I am excited to be able to start talking with you about Windows 8 Consumer Preview and Windows Server "8" Beta. We’ve all been working hard on our individual feature sets and putting everything together. As writers we have been reviewing the user interface text, notifications, and other messages as well as putting together plans for our final articles and guides that we will publish when everything is done. Yes, the beta TechNet content is sparse, but it will fill up as we move from the consumer preview to the final release. Keep checking in to see new content and updates.

This morning I had the opportunity to go on site at a small non-profit organization and observe their experience upgrading from Windows XP to Windows 8 Consumer Preview on one computer – hey, they only have five computers, so this is upgrading 20% of their infrastructure! They plan to test it out for a couple of weeks and then upgrade their other computers. When I go on site I am purely an observer, asking questions and watching. I specifically do not provide answers, although I might provide a hint or a short cut if I watch someone struggling for a considerable amount of time. This is because my job at Microsoft is to write content and I need to know the different steps people take to figure something out.

When I first started working with the new Windows 8 interface, I was very confused and disconcerted. I feared that I had gotten too old to work in tech!  I daydreamed of retreating to open my own book store and never touching a computer again!

But I overcame my fears and learned to love the new interface. It is much faster and cleaner than the previous versions and I actually felt more productive writing, responding to mail, and doing research when I was using my test computer running Windows 8 Consumer Preview than I did on my standard Windows 7 computers.

My customer visit this morning brought that experience back to me as I watched them interact with the Metro user interface for the first time. Their first question to me – How do I change back to “classic” mode? I told them to give it a chance, and that there is no “switch to classic mode” setting in the Control Panel.

Account settings were also confusing and being able to set up administrative access correctly took longer than it should have. I definitely will be looking into creating content for that topic!

After a lot of How? Where? What? experiences, the customer was flying along using Windows 8 Consumer Preview. It took him about 75 minutes to become comfortable with the new interface. By the time I left, he was enthusiastically talking about how much faster he could do his tasks on Windows 8 Consumer Preview than he could on Windows XP.

If you are going through similar experiences, be sure to visit the Windows 8 Consumer Preview and Windows Server "8" Beta Forums and tell us about them. We writers are lurking about looking for content ideas and answering questions!

Wishing you a productive day, today and every day!

Starr Andersen |Senior Technical Writer| WSiX