Microsoft Demos Revamped Windows 8 UI, Reveals More OS Details

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?