Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Windows 8 - Everything We Know

Just when most people are getting used to Windows 7, it's already time to start looking ahead to Windows 8, scheduled to be release in summer or autumn of 2012.  There's already a lot of information available, both from Microsoft and some enterprising leakers.  Here's a round-up of what looks to be in store for Windows 8:

Improved Interface
Aero will continue to be an interface to Windows 8, but it will be joined by "Immersive", which includes elements of the "Metro" GUI beloved by Windows Phone 7 fans:

While Immersive offers a whole new experience, Windows 8 will feature developments for Aero as well, including "ribbon" featured in Microsoft Office throughout the Windows interface:
Aero continues to be refined, adding features such as automatically matching your other UI elements to the colors in your desktop background:

Windows 8 will also include a completely different secondary interface, currently known as "Immersive".  A seriously revamped touch-based interface is also in the works.  Tweaks to the Task Bar, including the "UserTile" interface are also expected to make the final product.  If we take a hint from this Windows 8 login screen image, this OS is meant for more than your desktop - this is the kind of screen you would expect to see on your phone or tablet (if they had CTRL, ALT and DEL keys).

Cross Platform OS
Windows has a long history of running on Intel and Intel-compatible x86 processors (at one time the combination was known as WinTel).  It looks like Microsoft is ready to make a huge move with it's next OS as all signs point towards Windows 8 being developed for ARM processor architecture as well as in System-On-A-Chip (SOC) variants, which would greatly increase the number of tablets and mobile devices on which it can run.

App Store
With the success of Apple's IOS App Store, and the many others trying to duplicate it, it's no surprise that Mircosoft is looking to get in on the action with Windows 8.  In addiiton to a store, Microsoft has released "AppX" application model, a strict set of development guidelines which should help to ensure compatibility and similar user experiences across apps from many developers.  Microsoft is no stranger to the on-line app sales, with Windows, Zune and XBox Live Marketplace already to it's credit, but Windows 8's purchase interface seems to be moving towards an approach very similar to Apple's, if leaked screenshots are correct:

Whether the screenshot is real or not, it is very likely that Windows 8 will include some form of App Store, and that some version of Angry Birds will be in it.

History Vault
While Windows has long featured integrated backup functionality, it looks like Windows 8 aims to take another queue from OSX with it's "History Vault" file protection system, which can backup files to external drives and NAS devices.

Internet Explorer 10
Microsoft showed up an early preview of Internet Explorer 10 this week at their MIX conference in Las Vegas (running on Windows 8!).  IE 10 promised to increase HTML5 standards support and extend compatibility for CSS Gradients and CSS3 Flexible Box Layout.  Further, there is a touch interface, and there have been some leaks of a

Here's a preview video of Internet Explorer from MIX:

Windows Vista took a huge step forward in securing the Windows OS.  Windows 7 made that security usable!  Look for Microsoft to continue to improve Windows security with Windows 8.  Internet Explorer and Windows Live Messenger already include "Smartscreen" to guard against dangerous files - looks like Windows 8 will have Smartscreen built right into the file system:

More Features
Other features which have been seen in early builds include: a built-in "Modern Reader" for PDFs, the ability to mount ISO files from the file system, a "Restore Factory Settings" mode, Multi-touch, Windows Live ID integration, Kinect for Windows and an install time up to 3 times faster than Windows 7!  It's a while yet to see what the final product looks like, but at this point indevelopment, Windows 8 seems to be pretty far along.

Credit to the "Within Windows" Blog, a great source of information on Microsoft products.

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