Windows 8 has been released RTM (Release to Manufacturers) as of August 1, 2012. When a piece of software has been “Released to the Manufacturers” it means that it’s been tested and ready to be installed into new computers. In this case it means that Windows 8 has been sent to PC makers to be installed into new computers that will be delivered to consumers. This version (9200) is ready for public use and can be seen in computers as soon as October 26. For some programmers and developers it may be a little sooner, possibly August but for most consumers it will be the end of October.
Microsoft claims thousand of new enhancements from the chip to the customer experience. Some of these new enhancements include a new UI design, more memory, and better connectivity. The tremendous amount of effort that went into producing this version of Windows is phenomenal. They say that this has been the most thoroughly tested Windows system to date. Over 6.5 million testers relaying feedback to Microsoft, letting them know how to improve. Windows 8 spans multiple devices and is touch capable making it fast and fluid. Developers are still creating apps compatibility and extended features to enhance usage. Microsoft wants to revitalize the user experience and to validate the consumers’ 25 year history with Microsoft. Design and testing are only the beginning. The real test will be when it gets into the hands of the average consumer. We’ve only just begun to unravel the wide variety of capabilities and potential of Windows 8.
Depending on whom you talk to there have been mixed feelings about Windows 8. Most have embraced the change and are acclimating to its use but some are still hesitant about it. Some pre-release testers have complained about not having a start button. Microsoft has removed this feature and replaced it with a “Start Screen” area instead. A basic description would be…it’s a combination of “Start Button” and “Desktop” but with more graphics. The Aero feature is also gone which may disappoint some but the internal architectural re-structuring may make it worthwhile. What we lost in the UI we potentially gained under the hood with newer features.
Microsoft, as it always does, is “Tidal Waving” its development toward the new touch-enabled device industry. Its new operating system is looking to match Google’s Android software. Microsoft and Google now both have phone hardware and also have phone operating software. They are both poised to make a large dent in the telecommunications industry. In some ways they are more prepared than the phone carriers because of the overlap of the internet, home computers and phones. The next couple of years are going to be a real battle for many major companies both online and off.
For many tablet and phone users Windows 8 is a welcoming relief, finding better compatibility with their desktops and laptops. If the past is any indication of what we can expect from Microsoft, then we will find not only new problems but also new solutions. The Windows model is a major part of consumers and businesses alike. It is not likely to just disappear. We may find a few glitches to deal with but overall a decent user experience. But will the new Windows 8 make your life better? You will have to try it at preview.windows.com to find out.