Microsoft Windows 8 Explored at BUILD - HotHardware

Microsoft Windows 8 Explored at BUILD

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Windows 8 is damned impressive. That's our one-sentence summary of the company's keynote and it applies despite the appearance of a few bugs and hiccups during the on-stage OS demonstrations. The new operating system shares certain design elements with Windows Phone 7, but it's far from a large-screen version of Microsoft's smartphone OS. When Steven Sinofsky, President of the Windows division at Microsoft, wrote that "Windows 8 re-imagines Windows" and implied that this would be the largest overhaul since Windows 95, he wasn't exaggerating.


Steven Sinofsky holds a first generation Lenovo netbook with an Atom CPU and 1GB of RAM running Win 8

One thing classic users will have to get used to from here on out is that Microsoft's focus is on Metro UI. The classic UI environment exists--Microsoft showed Photoshop running seamlessly--but it's not the future of the operating system. We'll offer more details on classic mode and on the interaction between the two UIs as they become available.

Design Principles, Shared Performance



Windows 8 emphasizes a true "chromeless" full screen mode in which all title and menu bars are hidden until accessed by swipe or mouse gesture. The OS's various applications are able to take advantage of each other without the sort of vendor-specific linkages that caused so much trouble for Microsoft ten years ago.  Windows 8 is also designed to offer the same experience across both tablets and desktops. Microsoft may still offer a 'Tablet Edition' SKU, but there's no core feature difference between Windows 8 for ARM and X86 tablets vs. Windows 8 for high-end desktops and notebooks.



The second and fourth bullet points are the critically important ones and signal the greatest shift in Microsoft's thinking. Windows 8 is designed to be "used while carrying," and while it's too early to say if the company perfectly nailed the paradigm shift, it's a clear departure from previous mobile operating systems.

Ironically, the touch-enabled version of Windows 7 is the most likely to require the user to remain motionless thanks to the difficulty of navigating a mouse-driven interface by finger. Not so with Windows 8.

The last point is something we'll explore in more detail later in this article. Applications in Windows 8 are linked through the use of what Microsoft calls "contracts" and designed to share information and allow for seamless interaction between message services, social networks, and cloud storage. A number of the company's demos highlight the idea that the end user doesn't necessarily care--or need to care--whether an image is stored locally, on Windows Live SkyDrive, or on Facebook. The important thing is that the image is readily available when the user goes looking for it. Finally, there's the question of performance. Microsoft claims that Windows 8 delivers "fundamental performance gains" and offers the following comparison:


Windows 8, with a lighter footprint than Win 7?  Apparently, yes.

It's nearly impossible to verify Microsoft's numbers for Windows 7; the number of threads and total amount of available system RAM at boot will depend entirely on what applications, drivers, and third-party software has been configured to load at launch. We're assuming, for simplicity's sake, that the company's figures are based on a "typical" user profile, with all the slipperiness that implies. Clearly, we're meant to conclude that Windows 8 is a leaner, more svelte product. That may be true--but the truth is likely more complex.

There's a significant gap between both the amount of RAM and the available RAM bandwidth when comparing even modest mobile PCs and tablets. Low-end netbooks still sell with just 1-2GB of RAM, but even tablets using relatively high-end LPDDR2 rely on a 32-bit memory bus that's just half as wide as a standard 64-bit DDR2/DDR3 RAM channel.

We suspect Windows 8 will be capable of adjusting certain performance algorithms depending on what type of hardware is powering the OS. It makes sense to put the OS on a diet when dealing with devices that offer 2-3GB/s of total memory bandwidth, but there's little reason to enforce such strictures when a modern desktop offers 10-20x the bandwidth and 4-8x the storage capacity.

Update:  9/15/11 - 2:40PM - Here's a quick video quick video walk-through of the new OS on a Core i5 2520M-based notebook we had here in the test lab.


Having considered the operating system's general design and performance, let's move on to specific applications and screenshots.

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Thanks for the preliminary review on Windows 8. I am actually looking forward to this for my own personal use but as far as from a support standpoint for my school this could potentially be a nightmare. I am sure they will make some way to lock this down through group policy into a Windows 7 Classic mode.

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Thanks for the preview,and the more I look at Windows 8 and the metro style interface the more I like it.Looks like it to be quite a bit innovative and has the 'charm' to alleviate a lot of the rather tiresome repetition of user navigation with a UI such as this..Those that would like to check out a Developer pre-beta tonight can get more info here to dl the Developer Preview .iso

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/home/

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Joel did a good thing by giving us an early preview of us. Now I don't know if I'll see myself using Windows 8 (especially when the Classic UI is only avaliable on 32-bit operating systems.) but I do know that this will work wonders for the market Microsoft hasn't exactly had ease conquering despite the fact that they were one of the first... Yup, you heard it right tablets.

I mean just look at the UI, it has all of the combinations for a winning game. You've got an architecture that knows how to efficiently load apps, you've got an interface that's easy to use and mutli-touch compatible and you even have it eating up less memory than previous Windows versions. Now the only problem is how will it work out on tablets. I mean iPad currently has the market locked up and Android has a big chunk of the pie, leaving barely any room for Microsoft.

