Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A peep into Windows 8!

A lot of technology news has been piping out of the All Things Digital D9 conference in California recently and today is no exception. First, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo confirmed photo-sharing coming to Twitter. Now, we are all getting the very first glimpse of Windows 8. The photo above is the brand new Start menu in the next iteration of Windows. As you can see, it is completely different from ever before — yet it somehow looks familiar. It is heavily inspired by Windows Phone 7, Microsoft’s latest smart phone operating system. The mobile OS is notable for its unique live tiles UI, which updates with content from the internet personalized by the user

Windows 8 features those same live tiles in the Start menu. It even starts with a lock screen and the ability to quickly glance at notifications. By the way, see that Store tile? Consider the Windows app store confirmed. Never before has the operating system been integrated with the web in such a way. Plus, the screenshot makes clear that they each tile is very large. Could Microsoft be making a major switch to touch control in Windows 8 as opposed to a mouse or track pad?

There'll be two kinds of applications for Windows 8, one that runs in a traditional desktop, and the other pseudo-mobile apps based on HTML5 and Javascript, but both environments -- rather, the entire OS -- have been designed from the ground up for touchscreen use. Keyboard and mouse will still be options for both sets of programs, but there are multiple virtual sets of keys for different form factors, including a split keyboard for vertical slate use. Multitasking is simply a matter of swiping running apps into the center of the screen, and you can pull windows partway to "snap" them in place alongside other windows -- even mixing and matching traditional desktop programs with web apps simultaneously (like Twitter alongside your spreadsheet). There's a new version of Internet Explorer 10 (which runs Silverlight) and an app store built into the touchscreen interface, along with integrated services like Office 365. Microsoft says the new OS will run on laptops, tablets and desktops when it appears -- whenever that might be.

All Things D didn't have any details on when we'll get pricing or availability, We should note that "Windows 8" is just a codename for what we're seeing here -- "we'll figure out the real name in due time," Sinofsky told the crowd -- but we don't see much harm in calling it Windows 8 for now.

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