Microsoft have released a new video, embedded below, demoing what is now being called Windows 8. Microsoft had refused to name the successor to Windows 7 until recently when Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer recently naming the new OS at the CES conference in Las Vegas. The video continues the trend of naming the new OS as Windows 8, and has been compared to Windows Mobile. Now that the name has been floated though, it is unlikely that Microsoft will deviate from the name.
The video walks the viewer through a raft of changes and new features. These changes include a new interface, including the new Start Screen which appears to replace the traditional Desktop and Start button common synonymous with the Windows platform. The interface appears to follow the trend of recent OSs which seems to be optimised for tablet and/or mobile devices. This design slightly deviates from the likes of Apple iOS and Windows mobile 7 in that Windows 8 uses tiles with live data rather than static icons. It’s a nice evolution and will likely spawn copycat upgrades to other OSs. A nice add-on is the thumb centric redesign of the on-screen keyboard, although it’s likely to take some getting used to.
The availability of multiprocessing of applications, coupled with the OS being designed to work with an array of hardware platforms will likely make it a strong competitor for the likes of the iPad and Android tablets. The multi-platformed approach allows users to avail of cheaper hardware rather than being locked into a single vendor (unlike Apple); although this has traditionally meant that compromises had to be made to avoid a reoccurrence of a Windows Vista magnitude.
Microsoft also promises that Windows 8 will be backwards compatible with older applications, although it’s likely that we will finally see a push away from any remaining XP legacy applications. This of course, is no bad thing but will likely hamper industry deployment as it will likely adopt a wait and see approach to the new OS. After-all, W3schools reports that as late as May 2011, Windows XP usage was still higher than Windows 7, although the gaps was closing fast.
One of the biggest changes seems to be the application integration and how files are shared between applications, the OS and the file system. This is a growing trend with Apple recently embedding Twitter into its iOS. However, I remain unconvinced of its long term integration due to likely security concerns.
Microsoft are promising several more videos over the next twelve months which may suggest a 2012 release of, at the very least, a beta. It would seem likely that Microsoft will attempt to replicate the success and early buzz generated by the public availability of the Windows 7 release candidate with this new OS as it strives to remain relevant and competitive in an increasingly diverse OS market.
Personally, the biggest disappointment had to be the lack of any mention of the rumoured Windows 8 app store. Here’s hoping that we will see this and much more in future videos. For the moment, it’s a good start and I’m eager to see more.