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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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RE: No need to redesign
By Aloonatic on 6/2/2011 2:42:43 AM , Rating: 1
if they can get that kind of smoothness even in low end device like tegra 2 or intel atom than we already have a winner.
Well, that's just the point though, isn't it? If! The reason why people talk about the need to redesign the OS and not just create another layer on top is so that it might run smoothly on low powered devices. You and the OP seem to be assuming that this will happen, even though Windows 7 Home Premium struggles on Atom devices now, so how will that plus a new UI on top, which seems to encourage you to have more than 1 program showing and running at once, run any smoother?

It just doesn't add up and just blindly assuming (well, believing, in manner that Tony Swash would be proud of (and mocked for on here) were we talking about an Apple product) that it will that it will isn't enough for anyone.

RE: No need to redesign
By damianrobertjones on 6/2/2011 4:16:44 AM , Rating: 2
"Windows 7 Home Premium struggles on Atom devices now"

Standard rotational hard drive: Yes
Good solid state hard drive: Not at all.

As long as they KEEP the bloatware off of the system, all of the devices will run just fine.

RE: No need to redesign
By Aloonatic on 6/2/2011 5:43:27 AM , Rating: 1
When is the next space shuttle leaving for the planet that you live on where devices come with a "Good solid state hard drive" and no bloatware?

I need to get a ticket :o)

Or are you just saying that only expensive tablets and notebooks will be running windows 8?

RE: No need to redesign
By B3an on 6/2/2011 6:12:46 AM , Rating: 1
I would think that by the time Win8 actually comes out that ALL tablets will definitely have atleast decent SSD's in them. There will also be quadcore ARM CPU's and faster Atoms before the release of Win8.

But i'm sure MS have also made a lot of tweaks that will make Win8 run a lot smoother than Win7 on the same tablet hardware.

RE: No need to redesign
By Aloonatic on 6/2/2011 7:21:48 AM , Rating: 2
I agree that by the time Win8 is out, that hardware might be better, but I'm not sure about the decent SSD bit. Cheap SSD, maybe, but a decent one?

The rest about MS making "tweeks" seems a bit like wishful thinking though. Even if they do, aren't we getting back to the OP's original point, which was that MS need to make changes to the underlying OS, not just add another pretty layer on top?

RE: No need to redesign
By inighthawki on 6/2/2011 9:38:40 AM , Rating: 2
Half the problem with standard hard drives in windows is little to do with transfer rates, but access times and random read/writes. Even with a "decent" or cheap SSD, you should see a VAST improvement, and far less IO blocking waiting for disk drive access.

RE: No need to redesign
By B3an on 6/2/2011 3:00:07 PM , Rating: 1
MS will be making changes to the underlying OS. Obviously windows 8 wont purely be a new interface with no other changes. MS has already said that it will need the same system requirements or lower than windows 7.

In much the same way Windows 7 runs better than Vista on cr*p hardware, i expect Windows 8 to run even better on low end hardware.

RE: No need to redesign
By Samus on 6/2/2011 11:43:42 AM , Rating: 2
Not redesign? I disagree...

OS Install Sizes (average install with most security updates)

Windows XP SP3 3GB
Windows Vista SP1 12GB (64-bit)
Windows 7 SP1 9GB (64-bit)

Now, mobile (developement platform installs, usually missing apps, but offset with compilers and debuggers)
Honeycomb 3.01 346MB
iOS 4.0.2 504MB
WP7 7.0.1563 1.07GB

Windows 7, at best is already 9 times larger than the next closest mobile OS.

Keep that in mind when considering it needs to be powered by the same ultralight, similar power envelope already in use by RISC-based tablets. It's not clear why Microsoft is going to be RISC (ARM) compatible. It will reduce compiled OS size (by a lot, RISC applications are usually half the size of x86 compilations.)

But that will only get Windows 8 down by so much, assuming it is similar in size to Windows 7...

RE: No need to redesign
By B3an on 6/2/2011 5:46:17 PM , Rating: 1
They could never get it down to the sizes of Android and iOS even if they tried. It's a vastly more complex and far more capable OS. The included peripheral drivers alone probably take up more than iOS's total size. I would GLADLY give up a little space for all the extra functionality of a real OS.

RE: No need to redesign
By Smilin on 6/3/2011 1:45:42 PM , Rating: 2
Who cares? Go compare Moore's law against the development lifetime of each Windows iteration with the knowledge that 7 is ligher than Vista and 8 is lighter than 7.

