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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 Tony Swash on 6/2/2011 8:37:04 AM , Rating: -1
quote:
I think you may have missed my point. Even if the Microsoft strategy is a huge success, even if Windows 8 sells in enormous numbers, even if Windows based tablets trounce the iPad and Android, it may still not stop the financial decline of Microsoft. What's passing is a technology paradigm, just like the mini-computer paradigm passed with the advent of the PC. I just cannot see how Microsoft can make the sort of money it made from desktop PCs in a world of cheap devices and apps.

Unless Microsoft botches it horribly (which is possible given their track record over recent years) they will probably remain a very big company and continue to make money. It's just they will almost certainly never be the biggest again, they will never make as much money as they used to, they may shrink a bit rather than grow, they won't be the power that they were.

Times change. Who fives years ago would have thought that Nokia would be disappearing down a black hole and be trounced by Apple and Google of all people?


I think you may have missed my point. Even if the Microsoft strategy is a huge success, even if Windows 8 sells in enormous numbers, even if Windows based tablets trounce the iPad and Android, it may still not stop the financial decline of Microsoft. What's passing is a technology paradigm, just like the mini-computer paradigm passed with the advent of the PC. I just cannot see how Microsoft can make the sort of money it made from desktop PCs in a world of cheap devices and apps. It's as simple as that.

Unless Microsoft botches it horribly (which is possible given their track record over recent years) they will probably remain a very big company and continue to make money. It's just they will almost certainly never be the biggest again, they will never make as much money as they used to, they may shrink a bit rather than grow, they won't be the power that they were.

Times change. Who fives years ago would have thought that Nokia would be disappearing down a black hole and be trounced by Apple and Google of all people?


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.


"If you look at the last five years, if you look at what major innovations have occurred in computing technology, every single one of them came from AMD. Not a single innovation came from Intel." -- AMD CEO Hector Ruiz in 2007














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