The hard drive failed on my computer. Just went phut! No warning or anything. So that required a new hard disk. With a new blank disk in the machine, it seemed like an ideal opportunity to give Windows 8 preview a spin, before putting the system back.
The install was painless. Probably as it is not released yet, there was not the endless list of updates required with an older version of Windows.
The first impression is it feels a little mixed up. The new Metro interface looks clean and works well, but feels out of place on a desktop machine with a large monitor. If the screen was touch enabled, or it was a tablet, then great, but on a desktop, not so sure. Behind that, there is the more familiar windows interface, but without a Start button. This feels more natural for a desktop, but again, elements from the Metro interface pop up when the mouse hits a corner.
Maybe it still needs some polish, and the final release version will be more coherent. One thing is for sure, it will get noticed. Some are going to love it, but there will be lots of noise from those that hate it.
The big thing that struck me was how it compares with my recent experience with Linux. For some time now I have been using Ubuntu. The Unity interface for Ubuntu at first felt like a simplified interface for small screens. Once familiar with it, it works very well, but in a different way to the sort of desktops we are used to. With Windows 8, it feels like they are hedging their bets, and using two styles of interface.
Whatever the design goal is, and the direction it takes, it does feel like Windows is now following Linux. That was the weirdest thing about my experience of the Windows 8 preview.