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New Start screen

Weather app

Split "thumb" keyboard

Julie Larson-Green, Corporate Vice President, Windows Experience  (Source: Microsoft)
Microsoft brings a little bit of Windows Phone 7 flavor to Windows 8

Apple's iPad may have a long head start in the tablet market, and Google is slowly starting to get its footing in the market with Honeycomb, but don't count Microsoft out just yet. The boys from Redmond today showed off what they've been working on when it comes to tablet functionality in Windows 8.

The entire Windows 8 operating system has full touch support and will scale from small screens (i.e. tablets), to notebooks, to desktops with their massive screens. Windows 8 can be interfaced using the traditional mouse and keyboard -- this is the "base" Windows 8 environment -- or completely through touch-based gestures.

But of course, everyone wants to know how Windows 8 is going to work with tablet devices, and Microsoft gave us a hint of that today at the AllThingsD conference. As previously rumored, the tablet-centric versions of Windows 8 have an interface that is modeled after Windows Phone 7's "Metro" UI.

The new Start screen includes "Live" tiles and allows you to swipe and flick your way through the interface like you would with Windows Phone 7 devices. Transitions are nice and smooth, and multitasking is accomplished by simply swiping your finger across the screen [video].

Windows 8 will be able to run traditional Windows applications that we've all come to know and love over the years, or more touch-centric full screen apps that are written in HTML5 and JavaScript. Microsoft plans to make tools available to developers to help kick start the app making process to ensure that Windows 8 doesn't have the dearth of optimized apps that plague the Honeycomb platform. 

Other tidbits that came out of today's announcement include the fact that Windows 8 won't require any more hardware muscle than Windows 7 to run properly according to Microsoft Windows president Steven Sinofsky. Likewise, the OS will be optimized for both AMD and Intel x86 processors along with the hard-charging ARM architecture

Internet Explorer 10 is fully baked into Windows 8 and is obviously touch optimized. A new on-screen keyboard is also available including a new "split keyboard" configuration to make typing with your thumbs easier on a tablet.

"And this isn’t just about touch PCs. The new Windows experience will ultimately be powered by application and device developers around the world — one experience across a tremendous variety of PCs," said Julie Larson-Green, Corporate Vice President for Windows Experience. "The user interface and new apps will work with or without a keyboard and mouse on a broad range of screen sizes and pixel densities, from small slates to laptops, desktops, all-in-ones, and even classroom-sized displays. Hundreds of millions of PCs will run the new Windows 8 user interface. This breadth of hardware choice is unique to Windows and central to how we see Windows evolving."

All in and all, it looks like Microsoft has made a valiant effort with Windows 8 for tablets, but it's still more of an "additional layer" plastered on top of Windows rather than a fully fleshed out, tablet-specific operating system like iOS or Android. However, this "quirk" allows it to take advantage of new HTML5 apps and still have access to the unparalleled catalog of existing Windows applications.

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By jithvk on 6/1/2011 8:38:24 PM , Rating: 3
After seeing this, i feel like the honeycomb ui comes from spartan cave. The part i like most is that they have a full functional Windows OS underneath. I also hope Intel will release x86 processors small and powerful enough to run this so that i don't have to settle for some ARM Windows 8.

RE: HoneyComb
By acer905 on 6/1/2011 9:26:49 PM , Rating: 3
Agreed. This is the first real contender at fully replacing laptops and desktops. Fully portable and yet fully functional. Bluetooth accessories or a docking station and it could be used for everything an office or home user could ever need, with all existing software. But, you can simply grab and go and still play games, and browse the web. Looks like Microsoft may still be relevant.

RE: HoneyComb
By Mitch101 on 6/1/2011 11:40:56 PM , Rating: 2
This is like Shock and Awe Ive never gotten so many e-mails from my geek friends referencing the Windows 8 video.

I fell asleep when I got home and woke up with an e-mail thread a mile long of nearly every geek I know in amazement over this and sending the link around.

Microsoft reveals ARM-powered Windows 8 prototypes (eyes-on)

RE: HoneyComb
By chmilz on 6/1/2011 11:46:26 PM , Rating: 2
I can do all that right now with my eee Transformer...

But damn, this looks good. I can only assume it will be able to seamlessly move stuff from a Win8 desktop to a Win8 tablet.

If hardware partners get it right, this will easily be a better product that iPad... that is, if they launch it before Apple can rip off all the good ideas.

RE: HoneyComb
By superPC on 6/2/2011 4:43:52 AM , Rating: 2
and since the eee transformer has tegra 2 in it once the win 8 beta comes out you can do all that still with your eee transformer but with win 8 beta installed. great isn't it?

RE: HoneyComb
By B3an on 6/2/2011 5:57:48 AM , Rating: 1
that is, if they launch it before Apple can rip off all the good ideas

Thats what has me worried. Apple always do this, they done it with things in Vista and so much other MS OS's/software because MS take so long to get stuff out. Then when MS do finally get the product out Apple have already done it, and people think MS are copying.

But the OS is looking amazing so far. Having a full Windows OS run on a tablet would be amazing, you could play all the current windows games and run all the software. Yeah you can do that on Win7 tablets, but they're simply all cr*p and the OS isn't well suited for these devices at all.

RE: HoneyComb
By retrospooty on 6/1/2011 9:43:50 PM , Rating: 2
"I also hope Intel will release x86 processors small and powerful enough to run this so that i don't have to settle for some ARM Windows 8. "

Atom's today could run this, but the upcoming .22, and then .14 micron Atoms will do it with far better power consumption.

RE: HoneyComb
By StevoLincolnite on 6/1/2011 11:20:36 PM , Rating: 2
Atom's today could run this, but the upcoming .22, and then .14 micron Atoms will do it with far better power consumption.

Or you could just go with an AMD Brazos... Which would probably be better suited to tablets than an Atom.

Remember, Tablets are more for consuming media, so a decent GPU will probably make a world of difference for most people.

RE: HoneyComb
By retrospooty on 6/2/2011 8:39:54 AM , Rating: 2
Good point if happening today... But a few years from now, I am sure Intel will have a more competitive integrated graphics now that AMD is better in that area.

RE: HoneyComb
By MonkeyPaw on 6/1/2011 9:51:36 PM , Rating: 2
Wow. That's what I have to say. It looks like MS did a lot of thinking and planning, and the design really looks like it will work well. I was skeptical of them making win8 an all on one OS, but I think they're onto something.

RE: HoneyComb
By themaster08 on 6/2/2011 2:40:04 AM , Rating: 2
I agree. Microsoft have found the right balance between content creation and content consumption on the same operating system. This OS will work exceptionally well for docked tablets.

With Microsoft's overwhelming number of software partners and 3rd party developers, you just know that the Windows 8 marketplace is just going to be jam packed with goodies. I just hope that they've improved Games for Windows Live, because that just pretty much sucks at the moment.

RE: HoneyComb
By superPC on 6/1/2011 10:51:03 PM , Rating: 1
and we don't have to wait for months upon months for an update like we did today with android or iOS. heck windows 8 will probably stick to update tuesday for incremental updates. and maybe an upgraded ui or added functionality for service pack every few months.

"I mean, if you wanna break down someone's door, why don't you start with AT&T, for God sakes? They make your amazing phone unusable as a phone!" -- Jon Stewart on Apple and the iPhone

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