Windows 8 Apps Wrapup: Reader, Skydrive, and Internet Explorer

It’s the last day of the Great Metro App Roundup, and we’ve got two of the biggest new apps to go!

Reader

This… this is not one of the biggest two apps today. This document and PDF viewer is, like many of the preview apps, totally functional. But I’m not sold. It’ll very obviously work better in touch mode, and it’s much peppier than Acrobat for loading and viewing PDFs, but the granular control over printing isn’t in place yet; it’s even missing things like being able to print single pages.

Skydrive

The built-in Skydrive app offers basic file management, which is acceptable if you use it just as a locker service, but lacks a function I really want from Skydrive: Office.

Being able to edit my documents on the go, from my phone or another computer, is a feature I really enjoy. The Office Web App is totally functional and I like that option. This highlights something that’s missing from Windows at this point, but, I believe, is going to be remedied in the future. I am of the understanding that Windows 8 will ship with a version of Office that works natively with Skydrive for cloud storage;  this is perfect. Once Office web apps fall in line for easier document sharing, this’ll be a killer feature.

PS: the photo of a button? My sister made it. It says I love hope something eats you. My sister is awesome.

Internet Explorer Metro

Here’s my love letter. I’ve been really critical thus far, but I cannot overstate the impact that Metro IE has had on my perception of what the web is.

Look at that screenshot. There hasn’t been any cropping done. That’s just what it looks like. There’s no anything! All the browser controls are hidden behind the page in the right-click menu. And what this does is turn any well-designed web site into a tight app-like experience. The content is allowed to be front-and-centre rather than being subject to the structure of the application.

Right-clicking brings up the tabs and controls. Otherwise, they hide and allow the content to be front-and-centre.

And it’s fast. Holy crap, it’s fast. I did some informal speed tests between it, Chrome, and Firefox, and IE beat the pants off both of them.

It also has a pretty Metro-styled “New Tab” screen.

Two things bother me about it, though. One: It’s a different app than desktop IE rather than a just different UI over the same program. That means that if you’re browsing in Metro and switch to desktop, your open tabs and windows don’t carry over.

It also means compatibility issues. Metro IE doesn’t support Flash, even on x86. That means no streaming video on most websites, including Facebook video, no multi-file upload dialog on WordPress, even some YouTube videos have issues.

I get the decision not to support Flash on ARM-based systems. There are legitimate performance concerns (especially on lower-end ARM hardware). But I’m on a proper computer, with the horsepower to run full-screen streaming flash video, and I want to do that thing. HTML5 isn’t here yet, not in the way Apple and Microsoft want it to be, and in the meantime I still want Flash support in my browser. If there was Flash support in Metro IE, it’d be my primary browser in a heartbeat.

All that said, other than for those tasks where I want Flash support, I’m thrilled by Metro IE. It’s phenomenally quick and has, literally, made me reconsider how I want to use web browsers. The lack of browser chrome on any given page, even at the top of the page, is great. And I can’t wait to see how it improves with the addition of new charms and improved notifications.

The Share charm currently only supports Mail, but it’s still a quick and awesome way to share content.

Formatting in the Share email makes sending links to people less aggravating and much cleaner.

That’s it on Windows 8 for now, folks. I’m continuing to use it and enjoy; there has been an update recently to Mail that has smoothed over some performance jenk and I imagine things will continue to trend towards awesome. Windows 8 is looking like it’s going to be another Windows 7–that is, an incredibly stable beta, lots of engagement with the community, and it’ll deliver an awesome product.

The apps are going to make or break it, of course. You’ll notice no official Facebook or Twitter apps in my review; that’s because there are none. But there’s been a pretty solid standard set by Microsoft with their built-in apps, and I’ll keep posting as things change and evolve.

Paddle your own canoe, guys and gals,

Trevor

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About Trevor

Teacher, writer, podcaster. Obsessed with tech and paddling, politics and entertainment. Nerd extraordinaire, and handsome to boot. You can find his work over on the Spillway network and his home on the web, Love.Make.Share. View all posts by Trevor

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