I hope to have some screenshots up later tonight after I get done with classes. So, without further ado...
The learning curve was smaller than I anticipated, and for those NOT wanting to use Metro apps, the learning curve is actually smaller than the curve we got from moving from XP to Vista! Yes, I'm serious, the curve is almost non existent for "classic" desktop users.
First, let's start with the obvious: Metro. I honestly think there's a lot of people confused as to what it is, and what it's meant to do. Having installed the CP on my laptop (Bare metal install), I wanted to give the CP a thorough test on a keyboard/mouse system, and so far, I'm loving it. Interacting with the "larger" tiles is no more different, than increasing the size of your desktop icons in Windows 7 to "large". The mouse wheel works great to slide the screen side-to-side, and I LOVE that I can pin 'tiles' to groups. I feel like I have a neat and organized start menu.
Now, onto the subject that is throwing people off. Metro apps. A lot of users seem put off using full-screen touch centric apps. After having played with them on a laptop, I can say they are not for everyone, but if there is one to use, it's the Bing Weather app. But, if you DO NOT want to use the metro apps, the can be un-installed completely, and you never have to see them again! What you're left with then is a Start Screen reminiscent of the Office 2010 "Backstage" Menu. Metro is gone. The Start Screen becomes a full-screen Start Menu full of your "classic" desktop apps, complete with "classic" start menu functionality (type to search, etc...).
So far, all my "classic" desktop apps have worked without a sweat, the only exceptions being the Windows Live Suite, and Wireshark, which I had to run in compatibility mode to get the WinPCap driver to install. Windows Live runs, but a lot of things are missing compared to Windows 7.
The metro apps included with this release are largely incomplete and lack a lot of basic functionality, so it's hard to write about many of them, but I do have to say the Bing Weather app is beautiful and the most feature complete out of them all. It's not a "desktop app", but it works well with the keyboard and mouse, and does a wonderful job at presenting the information you want.
Next up, "OMGZ NO START BUTTON! WTFBBQ!". Let me get this out of the way: DON'T PANIC! The 4 corners of the screen now act as "hotspots" for different functions.
- The upper left corner will display your open Metro apps. Don't use them? Then this won't work for you.
- The bottom left corner still acts like the good ol Start Button. Move your mouse down here to access the Start Screen, or right-click for a nice little menu full of shortcut goodies.
- The upper and lower corners on the right side of the screen trigger the charms bar. Here you will find the options to Search, Share, Activate the Start Screen, Open the devices options, Networking, Power options, and PC Settings.
Desktop. So with the Metro UI, what about the desktop? There is much to say here except, that if you know your way around the Windows 7 desktop, you know your way around the Windows 8 desktop. Almost nothing has changed. The ribbon is nice to use, and is minimized by default. If you have used it at one point or another, there is no learning curve here. Keyboard shortcuts are still the same, along with the tray icons. Despite some wierd looking "metro" icons seen in leaked pictures, ALL the desktop icons are the same as they are in Windows 7. Desktop users rejoice, for your options are all still here!