Windows 8 is fast approaching, expected to arrive sometime in 2012. Not everyone is going to want to download the developer preview version of Windows 8 currently being hawked by Microsoft. Or the Windows 8 beta due to be made available shortly. Thankfully you don’t have to do so in order to get a basic feel for how the latest – and if you believe the hype, greatest – OS from Microsoft will shape up.
Windows 8 Beta Simulator is a fun program available for Windows 2000, XP, Vista, and Windows 7 that is designed to give those who are interested a feel for the new Metro UI. True geeks definitely won’t be impressed, but mainstream Windows users will be. The rest of us can laugh at the humor included in Windows 8 Beta Simulator.
Open the Windows 8 Beta Simulator program and you will get a very typical Windows startup animation. You’re then invited to ‘Drag Up To Unlock‘. This simulates the touch capabilities Windows 8 will possess, but isn’t very realistic. The real Windows 8 will use an (optional) picture password system whereby you draw a pre-determined pattern on the screen.
On the next page, bypass the startup screen by clicking ‘Submit‘. There is no need to enter a password and I wouldn’t recommend it just in case there is nefarious reasoning behind the request. To be frank I wouldn’t enter any passwords or sensitive information into Windows 8 Beta Simulator, but then I could just be an over-cynical, untrusting type.
You’re then taken to the faux Metro UI page where you can explore in a not-very-realistic Windows 8 style.
It’s from here you can access apps in a similar way as you will with the real Windows 8. There is Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and The Weather Channel, essentially just mobile versions of the sites which open up in Google Chrome within the Windows 8 Beta Simulator.
There is also a Piano app (pictured above), a calculator, and other elements which are present in every version of Windows. To be honest none of them are particularly well implemented here, but that’s excusable as they are, after all, only for preview purposes.
One thing Windows 8 Beta Simulator has in spades is humor. And some of it is actually quite funny. Click on the wrong icon and you’ll get an error message full of typos.
Click through to the next screen and it’s suggested you download Linux, with Bill Gates happily recommending Ubuntu. Many people wouldn’t do so after the latest versions of the Linux distro failed to impress.
Click on ‘Pictures‘ and you’ll find that the images are all plays on Microsoft vs. Apple, with Linux clearly being touted as the best OS. What is an attempt at mimicking the Windows 8 Metro UI was clearly built by Linux advocates.
Is Windows 8 Beta Simulator a little lame? In a word, yes. But it’s a small (9MB) unobtrusive download which can easily be uninstalled. It will offer five minutes of fun for anyone keen to get more of a feel for Windows 8 ahead of its release than they can by merely looking at pictures or watching videos.
Windows 8 Beta Simulator isn’t all that useful. It won’t give you a true sense of how it will be to use Windows 8. Anyone wanting to do that will have to download the real beta once Microsoft deems fit to release it. Only people confident and experienced need apply. Which leaves Windows 8 Beta Simulator as a viable though not-very-thrilling alternative for those who don’t fit into that category.
Windows 8 Beta Simulator is for those who don’t want to mess around installing a pre-beta or beta version of an operating system. And for Linux fans looking for a few easy laughs at the saps (of which I am one) who persevere with Windows.
If you have tried Windows 8 Beta Simulator, what did you think of it? Are you looking forward to the real Windows 8 beta and are willing to wait until Microsoft deems its new operating system as being ready for public scrutiny? Does anyone even care about Microsoft any more?