Microsoft Shows Off Windows 8

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Microsoft finally showed off a sneak peak at its next-generation Windows operating system, tentatively dubbed Windows 8. Confirming speculation that the operating system will be touch friendly, Microsoft reps commented that this version of Windows was designed from the ground up for touch, including a new start screen that resembles the Windows Phone 7 Metro UI. It is complete with large widget-like tiles in the place of app icons and built-inc compensation for imprecise finger taps.

In a video demo (embedded below), Microsoft Director of Product Management for the Windows User Experience team, Jensen Harris suggested that the same Windows 8 built for tablets will also be suited for laptops and desktops, working with either touch or mouse and keyboard. Windows 8 will also support two types of apps, including the standard Windows app and HTML 5 and Javascript apps that will be similar to mobile applications.

 Windows 8 Start Screen

Microsoft reps did not confirm if the ARM-based Windows 8 will support both types, or just the HTML 5 and Javascript apps. However, at the D9 conference where the OS was first demoed, Windows President Steven Sinofsky claimed during an interview with the Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg that there would be no virtualization and that HTML5 and Javascript apps will provide the best user experience.

Also not mentioned, but clearly on display in the teaser start screen is a tile for what appears to be a Microsoft app store, which suggests Microsoft is emulating Android and Apple with its own app distribution system.

Other touch-friendly refinements include varying on-screen keyboard layouts, swipe-based app switching and multitasking, and the ability to “snap” two apps in place for display at the same time.

A few other tidbits also emerged from the demo. Microsoft commented that this version of Windows will follow Windows 7 in being less resource-intensive than its previous version, meaning any machine running Windows 7 will be able to handle Windows 8, or whatever Microsoft decides to call it. Also, the version demoed at the D9 conference was running on an Intel Atom-powered machine. Windows 8 running on ARM-based devices will be on display at Computex, currently happening in Taiwan. Microsoft has already confirmed it will run on ARM chips from NVIDIA, TI, and Qualcomm.

Sinofsky did not comment on a price or release date, but did confirm that Microsoft is sticking to its typical two to three years between releases, and that Windows 8 will not be ready for the fall when Microsoft holds a developer conference.

Source: All Things D

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