At the Mobile World Congress on Wednesday, Microsoft presented the Windows 8 Consumer Preview amid much fanfare. Unlike the Developer Preview that was released in 2011, this beauty of an OS is more fluid and feels like something that could really work. The Tile-based Metro UI, which was first seen on Windows Phone devices, is at the center of attention here, and probably the main aspect of Windows 8, and a huge part of Microsoft’s future.

After downloading and using Windows 8 for a few hours, it is obvious to us that the OS is a new learning curve, something that could throw off some users. Metro UI looks great, the ease of use is second to nothing, and it just works. It was difficult for Microsoft to convince us that Metro was capable of pulling off what it did for Windows Phone on the desktop, but fears have now subsided.

Want intuitive touch gestures? You’ve got it. How about if you do not have touchscreen device? No problem, the mouse gestures work just as fine. It is clear that Microsoft has put in a lot of time and effort into building Windows 8, and we are certain that it will pay off. We should also mention that the desktop is still there. Some onlookers are still confused as to whether or not Microsoft did away with the traditional desktop, but worry not.

Let’s talk about some of the essential features in Windows 8.

SkyDrive Integration

Finally, SkyDrive, which is Microsoft’s own cloud service, is a part of Windows 8. The SkyDrive Metro application makes it easier to sync files to your SkyDrive account. Gone are the days when you have to be downloading third party softwares to get a mediocre SkyDrive experience sync experience on the desktop. Now everything works as expected with room for improvement.

Internet Explorer 10 Metro

Who would have thought that Internet Explorer 10 would even make the list? Well, the Metro version of the browser is just pure awesome, something missing from the version of the desktop. Metro Internet Explorer 10 is designed for touch. It means it will look significantly different from the normal version on the desktop. But Metro Internet Explorer 10 does not support plug-ins. Want to watch Flash content? Won’t happen. Make way for HTML 5, the future of media on the Web.

Windows To Go

A feature first seen on Linux is now making its way to Windows 8. Basically, with Windows To Go, you can carry Windows 8 on a thumb drive and boot it in any machine. Exciting? You bet it is. By making a copy of Windows 8 on a thumb drive, you can walk with your OS and your files for use on any machine that supports Windows 7 or Windows 8.

Charms

This is Microsoft name for Windows 8 touch and mouse gestures. It is one of our favorite features, because it makes Windows 8 easier to navigate and, for an OS, that requires you to learn to use Windows all over again, Charms is the perfect addition to help users be on their way to love the new OS.

So should Windows 8 be downloaded? We say yes. The OS is great and feature rich, and because you need to learn a bit about how to use it, it is best that you do it now rather than wait until the full version is released some time in Q4 2012.

(Reported by Vamien McKalin, Edited by Surojit Chatterjee)

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