Lesson to be learned from Carol's struggle: Don't pay money for a VMware license when the free VirtualBox does the same and much better
FYI, it's the full x64 version running with just one core and 896 MB allocated on a 20 GB HDD, virtualized on a 32-bit installation of Windows XP. I tried it first with 512 MB per VirtualBox recommendation, but it was a slideshow. With the extra 384 MB things are much smoother, though not as good as it could be. Don't really care, I am not evaluating performance improvements. I couldn't get the normal 32-bit version to complete the installation, it got stuck at 11%.
So, first tablet compromise: no Start Menu. All you have now is bunch of tiles acting as shortcuts located at the end of the tiled panorama, and a keyboard operated launcher, similar to the one used on Windows 7, but with a tablet-friendly UI and neutered capabilities. It's activated by either typing on the tiled panorama or by pressing Win + F. It's no replacement for the old Start Menu at all, since its indexing capabilities are pretty paltry, either by design or by the virtue of this being an early version, and you can't find anything that is not installed nor any document by name or content. If you download a program that comes in a ZIP file, you'll need a shortcut for it on your desktop as the launcher won't find the executable if you search for it. You can pin it to the Start Menu, but no new tile is created.
More tablet compromises: you're constantly rocking back and forth between the tiled panorama and the desktop, and the switch not only is jarring, but it also needlessly complicate things. If you want to view the control panel and you ignore of the existence of the launcher, you have to go back to the tiled panorama, launch the tablet version of the control panel and scroll down to find the link to launch the desktop version. Parts of the tablet UI creep up everywhere. If you move the mouse cursor to the low left corner (the Windows button), a menu composed of four items appears together with the date and time, and a icon indicating the network is up, all Metro-styled. Problem is the date and time appear directly above the date and time applet of the taskbar. Old bubble notifications coexist with the new toaster messages.
This menu is a complete fuck-up, actually. I don't know how come you can activate it if you're using a tablet, since the clickable area is very small for anyone's finger, and the Windows button is just a giant area to switch back to the tiled UI. There's a Share
action (wat). There's a Search
action, with invokes the Metro-styled launcher, but it does not search for anything, and the only thing it does if you input something and press Enter is to launch the BUILD app, which I don't know what it is (yet). And there's a Settings
button, which launches a sidebar where you can change a few things, including shutting down the system. Yes, shutting down the system is a "setting" alright V_V. Do note this last sidebar is finger-friendly, so if a tablet user wants to restart the system, he has to jump through a few hoops, if he can jump at all.
More things: the UAC seems to be even less annoying than before. Microsoft Security Essentials has been integrated into Windows Defender (do I sense incoming lawsuits?). The new Ribbon in Explorer is as terrible as expected, with a Fax
button and color-coded, filetype-sensitive sections containing a single button in some cases. People amazingly know how to use hotkeys (no sarcasm intended), but Microsoft thinks everyone will work better with this aberration. The new task manager is pretty nice, and a good simple alternative to Process Explorer.
Otherwise, the desktop side of Windows 8 is Windows 7, with a few improvements and changes, and that's a good thing. The tablet UI seems to be as good as the reports around the web show, haven't checked much of it yet.
In short, despite my grievances, an excellent tablet OS and a more or less excellent desktop OS, but a really bad mishmash between the two, with a serious disdain for consistency. Desktop users are going to suffer all the tablet compromises, and tablet users are not going to get anywhere close to the desktop "app". Performance-wise, the OS isn't ready for tablets at all, unless you consider a mid-range laptop a tablet. So, Microsoft still has a long road ahead if they want Windows 8 to be anything other than the laughing stock of the computer industry.
Also, don't be fooled by those sheepishly accepting the new state of things, i.e. almost all tech writers. Anything new is automatically better than the old thing, it seems.