Best of both worlds?
Software giant Microsoft publicly demonstrated the next full version of Windows - provisionally called Windows 8 - at the All Things D event yesterday and then subsequently at Computex.
Windows experience veep Julie Larson-Green was keen to stress that Windows 8 is a ‘reimagining of Windows, from the chip to the interface,' and that it's designed to scale from regular PCs down to touch-only small screens.
In order to achieve that Windows 8 seems to borrow heavily from Windows Phone 7, so much so that we have to wonder if the two platforms are destined to converge as some stage in the future. Given that Windows 8 will also support the ARM instruction set, that's not so difficult to imagine.
Here are Larson-Green's highlights from what was shown:
- Fast launching of apps from a tile-based Start screen, which replaces the Windows Start menu with a customizable, scalable full-screen view of apps.
- Live tiles with notifications, showing always up-to-date information from your apps.
- Fluid, natural switching between running apps.
- Convenient ability to snap and resize an app to the side of the screen, so you can really multitask using the capabilities of Windows.
- Fully touch-optimized browsing, with all the power of hardware-accelerated Internet Explorer 10.
As you can see there is an emphasis on ‘apps' for the PC. How these will differ from ‘applications', ‘programs' or ‘software' remains to be seen, but it's probably more in the look, feel and delivery. People are becoming used to the smartphone paradigm of touching apps and having them launch instantly, so Microsoft seems to be rebranding the desktop shortcut to match the zeitgeist. It seems to have realised that the expectation now is for everything to happen instantaneously.
Meanwhile in Taipei, Windows planning veep Mike Angiulo said: "Our aim with ‘Windows 8' is to make the user experience a natural extension of the device, from the time you turn on your PC through how you interact with the applications you know and love. This represents a fundamental shift in Windows design that we haven't attempted since the days of Windows 95, presenting huge opportunities for our hardware partners to innovate with new PC designs."
But having said all that, Microsoft is understandably cautious not to alienate its core market and both stressed how great Windows 8 will be for PCs with traditional peripherals too. There was no talk of versions or release dates. Microsoft seems to have discovered YouTube at last, so here's a vid. Let us know your first impressions.