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Win8 Developer Preview FAQ

We're seeing a lot of questions about the Win8 Developer Preview. So we're trying to collect the most common ones in this FAQ. Here's a short link for this FAQ: 
  • Q: How do I get the Win8 Developer Preview?
    • A: The 32- and 64-bit downloads for x86 architecture are here. There is no publicly available ARM build yet. Some explanatory notes are here (read them while you're downloading. It is useful info!).

  • Q: When will the full version of Win8 be released?
    • A: No one knows yet. Probably sometime before Christmas of 2012, but that's just a guess. 
    • What we know is that there will be a beta next, and it will probably release in late February of 2012. This will be followed some months later by a Release Candidate (RC), which will be followed by the General Availability (GA) release. MS have not yet given dates for the RC or GA releases.
    • We will update this answer when we know more. 
  • Q: Which Virtual Machines does Win8 Developer Preview work with?
    • A: Official Building Windows 8 blog entry has information. For VirtualBox users please read here. For instructions on how to install to a VHD please read here with some issues here
  • Q: How is the Win8 Developer Preview supported? Does it need to be activated?
    • A: Not at all. Read Sinofsky's lips"No activation so you just download and install it ... also no support," Sinofsky said, adding that "that includes my inbox."
    • A: In the ##windows channel we'll try to answer questions about it. But documentation and user experience at this stage are (understandably) skimpy. So if you run into problems we can't help you resolve, those are the breaks. 

  • Q: How stable is it?
    • A: Reports vary. Personally I (mota) have found it to be very stable. However, it is clearly identified as a pre-beta, so we cannot recommend that you depend on it as your main OS installation.

  • Q: I think I found a bug. Where do I file a report?
    • A: Feedback toolYou can join the "Windows Ecosystem Readiness Program" on the MS Connect site by clicking this link. You will need a Windows Live ID. 
      • Once there, go to the "Downloads" link on the left. 
      • This allows you to download the "Windows Send Feedback Tool" which, when installed, puts an icon on your desktop. 
      • Click the desktop icon to send feedback.

    • A: Additionally, MS have set up a forum for discussing Win8.

  • Q: What's not in the Win8 Developer Preview?
    • A: Here are some things I (mota) saw in the BUILD demos that do not appear to be in the Preview: 
      • The new Windows Store (app store)
      • Email
      • Skydrive integration
      • Print preferences within Metro
      • Windows Media Center

  • Q: Frustrated and angry with the new Metro interface!
    • A: Consider the original reactions to Win95, XP, and Vista/Win7. These operating systems were loudly reviled by huge numbers of people when first introduced, but as time went on, many of those haters came to love the changes delivered in the new versions, and to loathe the idea of going back to the old way of doing things. Change happens. 
    • A: Frustration and anger are natural responses when familiar things change. It becomes difficult to navigate when landmarks change, and of course no one likes difficulty - even when the end goal is to make things easier. But with time and open-mindedness, the difficulties fade and so does the anger and frustration. You can accelerate the process by understanding it, and opening your mind to "learning mode" at the outset. The learning will come either way, so why not welcome it rather than endure the unpleasantness of frustration and anger?
    • A: Win8 is (as of today, Sept 15, 2011) still very much in pre-beta form. Many things will change and/or be refined as it makes its way through the development process. Give it time.

  • Q: When will the Windows Developer Preview expire?
    • A: March 11, 2012. Presumably it will start shutting down every hour or two once that date is reached.

  • Q: Give me a list of Win8 keyboard shortcuts. 
  • Q: Metro. What were they thinking?
    • A: If you have 90 minutes to find out, watch this video. I (mota) think it's worth your time - this is an eye-opening and insightful video.

  • Q: What are the touch gestures?
  • Q: Will Win8 prevent other operating systems from booting on my PC?
    • A: No.
      Background: RedHat employee Matthew Garrett
      suggested that Microsoft's requirement (here, see slide 11) that Win8 OEM systems ship with the UEFI secure boot process enabled, would "almost certainly" lead to some lazy OEMs locking out your ability to install any other OS on their hardware. More than a few conspiracy theorists quickly leapt to the conclusion that MS had an evil plan to lock all machines that ship with Windows 8, so no other OS could ever be loaded. Those conspiracy theorists were wrong. Microsoft quickly cleared the air, saying that "Microsoft does not mandate or control the settings on PC firmware that control or enable secured boot from any operating system other than Windows."
    • The Windows 8 Hardware Certification Requirements are available from Microsoft here. Start on page 113 to read the requirements around UEFI Secure Boot.

  • Q: Will the ARM builds of Win8 run normal desktop applications?
  • Q: How to get the Win7-style Start Menu back?
    • A: You will lose all of the MetroStyle apps, and the Explorer Ribbon, and the new-style Task Manager, but here's a two-minute video showing how to do it. Best viewed fullscreen, with captions (the "CC" button) enabled.
    • This app claims to remove the Metro interface without killing the ribbon & task manager.