Today, at the D9 Conference, Microsoft demonstrated the next generation of Windows for the first time. Microsoft calls Windows 8 a “reimagining of Windows, from the chip to the interface”. Windows 8 is touted to be able to scale from touch-only small screens through to large screens, with or without a keyboard and mouse. The demo showed some of the ways in which MS “reimagined” the interface for a new generation of touch-centric hardware. Fast, fluid and dynamic, the experience has been transformed while keeping the power, flexibility and connectivity of Windows intact.
Here are a few aspects of the new interface:
. Fast launching of apps from a tile-based Start screen, which replaces the Windows Start menu with a customizable, scalable full-screen view of apps.
. Live tiles with notifications, showing always up-to-date information from the apps.
. Fluid, natural switching between running apps.
. Convenient ability to snap and resize an app to the side of the screen, so one can multitask easily.
. Fully touch-optimized browsing, with all the power of hardware-accelerated Internet Explorer 10.
Despite the implementation of the whole new Metro UI, the standard capabilities of Windows continue to be available, including the Windows Explorer and Desktop, as does compatibility with all Windows 7 logo PCs, software and peripherals. Although the new user interface is designed and optimized for touch, it works equally well with a mouse and keyboard.
Windows 8 apps can use a broad set of new libraries and controls, designed for fluid interaction and seamless connectivity. Apps can add new capabilities to Windows and to other apps, connecting with one another through the new interface. For example, a developer can extend the file picker control to enable picking from their own app content or from within another Windows 8 app, in addition to the local file system and the network.
The user interface and new apps are expected to 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.