First Impressions of Windows 8

Windows 8A few days ago, I went ahead and installed the Consumer Preview of Windows 8. To say I’m impressed would be understating things a bit. As a Windows Phone 7 user for the last 16 or 17 months, I have become extremely familiar with the metro UI, and am overjoyed to see it coming to the desktop. The whole experience so far has actually inspired me to seriously consider buying a new touch-enabled PC (my current PC is over 5 years old at this point, so it’s probably time to update anyway).

What’s Right About Windows 8?

The new interface is inspired. It’s unique, and it’s easy to use. If you’re a long-time PC user, Windows 8 will require you to entirely rethink how you use your computer; but in a good way. No longer do you have a “Desktop” (well, you do, but it’s an app within Windows 8). Instead, you have a screen full of tiles that you click or tap to open applications. All of your applications (with the exception of apps that have to run inside of the Desktop app) open fullscreen with no chrome around them. Each native app has 3 different formats: Full screen; minimal snapped; and maximum snapped.

When an app is full screen, it takes up the entire screen (duh!). Nothing else appears on the screen at all. You can bring up context menus for various actions by right-clicking (I’m not sure what the multitouch gesture is). You can then “snap” an app to the left or right of your screen. When an app is first “snapped”, it appears in a minimal state. It only takes up about a quarter of your screen’s width, leaving the other three-quarters available for another app. Then, you can open a second app to show up in the larger portion of your screen.

Want to keep an eye on the weather while surfing the Web? Snap your weather app to the left or right, and open IE in the rest of your screen. Want to keep your email visible while you’re playing PinballFX? Snap the Mail app to your screen and open up the game you want to play. If you get an important email while you’re in the middle of your game, you can either handle the email message in it’s minimal state, or you can double click the divider bar to maximize the Mail app (snapping your other active app to the other side of your screen).

Google Promises GVoice Invites For All Students

Google announced today that it will issue Google Voice invitations to any and all students that want one. All you have to do is visit the special form set up for students, provide your .edu e-mail address, and Google claims you’ll have a Google Voice invitation in your mailbox in less than 24 hours.

OpenSUSE 11.3 Milestone 1

A few days ago, the OpenSUSE team released the first milestone of OpenSUSE 11.3. One of the biggest changes in this new version of SUSE is the inclusion of the LXDE desktop environment. LXDE is supposed to be fast, lightweight desktop environment. I’ve not heard of LXDE previously, but I have to admit that the screenshots I’ve seen make me very curious about it.┬áMilestone 1 also includes the first RC of KDE 4.4 and the brand new 2.29.5 version of Gnome.

This new release also includes the latest beta versions of OpenOffice and VirtualBox, along with the newest stable release (3.6) of Firefox. If you are a fan of OpenSUSE, or you’re interested in trying out beta software and operating systems, I would definitely recommend you give it a shot. It looks like SUSE is making great strides forward in their development.

Google Releases a Browser

Google officially released the first beta version of their browser today. The browser is called Chrome, and is intended to go head-to-head with Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (then again, what browser hasn’t been released with that goal in mind?).

I have downloaded and installed Chrome on my Vista machine at home, and am writing this post from within Chrome right now. I have to say that, at first glance, I am extremely impressed at how little screen real estate the browser’s window takes up. If all browsers were to take a note from Google’s browser, visitors’ screen resolutions might actually start to mean something.