Thoughts on Windows 8

Yesterday at the D9 conference, Microsoft showed off a bit of their newest OS offering, Windows 8


Quite obviously, Microsoft is emphasizing the new UI at this point in the reveal of Win8. They haven’t said much about whats under the hood, but we do know that they are building it for ARM as well as traditional processors. This means that Win8 can end up on more devices than any other version of Windows.

As far as the new UI is concerned, Microsoft has described it as a shell that runs in conjunction with the traditional desktop. It seems to me that users (Or perhaps OEMs?) can choose which experience they want. You can go with the new Metro-inspired, touch friendly UI, or the traditional Windows interface.

Onto the interface itself… The most obvious influence is Windows Phone 7. The tiled interface is lifted directly from WP7, with some modifications so it suits a different paradigm.

Tablets seem to be the most obvious target for this interface. By building for ARM, Microsoft has made that pretty clear. But what about phones? Given all the cues that this is taking from WP7, what are the chances that WP8 and Win8 actually end up being one in the same?

Hey Xbox peeps, do those tiles and gestures look familiar? In particular, think about the Kinect hub.

Yep. I have a feeling that this whole interface was designed not only for touch, but for Kinect. Now, Kinect may not seem useful for “traditional” computing, but what about media centers? Throw this interface and Win8 on an HTPC with Kinect and you have Minority Report in your living room.

Natural computing is the future for consumer devices, and this interface seems perfectly suited to it. I don’t ever think that the keyboard and mouse will go away for people like server administrators and such, but for every day computing in your household, a natural interface powered by something like a Kinect or a touch-based UI is far superior.

The oddest part about all of this is the fact that Microsoft said nothing about Silverlight or XNA (The platforms that all WP7 apps are built on). Instead, these new apps are all built using JavaScript and HTML5. Maybe it just hasn’t been announced yet, but I would really hope that Microsoft would take the Apple route here and let their tablet offering (Win8) run all the apps from their phone (WP7).

All in all, I think this interface is the start of something good for Win8. Microsoft seems to be unifying their strong points to make one “super” OS that will one day run on ALL devices. As long as the services are unified too (LIVE Anywhere anyone?) I think this will be killer for Microsoft. Apple has already shown how successful this strategy can be by having iOS on tablets and phones and with their unified App Store. Microsoft seems to be trying to do the same, just on a larger scale.

If Win8 unifies PCs, tablets, and phones under one OS, that only leaves one major Microsoft property out in the cold… Could the next Xbox be a part of these plans too?

Only time will tell!

One comment

  1. […] They showed off a new dashboard that looks mostly like an expanded Kinect Hub (And very much like Windows 8!). Everything seems much better organized and streamlined for Kinect. I was impressed, but haters […]

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