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Windows 8 install and test drive: Welcome to Microsoft's brave new world

Loyd Case | Aug. 16, 2012
I’m writing this on an Asus Zenbook UX31A at a Peet’s Coffee on Steven’s Creek Boulevard in the heart of Silicon Valley. In an adjacent table a man and woman have papers spread out on a table, talking in hushed tones, with the word “Apple” occasionally audible.

I was also eager to try out the Microsoft Store, shown below. There's a lot of curiosity around the new store, but it's only really gone live since the RTM. While I didn't try to count all the available apps, there seem to be only a few hundred currently, and most are free.

In fact, after a fair amount of searching, I could only find three paid apps, all games. Then again, only a small handful of users will be running the RTM. The real deluge will come as the October 26th release for the final version of Windows 8 nears.

I didn't have time to explore a lot of apps, but checked out a couple of Twitter clients (including MetroTwit, shown below).

Then I wasted some time... er, explored the Wikipedia app.

While checking out Wikipedia, the Naturespace app ran in the background, playing soothing ambient sounds recorded from nature.

Gamer that I am, I checked out a handful of games, though most seemed to be pretty casual and light. I wasted a little too much time on Dark Arcane,shown below, which is really just a simple point-and-click puzzle adventure.

The Microsoft Store isn't the only way to hand Microsoft your hard-earned money. If you click on games, you would expect to get a folder of game links, as you did with Windows 7.

You would be wrong. Instead, you find yourself in the Xbox Games store, as shown below. Despite its name, it's not just a way to buy games for your Xbox 360; you can also buy PC games as well. Your Microsoft account is tied to your Xbox account, which also merges in the elements of what was once the Games for Windows Live store.

In a similar manner, clicking on "Music" and "Video" takes you to the Xbox music and video stores, respectively. The Music app does allow you to play any music you own, but you're always presented with new music to buy. It seems just a little too aggressively up front--worse in some ways than iTunes.

Your Home Network

After writing a few hundred words, I drained my mocha and headed home to integrate the new Windows 8 system into my mostly Windows 7 home network, which proved straightforward.

Windows 8 works with Windows home groups, and sharing files is easy. I had actually installed Windows 8 earlier in my home office, and attached the system to my local Wi-Fi network. As I fired up the home network, Windows 8 also found a number of other devices on the network, including two printers (one network-attached, the other shared off a desktop system), the Onkyo network connected TX-NR 809 A/V receiver.


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