Windows 8 Consumer Preview Metro interface
When you plug in a USB drive, a pop-up notification asks what you want the default action to be: nothing; open a folder to view the files; use the drive for backup or use it to speed up your computer using ReadyBoost (an existing feature from Windows 7, which didn't do much to improve performance in our experience).
Windows 7 was pretty hopeless at organising and presenting photos in an attractive way (unless you fired up the Media Center interface), and the default picture viewer's only saving grace was its slideshow mode. Unsurprisingly, photos are given the Royal treatment in Windows 8. Not only does the app pull in images from your Pictures folder, it also lets you connect your Facebook, Flickr and SkyDrive photos so you can view them all in one place. We're sure other services will be added by the release version, too. PhotoBucket and Picasa would be nice, Microsoft.
In our brief test, it appeared that only the first couple of photos from each service are cached in order to display an 'app tile'. The rest are streamed from the service in question, which was too sluggish for our liking. However, this could have been down to a number of factors, including the speed of our internet connection. The screen below shows a list of photo albums in our Facebook account, but again, only the first couple are cached. The rest remain grey until the photo is downloaded.
If you double-click a photo from a Windows Explorer window, it will open in the Photos app. A pop-up asks if you want to make this the default action:
When you right-click a photo in full-screen mode in the Photos app, you'll see options to make it the app tile or set it as the lock screen. Note that there isn't an option to set it as your wallpaper. If you're viewing an image that's not stored locally, you'll also get a button to see the image on its native web page.
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