Windows 8 Release Preview Review

Sports – New!
Sports is a program just like News and Travel but with a bent towards sports…obviously. It gathers not only information about general sports news, but will also give you specifics on your favorite teams.  This is intended to be a one stop shop for all of your sports news needs, and you’ll enjoy the schedule information on all actively played sports (basketball and baseball season overlap, for example.

For the sports junkie out there, like me, Windows 8’s Sports app is just what the doctor ordered.  It’s a news aggregator about what you love most – SPORTS!

If you’re looking for sports news, Sports has you covered. The top story gets a small graphic to help attract your attention.

Sports schedules and scores!  If you’re wondering who’s ahead or how the game ended, Sports has that covered too.  Scores update in real time, so don’t be surprised if the number change while you’re perusing through the list.

If you want, you can use Sports to help you follow one of your favorite teams.  You can configure that list here.

Tap the plus sign tile on the screen, and you get a pop-over dialog to help you add your favorite team. Start typing the team name, and the list will auto search and filter based on your input. Once you find the team you’re looking for, tap the Add button.

Once the button with your favorite teams are added, there’s a boat load of information behind it. You can tap  the tile to find all kinds of information, news, etc. about your favorite team.

News, Travel, Sports and other similar Metro Apps are, as I said, really glorified RSS readers more than anything else. While some of the information they give you, sports schedules and scores, for example, are nice, its easy to expect the same information, albeit in a more simplified presentation, from the news aggregator or other RSS tool you have now.  The Metro App in Windows 8 does the same thing, but slaps a nice coat of paint on it.

Windows 8 and Metro still leave a GREAT deal to be desired on the desktop. And while Microsoft feels that the best way to make use of the new interface on a legacy desktop (one that doesn’t have a touch screen layer built into it), is to use a touch mouse that supports multi-touch, it doesn’t make up for the lack of a touch screen in the hardware layer of the PC, or in the implementation of the Windows 8 UI.

Specifically, Windows 8’s new user interface clearly wants to be used on a machine that supports touch – be that a tablet, TabletPC (or touch netbook) or (all-in-one) desktop.  The OS clearly wants you to interact with it directly and not with a handheld pointing device..  If your PC doesn’t have one, moving to Windows 8 as of this writing is not only NOT recommended, I have every reason to believe most legacy computer users (those that use Windows 7 and earlier) won’t want or like it.

With everything that Microsoft has shown us so far, Windows 8 lacks focus.  Is it a tablet OS or mobile OS? Is it a desktop OS? How are they going to get the general computing pundits to accept it (the key to their marketing and continued relevance), especially if most people writing formal reviews of the new OS aren’t crazy about it.

It’s not clear yet; but what is clear, is that unless MS makes integration with Metro a little easier for legacy and/or desktop PC users, users may completely skip over Windows 8 and wait for something more compelling, perhaps in Windows 9 or later.

While using Windows 8 Release Preview, I noticed the introduction of regression based defects, meaning that it feels like Microsoft broke things that were working in the Consumer Preview.  Metro Apps not working or launching is a great example of the introduction of defects effecting features and functionality that were previously working, but now are not.  Microsoft is going to have to fix these, as well as insure the new features work as intended, if they want to capture the upgraded dollars they currently are projecting.

Finally, while the new Metro apps – News, Travel and Sports – are nice, they really aren’t anything to write home about. They’re visual RSS apps.  Nice, and they work well with Live Tiles and such, but they’re nothing essential. My guess is that they wouldn’t be missed much at all if they weren’t there or were removed from the build.

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