Microsoft is expected to debut its “Release Preview” for its Windows 8 operating system in June 2012, with the release of the full version during the fall season. With many of us expecting great things from Microsoft, there are some changes being made to the OS that many of us could find disturbing. For the more adventurous among us, these changes will cause no concern. But for others, they could be enough to prevent us from upgrading to the new OS.

One of these changes revolves around Windows Media Player. This information was made available just last week when we learned that Media Center would continue to be available in Windows 8, but that it would no longer be included unless purchased as an add-on. However, this new information did not include how much Microsoft would be charging for this previously free software. In fact, in its blog posting, Microsoft justified its decision by stating that, since the number of those streaming videos from online sources will surpass traditional video purchases, the company felt that to include this feature was not worth the added cost.

Other changes to the Windows 8 operating system will include:

  • Family Safety First: A program designed to assist parents in monitoring their children’s activities online previously required users to download and install Windows Live Essentials (which is now DOA). Within Windows 8, these parental safeguards will be automatically available.
  • Dolby support: Windows 8 will feature support for the Dolby audio system, including 5.1 channel audio.
  • No DVD playback: As previously stated, the cost associated to provide support for playback of DVDs has become prohibitive and Microsoft recommends the use of third-party software.
  • SkyDrive included: No matter which device you choose, whether PC, tablet, or phone, Microsoft’s cloud will be available to you.
  • Nook e-reader included: Microsoft will provide an e-reader so users can access all of the goodies available from Barnes & Noble.

Over on the ARM tablet side of Windows 8, we can expect these goodies:

  • Windows desktop: The traditional Windows desktop, Control Panel, and Windows Explorer will be available.
  • ARM chipmakers will be limited to Nvidia, Texas Instruments and Qualcomm.
  • The Windows Store will support both ARM and x86/64 implementations of applications.
  • Windows-on-ARM will not be a standalone operating system and will only come preinstalled on specific tablet computers.
  • No dual-booting will be allowed — think Linux.
  • Need Office? No problem. Office will work for both ARM tablets and x86/64 computers.

But is everything perfect in Windows 8?

Here at LockerGnome, Chris is always challenging us to answer the question: What value will an article have for our audience? This same question can be asked of Windows 8. I am failing to see what value using Windows 8 on the desktop will have.

I am sure that, behind the scenes, there are improvements being made to the operating system that may improve its performance over Windows 7. But will these improvements be enough to convince consumers that Windows 8, on a desktop, is superior to Windows 7?

I wonder, however, if this is even what Microsoft is trying to do. My question is and always has been: Is Microsoft even concerned with the consumer experience, or is it merely concerned with keeping the wheels greased on the cash machine in Redmond?

Here is my personal opinion. I believe that Microsoft sees a potential threat from the Apple iPad, which is now starting to be used in the business world. Then it also can’t ignore the possible additional threat from Google’s Android tablet which, though not as impressive as the Apple iPad, has the potential to explode in the marketplace because of its lower pricing.

This means that Microsoft is finding itself two years behind in the touch screen tablet market and I believe that Windows 8, with its Metro GUI, is an attempt to stop the flow of Apple converts who have elected to buy the iPad tablet computer. In addition, Microsoft also sees the Windows 8 tablet computer as a way to protect another of its cash cows: its Office products.

So does it really matter that Microsoft is not going to include Media Center for free in Windows 8? Before you give any more of your hard-earned cash to Microsoft, give some of the free alternatives a try. One of the software programs I use and recommend is called VLC Media Player. This software is from a French developer and has been approved by the French courts as being legal*. In addition, VLC Media Player is free and is an open source that comes in a variety of flavors for Windows, OS X, Linux, and more.

Comments welcome.

*If you have any concerns about the legality of using VLC Media Player, I would contact the developer for additional information.

Source: Microsoft

Source: InformationWeek

CC licensed Flickr photo above shared by Paul Trafford