Windows 8 Consumer Preview hits a PC near you

The first truly public preview of Windows 8 went online February 29 and almost immediately dozens of e-mails from the Windows Secrets contributors showed up in my inbox.

Most of the ensuing discussion was not about the merits of Windows 8 and it Metro interface, but how to get it safely installed on our various PCs.

Apparently a lot of other folks were doing the same. A Building Windows 8 tweet claimed one million downloads in one day. And the Windows 8 forums were buzzing with posts asking for installation help. (Microsoft set up a comprehensive Win8 Consumer Preview site with information, FAQs, and download links.)

As you’d expect with an early beta product, setting up Windows 8 was far from a slam dunk, even for our highly knowledgeable crew of Windows Secrets writers. I can’t put the blame totally on Win8, nearly all of us were installing this new OS in virtual machines, mostly using Oracle’s VirtualBox (download site). It’s also a fact that most of us down bother to read installation instructions unless we have to.

Over an afternoon, I succeeded in getting Windows 8 running (in a virtual machine) on my newish LenovoT410 notebook. The only two tips I can offer from my experience are: 1) make sure virtualization is turned on in your BIOS and 2) it’s better to have 4GB of RAM and a 64-bit version of Windows 7 so you an use all of that memory.

I did spend a bit of time poking through the new Metro interface. My guess is that most long-time Windows users will find it rather clumsy to use, at least on the desktop. I’ll reserve judgement on it’s application in tablets and smartphones.

Look for a series of Windows 8 posts with the thoughts and impressions of Windows Secrets’ contributors, as they dig around in Microsoft’s next OS.      — Tracey Capen, editor in chief

Tracey Capen

About Tracey Capen

Editor in chief Tracey Capen was the executive editor of reviews at PC World magazine for 10 years, from 1995 to 2005. He was InfoWorld's managing editor of reviews from 1993 to 1995 and worked in the magazine's test center and as networking editor from 1989 to 1992. Between his stints at InfoWorld, he was senior labs editor at Corporate Computing magazine.