Microsoft released “preview” releases of Windows 8.1, Windows 2012 R2, SQL 2014 and Visual Studio 2013. Here are some of my experiences…
One disclaimer – I didn’t read up on ANY of these – I am simply installing to take a look at any obvious differences. I very well could be missing huge chunks of functionality for all I know – I’ll post more once I learn more!
Windows 8.1 Preview:
First, you will notice that you CANNOT finish the installation without logging in with a Microsoft account. It simply doesn’t give you the option like it did in Windows 8.
Ya know, this whole “every company and government is stalking me and wants to track every single thing I do” bit is really, REALLY starting to get old! How do I get rid of these data stalkers??!!! But I digress…
So, I went to create a new account – called ThrowAway with a number at outlook.com. Once I hit the final screen to create the account, I got this!!!
WOO HOO! So this is a way you can get around this – try to create a bogus account. You can now just create a local account on your computer and continue the setup.
According to this article, it does say: “In order to use Windows 8.1 Preview you must sign in to your PC with a Microsoft account. The option to create a local account will be made available at the final release of Windows 8.1.”
Once installed, there were a couple of obvious differences too. There is a Start button again, but it simply brings you over to the “app” side of Windows 8:
Back on the Desktop side, if you right-click the Start button, you get quite a few shortcuts, which is nice:
Over on the App side, there is an option for bigger tiles (note the weather tile, above). Also, there is an addition down arrow in the bottom left. This is a shortcut that brings you to “All Applications:
That’s all that I found to be visually different – from a quick glance.
Windows Server 2012 Essentials vs Data Center Preview:
I didn’t read up on the differences, and I’m not really clear what the differences are. The Essentials edition had a server setup wizard that you must complete. And Data Center edition just looks like regular 2012 – I didn’t see anything obviously different (aside from the Start button – same as Win8.1):
SQL 2014 CTP:
This too – the setup was basically the same as 2012:
Once installed, it looked pretty much the same:
Although there are some new apps that get installed too – maybe they existed in 2012, but I just never saw them before:
Visual Studio 2013:
The installer is similar to VS2012. In the installer, here are some of the different options:
Once installed, ugh, more stalking requested:
But as you can see, you can opt out (for this release, at least). Then, you can choose your theme:
Here’s the main screen:
It’s looks there are a few new project templates, but aside from that – it looks pretty much exactly like VS2012:
Lastly, this is yet ANOTHER reason why you should really be set up with BizSpark, if you aren’t already. BizSpark gives me Windows 8 Pro for free. With Windows 8 Pro, I have Hyper-V. Because I have Hyper-V I can install all of these operating systems and products on virtual machines without touching my main/host machine. I run all of these as virtual machines, in their own environment. Not only that, I can do that legally too (license-wise), because BizSpark gives me MSDN too.
So again, if you work in IT with MS technologies – this is an immensely valuable tool. I bought an 8-core 16GB motherboard for cheap last year (a few hundred bucks) – which means I can reasonably run several desktops or servers at the same time (giving each 1-2GB each – or more) in Hyper-V. I can host these operating systems from my host machine without actually messing up my host machine.
I highly recommend getting some hardware like this (it’s really cheap nowadays) and get yourself set up with BizSpark. Having the “elbow room” to play around with the new technologies in a virtual environment just becomes effortless. If you are checking out these new technologies by installing them on your main workstation, you are making your life so much more difficult than it has to be!! Or worse, if you are NOT checking out these technologies because you don’t have a place to, that too is not good! Get BizSpark for free!!
If you haven’t seen my propaganda on this, please see: Taking your professional development to the next level