Metro is a complete rethinking of Windows, based on Windows Phone 7, and at first glance appears designed more for tablets than desktops and laptops. But use it a little while, and you'll find yourself a fan. It features big, colorful tiles that do double-duty as app launchers, and for displaying changing information, such as news, updates from friends on social networking sites, weather, and more. When you use Metro, information comes to you; you don't have to go searching for it. You can see it in action, below.
In previous versions of Windows, Microsoft's built-in apps have been underwhelming to say the least. Not so with Windows 8. There are several dozen of them, and some of them are quite useful, such the Tweet@rama front-end to Twitter, the Socialite Facebook app, the news app, weather app, and more. Although they're clearly designed for tablets, they work quite well on PCs as well. You can see Tweet@rama in action, below.
Windows 8 was very clearly built with the cloud in mind, and designed for a world in which your files and information will be available to you no matter what device you use and where you are. Syncing will be built right into it...although not quite yet. For now, Windows 8 only syncs some information to the cloud, including global settings such as app settings, screen lock picture and themes, browser settings, taskbar and Windows Explorer settings, and some passwords. But eventually, you'll be able to sync data as well.
I installed Windows 8 on my old clunker of a test machine, a dual-boot Dell Inspiron E1505 with 1GB of RAM and a single-core Intel T2400 1.83GHz CPU. That's at the very bottom of the hardware requirements for Windows 8. Yet even in this early state on that slow a machine, it was still fast and responsive. It felt even faster than Windows 7 on the same machine.
New Windows Explorer
Windows Explorer is now actually useful in Windows 8. It sports a ribbon interface, so that many features that were previously hidden or hard to find, are now easily accessible via five main tabs, File, Home, Share, View, and Manage. You can see it, below.