Windows 8 Release Preview multitouch, apps, features tested

Windows 8 Release Preview, the biggest sneak peek at Microsoft's new software, is out now -- so we take a look at the new features.

2-4-6-8, who do we appreciate? The Windows 8 Release Preview! The biggest sneak peek at Microsoft's next generation of operating system is here, and you can try it for yourself right now. We've taken a look at the new features, so what's new -- and are they any good?

CNET's Seth Rosenblatt got his hands on the new software, and has been trying out the raft of new features , including multi-touch gestures and shedloads of syncing, noting that it's smoother and faster than previous previews.

Windows 8 is the first version of Windows to support multi-touch. The core gestures are pinch-to-zoom, two-finger scrolling and edge swiping, which lets you swipe in and out of the edge of a touchscreen or trackpad to call up different apps or menus, or perfom actions like moving through your history in Internet Explorer.

In our tests, we found gestures worked great on the start screen, settings menus and other Windows 8 general screens, but it seems actual apps aren't entirely ready for poking and prodding.

With its gestures and large colourful tiles, Windows 8 is designed to work on tablets and touchscreens. But we've also tried it with a trackpad and with a mouse, and found it's easy to get to grips with even on an older computer.

Like Windows Phone, the mobile operating system from which the tile-based interface is borrowed, Windows 8 has default apps like News, Travel, Mail, Weather and so on. The built-in News and Travel apps are a bit crashy, but we like the Sports app, which lets you set your own team to pull in scores, news, and stats. Handy to see what's happening at Tranmere Rovers FC (Ronnie Moore's blue-and-white army).

And like your phone, the lock screen displays notifications and controls music.

For our in-depth look at the new features, check out CNET.com's Windows 8 Release Preview First Take on the new touch pad drivers, new default apps, and improved features -- and then go see for yourself: download it free from Microsoft's own site or CNET's Download.com.

What do you think of Windows 8? Will you try the new Release Preview, and what are your first impressions? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page.

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Software
About the author

Rich Trenholm is a senior editor at CNET where he covers everything from phones to bionic implants. Based in London since 2007, he has travelled the world seeking out the latest and best consumer technology for your enjoyment.

 

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