On October 26th 2012, MICROSOFT will launch Windows 8, the next iteration of its widely popular operating system. However, to call Windows 8 an iteration, is a misnomer. It is essentially a brand new product that signifies a dramatic shift and realignment of ALL of Microsoft’s services towards one unified goal.
What is this goal: How will we compute in the future?
We are at a fundamental shift in how we compute. No longer are we chained to a desk in order to be productive. We can work, and play, from any locale on Earth. The proliferation of widespread internet access across the world, hand held devices that have the same computing as the desktops of yesterday and an insatiable appetite for multimedia entertainment / consumption presented a clear challenge to Microsoft’s dwindling market share of conventional PC’s
The answer to that challenge that is Windows 8: An Operating system that is designed to be Mobile, Touch First, Integrated to Cloud Services while providing a consistent user Experience across a variety of devices and form factors.
A mobile operating system has to manage its resources extremely well to ensure the perfect balance between performance and power consumption. The Windows of yesteryear was all about providing maximum performance with nary a thought to efficiency and battery life. Windows 8 was built to maximize battery life as well as provide performance where necessary. An example of this is the elimination of the “Aero” transparency effect that was introduced in Windows Vista. Though beautiful, it was a RAM and GPU hog. The Modern Design style (formerly known as Metro) of Windows 8 uses flat graphics and typography to put your content at the forefront. A good analogy is using a simple frame rather than an ornate to display a masterpiece.
More people access the internet through Touch Oriented devices than through traditional PCs. As the mobile device form factor keep morphing, Windows 8 is designed to work smoothly on the devices while not losing the legacy of Keyboard control. But Touch is not the end of user control experience with Windows 8. As we find better ways to interact/control with our computing devices depending on the situation eg Voice Control, Windows 8 is built to incorporate these changes to as they occur. For Example Windows Phone 8 will be issued with an API that allows developers to use speech recognition to control their apps at a much deeper level than any of the current operating systems available. This API will be available to Windows 8 modern apps as well.
Why the Cloud:
In the past, most our computing services were local i.e. resided on our machine. Software, Data, Resources etc. But by using the cloud, we are able to access data from any location, always have current software (updated & maintained in the cloud) and improved management of collaborative resources.
Consistent User Experience
Unlike the Apple platform, Windows users have a mind boggling choice of devices to choose from. Windows 8 was designed to ensure that the User experience is consistent whether they are on a Desktop, laptop, hybrid (tablet with removable keyboard / laptop with datable screen), tablet or even Smart Phone. There will be a point (some say we have already reached it) where the line between traditional computing devices and mobile devices will disappear. Windows 8 was designed to ensure that when this point is reached, the user will have a seamless transition between devices.
An acute observer will notice that all of Microsoft’s services and branding are being aligned to reflect the same philosophy. From Operating Systems to Websites, from Developer Software to Enterprise Solutions. Whereas the old Microsoft had an inconsistent message, even to the point where divisions would work against each other, the new Microsoft (aware of the challenge present by Apple and Google) is focused on preparing for the future.
Even as this shift in the windows dynamic may seem jarring, Windows 8 incorporates and improves all the best features of Windows 7.
Over the next 10 days I will share my experience with Windows 8 (I have been using it exclusively since March 1st), Windows Phone (I’ve been a user since it was launched in November 2010) and Office 2013.