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Windows 8 Consumer Preview in pictures

Get a look at Microsoft's new OS

Windows Explorer has had a facelift, although you have to look closely to spot the changes. Anyone familiar with Office 2010 will instantly spot the 'ribbon' which is a row of icons providing quick access to common tasks. Here, you can see controls specific to photos as we're viewing the Pictures folder. It's here that there's an option to set the selected photo as your wallpaper - this will appear only on the traditional Windows desktop, not in the Metro interface.

Windows 8 Explorer ribbon - photos

Below is the ribbon you'll see in any folder. It's tabbed, as you'd expect, but the new feature is that one or more are highlighted. Here, as we're browsing the Music folder, you can see Music Tools. Similar to the Photos library above, Music Tools include playback controls and a button for 'Add to playlist'. The Library tools tab appears whever you're browsing a folder that's included in a Library (a feature introduced in Windows 7 which allows you to collate various folders on your computer into one 'library').

Windows 8 Explorer ribbon

Windows 7 (and Vista, for that matter) often came under fire for poor file copy speeds. It appears that Microsoft has fixed this, as there's now a real-time graph showing transfer speeds when you copy files, even if you don't click the More details button. You can also pause transfers as well as canceling the process.

Windows 8 file transfer

The new Music app is distinctly Metro-style with its tiled interface. If you try and play a supported music file from Windows Explorer, it will fire up the Music app, but most people will launch it from the Metro home screen. If you click the Show More tile, you can then choose to view your collection by album, artist and song.

Windows 8 Music

The 'now playing' view is minimal to say the least. It's kept this way to make it easy to use with your fingertips - the round handle for scrubbing quickly to a point in the track makes this obvious.

Windows 8 Music - now playing

Email is another prominent title on the Metro home screen. By default, email from your Microsoft account (the one you use to log into Windows 8) appears here, but links at the bottom let you link your Gmail, Exchange and other accounts.

Windows 8 email

The app Store is one of the major new features of Windows 8, and will be familiar to anyone with an Xbox 360 or Windows Phone 7 handset. Currently all apps are free, but once Windows 8 launches, most will cost a pound or two.

Windows 8 Store

We'll be adding more screenshots shortly. so be sure to check back.

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