Microsoft demonstrated the next version of Windows this week, and the operating system has an interface almost nobody expected or predicted.
The default interface for Windows 8 will look almost nothing like Windows 7, but will look and feel like Microsoft’s cell-phone operating system, Windows Phone 7.
Windows 8” is optimized for newer touch-centric hardware, including tablets, while still delivering the flexibility, connectivity and power that people have come to expect from Windows today.
One of the first major design changes from previous Windows versions is the completely overhauled Windows Start menu, which has been replaced with a colorful tiled design that evokes the Expose screen of Firefox, or other similar quick-screen-navigation features found in most new web browsers.
Rather than web pages, however, the new Start screen shows both static program icons and widgets, called “live tiles,” which provide constant notifications and updates. Windows 8 also allows users to access all the files on their computer in the same visualized way that programs are accessed, which helps make the OS easy to navigate with touch alone.
Here are the few aspects of the new interface:
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 re size 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.
Overall, Windows 8 looks like a step in the right direction for Microsoft, as it tries to compete with the touchscreen powerhouse of Apple’s iPad line and its iOS software. Windows 8 is still far from complete, however, and it is not yet clear when the software will be publicly available, though some guess a fall 2012 time frame.
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