Eye on Microsoft

About this Blog: This is Shane O'Neill's blog about Microsoft's corporate strategy and its various software and services — the good, the bad and the ugly.

Eye on Microsoft

Windows 8 Revealed: New Features of Microsoft's Next OS

The Windows 8 start screen merges the multi-touch, tile-based design of WP7 with desktop OS features for a completely new UI.

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Microsoft Windows president Steven Sinofsky gave a sneak peek of the next version of Windows — code-named Windows 8 — at the Wall Street Journal's D9 conference on Wednesday.

Today, Microsoft did a more detailed demo of Windows 8 at a news conference at Computex in Taipei (video below).

The software giant has stated that Windows 8 will be seamless across PCs and tablets and slates by making the OS compatible with ARM-based chips as well as traditional Windows processors from Intel and AMD. Based on early slides and video demos, Microsoft has redesigned the user interface to be a medley of Windows client OS and the tile-based design of Windows Phone 7. This certainly appears to be a more flexible and completely different iteration of Windows.

Microsoft: Windows 8 Won't Require a New PC
Windows 8: 5 Questions About Microsoft's New OS

The Start screen for Windows 8 is a personal mosaic of colorful tiles and looks nothing like the traditional Windows desktop we're all accustomed to. Every app on a Windows 8 PC is represented by a tile: e-mail, weather, calendar, photos, Twitter feed, the touch-based IE10 browser, etc. Each tile can be clicked on with the touch of a finger, and also can be accessed via a mouse and keyboard.

Based on the Windows 8 demos, most of the apps are written in HTML5 and JavaScript and resemble mobile apps you would see on a Windows Phone 7, just on a larger scale. But the Windows 8 interface also maintains the files and folder system of a desktop OS as well as the popular Windows 7 feature Aero Snap.

One eyebrow-raising app that showed up in Microsoft's demo on Wednesday was for a Windows App Store, which all but confirms that Microsoft is going to wisely release an app store built into Windows 8. Application stores are a new thing for desktop OSes, but are integral to a tablet OS (Apple App Store for iOS, Android Market for Android, BlackBerry App World for QNX on BlackBerry Playbooks).

Click here for a another video demo of Windows 8 from Jensen Harris, Microsoft's Windows Director of Program Management.

Shane O'Neill covers Microsoft, Windows, Operating Systems, Productivity Apps and Online Services for CIO.com. Follow Shane on Twitter @smoneill. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline and on Facebook. Email Shane at soneill@cio.com


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