They're going to need some serious convincing of everybody if they want to succeed. And not just consumers, but manufactures and software makers as well.

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Interesting! I downloaded Win 8 last night but I dl'd the straight 64 bit version without the dev tools etc. Well when I tried to install it did not work. So I re-dl'd today and am in 64 bit Win8 as we speak (of course on a chrome browser, lol). It is interesting and seemingly so far with about 20 minutes experience now pretty functional for a developers alpha build. Supposedly it has a year of development before release, or maybe they just mean it will be released in 2012. Either way it will take a little getting used to as it is different for sure. Anyway off to mess around with WIN 8!

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I'll have to use it before I make my final decision but metro looks pretty cool. I'm not so sure I want all of those apps running on my desktop but it looks great for tablets/netbooks/notebooks. I'm sure there will be a way you can have windows automatically load the desktop instead of metro when it starts. I was reading an article that said this is the future of computing; one os running on all devices. I have to agree with that statement, I look forward to seeing more progress at we get closer to its release date. It looks like Microsoft finally beat apple to something more innovative!

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I have a lot of issues with Windows 7 and hoped they would be fixed in Wondows 8, however it appears to be getting worse. 1 OS for all devices is fine as long ay you can choose not to install support for all the devices you don't have! I have at least 5 RAID drivers loaded on my notebook which does not have a raid adapter, as well a services for touch screens and a lot of other stuff that is slowing down my computer. In a perfect world, yes 1 OS for all devices, but this world isn't perfect and neither is Windows. It needs to be more modular so people can get rid of the resource hogging "Features" they don't want and can't use.

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It sounds like the problem you have is an overzealous OEM who loaded a bunch of crap that you aren't using.


Windows 7 doesn't load any RAID drivers or touchscreen drivers by default. All such packages are enabled and installed by the OEM or the user.

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I have to admit this looks interesting, and up until this point I really wasn't looking forward to Win8, as I really like Win7 and felt that Win8 was coming way too soon.

But I now I'd like to see more.

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"Just Look at what Steve Jobs and Apple has done, From now on , all desktops will turn into tablets. LOL. Obviously Microsoft cant capitalized much on the mobile APP market, where Apple and Android is too strong, But Microsoft owns the Desktop OS market, so this is a smart move. I just hope the user experience is as good and its polished for the Desktop, if it is , then it would definitely influence WIN 8 mobile device sales for perfect harmony between devices.I just wished I had taken a programming course back then, cause thats where the money is at "

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Wheatley:
"Just Look at what Steve Jobs and Apple has done, From now on , all desktops will turn into tablets. LOL. Obviously Microsoft cant capitalized much on the mobile APP market, where Apple and Android is too strong

It's not an application market, it's the mobile market... I mean sure, they created Windows Phone 7 and that's a good mobile operating system but it hasn't exactly seen the adoption it needs because not many developers find it flexible, not many consumers find it as appealing as the iPhone and/or Android and not many manufactures are even willing to develop Windows Mobile phones. Hell, even Windows 7 can't find work on a tablet due to the fact that it's a desktop OS first and foremost.

The Classic UI is not because they own the desktop market, but because they have to maintain compatibility with older apps while people get adjusted to Metro (Windows 8's new interface.) I mean what happens if you design a new OS and then tell people "Look, your old apps will not work with this, but it's new and you gotta accept it." Do you know how many people would be pissed off at Microsoft if they did that? And it'd be a smart move if they make the classic UI work for x64. (x86 = 32-bit, and everybody who's gone 64-bit knows how much they can't go back.) but alas, I'm guessing that we have to get used to the fact that they're phasing out the classic UI for 64-bit systems (unless there's a clarification I don't know about.

Wheatley:
I just hope the user experience is as good and its polished for the Desktop, if it is , then it would definitely influence WIN 8 mobile device sales for perfect harmony between devices.

The review is up there, it says that the interface is good and polished. Hell, I even say that the UI is good and would fit well on a wide variety of tablets, including tablets. However, the main issue is not how much polished and good it is. The main issue is how are people going to adopt it. You've seen what happened with Zune, they've polished it; they've turned it into a niche product that many people would buy for it's value and for it's uniqueness (as an iPod alternative of course) but as usual not many people bought into it to make it profitable so after Zune HD (which was as polished and good as Windows 8 BTW.) they decided to end production of Zune devices and turn all of their focus on Windows Phone 7... Which is doing very bad, but I'm hoping that the Nokia deal can at least edge Microsoft into the position where Apple and Android are.

Anyways... What Microsoft needs to be doing is addressing people who will be asking (Hmmm.... Why should I buy a Windows tablet when I can buy a competing Android or Apple tablet.) I mean that's the kind of people they should be targeting. Apple and Android has entrenched themselves so deep in this market that it's going to be a long uphill battle for Microsoft and it's quest to get a place in the tablet market and gain the dollars of consumers. (because lord knows they can't keep making Desktop OS's, unless they want to be an enterprise company...)

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