My Samsung Focus today already has enough horsepower and storage to run Windows 7 if there were an ARM variant of it (like there is with 8).

Efficiency is always good, don't get me wrong but having something small at the expense of having features is just plain stupid. Given the pace of hardware improvements it would take longer to improve your code than it would for the chip manufacturers to make the need moot. Fortunately both are happening.

RE: No need to redesign
By superPC on 6/2/2011 4:51:09 AM , Rating: 2
well the tegra 2 is much less powerful than atom but it can run windows 8. i'm guessing they'll go the crysis 2 route. still look good (as good as crysis 1 but with more limited draw distance, physics, object on screen) and runs smooth but with a lot lower hardware requirement.

RE: No need to redesign
By Aloonatic on 6/2/2011 5:40:02 AM , Rating: 2
I'm confused. Can a Tegra 2 system run Windows 8 smoothly or not? Your last 2 comments don't seem to make it clear, and how do you know anyway?

Do you mean that Tegra like systems will "run smoothly" or do you now think that they can "technically" run Win8? If it's the latter, it sounds like another "Vista capable" debacle in the making, if what you are saying is how it's going to go down. From other articles it seems that MS might have learned their lesson and been stricter with their min requirements, however.

It just seems odd how before you were questioning if it would work smoothly, and now you are saying that it will.

RE: No need to redesign
By jvillaro on 6/2/2011 11:33:22 AM , Rating: 2
In the Taiwan event Microsoft showed much more than on D9. All Windows 7 PCs will run Windows 8, requirements will be the same or less. And the showed demos on ARM computers.
They had a laptop with Nvidias quad-core Tegra 3 (KAL-EL).
Don´t know if Tegra 2 will make it but Windows 8 is coming out next Year, Tegra 2 will be in the past by then. If we're completly honest not even HoneyComb runs "smoothly" on Tegra 2 (but maybe that just Honeycombs fault).

RE: No need to redesign
By Aloonatic on 6/2/2011 12:07:25 PM , Rating: 2
I'm sure that it will run better on Tegra 3 than on Tegra 2, that only stands to reason. I'm not sure where I've said otherwise????

I just questioned the person that I was replying to's change from if it will work blah blah to it will definitely work blah blah.

There seemed to be a lot of blind faith in their statement, which is usually reserved for "Appelites" and for which they are usually mocked and derided for on here.

For the record, I think this (win8/Metro) looks great and hopefully it will work well, and be nice and smooth on the hardware that people will actually buy, or that MS recommends. I'm sure they learned a lesson from the Vista capable thing.

RE: No need to redesign
By jvillaro on 6/2/2011 12:59:49 PM , Rating: 1
Sorry maybe I didn't what you were asking before.
There where other ARM based demoed maybe on the same level as Tegra 2... But I haven`t had the time to look at all the news.

As far as lesson learned from Vista, I hope so too. Theres already talk about MS imposing MINIMUM specs on future tablets kind of what the do with WP7... I certainly hope so.
ACER is already bitching... but let them I hope we can avoid POS that will harm the experience

RE: No need to redesign
By Tony Swash on 6/2/11, Rating: -1
RE: No need to redesign
By themaster08 on 6/2/2011 6:20:41 AM , Rating: 2
The world of technology is restructuring and the old metrics and models for success are being transformed, the old ways won't necessarily lead to riches anymore.
Maybe so, but what you seem to think is that the world of technology will change overnight. You couldn't be further from the truth.

Businesses are usually extremely reluctant to jump on-board of new technologies. By the time most businesses transition to new technologies, Microsoft will have established themselves. Sure, you might see a few iPads in some businesses, so what? On many occasions I find that iPads are bought by MD's for personal use.

Sure, the consumer space is fast moving and very fickle. It's always been that way, but you obviously have never worked in IT. The consumer market does not influence the business market. Consumer-oriented businesses such as Apple fail epically when creating business solutions. Remember Apple and the SEC?

Windows 8 will provide the transition that will benefit consumers, with an extremely easy-to-use, intuitive interface that plays extremely well with a touch screen, whilst at the same time supporting business and power users with power tools and legacy/desktop interfaces.

You also seem to forget about Microsoft's partner and 3rd party developer support. You seem to be comparing this to the likes of the iPhone/Windows Phone, but you know that it's nothing like that. In terms of application count, I expect the Windows 8 Marketplace to exceed iOS's app count in a matter of months.

