At Microsoft’s Build Conference in Anaheim this week, it announced the next version of Microsoft Windows, codenamed Windows 8.Windows 8 is a completely revamped operating system built for both tablets and traditional computers.
The new tablet interface takes the windows out of Windows, turning the entire notion of “PC” into something new.
There are no open apps to keep track of, and no resource management to worry about.
The test version of Windows 8 is lightning fast, and leaves most settings behind the scenes (the way iOS does).
In a shocking move, Microsoft offered up a plug-and-play “Developer Preview” of Windows 8 to the entire world. We downloaded and installed it on our old Dell Vostro laptop, and it’s very snappy. (Even though there’s a year or more left until it launches).
The tablet interface is designed for touch input, but a mouse works OK as well (with the help of some handy keyboard shortcuts). Like Apple, Microsoft is making a transition to gesture-based trackpads and devices.
Take our full walkthrough of Windows 8 in all its half-baked yet extraordinary glory.
Here's your Windows 8 home screen. The focus here is on apps, a huge paradigm shift from previous versions of Windows. And it's all touch and gesture-friendly.
Click and drag a tile to move it around on your home screen. Other tiles react naturally as you drag your tile over them.
The Weather app will be a mainstay for many. It's elegant, functional, and the clouds bounce by happily.
Every app has a neat splash screen that indicates you're entering something that will take up your whole screen.
Microsoft built [email protected], a surprisingly decent Twitter stream app for Windows 8. The focus in Windows 8 is on apps.
The Stocks app looks gorgeous. Swipe to the right to see related news articles which can pop you straight into Internet Explorer.
The Notifications pane gives us a glimpse into how apps will interact with your computer via push notifications. These notifications will show up on your screensaver.
The Devices pane is another example of how Windows 8 hopes to make the PC personal and easy to use again.
The Share pane of Control Panel lets you add plug-ins so you can share content natively via your favourite social networks.
Here's another cue Windows 8 takes from mobile phones. No set-up for things like Location Services until you need them.
Clicking the Desktop tile on your home screen takes you to the traditional Windows interface. A brilliant move to help transition users, and to let them switch between touch and keyboard/mouse depending on what they want to do.
Internet Explorer was super fast, partly because it doesn't have any plug ins like Adobe Flash. And it takes up the entire screen.
If you press the Windows Button and I simultaneously, you can access quick settings from any app you're using.
Click the Pin button in the bottom right to add a quick shortcut for this website to your home screen.
If you move your mouse to the bottom left part of the screen, you can drag in the previous app you were using to take up part of your screen. It's cool, because the app adapts its content to fit.
As you start using apps and signing into services, tiles start to populate with relevant information like images, the weather, stock prices, news, and more.
Here's the Profile view that makes use of Facebook's API. It will be an easy way for anybody to casually browse Facebook.
If you press the Windows Button and F simultaneously, you can search all the files on your computer, Spotlight-style.
Is Microsoft Paint about to kick the can? The Paint Play app is clearly built for touch screens, but we had fun anyway.
The Piano app is another cool demonstration of the consumer-oriented direction Microsoft thinks tablets and PCs are headed in.
Unfortunately, the Windows 8 Marketplace isn't quite ready yet. Will it be just like the Mac App Store, except filled with Office products?
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