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Windows 8 Consumer Preview, Visual Studio 11 Beta Now Available

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Windows 8 Consumer Preview, Visual Studio 11 Beta Now Available

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Today's the big beta day!

Today Microsoft launched Windows 8 Consumer Preview and Visual Studio 11 Beta.

The Windows 8 Consumer Preview page opens with an enthusiastic intro video, then divides into 9 major sections:

  • Swipe, slide, and zoom: First on the list, the power of touch. Segments the touch powers into (a) swipe to select, (b) slide to rearrange, and (c) zoom out to see more. 
  • Apps, front and center: Metro's app-integration capabilities, and the Windows Store. Interestingly, the video looks at the Windows Store from a developer's point of view, heavily promoting the winners of the First Apps Contest (including interviews) and pressing hard the 'unleashing the power of developers worldwide' line.
  • Your Windows, everywhere: Personalized Windows on the cloud. Highlights social integration services, and personalized setting and app sharing across multiple devices. Coheres nicely with the touch interface, since users are not (yet) likely to replace their desktops/notebooks with tablets exclusively.
  • Wall-to-wall web: IE10. Spotlights the cleaner UI and (legitimately impressive) speed improvements.
  • The familiar, made better: Reiterates how mouse and keyboard interactions will still benefit from Metro (though honestly it won't be as cool as touch).
  • The Windows Experience Blog: Latest post includes a full walkthrough of the new features, basically summarizing in text what the slick videos presented visually (plus the usual pleasing, relaxing MS background-music).
  • Meet the engineering team: 8-minute video on UX improvements, presented by Jensn Harris, Director of Program Management for Windows User Experience. Probably the best single video on the site.
  • Building Windows 8: The Windows Engineering Team blog, user-facing but still (high-level) technical at times. Building Windows for the ARM Processor Architecture is an excellent recent post.

Microsoft has also written a full developer-facing site for the Windows 8 Consumer Preview. This invites developers to:

  • Download the tools and SDK: Visual Studio 11 Express Beta and Blend for Visual Studio 11 Beta. Includes 200 sample apps, extensive design assets, remote tools, Live SDK, and more.
  • Download the Windows 8 Consumer Preview: Obviously prerequisite -- but will definitely be important for developers to understand how Microsoft is promoting Win8 on the consumer side, insofar as Microsoft's marketing will affect consumer expectations.
  • Explore the documentation: I've explored only a small part of this vast resource, and it looks like much of the documentation is still in an early (very concise) state. But there's tons of stuff here -- way more than just API and language references. Lots of specific material on Metro design patterns, principles, concepts, and architecture. Presently includes five in-depth, end-to-end examples of different kinds of app development (WP7 apps, games, banking apps, reader apps). 
  • Read the developer guide: The best single, rapid-read overview of Win8 for developers. If you read only one page about Windows 8, read this one.

That's all for now. I'll post another, more detailed treatment of Visual Studio 11 Beta a little later today.


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