Friday, 11 May 2012

Windows 8 Consumer Preview.

Windows 8 Consumer Preview which is a Beta version of Windows 8 was released on 29th February 2012. Before that I was using Windows 8 Developers Preview which was the first Beta version of Windows 8.

Windows 8 is the new version of Windows that may be released some time this year. A lot of people think that Windows 8 is different from other versions of Windows, but it is not really. Most of the Windows XP and Windows Vista software is working on Windows 8. And you can also run software for Windows 2000,98 and 95.

The only thing that is different about Windows 8 is the Metro theme. In Windows 8 Developers Preview you could disable the Metro theme with a registry edit. But you can no longer disable the Metro theme in Windows 8 Consumer Preview. Also in this version of Windows 8 the start button or start orb has also been removed.

But you can still have the start orb and the Windows XP,Windows 7 or Classic Windows 2000 start menu by installing third part software.

I have installed Windows 8 Consumer Preview on two of my netbooks that used to run Windows 7. But I have also installed Classic Shell which works on Windows 8 CP and gives you both the start orb and Windows XP start menu. And there are several other start orbs and start menu's you can choose from with Classic Shell.

Classic Shell is a software that puts the Classic Windows 98 start menu in both Windows Vista and Windows 7. And it also gives you the Windows XP start menu. And now the new updated version works on Windows 8 CP.

As well as giving you a Windows XP start menu and the start orb on Windows 8 CP,Classic Shell also has the Windows 7,Windows Vista and Classic Windows 98 start menu. And you can also change the start orb on Classic Shell. You can have the Windows 7 start orb,the Windows Classic or the Metro start orb. But you can also create your own custom start orb using any bitmap image.

And not only that, but Classic Shell gives you the classic Windows 98 toolbar buttons in Windows Explorer. Which does not conflict with the Ribbon toolbar in Windows Explorer.

Classic Shell works with your Windows key. So if you have it installed you only see the Metro start screen at start up. You can also use the Metro start menu as well as the Windows XP start menu on Windows 8 CP.

There are also other start menu software's that will give you both the start orb and Windows 7 or Windows XP start menu. Start Menu 7 is another software that gives you the start orb and a customized Windows Vista start menu. And also works on Windows 8 CP.

Vista Start menu is another option and will put the Windows Vista start menu in Windows 8 CP but not the start orb. But you can pin the shortcut to the taskbar where the start orb is. And click on the shortcut on your taskbar or desktop to bring up the Vista start menu.

Yet another option is VI Start which puts the Windows 7 start orb and start menu on Windows 8 CP. All of the above start menu software's work on Windows 8 CP. But my favorite one is Classic Shell as it has many customization options. I use Classic Shell on my Windows Vista and Windows 7 and now on Windows 8 CP.

So installing a start menu software is one way to get the start orb and Windows 7 start menu back on Windows 8 CP.

But Windows 8 CP also runs most of your software from Windows XP and Windows Vista. If you are running Windows 8 on a netbook the Metro apps won't work. This is because you need a screen resolution of at least 700 pixels. And netbooks only have 600 pixels maximum.

But you don't need to have Metro apps to run Windows 8. As you can use all of the ordinary non Metro software,such as Firefox and VLC Player and others on Windows 8.If you are not using any of the Metro apps you can uninstall them.

Windows 8 CP also has User Account Control,UAC, and there is a new feature called Smart Screen. But both these features can be turned off,just like you turn off UAC in Windows 7.

The default version of Internet Explorer is IE10 which is the same as IE9. I do not like IE9 or IE10. As I have used IE9 on Windows Vista and Windows 7 and it is very slow.And I did not like the unfamiliar menu bar and download manager.So on Windows Vista and Windows 7 I have IE8.

But on Windows 8 you are stuck with IE10 as you cannot downgrade to IE8. Because IE10 is bundled with Windows 8, just like IE8 is bundled with Windows 7. But you can turn IE10 off in Windows features the same way you can on Windows 7.

I have been using Windows 8 CP for two months now. And I admit when I first found out that I could not disable the Metro theme,I did not like it. But when I found out that I could install third party software like Start Menu 7 and Classic Shell, to get the traditional Windows start menu back. I did not mind.

The only thing I cannot run is Metro apps because I am running Windows 8 on a netbook. But that is not something I miss.And most software is not Metro anyway.

Because Windows 8 CP is a Beta version there are a few bugs. And I have had a few crashes. But this should be sorted out in the next version, I hope.

Windows 8 Consumer preview can be downloaded from the Microsoft website and it is free to use.You can use Windows 8 CP from now until January 2013 when it will expire. And after that you will either have to upgrade to the final version that will be out on sale to the public.Or reinstall your previous version of Windows,Windows 7,Windows XP or Windows Vista.

So it is important that you have your Windows 7,or Windows XP CD. So you can reinstall your original version of Windows again.

Windows 8 CP will be supported until January 2013 and Windows 8 Release Candidate(RC) is going to be released in June next month. So you can upgrade to Windows 8 RC if you want to.

Microsoft have not said if there will be an option to disable the Metro theme or if the start button will come back in the RC or the final version of Windows 8. But you should be able to install third party start menu software,like Classic Shell. Which will bring back the Windows XP and Windows 7 start menu. And it is likely that most start menu software that works on Windows 8 CP,will be updated to work with Windows 8 RC and the final version.

Image,The Windows XP start menu and start orb on Windows 8 Consumer Preview,thanks to Classic Shell.

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