The Windows 8 "Consumer Preview", What's in a Name?

Mike Halsey MVP
Jan 30, 2012
Updated • Jan 30, 2012
Microsoft, Windows 8

It is widely expected that when Microsoft launch the Windows 8 beta in a few weeks that it will be labelled the "Windows 8 Consumer Preview".  This has alarmed and concerned many IT Pros who feel that Windows 8 is cutting them out with Microsoft putting all the focus on consumers and tablets with its new Metro interface.  I thought this deserved some discussion, especially in light of the concerns that IT Pros, businesses and enthusiasts currently have.

Let's look first at the missing IT Pro features in the Developer Preview and what this release was actually for.  Microsoft are going after the tablet market aggressively, frankly they have no choice to do this now or to wave goodbye to it forever.  This is why Windows 8's new Start Screen and Metro apps have been engineered the way they have.  Nobody can blame them for this either.  As we all now know from smartphones and tablets, any platform will live or die on the quality and quantity of the apps available for it.  Let's just look at what happened to HP's TouchPad, with the same now beginning to happen to the RIM Playbook.

For this reason it is essential that Windows 8 have a critical mass of Metro apps available in the new Windows store on the day that Windows 8 goes on sale.  The only way to do this is to start early, and the only way to get developers writing for the new interface and platform is to give them a copy to play with.  It was far from essential therefore that anything other than Metro was actually working for the giveaway date at their BUILD developer conference last September.

This doesn't mean that Windows 8 will be bereft of IT Pro features, it just means that Microsoft's focus in the run up to September was finishing Metro and making sure it was stable.  Microsoft have told me privately that plenty of new features for IT Pros simply weren't finished by then.  They are coming and will all be finished for the beta.  In fact that build of Windows 8 will already have been signed off by now and will be going into escrow this week.

Microsoft have a huge mountain to climb in the tablet market and they've got to create a buzz with the beta.  Some people at the company have admitted to me privately that the company made a mistake in releasing the Developer Preview publicly instead of just through developer channels.  People downloaded it, expecting it to be a finished product and it simply wasn't.  This has resulted in the new OS getting large volumes of negative publicity and people damning the finished product when they've actually seen less than half of it.

So why Consumer Preview then if IT Pros hated the Developer Preview?  Microsoft need to get consumers worldwide downloading, installing and using the Windows 8 beta in their multi-millions.  They need people talking on blogs and forums and in the press about how much they love it to spur on developers in writing apps for the platform.  Microsoft haven't released any figures yet about how quickly Metro apps are being written, but this could mean it's off to a slow start potentially.  Generating excitement and press coverage then is huge.  This doesn't mean that the IT Pro features won't be there, just that Microsoft have got to get Metro off to a flying start from being three or four years behind the market leaders.

The company will also want to completely differentiate the latest release from the Developer Preview by indicating that they were both completely different builds and intended for completely different audiences.  Simply calling it the beta next month wouldn't do this and many people might assume that it will just include a few tweaks and bells on top of what was seen in September.  Thus this differentiation is absolutely necessary.  Especially given Microsoft's private admission that a public release was an error last time.

The other reason to call it a Consumer Preview is that, for a while at least, all the media attention will be on the new Metro interface.  Microsoft know this and will try to use this coverage to spurr on app developers.  In short it's actually quiite a clever move calling it this.   It doesn't mean, as I've already said, that it won't include the ability to switch off the new Start Screen, or won't include Hyper-V, new multi-monitor tools and much more besides.  It is, frankly, just a name and IT Pros need not be concerned any longer.


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  1. Some Dude said on March 19, 2023 at 11:42 am

    Are these articles AI generated?

    Now the duplicates are more obvious.

    1. boris said on March 19, 2023 at 11:48 pm

      This is below AI generated crap. It is copy of Microsoft Help website article without any relevant supporting text. Anyway you can find this information on many pages.

  2. Paul(us) said on March 20, 2023 at 1:32 am

    Yes, but why post the exact same article under a different title twice on the same day (19 march 2023), by two different writers?
    1.) Excel Keyboard Shortcuts by Trevor Monteiro.
    2.) 70+ Excel Keyboard Shortcuts for Windows by Priyanka Monteiro

    Why oh why?

    1. Clairvaux said on September 6, 2023 at 11:30 am

      Yeah. Tell me more about “Priyanka Monteiro”. I’m dying to know. Indian-Portuguese bot ?

  3. John G. said on August 18, 2023 at 4:36 pm

    Probably they will announce that the taskbar will be placed at top, right or left, at your will.

    Special event by they is a special crap for us.

  4. yanta said on August 18, 2023 at 11:59 pm

    If it’s Microsoft, don’t buy it.
    Better brands at better prices elsewhere.

  5. John G. said on August 20, 2023 at 4:22 am

    All new articles have zero count comments. :S

  6. Anonymous said on September 5, 2023 at 7:48 am

    WTF? So, If I add one photo to 5 albums, will it count 5x on my storage?
    It does not make any sense… on google photos, we can add photo to multiple albums, and it does not generate any additional space usage

    I have O365 until end of this year, mostly for onedrive and probably will jump into google one

  7. St Albans Digital Printing Inc said on September 5, 2023 at 11:53 am

    Photo storage must be kept free because customers chose gadgets just for photos and photos only.

  8. Anonymous said on September 5, 2023 at 12:47 pm

    What a nonsense. Does it mean that albums are de facto folders with copies of our pictures?

    1. GG said on September 6, 2023 at 8:24 am

      Sounds exactly like the poor coding Microsoft is known for in non-critical areas i.e. non Windows Core/Office Core.

      I imagine a manager gave an employee the task to create the album feature with hardly any time so they just copied the folder feature with some cosmetic changes.

      And now that they discovered what poor management results in do they go back and do the album feature properly?

      Nope, just charge the customer twice.

      Sounds like a go-getter that needs to be promoted for increasing sales and managing underlings “efficiently”, said the next layer of middle management.

  9. d3x said on September 5, 2023 at 7:33 pm

    When will those comments get fixed? Was every editor here replaced by AI and no one even works on this site?

  10. Scroogled said on September 5, 2023 at 10:47 pm

    Instead of a software company, Microsoft is now a fraud company.

  11. ard said on September 7, 2023 at 4:59 pm

    For me this is proof that Microsoft has a back-door option into all accounts in their cloud.
    quote “…… as the MSA key allowed the hacker group access to virtually any cloud account at Microsoft…..”

    so this MSA key which is available to MS officers can give access to all accounts in MS cloud.This is the backdoor that MS has into the cloud accounts. Lucky I never got any relevant files of mine in their (MS) cloud.

  12. Andy Prough said on September 7, 2023 at 6:52 pm

    >”Now You: what is your theory?”

    That someone handed an employee a briefcase full of cash and the employee allowed them access to all their accounts and systems.

    Anything that requires 5-10 different coincidences to happen is highly unlikely. Occam’s razor.

  13. TelV said on September 8, 2023 at 12:04 pm

    Good reason to never login to your precious machine with a Microsoft a/c a.k.a. as the cloud.

  14. Anonymous said on September 18, 2023 at 1:23 pm

    The GAFAM are always very careless about our software automatically sending to them telemetry and crash dumps in our backs. It’s a reminder not to send them anything when it’s possible to opt out, and not to opt in, considering what they may contain. And there is irony in this carelessness biting them back, even if in that case they show that they are much more cautious when it’s their own data that is at stake.

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