Microsoft Demos Revamped Windows 8 UI, Reveals More OS Details

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News Posted: Wed, Jun 1 2011 10:59 PM
Microsoft used the D9 conference today to disclose a number of interesting details regarding its next version of Windows, aptly codenamed Windows 8.

As we showed you at CES earlier this year, when Microsoft demoed IE 10 and PowerPoint running on an ARM SoC-based platform, part of Microsoft’s plan with their next-gen OS is to embrace multiple CPU and SoC architectures, in an effort to get Windows on as many devices as possible. To do so, however, while also offering good performance and a consistent experience across platforms (if that is indeed in Microsoft’s plan), it’s clear that the OS would have to be more streamlined and modularized. The capabilities of a 7” tablet with a single-core CPU and touch-screen, for example, are vastly different than a full tower, decked out with a 6-core CPU, gobs of memory, a 30” monitor and traditional input devices, but Microsoft wants Windows 8 on them all.


The “Building Windows 8” video we have for you’re here explains some of the ways Microsoft plans to revamp their UI to accommodate the many different platforms and form factors for which Windows 8 is being designed. The demo shows some upcoming Windows 8 apps seamlessly intermingling with a number of the standard desktop applications that we’re currently familiar with under Windows 7. “We also showed effortless movement between existing Windows programs and new Windows 8 apps. The full capabilities of Windows continue to be available to you, including the Windows Explorer and Desktop, as does compatibility with all Windows 7 logo PCs, software and peripherals”, said Julie Larson-Green, corporate vice president, Windows Experience. To us, the new twists on the interface—at least in these early stages of development—appear to be a hybrid of Windows Phone’s touch capabilities and Windows 7’s more traditional UI. Two very different animals, that will certainly need taming to peacefully exist side-by-side on the same system without appearing disjointed.

Microsoft also talked about how developers will build apps designed specifically for the new capabilities of Windows 8. The apps will be developed using HTML5, and are full-screen and touch-optimized to fully exploit the capabilities of the new Windows user interface. These apps will have to coexist with many of the standard desktop applications we used today, however, when used on a desktop PC (maybe not so much on a small tablet), hence the reimagining of the UI, as Microsoft likes to call it. As an interesting aside, app development for Windows 8 could have a huge impact on the Windows Phone Marketplace, considering the development similarities.


"Swiping" Apps Into Focus With The Windows 8 UI

“Today’s demonstration followed our announcements earlier this year about Windows 8 running on System on a Chip (SoC) processors, and our browser engine innovations and significantly increased standards support in Internet Explorer 10. Windows 8 extends these innovations and reimagines every level of the Windows architecture — the kernel, networking, storage, devices, user interface — all building on the broadest and richest ecosystem of software, peripherals and devices.” This statement sums everything up nicely. Microsoft wants Windows 8 everywhere. They’ve finally given a glimpse at how they plan to achieve that goal.

We’re interested in your take on the new Windows 8 UI. Watch the video and let us know that you think. With Intel’s recent talk of accelerating SoC development and ushering in a new class of thin and light mobile platforms and Microsoft’s plans to completely revamp Windows, computing as we know it could be in for a major shakeup, and fairly soon. What say you?
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pwrntspd replied on Wed, Jun 1 2011 11:17 PM

WOW...im impressed. Even after what ive seen on the Playbook and android tablets, it looks like windows 8 is going to have one heck of an interface. The adding and resizing of windows really impressed me, and by the looks of it multitasking was no issue. Looks like windows will further blur the lines between typical X86 based PC's and Arm devices. Its about time windows used its powers for good...rather than evil.

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Inspector replied on Wed, Jun 1 2011 11:17 PM

I think i missed out on windows 1-6... Why the start of single digit numbers now? :D Or are we going back in time from windows 98? :D

Nice features it is going to have, touchscreen makes it that much better too, will the features still work for a mouse?

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that was my ? to inspector would have liked to have seen him use the mouse and key board

looks very nice though they might have put some thought in to windows/xbox/and the phone for a change

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AKwyn replied on Wed, Jun 1 2011 11:34 PM

I can totally see the Media Center influence in the UI, nice knowing that the old Windows UI hasn't been forgotten about.

That video has gotten me so hyped for Windows 8.

 

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pandre27 replied on Thu, Jun 2 2011 12:20 AM

these guys have way too much money to mess up an OS.... oh wait..

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pandre27:

these guys have way too much money to mess up an OS.... oh wait..

you mean vista 8

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pwrntspd replied on Thu, Jun 2 2011 12:59 AM

Hopefully this wont be another vista/windows 2000/windows millennium...but it seems like they learned a lesson with windows 7. You would expect a company as powerful and wealthy as microsoft to get it right the first time though...Either way, it seems like they were trying to show how windows 8 would integrate with tablets more than anything else. Hopefully we'll see what the OS looks like in a typical desktop configuration in the coming months.

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History shows every other release of Windows is coded poorly.

I hope for Microsoft as they move into the tablet arena they can break from this every other release being bad and nail this one as this is not the time to drop the ball.

