During yesterday's D9 Conference, Microsoft demonstrated the next generation of Windows, internally code-named "Windows 8", for the first time. Windows 8 is a reimagining of Windows, from the chip to the interface. A Windows 8-based PC is really a new kind of device, one that scales from touch-only small screens through to large screens, with or without a keyboard and mouse. The demo showed some of the ways Microsoft reimagined the interface for a new generation of touch-centric hardware but for Windows Phone users, it's nothing new at all since it mimics Windows Phone's Metro UI and (live) tile Start screen.
The fast, fluid and dynamic Windows Phone experience has been transformed while keeping the power, flexibility and connectivity of Windows intact.
While Microsoft is still far away to unveil the full Windows 8 details, a few aspects of the new interface were showed yesterday:
- 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.
Microsoft also showed effortless movement between existing Windows programs and new Windows 8 apps. The full capabilities of Windows continue to be available to users, including the Windows Explorer and Desktop, as does compatibility with all Windows 7 logo PCs, software and peripherals.
According to Microsoft's Michael Angiulo, Windows 8 requires a 16:9 display resolution of at least 1366 × 768 pixel to get the full functionalities. Smaller displays with 1280 × 800 or 1024 × 768 pixels won't support the side-by-side view of multiple Windows 8 applications and displays smaller than 1024 × 600 pixels will only get the classic Windows (Vista/7) layout.
Although the new user interface is designed and optimized for touch, it works equally well with a mouse and keyboard. Microsoft's approach is said to mean no compromises: Users get to use whatever kind of device they prefer, with peripherals the choose, to run the apps they love. This is sure to inspire a new generation of hardware and software development, improving the experience for PC users around the world.
That's all looking good but somewhat reminds on the Origami interface, Microsoft introduced on top of Windows Vista when the company tried to establish Ultra Mobile PCs (UMPC) back in 2007. UMPCs were also designed for touch input but never ramped up because there was a consistence break between the touch friendly Origami UI and the Windows UI. For Windows 8, it's really Microsoft's number 1 task to solve this problem, as the company did when it restarted its Windows Phone project and developed Windows Phone 7 from the scratch.
Cheers ~ Arne