The interface is the Metro UI. It is the default and central OS. If you've used Windows Phone 7, it's kind of similar to those tiles but more iOS-ish. It does have the legacy desktop but this is now an "app" (as in you either launch it from Metro UI or launch a program that relies on it).
Once you launch the desktop, it's kind of the way you're used to it except one major design that bugs me. The start menu is gone. The Windows icon in the corner that would launch the start menu now just minimizes all apps (including the desktop) and shows the Metro UI. The reason this annoys me is that I've become quite accustomed to using the search box to launch everything on Windows 7 (blah blah Indexing makes your hard drive go slow blah blah blah but I find the search function so worth it when I can type "word" or "powerpo" then push enter and have Microsoft Word or Microsoft Powerpoint launch).
So over all the new features to the explorer interface are nice and working as shown so far. As far as an alpha version is going, it does feel solid and I quietly await to see if the beta brings a more complete UI (if not then onward to the RC).
Now the Metro UI interface. This is one quirky interface. It looks like Microsoft responding to Apple's iOS on the iPad and probably is but one of the major things is that these Metro applications are based on HTML5 standards which is an unexpected change from Microsoft owing to their tendencies to create their own proprietary stuff. It is a nice change of direction.
There's one other thing I like the direction that Microsoft is going is that the Metro Internet Explorer (different than the desktop IE) has dropped add-ons (Adobe Flash). Microsoft chose the same route for the same reasons as Apple did for dropping (primarily Flash support) which are stability, power consumption, and wanting a more open standard (HTML5 over Flash). Another interesting turn from this is that it can be seen as a sign that Microsoft may be ditching their proprietary Silverlight product as well (MS product to compete with Flash) since this is also plug-in dependent.
So anyways onward to Metro UI. It is hardware accelerated so it will feel fluid even if you run some crappy Intel Media Graphics Accelerator chip. If you had a touchpad tablet to put this on, I would imagine it would not be that bad (pending a slight learning curve). However it feels really awkward with a keyboard and mouse and many features seen with tablets at the build conference seem to be impossible to do without a touch interface. Again this is a pre-alpha so I'm going to believe the reasoning for this is that many of the keyboard/mouse support has not been fine-tuned like touch has been.
Overall it looks nice and modern (since Microsoft interprets Metro as Modern). Feels quirky with all that unfinished pre-betaness so we shall see what the true beta feels like when stuff is more polished.
It seems more designed to be more friendly to casual computer users (ones that just use an internet browser and go on facebook or twitter and maybe play one or two word games or sudoku). Despite that, it still has the powerhouse that is Windows. In fact I was actually quite pleased to find out they were not joking when they said the boot time was decreased dramatically (it does boot pretty fast).
I would assume that most business applications would be more dependent on the legacy desktop (a large reason for keeping it).
EDIT: There's a strange problem where something keeps trying to take up the left side of the screen (I think the application switching) inside starcraft 2 making it impossible to scroll to the left without arrow keys. Really bad inconvenence.
[Edited by Neo7, 9/16/2011 7:44:55 PM]
I thought there that MS was going to go towards nixing the keyboard,mouse, speakers, etc. and shoot more for an all-in-one or a tablet-style system. It will be interesting to see how they will market this tablet-like-but-for-use-with-desktops OS.
Do you think it will flop or fly? I doubt it will go over well...tablet PCs are already out so they are late on that count, AIO's didn't seem to go over too well, and corporations already said they weren't going to revamp their Windows 7-based set-ups.
Tablet PCs are not really all that late (in fact PC had the first tablets out as early as the Windows XP days). It wasn't until Apple made it a popular choice with their iOS system. Apple has the advantage of controlling both the hardware and software allowing them to work at their own pace and on their own terms. PC Tablets had the problem of waiting for another developer to make the OS (Android, Honeycomb, and now Windows 8 is starting to show its form).
[Edited by Neo7, 9/17/2011 1:16:38 PM]
Always crash when authenticating my Unlimited Trainers.
That really sucks...