Microsoft Windows 8 review: First Look

Windows 8 aims to combine a touchscreen Windows Phone 7-style interface with a traditional full-power desktop. Mary Branscombe gets hands on to see if it’s a winning combination.

Slide Metro apps across the screen to get this split view.

Explorer and Task Manager have more finger-friendly interfaces; Explorer uses the ribbon and Task Manager shows a heat map of resource usage, including for recent apps. Thanks to the same fuzzy targeting as Windows Phone, it's easy to tap even small buttons on the desktop with your finger; if you do have problems you can tap with a stylus, which also gives you the same powerful handwriting recognition as Windows 7. That's something Microsoft says we'll see on the ARM version too and this could make a Windows 8 tablet a good choice for taking notes in meetings and drawing diagrams.

The Start menu is gone, but you can still search for apps, files and settings or send your search to another app, or the Web.

The Store for Metro apps isn't ready yet and neither were the updated Windows Live apps. It's easier to activate Windows 8 PCs from Active Directory, but users can also log into a new PC with a Windows Live account, which immediately gives them a password and syncs settings like their desktop background and browser history to any other PCs they use with the same account.

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