Windows 8 Consumer Preview

PROS: Nearly feature-complete look at Microsoft’s next OS; fun and colorful Metro apps; some useful desktop improvements

CONS : Dueling UIs could be confusing for users; Metro makes for sense for touch devices, which are currently rare

RATING : Four out of five stars

RECOMMENDATION : Windows 8 is the single biggest change that Microsoft has ever made to its flagship Windows OS, and yes, I'm including Windows 95 and NT. It has a brand new runtime engine, new user experience environment, new APIs and SDKs for developers, and a weird dual UI that puts the old desktop on the PC right next to the new stuff. It’s beautiful, bizarre, and, frankly, kind of a mess. If you’re an IT pro worried about how this is going to affect your environment—well, you should be. Windows 8 positions Windows for an iPad-like future of simpler, touch-based computing. It's superior—technically, and from a usability perspective—to Apple’s Fisher Price-like offering. Where the iPad is just a big iPod touch, a Windows 8 tablet has the opportunity to be a prettier device that's infinitely more manageable.

CONTACT: Microsoft

DISCUSSION: SuperSite for Windows: "Windows 8"

 

Windows Phone “Tango”

PROS: Extends Windows Phone to higher volume, lower-cost markets

CONS: Confuses an already confusing product line in which carriers often ignore Microsoft’s updates, leaving users stranded

RATING: Two out of five stars

RECOMMENDATION : Microsoft has been tight-lipped about Tango, a release—or more accurately, set of releases—that will extend the platform’s reach into numerous new high-volume and low-cost markets, including China. Tango is a rejiggering of Windows Phone’s ability to handle on-phone resources, especially RAM—the minimum is now 256MB on new low-end devices—but also such things as background processes. Developers will need to hand-tune their apps to work properly with new Tango-based phones, and users might run into the occasional app in the Windows Phone Marketplace that simply won’t work. For those with existing devices, Tango will be a more evolutionary update with few functional improvements—and, no, it won’t impede your phone’s ability to use its more full-featured resources—and bug fixes. Maybe some carriers might even roll it out.

CONTACT: Microsoft

DISCUSSION: SuperSite for Windows: " Microsoft Quietly Explains Windows Phone 'Tango' "