap by unleashing the Windows 8 Consumer Preview edition on an unsuspecting public. Whether it's a leap forward, backward, or straight into a bottomless pit is the question everyone is now asking.
You can download your very own copy. Good luck.
[ InfoWorld's Woody Leonhard reveals potential gotchas for business users in Windows 8. | Find out what Microsoft's forthcoming OS means for IT in InfoWorld's Windows 8 Deep Dive report. | For a humorous take on the tech industry's shenanigans, subscribe to Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter. ]
Admittedly, I've counted out Microsoft before. Yet Windows 7 was an impressive rebound after the 30,000-foot freefall that was Windows Vista. Microsoft took a spatula, scraped up the grisly remains, and packaged it into a workmanlike OS that does its job and gets out of the way, as any good OS should.
But Win 8 is different. This is not another hierarchical-folders-and-menus-hey-we-renamed-the-icons-in-Control-Panel-yet-again rehash. What Microsoft is calling the "reimagined Windows" is really the FrankenOS -- half mobile, half desktop, all terror -- featuring the Metro Live Tiles and apps of its surprisingly unsucky Windows Phone 7 interface.
Since I am admitting things, let me also admit I really like Live Tiles on my WinPho Mango handset ("he likes it, he really likes it"). My readers overwhelmingly agree. Doing the Mango tango on a tablet seems like it could work well -- unless Win8 turns out to be a power and processor hog. Translating the touch-friendly Metro to a desktop? That's less clear.
The very early reviews strike a positive note.
MSNBC's Wilson Rothman:
So far, it's living up to its promise as a touch-friendly "reimagining" of Windows.... Windows 8 holds the kind of promise of progress not seen in a Windows operating system since the launch of XP.
For Gizmodo's Matt Honan, it's love at first sight:
It's clear that Windows 8 is going to be a remarkable, daring update to the venerable OS. It is a departure from nearly everything we've known Windows to be. You will love it, or hate it.
I love it.