Windows 8 Consumer Preview - first Review (updated)

After installation of Windows 8 yesterday on my Lenovo X201 Tablet I can just say this: It's fast, responsive, slick!

I don’t think I have been this excited about a Microsoft OS for a long time. I liked Vista (yes – sorry, but I did), I thought Windows 7 was more or less a lackluster Service Pack and I was worried about the Microsoft Tablet Strategy for three years now.

However, it seems now everything is coming together smoothly. Windows 8 looks great, for me a s a Windows Phone and XBOX user the Metro UI works completely intuitively, installation was easy (I liked the Beta fish) and it only took 15 minutes for me to personalize my system.

Picking background color, name for the machine, WLAN connectivity and then use most of the Express User settings (I just turned all “send Microsoft info…” off), adjusting keyboard and time format and providing my Live.com address and I was up and running in no time. Setup also asked me to provide a mobile number to be able to reset my password if I should ever forget it – I didn’t try to leave this blank as I have no issue with sharing my number with them.

After login I had 10 updates including all the hardware updates for the Lenovo Tablet – one more restart (which takes less than 30 seconds) and the touch interface is working.

First App I tried was the Mail App – my Hotmail Account was shown (as I used my Live Account to login) with the correct number of unread emails – after another restart the Mail App works fine with my Hotmail and Exchange account. I have not added a Google account yet, which is the third option.

Weather App works fine – location is close enough – and information provided plenty including small satellite videos of the last 24 hours.

Calendar and Contacts works as expected, very Windows Phone like. The Video App takes you to the Video Marketplace – content seems identical to the XBOX Video Marketplace (should be the same store after all). Nice integration with XBOX – the App allows you to buy or rent and then play it on your XBOX.

The Camera App used the built-in camera of my Tablet immediately and works for pictures and Videos.

Overall the Apps do more or lees what you would expect at this point – Touch is working fine, but sometimes is awkward when using the system as a Laptop. As soon as I change it into the slate Tablet it works as natural as my Windows Phone or iPad does. I guess this is just a matter of getting used to it.

The App Store has right now only a very limited number of Apps (what happened to the Twitter App? Only social App is Wordpress right now).  Again if you are already used to Metro, this looks very familiar. I assume that MS and Developers will add Apps from now on until the final release - right now there are 75 Apps and after installation I already had 4 Updates pending.

Compared to the Developer Preview this Release looks very much cleaned up with only a minimal number of Apps installed by default. Integration in to the Consumer Cloud Services is seamless – finally easy access to my SkyDrive.

All in all the first impression is very positive and in “Tablet Mode” this really looks like an iPad competitor with the benefit of a complete Desktop Operating System when needed.

I will install Office 15 next to see how the integration with the UI works and how much Office 15 is dependent on the underlying desktop (as Office 15 is under NDA right now I won't be able to report on the results).