Windows 8 Release Preview

So I finally had the chance to settle down and install Windows 8 Release Preview on my VAIO P (VGN-P15G).

Installation was a breeze – I made the installer on a USB Stick and installed it under 30 minutes (fresh install) when I was having afternoon tea @ McDonald’s. Microsoft has really done a good job streamlining the installation process, it’s really no trouble at all going through the installation (remember the days of XP where you have to go through lots of.. shit).

Most of the stuff worked right out of the box, except –

On every fresh boot, Windows restarts at login screen.
This was one of the more peculiar problems I’ve encountered (it didn’t happen at Developer Preview or Consumer Preview), but it’s solved by disabling Fast Startup as detailed here. (It doesn’t slow down your boot time, or at least in my case)

Brightness Controls.
I had to go to the Intel website and download the newest version of the GMA 500 driver (for Windows 7), and run it in Compatibility Mode. Doing that will enable changing the brightness over the controls at the Settings bar, but the hotkeys don’t work yet. Also, I’ve noticed that performance (especially animations) is worse compared to the stock drivers.

Hotkeys.
You’ll have to download and install (in order) the Sony drivers as instructed in this website (thank you!), restarting as needed. This enables Fn+F5/Fn+F6 (Brightness) and Fn+F7 (Projector, also through Win+P), I haven’t tested others yet.

Trackpoint.
I have yet to try the Windows 7 drivers The Windows 7 drivers doesn’t work! It makes the middle mouse button lose any functionality, and the Alps configuration tab does not appear in Mouse Settings. The last I tried on the Consumer Preview, it didn’t work too. 😦

The two buttons to the right of the mouse buttons became Mute and Magnifier, respectively.

Overall it’s been quite a pleasant experience so far!

Update – More detailed impressions

I find Windows 8’s Metro interface to be quite pleasing on the VAIO P. The Metro Start menu looks crisp and sharp on the excellent screen of the P. I use it at normal zoom levels though, so I’m not sure what’ll happen if you use larger text fonts.

One feature that I’ve found to be rather nifty is the ability to snap Metro apps at the side alongside the main app you’re using, and that is something that the VAIO P can potentially take advantage of. Potentially, because most apps have a broken interface when you snap them at the side.. The only app currently that does it well is Messaging, which integrates with Facebook messages and looks good when pinned to the side.

Speaking of Messaging, I’ve encountered several force closes on it when I try to launch it through notifications from messages. That’s not a surprise since the Metro apps are previews and not final, but it’s really something Microsoft needs to fix.

Other than that hiccup, the other built-in apps in Windows 8 are pretty awesome. Once I’ve connected my Facebook account, the Photos app was able to immediately display my Facebook photos without any problems, and presented them in super-stylish Metro awesomeness.

The People app was also able to load my Google and Facebook friends, with Facebook updates integrated in to the updates area.

The Mail app was a surprise – while it didn’t sync my Gmail account properly in the Consumer Preview, it’s now able to display all my mail together with my labels. (I archive my mails and apply different labels to them using filters.) Calendar, on the other hand, did not play nice and only synced my main calendar in Google Calendar without all my other colored ones. 😦

Performance-wise, Windows 8 feels.. slow. It might be because I haven’t optimized and removed system services (like I did with Windows 7), but even the Metro apps don’t feel very responsive.. but it’s still acceptable, given that I don’t expect the Atom processor (that throttles itself down on heat buildup) to handle the CPU load. Don’t expect quality animations either – after all, the GMA 500 is quite the laughing stock with poor driver support. I could watch 480p YouTube videos in Google Chrome (non-metro) at acceptable rates though.

And that’s about it for my first-day experiences with Windows 8 Release Preview!

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