Microsoft whipped away the curtain from its next version of Windows, code-named “Windows 8,” at the Computex 2011 show in Taipei and the D:All things Digital Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. At Computex, Microsoft launched a technical demonstration of how the next-generation operating system will work on both x86 and ARM-based architectures.
“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,” Mike Angiulo, corporate vice president of Windows planning, hardware and PC ecosystem at Microsoft, told the audience at Computex. At first glance, Windows 8 appears to embrace a user interface familiar to anyone who’s seen Windows Phone or played around with many of the tablets on the market.
The emphasis is on colorful, touchable tiles stuffed with active information. Users can swipe fingers back and forth to rotate through applications or view new information, and input using a virtual keyboard. Unlike tablets currently on the market, though, users can also navigate with a keyboard and mouse, and access the underlying file system. Microsoft is offering no specific guidance for Windows 8’s release, but current rumors pin the shelf date as sometime later in 2012.
Windows 8 features tiles that display more information than traditional icons.
Windows 8’s start screen offers a variety of quick-glance information, including (at least, based on this screen) time and date, and emails and conversations.
Microsoft plans to port Windows 8 onto a variety of devices, including the tablet and PC form factors.
Microsoft offered a glimpse of a few new applications at work, including this News one.
As with Windows Phone, the Windows 8 interface seems to emphasize a horizontal format, with the ability to scroll left or right to see new information.
Mouse and Keyboard
Windows 8’s user interface is also navigable with the traditional mouse-and-keyboard configuration.
Here is a shot of Windows 8 finger-swiping in action.
Windows 8 offers the ability to run multiple applications simultaneously.
Like Windows Vista and Windows 7, Windows 8 lets the user “snap” content to the sides of the screen—in this case, a secondary application running alongside the main one.
Here is an image of two Windows 8 applications running concurrently.
In this shot, Internet Explorer 10 is operating on Windows 8 on a tablet.
Here is an image of Windows 8’s virtual keyboard (for tablets).
For tablets, Windows 8’s virtual keyboard can be configured into an ergonomic, “thumbs-optimized” format.
Windows 8 will also run existing Windows applications.
Despite the new tile-centric format, Windows 8 will also offer a robust file system.