So, just to start off, before anyone gets the wrong idea, this is not about Raspberry Pi running windows 8 or anything. It is some discussion on two recently released technologies and actually amounts to “Two Blog Posts One entry”.
The other night, as Midnight at the start of February 29th my time to be precise, Rasbperry Pi announced the launch of their product. Rasberry Pi is a charity/non profit producing extremely cheap and small and basic design computers. This is an ARM processor, like you’d see in a tablet, with 256mb or so of flash memory on a board the size of a credit card. It has USB inputs, a power socket, an Ethernet jack, which is the largest component on the thing as near as I can tell, and an HDMI out.
It also costs somewhere in the ballpark of $35.
I really wanted to try to get one. There are any number of projects you could use it for from a small media box, to a small dedicated emulator box to whatever. I have read some suggestions over on /g/ that it’s not as capable as it’s touted but I didn’t read the entire thread so they may have been referring to some alternative product or something. Still, for $35 it seemed like a neat experimental toy.
Sadly, the initial run was only 10,000 and as near as I can tell, it was UK exclusive. It also had enormous demand, both retailers offering it essentially had their websites completely crash. Neither seemed to be willing to ship over seas, or at least, to the US. I gave up after about a half hour of just trying to get the page to load.
I’m not upset about it, I’m sure it’ll be put out somewhere locally within the next few months.
Windows 8 Consumer Preview
When Windows 7 came out, I tried out the preview/beta of that too. I may have gone as far to install that on a spare laptop. At this point I’m just using Windows 8 in a Virtual Machine using Virtual Box. There were a few issues but I found a simple fix here. The fix was that, by default, “Enable PAE/NX” was not selected.
So I loaded it up. It detected the virtual network connection perfectly, which is great because Windows 8 has all sorts of neat online integration. The best analogy I can give is to any Smartphone with Android or iOS (I assume, never used iOS), and presumably, Windows Phone 7.
For example, my sign in, is my Live account. I don’t use my Live email for anything so that’s not too exciting but when I entered my Google account into it, it picked up my contacts, it picked up my email, it picked up my Calendar. Everything.
This is very excellent. I went through a lot of work a few years ago making sure everything was consolidated and would sync properly via my Google account, Android has already made it worth it, this is just Icing on the Cake. It’s too bad that my corporate employer would freak if I tried to push all of my emails to my Google account the way I did at my old employer, because I’d have everything all in one place once again.
Ah well, I barely get any email at work worth reading anyway.
Anyway, some interesting aspects. There is some interesting X-Box live integration going on. I’ll need to investigate earlier, but as near as I can tell, “Games for Windows Live” is just becoming X-Box Live. There also seems to be some marketplace sharing involving the games on X-Box Live, and I’ve heard a rumor of Windows 8 supporting playing 360 games. This is all speculation and I have some other speculation I may get to related to this in a later entry.
I tried out Solitaire, because it’s simple and free. Interestingly, it shows up now in my GFWL online account. I actually have always been kind of jealous of the whole X-Box live ecosystem. Steam is great but they have zero Social going on. Hell you can’t even make a Steam Badge without using some third party.
The Solitaire game ran extremely slowly though, which was disturbing. I didn’t have any sort of graphical acceleration enabled on the VM, something I fixed later, so I may have to try again to see if that was related. On the other hand, needing a 3D card to run Solitaire is very much in the camp of “Really Fucking Lame”.
Anyway, I will need to use it more and throw some third party stuff at it like Steam and Chrome to make a better judgment overall. I will say, I like Metro way more than I expected. It needs some tweaks to work better with a mouse though. It’s like, it wants Gestures that I can’t give it. Also, the pop out menus are confusing but only because I’m not used to them and how to work them. Also related, I’m not sure how well those pop out menus will work in a touch interface either.
There is a basic desktop but the lack of a normal Start Menu and it feeling like it’s basically just an “application” and not the base of everything disturbs me slightly. Other applications I have running do not appear on the desktop Taskbar, as an example, it’s all still on the left hand side pop out task window thingy. I suppose that doesn’t make any sense if you have not used Windows 8, but basically, mouse over to the left side and a thing pops out with thumbnails of everything running.
I am not sure I like this system, because nothing has a clear “close this” option and it is very easy to get a whole pile of crap running stacked up in the background.
I guess to close up I’ll just say, I do like Metro, but I think this combo Metro/Desktop idea they are pushing, may be a completely shit idea. Give people one or the other. On the other hand, if I can get a beefy Windows 8 tablet with a dock that turns it into a Desktop system, that could be great. I just lack confidence that a Windows 8 Tablet will be able to run say, Team Fortress 2 or even World of Warcraft with any sort of decency. Basically, the gamer in me, hates this. It’s the same reason I don’t use Ubuntu full time. I like it, it’s neat, on a basic level it’s more than functional. It completely falls apart for any real games. Yeah, yeah, “use a console for that” but why the hell would you ever use a controller for FPS games. Or any game that’s not a platformer for that matter. Don’t even get me started on Touch for games….