News about upcoming Windows 8 appear for some time. Information about the new Windows version directly from Microsoft, including technical details for developers, can be found in this PDF: Windows Developer Preview - Windows 8 guide. Recently Microsoft shared a full, development version of this system to download, install and test on your computer for free. It's a developer preview - it contains the new operating system along with new Visual Studio 11. You can download it as ISO image from Windows Developer Preview downloads. The system works in VirtualBox virtual machine. You can see my first gallery of screenshots here:
My first impressions after testing Windows 8 are... quite weird. Apparently they try to make desktop OS looking like a cellphone, with big fonts and all apps working in fullscreen. But that's only a half-truth. I feel that in Microsoft they always do it this way: a boss comes and tells that "we do it again from scratch only better, redefine everything, but we have to preserve backward compatibility", then a developer thinks how to implement it the simplest possible way and it ends in a new flashy UI containing several shortcuts to the most important commands with the old, good windows hiding somewhere under "Advanced" button. It was the same with Control Panel, with formatting functions in MS Office and now it's the same with the whole Desktop. You are presented a new screen full of colourful rectangles, but as soon as you move your cursor to the bottom-left corner of the screen and click "Start", you are teleported to the normal desktop with a wallpaper, taskbar and the Recycle Bin :)
Other things that attracted my attention: You now login to Windows using your Windows Live ID account. System is integrated with Facebook by providing some application to browse it. Explorer now uses the new Ribbon toolbar, just like new versions of MS Office, Paint or WordPad do for some time. There are lots of new games. New Task Manager is great because it now shows four columns with all most important statistics of every running program: the usage of CPU time, RAM memory, disk transfer and network transfer. Finally the new UI style: flat, colourful, minimalistic, full of solid filled rectangles.