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If Microsoft got it right the first time, then who would buy their upgrades?  Wink  For investors, Microsoft is running a great business that generates revenue and profits by not releasing the best possible product.  This means, we as consumers, will "want" to upgrade to the next big thing being offered by Microsoft, even though we don't necessarily "need" to upgrade.  It's the Jedi mind trick of marketing, and the Force is strong with Microsoft.

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rrplay replied on Thu, Jun 2 2011 7:42 AM

Looks to like that would have great potential and useability as long as the swiping and traditional UI's can exist seamlessly

.& Wonder how this would pan out in a dual screen setup?

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Good to see that they're finally making Windows more touch friendly. However I'm not such a big fan of the WP7-style tiles (because they're so blocky perhaps?). Also I think I'll wait for Windows 9, or at least until people have time to test 8 out and ensure that it won't be another ME-XP, Vista-7 type of OS revision.

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At one point he did say the features are designed for touch but would work with a mouse and keyboard if that is what you have. This really seems like a tablet OS more than a desktop OS. Also it looks like Windows 7 with Apps which would concern me about battery life on a portable devices and CPU usage with all those apps running in the background pulling information all the time.

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AKwyn replied on Thu, Jun 2 2011 4:52 PM

Lamar Kropf:
Also I think I'll wait for Windows 9, or at least until people have time to test 8 out and ensure that it won't be another ME-XP, Vista-7 type of OS revision.

I used Vista and I have to say that it was not nearly as bad as people thought; It was just seemingly overblown by the issues that people constantly bring out.

And Windows ME, I don't know why they had any real reason to introduce that; I mean aside from a Help & Support center, Windows Movie Maker and some things taken from Windows 2000;I don't think Windows ME was really worth releasing out to the general public.

I don't think it's going to be that type of revision but it's definitely going to be confusing figuring out how this works in a desktop like environment.

 

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OSunday replied on Fri, Jun 3 2011 4:39 PM

I don't find windows 8 appealing at all, it seem's cluttered and like the new "app screen" and other little add on features will take away from the clean, smooth windows experience that's come with 7 and XP (we're gonna pretend vista was an accident and thus Microsoft is pardoned)

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I agree Taylor I was running Vista Ultimate(rip-off version) and never really had any problems with it. Though when I upgraded to 7 I noticed that my whole machine ran quite a bit faster.

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3vi1 replied on Fri, Jun 3 2011 11:47 PM

Inspector:
I think i missed out on windows 1-6.

1985 - Windows 1.0 (Garbage)
1987 - Windows 2.0 (Garbage 2.0)
1990 - Windows 3.0 (Actually usable, and only 4 steps backwards from AmigaDOS 1.0 of 1985)
1993 - Windows 4.0 = WinNT (MS walked away from their IBM deal with lots of OS/2 tech/experience and released a system as good as AmigaDOS 1.0)
Win2000 = Windows 5.0 (Better than AmigaDOS, and only 15 years later)
2001- Windows 5.1 = Windows XP.  We fixed all the bugs in Windows 5.0, we swear.
2006 - Windows 6.0 = Vista. If Linux and MacOS X  hadn't gone from being barely invented at the time of the previous release to being better than it at this point, it would have been considered amazing.
2009 - Windows 6.1, according to the 'ver' command.  But, called Windows 7.  They renamed it because they added... uh... bigger icons... and a desire to distance themselves from Vista and what happens every time a closed source OS makes a technological break from the past (32/64-bit... no drivers from 3rd parties).

To me, Win8 looks like "Let's assume everyone is going to buy a touchscreen instead of using a mouse".  If I thought Ubuntu had overdone it with Unity, MS brought in napalm with this interface.

For 95% of what people do... not on their phones... it's stupid (I'm thinking of the stuff I do everyday in the real world of business - my word processor, web browser, excel, mmc, command line and ssh terms don't need to give me status messages on the desktop, and I don't want to have to swipe through multiple screens of huge similar-looking square icons to see the 20 apps I use every day).  Everyone and his brother will run it just for fear of not being able to run bleeding edge games if not... but it will be obsolete by 2014.

My co-workers drop dozens of icons on their desktop:  Shortcuts to different documents.  Imagine what a grey goo of similar screens that's going to look like in this interface. Maybe I'm jaded because I use an OS whose philosophy is that there's 'no one true way' and thus allows me to configure radically different desktops depending upon what I want for my tasks, but 10 will get you 20 that Microsoft backs off and makes it look more like Gnome3 once they get to the user-testing stage.

All in all, it's just a pretty phone-like launcher - the best part is that it closes and the taskbar pops up when he launches Excel.  Microsoft has a history of releasing a crappy OS, then a fixed 'good' version in an alternating fashion.  Windows 7 was a 'good' version.

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Great synopsis :) I agree with you they are acting like everything is going to be touch screens though they did say it would work with a mouse and keyboard. I hate more than like 15-20 icons on my desktop and have no need for putting documents on it. Only time will tell.

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LBowen replied on Mon, Jun 6 2011 3:53 PM

Finally got to watch the video and wow that was fluid and intuitive.  I'm still using Vista and although I don't have a touch screen I like alot of the features he showed in the video.  I am guessing but I think most of the people here enjoy multitasking as much as I do so that snap feature would certainly come in handy.

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