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With the release Wednesday of the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, Microsoft has fixed many of the shortcomings of the developer preview it released last September. That's the good news.
The bad news is that the Consumer Preview (build 8250) has removed some useful things and introduced a few new flaws, not least of which is failing to install at least once on a machine with more than enough resources. Though it appears stable on the whole, Microsoft's first public Windows 8 beta will do little to endear itself to IT departments and others who'll be tasked with installing and supporting it.
When the CRN Test Center reported last September the 12 things IT will hate about Windows 8, we offered mostly praise for finger-friendly Metro interface. This version improves mouse-friendliness a bit, and animations and movements are smoother.
As in the developer preview, Metro is the first screen to appear when starting Windows 8, and it still displays the active user's ID in the upper-right corner and the word "Start" in the upper-left. What's new is that this Start screen replaces the Start Menu, which is now completely removed. The Metro screen now automatically scrolls when the pointer reaches the edge of the screen, making mouse navigation much easier. Good-bye and good riddance to the bottom scroll bar, but the mouse still can't swoop the screen.
When arranging an individual Metro tile with finger or mouse, other tiles move out of the way and rearrange themselves (as opposed to just nodding). Now you can see how tiles will look when dropped into place. Right-clicking on a tile still presents options for resizing the tile, uninstalling the app or "unpinning" it from "Start."