Analyzing the Windows 8 demo from CES 2012 keynote

Just in case the Tweet Choir left a bad taste in your mouth, here’s a quick refresher on something during the Microsoft CES 2012 keynote that actually mattered: the Windows 8 demo by Tami Reller, Chief Marketing Officer of the Windows division.

Although the 10-minute long demo does not reveal any breaking new features or functionality, there’s a number of subtle and interesting changes in this unidentified build of Windows 8 compared to the Developer Preview released four months ago. Here are some of the ones I spotted.

  • It looks like custom accent colors are finally enabled with the teal-colored background. Like Windows Phone, the accent color is used throughout the OS including but not limited to just the panoramic wallpaper.
  • Start tile for the first-party Camera app (unfortunately not demoed).
  • Lockscreen showcased additional icons for messaging and calendar (apps stripped from the Developer Preview).
  • Additional button in the bottom/right corner when using the mouse on the Start screen, activates semantic zoom.
  • The music app is officially listed as the “Microsoft Music App” in the Start menu search. As one Twitterer quips, “There’s no stopping Microsoft’s creative-naming train.
  • Placeholders in the Windows Store might be hinting at the third-party apps that will be available for the beta in February: Evernote, Cut the Rope, eBay, Pixel Lab, Toy Soldiers, Pinball FX 2, PiratesLoveDaisies, Wordament, Never Mind the Bullets, Air Craft, Animoto, Picstream, Inkpad, Notespace, Notify Me, Invensys SimSci-Esscor, Carmen Sandiego 4, BarMax ($999 fake app), The Telegraph, AccuWeather, Conde Nast collection, iCookBook, Stocks, Piano, Grantophone, Kobo and USA Today.
  • In Metro Internet Explorer, the page icon has been changed into a spanner settings icon.
  • The virtual keyboard had its CTRL and special-characters buttons swapped (from CTRL/123 to 123/CTRL). The smiley button also has vertical lines around it.
  • The desktop’s taskbar had a gray opaque treatment making it blend in much better with the new dark and flat Start-button

If anyone else wants to put on their Sherlock cap too, here’s a gallery of the screencaps I was able to extract from the webcast.

30 insightful thoughts

  1. … but, what I want to know most of all is, will Live Mail be available on the beta release? Using web-mail is a real pain in the Metro UI. If there’s Live Mail, it’ll be so much easier to use and task switch.

  2. Was the demo device x86 or ARM? I want to know whether Microsoft has decided to keep the desktop interface available for ARM users, as there’s been conflicting information on that in the past.

      1. thats what it looked like to me too. from what I saw the teal-background tablet was the ARM one and the green-background one was the x86 one, and the Desktop function they showed off was on the teal one.

  3. There was a desktop icon on the ARM version of the OS. There have been rumors this would not exist but for now it is still there.

  4. Let’s hope the Windows team has something in their sleeve with the beta. Because if the final product will look like this, well, good luck! It is the most boring interpretation of what we know as “Metro”.

  5. Was the keyboard icon in the taskbar there in the dev preview? Something that has been bothering me since I saw Win 8 debuted is the metro app switching. they’ve only demoed that you can flip apps in from the side. they’ve demoed that you can partially slide in, slide out and slide in again and it’ll bring up the next app in the stack until you find the one you want to switch to. but they really need a more alt+tab like switching or Winphone like switching where you can flip through running apps quickly then select the one you want to switch to. The current method seems very inefficient.

  6. Some of the things I noticed (thanks for the screenshots):

    Control Panel tile now named PC Settings
    Saw FriendSend Tile – wonder what that is?
    Camera app tile
    Xbox Live tile – no surprise there
    The 1-2-3 boxes are gone from the picture password screen and Switch to Password is now boxed.
    Messaging App is new – may be part of Windows Live Mail setup (similar to WP7)

    Looking forward to the beta release next month!

  7. Praise the Lord for finally a theme color global constant.

    It was terrifying enough to think that I have to like green to use Spotify, or I have to like purple just to use Microsoft Music App.

  8. I noticed that there’s a new “back” touch gesture when using IE. This was badly needed because having to swipe up from the button to bring up the app bar everytime you want to go back was driving me crazy!!

  9. I think that the greyed taskbar is a manual color customization for a show, same way as I did in WDP for myself. Still hope they will work more on desktop theme to fit Metro visuals while keeping the Aero features. Leaving it as it is for now is just a sheme on MS desiners.

  10. I really hope they put the old Windows orb back instead of that fugly 4-color experiment. Or maybe they have planned a new surprise logo for Windows 8.

  11. I dont understand why the actual website logo dont show up for the sites pinned…just a bunch of IE logos. Hope thats just a pre beta thing.

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