This will bring in an entire wealth of new applications designed for the metro interface and touch input. Again, debunking your previous comments based upon legacy applications.

Windows 8 will also bring in tighter integration with other Microsoft's products, thus also propelling interest in those products and in turn increasing sales.

People such as yourselves seem to discount Microsoft due to the always-in-the-limelight companies such as Apple. If I was Apple or Google, I'd be watching very closely.

RE: No need to redesign
By Tony Swash on 6/2/11, Rating: -1
RE: No need to redesign
By Flunk on 6/2/2011 9:15:49 AM , Rating: 2
It seems you have forgotten to take into account the fact that Microsoft takes 30% off the top of all sales on their App Marketplace. That 30%, combined with a greater emphasis on buying via their marketplace could make this new model even more profitable than their current one.

Windows Phone 7 is already like this, although I admit it makes publishing apps much easier for me.

RE: No need to redesign
By omnicronx on 6/2/2011 11:14:44 AM , Rating: 2
Not to mention MS is a software company, not a hardware company. The idea that they cannot compete in the low end market just makes little sense to me, when you consider they already control the netbook and low end market which have lower pricepoints than all current tablets.(and in some cases by a large margin)

OEM > Vertical Integration over the long term. Its the secret to Androids success, and one of the main reasons why I feel MS is hardly out of the game..

Even if they are late to the party, they have an advantage nobody else currently has. The support of millions of users worldwide. A Tablet PC that contains a full version of Windows with a Tablet interface could very well move MS past the realm of mere content consumption on tablets.

RE: No need to redesign
By Da W on 6/2/2011 11:23:50 AM , Rating: 2
True MS is loosing some market power. Even if they maintain a near monopoly in the x86 pc market, substitute products are keeping it in check. At least we won't see the price of windows 8 jump over what windows 7 was.

But, MS need to keep evolving. They need to put the PC in the living room. their Xbox IPTV project has the potential to be huge. Now just get rid of that set-up box, that blue-ray player, that sound system, that gaming console and just gimme a PC that does all these things and then some.

RE: No need to redesign
By robinthakur on 6/2/2011 6:21:43 AM , Rating: 2
Well you actually make some good points, but maybe they will market a reduced functionality version of Office for it like Adobe does on iOS with Photoshop for a reduced price. Even if they make a loss on that as long as they are still using the same office file formats which work with PC's ant the fuill version of Office, then whilst their revenue might decrease markedly, they will at least survive, (which was by no means certain) in the coming years. They also have compatibility on their side with their own Walled gardens like SharePoint and CRM etc, although by that logic current WP7 devices should be the best to use with Exchange, but that honour goes to Blackberry currently...

Unless the whole OS is built for a reduced power consumption and mobile devices from scratch, what is the logic of having the whole thing running in the background but displaying only a cut down interface and functionality to the user? It seems a bit inefficient to me...

However, the video is at least an encouraging sign that MS might turn things around. Once they have a genuinely good product (not a 80% there like current WP7) they will see the sales, though as Tony correctly points out, Google give their OS away for free...lucky that MS gets a royalty from them and their OEMs for each one sold lol.

RE: No need to redesign
By Aloonatic on 6/2/2011 7:11:05 AM , Rating: 2
I hear what you are saying about "the cloud" and people being happy to use cheaper or free apps to do certain things, but I'm not sure that MS hasn't got it's office suites in pretty decent order now, and that they are getting revenue from most people, even home users.

Gone have the days of most homes having a pirated version of Windows and Office. Businesses will still want a "proper" office application and when home users can buy a 3 user licence for Excel, Word and Power Point for £40 or so, then I think that cheaper alternatives are going to have to be very cheap or very good to get people to move away.

MS Office files are still, and will probably continue to be, the standard for text documents (which most people could get away with creating on a cheap text editor, really), spreadsheets (that I'm not sure are very "app" friendly) and presentation slides.

Even if people do go "app crazy" and lots of apps are being sold and lots of data is being stored on the cloud, rather than being created in Office and stored on a windows PC. The more things that go into "the cloud" the more servers will be needed.

Out of interest (I honestly don't know, and I'm not being sarcastic here) what OS do most servers use that power the iStore, Android Market Place etc? What will other servers that will be supporting cloud based services be running too?

At the end of the day, MS has always made a lot of it's money from businesses. While I agree that Apps etc might fly in the home, in the work place a good old fashioned PC with a monitor and copy of MS Office is still going to be the standard for a while.

