Windows 8 Love

So I installed Windows 8 Release Preview today. I had a bit of a trouble since I first tried the unsupported method that ported my user profile from the previous version which was something between CP and RP. After backing up my files and doing a clean install – things started whirring and it works great now. It works so great in fact that I now love Windows 8. It has been an interesting experience with Developer Preview and Consumer Preview before, but mostly from the novelty of developing for a new platform that is somewhat familiar to a WPF/Silverlight developer. The only metro apps that I used were the ones I worked on myself and otherwise – I had staid in the desktop world, which is still good – with numerous improvements from Windows 7. With RP and the updated set of apps – things changed. I love the new apps. They finally have features that I can find useful and they look brilliant in the chromeless Metro style on my laptop.

Mail

Mail just works now. It was very easy to configure my personal gmail and work Exchange accounts. Switching between them works fine. Sending email works fine and goes out from the currently selected account. It has attachments, I can paste images, do some formatting and it even has emoticons making mail a bit more fun. πŸ™‚

WordPress

Unfortunately pasting of images is not supported, but I can at least pick one from file. Tip: winkey+PrintScreen helps – saves a screenshot to file automatically. The UI is a bit rudimentary with a preview of recent blog posts by everyone on WordPress and a simple post editor, but editing posts full screen is really nice! It also worked as a share target to share my result from Fruit Ninja! It does spellchecking which might be built into the Windows Runtime control that’s used here, but who cares. It would be nice if it had a built in dictionary, but hey – it’s Windows 8! There’s an app for that – Dictionary.com. It would be nice though if I could just select some text and automatically invoke search in the other app without having to do copy&paste.

PS: The way this app downscales photos sucks. I have to update all the posts with the web post editor after posting…

Fruit Ninja

The staple of casual games comes to Windows 8! It’s nothing new, but it is really fun to play on a big laptop touch screen. πŸ™‚

Dictionary.com

I never thought of trying it out until I started writing this blog post and it is useful! And it could also be used for fun – it shows popular and trending terms, which might be helpful for someone wanting to expand their vocabulary – like me. πŸ™‚ Oh and it has pronunciation.

SlapDash Podcasts

I have seen some podcast apps and had mixed success with them. This one just works. I search for podcasts and find what I expect to find and can subscribe to them. I start a Windows Weekly video and it just plays there in full screen or in the background with great quality and easy controls. Better than any player I used before.

Twitter – Rowi & Tweetro

Tried these two. They are both pretty good. Rowi has a very nice design, but is missing some features that I need – namely lists. Tweetro has these, works as a share target and has a nice design with fun transitions, although I think it is still not as nice as Rowi. πŸ˜‰ I have a feeling it relies too much on the app bar for some simple things like retweet/reply and tweets are not interactive everywhere – you can’t act on a tweet in some views – if you can’t select one.

Wikipedia

This one looks nice on first sight. Reading an article is pleasant, although it shows some article elements in pop-up boxes instead of inline, which is a bit annoying. I would probably rather read these in the browser, but hey! It has a button to open the current article in browser! πŸ™‚

IE Metro

It has Flash, it works full-screen with no chrome WHATSOEVER! πŸ™‚ It’s beautiful and browsing some sites in it is a completely new experience. Having no chrome really changes the experience quite a bit. Then there’s this swipe to go back/forward which works really nice with great direct manipulation feel. It just feels like you are flipping pages in an authentically digital way. A nice feel is really important in an app. It’s what makes Flipboard great and it’s why this one is such a pleasure to use.

Autodesk Sketchbook Express

This looks just like on an iPad I think. It is nice to use and I bet I could draw something with it if I learn to draw but…

Fresh Paint

– an app from Microsoft is just plain awesome. It’s a fresh paint simulation. I think they presented similar technology earlier in some Microsoft Research demos when they (Bill Buxton?) were showing their research in multimodal touch etc. It’s simply amazing. I was thinking about trying to implement something of that sort in the past, but never got there and I would probably never achieve what they did. You just need to check it. And I need to learn how to paint. πŸ™‚

Grantophone

This is the first virtual instrument app I have ever tried that actually seems like fun and might even be used to perform or record some stuff! What it is is a synthesizer with many metro style knobs that let you create new sounds. Playing on the grid of four octaves with smooth tone transitions when sliding your fingers from key to key. It is quite nicely polished. I wish I had more than 4 touch points on my laptop, because it is really possible to play things for fun and pleasure.

Visual Studio 2012

It works. It’s improved. Has nicer colors and overall design. Works OK with newest ReSharper EAP build (I will need to buy the final version when it comes out!). Time to clean up my WinRT code with ReSharper. πŸ™‚

That’s it for now

There are many more apps. Some that I tried and some that I have not in the ~200 apps listed in the store. This is just what I had time to check today and things that grabbed my attention. Now – time to get back to coding. Got work to do and WinRT XAML Toolkit to update to the new build.

PS

If you are a dev working on these or other apps – please consider adding support for keyboard shortcuts and maybe some tooltips on buttons to show what the shortcuts are. I’m sure most users of Windows 8 will still use laptops, desktops or slates with keyboards. It’s the power of Windows that works on slates too!

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