So, after a little brute force I've 'persuaded' Windows 8 that it really does want to use the much older ATi driver I kept telling it to and not that one that ships in-box no matter how nice and shiny it might think it is. Consequently my machine is super-nippy and entirely stable again (although I can honestly say I've had plenty of experience with the new startup, auto-repair, restore and refresh features I suppose!)
My thoughts so far on RTM:
Signing in with a Microsoft ID is nice and simple and it was neat to see some of the personalization I'd done in previous build auto-magically get carried across. What's not so hot about that is the amount of time I still seem to spend having to click on Microsoft Account login things on websites like C9, MSDN blogs as well as when running stuff like Microsoft Flight or Zune. Isn't the entire point of a single sign-on system like this so that I don't have to keep doing this? It's a tad annoying given that the Windows Live-ID sign in assistant on Windows 7 seemed to do a better job of making this more seamless than it does here.
A lot of the in-box apps are still lacking a bit of polish, hopefully these will be subject to continuous improvement and maybe even get an update or two prior to the "real" release of Windows 8.
- The people hub lacks some obvious functionality. I don't, for example, seem to have any way of assigning pictures to contacts that don't have them (and quite why some of them don't, when those same contacts do on WP7 is another issue).
- The music app seems to have decided that albums and bands whose name starts with 'The' belong alphabetically under 'T', something I don't think I've seen a music app do since the early 2000s. Given that the whole 'metro' thing originated with Zune, it's seems odd that this is one of the weaker apps at the moment.
- The presence of Album art in music also seems a bit hit and miss, which is odd given that many of the apps missing it came from the Zune store and the artwork is all present and correct there. Worse still there are a few albums which point blank fail to play at all there, though are fine in the desktop app.
- No RSS reader and the crippling of the Windows RSS platform that began in IE9 with the hiding of the orange feed icon gets worse with IE apparently defaulting to not updating your feeds and recommending you don't turn it on. I'm hoping a solution pops up in the store soon (or I guess I know what my first Metro-style app will be!), especially given how many RSS readers there seemed to be used as samples in pre-release builds. The few I've found so far are decidedly lacking.
In fact one of the most striking things is that the Zune app run full screen is a better example of what the Music app should be like than the app we actually get. I guess the temptation is to push first-party services first and foremost, which I can sort-of understand, but it doesn't help sell the 'concept' as it should. My content should be #1, not a bunch of new-fangled pop artists whose album is flavour of the week (I already paid for the Zune Pass dammit, if I want to buy more music I'll do it without having it shoved in my face).
The Bing app is another offender here. I really don't see the point in an app which doesn't really do anything other than launch IE. Just make searching in IE work smoothly and ditch the standalone app, it's just not needed. Unpinning/uninstalling it isn't hard, of course, but again it distracts from what really shines and has that distinct odour of crapware about it. Apple wouldn't ship that.
Speedwise, it's ludicrously fast. I'm partially assigning some responsibility for that to the fact I replaced the old disk with an SSD, but I'm pretty sure that's not entirely responsible for the improvements across the board. Will certainly be interesting to see how much it's impacted once I've got some Hyper-V VMs set up to run alongside the main install.
IE10 is nice, even in "Metro mode", which I wasn't expecting (I'm even using it now!). However the lack of Flash support here just seems counter-productive. I know the aim is to push a HTML5 only web, but I still don't see that happening any time soon and having to switch to the desktop every now and then for the sake of a webpage feels clunky (doubly so due to the bizarre decision to seemingly not share saved credentials and so on between views).
And one last thing, if you do find yourself in the most unfortunate position of trying to diagnose a machine that repeatedly likes to crash at startup, the insistence that it's going to try an 'automatic repair' that will fail every time before you can get into a state where you can try something like a low-res/safe mode boot is deeply aggravating and rather wasteful of time. I'm sure it's great for a one-off bad driver issue that'll help out most folk, but there *really* needs to be an "I know what I'm doing, stop trying to be clever and just give me the advanced options" keypress here.