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Hits and misses in Windows 8 so far

Published: June 2, 2012 | 8:23 am
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- June 1, 2012-
As Microsoft approaches the home stretch for finishing Windows 8, we take a look at what the OS does well, and what it must fix to be a success.

With the Windows 8 Release Preview finally available, Microsoft has taken a major step toward putting its chips on the table for its biggest gamble ever. While we may start seeing some of the hardware that will run Windows 8 as early as next week, we know enough about the operating system itself to say what’s surprisingly good and what needs help, STAT.
What we liked so far:
The Metro interface comes at app icons from a different angle than Apple and Google. Live tiles are actually useful, updating the stock ticker concept for a modern, mobile world. You can create tiles for individual e-mail accounts, or follow updates from specific contacts, and it presents a nearly non-existent learning curve.
Semantic zoom is the ability in Windows 8 to access different levels of content via zooming. On the Start screen, zooming out gives you a bird’s eye view of your tile groups. In an app, you can zoom out to see different kinds of related content — in the Bing Travel app, you’ll see categories like Today, Featured Destinations, Panoramas, and Articles.
Picture password has never failed to impress. Everybody loves it. You create a series of gestures on a photo of your choice, and use those to login instead of a typed password. It’s an obvious win for touch-screen devices, and you can choose the photo from almost anywhere — your Facebook account, SkyDrive, Flickr, or locally stored.
The three S’s: search, sync, and share provide a solid skeleton to hang much of your Windows 8 activity on. Search is intuitive, and although the search tool lives on the Start screen, it lets you drill down into Apps, Settings, or Files with ease. Sync will synchronize enormous chunks of what you do in Windows, from browser history to settings to apps. Share lets you share content across apps with little effort, powered by Microsoft’s innovative Share API. App makers only have to code for that API, and other apps will be able to “talk” to it for sending content. A great example of this is the Evernote app, which you can now create a note from a Web page in only two taps.

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