That MS have come up with an interesting Win 8/metro interface that looks good for tablets and where the home market is going while also supporting a legacy desktop environment that business will like seems to be a pretty good way to go.

RE: No need to redesign
By superPC on 6/2/2011 8:40:53 AM , Rating: 2
you and that article you posted ( brought some good and interesting point. but instead of looking at it that way we can also look at it from a different point of view. the point of view of people who bought keyboard for ipad or eee transformer (for which there is a lot). people who bought atrix 4g laptop dock. all those people that expect to get more out of their tablet. people that also want create content instead of just consume. for those people windows 8 would be a perfect OS. for consumption or light use the touch interface would suit it well. other times they want to use keyboard they can switch to normal desktop. hell you can buy a viewsonic tegra 2 tablet for 300 ( attach keyboard and mouse to it and you can have the full windows experience when you want it or need it.

all the other stuff you mention about microsoft start bleeding revenue everywhere can also be look at another way. office can sure compete with similar apps. if it can't than it would already be replaced by numerous other productivity suite out there like open office, iwork, and other. even if they created a touch centric office with limited capability their main business wouldn't be affected (they've done this with windows phone 7 office BTW and apple has done the same with iwork). about web app and loss of revenue, ehm have you search for apps for windows lately? there's already millions of them (go to zdnet if you don't believe me). web app or normally installed app, free or paid. if it doesn't disrupt MS income right now why should it disrupt it when win 8 comes out? if anything it should increase revenue since MS can really leverage on the new product scout or windows app store (or whatever they ended up being named). about enterprise solution for server and stuff: MS is still fighting it out with linux distros. i fail to see how windows 8 would suddenly cause MS to loose the battle.

RE: No need to redesign
By Smilin on 6/3/2011 1:36:14 PM , Rating: 1
The real problem is that this revolution or paradigm shift threatens to undermine Microsoft's whole business model.

You are both right and wrong. The mobile space IS disruptive to on-premesis PC based Windows.

However, that is not Microsoft's business model any longer. What you are saying I heard Kevin Turner himself say six years ago and it wasn't a new idea even then.

Office before = buy licenses in bulk. Maybe or maybe not actually use them. Repeat in 3 years.
Office soon = pay a very low cost per user *per month* for what you actually use in the cloud. Overall money to MSFT over 3 years is higher, overall costs to customers is lower since there is no maintenance, rollouts, or upgrades.

You're also forgetting the Microsoft isn't just Windows. That mentality is even more out of date. Find a Mac running Office and Microsoft made more money on it than Apple did. iPhones are wildly successful? Cool...that's just more hits for bing. Sit back and watch Apple beat up MSFTs real #1 competitor, Google.

The MS Strategy is in the cloud via the three screens described by Ray Ozzy. The devices will become ubiquitous, cheap and fiercly competitive. It's not the market you want to be in.

RE: No need to redesign
By Gungel on 6/2/2011 9:38:00 AM , Rating: 2
It's more a problem of the Atom CPU than Windows 7. The same is not true for AMD Fusion which seems to run just fine with Win7.

RE: No need to redesign
By Da W on 6/2/2011 11:18:12 AM , Rating: 2
I did a stress test on the ACER W500 with a Brazos C-50 dual core@1Ghz and 6250GPU plus a 32 GB SDD.
The test:
1-Open windows media center in a window and play music (way more ressource hungry than media player)
2-Open word open excel
3-Open explorer 9 and stream a youtube video
4-open addtionnal explorer tab and open randon websites
5-Open google chrome and browse trying to find a home using the map

The 2 gig of ram were still not fully loaded and starting at step 5, the cpu were used at 100% and loading the website took some time. But i'd say coming from this hardware, i'm pretty impressed. Can you do that on a tegra 2 honeycomb tab?

RE: No need to redesign
By Aloonatic on 6/2/2011 12:00:46 PM , Rating: 2
Can you do that on a tegra 2 honeycomb tab?
I'm not sure why you seem to think that I have said that I could do anything on any platform?

I'm happy for you that Fusion worked OK. really, I am, but that's not what I was replying to.

RE: No need to redesign
By Da W on 6/2/2011 1:43:41 PM , Rating: 2
Oh i'm just replying generally

"I f***ing cannot play Halo 2 multiplayer. I cannot do it." -- Bungie Technical Lead Chris Butcher

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