Windows 8 Release Preview - Review

When Microsoft first announced that the Windows 8 Release Preview was available for download, I was eager to see the new features and updates Microsoft had in their latest release.

I was somewhat surprised to find that there were not many changes which is generally uncommon at the ‘Release Candidate’ stage where we expect Windows to be close to its final stage of development with the features identical to what we would expect in the final product.

So what’s really new in the Windows 8 Release Preview ?

One of the first things you will notice is the flattened desktop interface in Windows Explorer. Microsoft has done away with the two tone orb like design which was first introduced in Windows Vista in favor or a flattened design. Other than that there doesn't seem to be any other major visual changes, while Microsoft claims that hundreds of visible changes and tens of thousands of internal coding changes have been introduced.

We know that the Release Preview of Windows 8 will be the last version before the final release, so we thought we will dig a little deeper and explore some of the new features in the Windows 8 Release Preview.

  1. Customization options – I wouldn't call this a big change from the Consumer Preview, but Microsoft has added some new customization features to the Release Preview of Windows 8.
  2. New app features – App pinning features have been enhanced. You can now pin sub sections within an app to your start screen. This could be a particular inbox – For example you can pin your personal or official email as separate tiles. The sports app and finance app also demonstrate this feature and we expect Microsoft to have updated their APIs to support this feature in third party apps.
  3. Updated Windows Store – The Windows Store was closed the day before the Release Preview was launched to get the app marketplace ready for the changes which were to come. The first thing we noticed was that several major software developers have now published their apps on the Windows Store. The Store itself has undergone some improvements which are detailed on the Windows Store Blog. You can now view both desktop apps and Metro apps in the store, however desktop apps will have to obtained through a link from the publisher.

    The Store now features an app bar which will appear when you swipe or right click. This app bar offers options to return to the homepage or view your purchased apps. You can pause or cancel an app you are downloading from the install page or share your favorite apps with your friends using the Share Charm.

    Along with some new apps from Microsoft like Sports, Travel and News, Popular apps like Fruit Ninja, Financial Times, Pocket God and Box have also made their way to the store. Apps are still free of charge so don't expect full functionality until developers can make money off of their efforts.
  4. Flash support on the Metro Web Browser – This came as a little bit of a surprise, but it turns out that the Metro version of Internet Explorer will also have Adobe Flash support. The catch its that it wont be the full Flash support you will get on the desktop browser. Microsoft and Adobe have worked together to create a stripped down version of Flash 11.3 which will only support viewing approved list of websites.
Unfortunately these were the only visible improvements we found on the Windows 8 Release Preview. If you have found any new features we have missed, please share it in the comments section which follows




Remember that if you are planning to get a new PC / Laptop you will be eligible for the Windows 8 upgrade plan. You can read all about it here.

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