Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Windows 8 and VS 2011 Beta

Microsoft did two exciting Beta releases today, Windows 8 (being called a “Consumer Preview” instead of  a Beta despite the fact that the default desktop background is a Betta fish), and Visual Studio 2011 Beta.

Windows 8 Consumer Preview

To download the new version you can get the web installer here or download the ISOs from here. I first tried running the web installer from an instance of the Windows 8 Developer Preview running in a VM but couldn’t do the install because I did not have enough space on the virtual C: drive. I decided to just create a new VM using VirtualBox 4.1.8, which now has a profile specifically for installing Windows 8, and install the Windows 8 CP from scratch. The install went very quickly and smoothly and installed without any problems on my first try.

My first impressions are that it seems faster then the previous version and the new tile based start menu works a little more smoothly. There is also a new task switcher that pops up along the left side of the screen when you press the Windows Key + Tab which is a nice feature. The classic desktop is still there, but the start menu button is now completely gone. You can still use the Windows key to switch back and forth between the desktop and the new start screen. I still don’t see how this new start screen is going to work out for desktop users, especially for power users.

Visual Studio 2011 Beta

You can download the Visual Studio 2011 Beta from here, and you can also get it from the MSDN Subscription downloads. I first tried installing the Ultimate version of the beta on my Windows Vista machine but it only supports Windows 7, 8 CP, Server 2008 R2 and Server 8 Beta. I am hoping this changes before the final release. I ended up installing the Beta on a Windows 7 virtual machine, and although the install took quite a while it went pretty smoothly. I also tried the install on a Windows 8 CP VM which, despite some information I saw to the contrary, is support.

I haven’t had to much time to play with the VS 11 Beta yet, but the one thing that is very noticeable when you start it up is the new, very Metro-like  interface. It seems like a cleaner interface then the previous version, but I will need to work with it for a while to see if it’s really any better.