Windows 8 leaning heavily on Windows Phone 7

Following up on a post from earlier today, where we make mention of Windows 8 and the inclusion of Metro, we have this nice tidbit from Microsoft regarding, well, Windows 8, and the inclusion of Metro.  They have replaced the desktop with a start screen that should be familiar to anyone with a windows phone, and, well... The video demo says it all and we could type for hours, and not explain it well enough to do it justice.

Remember alt-tab?  Yeah, just a swipe from the left to switch between apps.

The old start button/orb? Swipe from the right.

Remember Aero-snap? Well, look at Snap now. Re-sizable, and beautiful.

Remember the horrible old onscreen keyboard? Check out the new thumb board.

And underneath it all, the familiar trappings of Windows 7.

Windows Vista and 7 applications seem to be fully supported, if seeming a little out of place. We already know that legacy applications will not work on ARM processors without being recompiled, so I would expect a new version of Office to launch around the same time as Windows 8.

So, now we know how Windows tablets are going to look and act, and it gives us an interesting view of a possible future of Windows Phone. The tiles are incredibly flexible, and when we are able to utilize them on a larger screen, they should prove to be very useful tools.

It's not all roses, though, and people that were hesitant to make the switch to Vista or Windows 7 are in for a new shock. I am willing to bet that the Metro UI can be turned on and off, but imagine the first time your grandmother accidentally turns it on? And, more importantly, companies are always concerned about their workforce, and having to retrain when new versions of software come out. How will decision makers react to the new UI, and how will Microsoft sell it as a productivity enhancer, as opposed to just an awesome information layer? Remember the Mac Dashboard?

And, as a side note, when you are watching the video, watch on the right side of the screen for a wall, covered in censoring blur. Let us know what you think they are hiding in the comments.  And follow the break to read Microsoft's full press on the Windows 8 preview.

Source: Microsoft (opens in new tab)

REDMOND, Wash. – June 1, 2011 – Today, at the D9 Conference, we demonstrated the next generation of Windows, internally code-named “Windows 8,” for the first time. Windows 8 is a reimagining of Windows, from the chip to the interface. A Windows 8-based PC is really a new kind of device, one that scales from touch-only small screens through to large screens, with or without a keyboard and mouse.

The demo showed some of the ways we’ve 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 we showed today:

• 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 your apps.

• Fluid, natural switching between running apps.

• Convenient ability to snap and resize an app to the side of the screen, so you can really multitask using the capabilities of Windows.

• Web-connected and Web-powered apps built using HTML5 and JavaScript that have access to the full power of the PC.

• Fully touch-optimized browsing, with all the power of hardware-accelerated Internet Explorer 10.

Today’s demonstration followed our announcements earlier this year about Windows 8 running on System on a Chip (SoC) processors, and our browser engine innovations and significantly increased standards support in Internet Explorer 10. Windows 8 extends these innovations and reimagines every level of the Windows architecture — the kernel, networking, storage, devices, user interface — all building on the broadest and richest ecosystem of software, peripherals and devices.

Although the new user interface is designed and optimized for touch, it works equally well with a mouse and keyboard. Our approach means no compromises — you get to use whatever kind of device you prefer, with peripherals you choose, to run the apps you love. This is sure to inspire a new generation of hardware and software development, improving the experience for PC users around the world.

Today, we also talked a bit about how developers will build apps for the new system. Windows 8 apps use the power of HTML5, tapping into the native capabilities of Windows using standard JavaScript and HTML to deliver new kinds of experiences. These new Windows 8 apps are full-screen and touch-optimized, and they easily integrate with the capabilities of the new Windows user interface. There’s much more to the platform, capabilities and tools than we showed today.

We are excited to bring an innovative new platform and tools to developers and see how their creativity jumpstarts a new generation of apps. 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, we showed today how 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. We’re just getting started.

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. 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.

The video below introduces a few of the basic elements of the new user interface. Although we have much more to reveal at our developer event, BUILD (Sept. 13 - 16 in Anaheim, Calif.), we’re excited to share our progress with you.

(NOTE: Video is displayed at the top of our article)

We have so much more on the way! We’re working very hard to get the product ready for early testing, and we plan to kick off our engineering dialogue through our team blog, just as we did for Windows 7.

So please stay tuned — we have a lot of cool innovation coming in the months ahead.

By Julie Larson-Green

Corporate Vice President, Windows Experience

  • This is a very early build, so expect it to become alot smoother and cleaner looking within the next year before it is released. The same thing happened with Windows Phone, Microsoft showed off an early build and everyone started hating right away. Fast forward a 6-12 months and look at the amazing experience that it has become. After how well Microsoft did on WP7 I am confident that they will make Windows 8 just as amazing of an expereince.
  • Code name "Windows 8" LOL
  • Not a single mention of Silverlight...
  • Most likely because it's built with WPF, not Silverlight. The two are closely related, but there are key differences. At the top of the list, WPF is meant for standalone full-featured software, while Silverlight is meant for lightweight apps.
  • Windows 8 apps are built using HTML 5 and Javascript. No mention of either WPF or Silverlight.
  • Uhh, guys, it'll run any windows app it's just the tablet centric touch apps are done in HTML5+JS, nothing stopping you from starting a native or Silverlight app at any point.
  • The question is - can we get the new UI experience in our Sivlerlight-based apps or will they be confined to the old-style desktop. And will they be supported in a new APPX model. And will WPF be ported to ARM. And will Windows Phone 8 be also HTML5-based.Basically more questions than answers.
  • WPF (and Silverlight) will be ported to ARM. If they aren't you can kiss a heck of a lot of software you use today goodbye, including Windows. Most of the Vista/7 UI was built on WPF.
  • No UI in Vista or Win7 was built on WPF - you are confusing them with abandoned Longhorn.
  • No need to mention WPF or Silverlight, because they are not being replaced. HTML5 and JavaScript are being added as a new way to build apps.
  • Thanks... I was WPF developer long before I started with Silverlight - so I know what WPF is.
  • So, start learning HTML 5.
  • I already know it - and I don't like it. JavaScript turns everything to ****
  • It will be interesting to see whether they can pull off a touch interface that can be used efficiently with a mouse.The #1 productivity enhancement that Vista/7 brought was the ability to start any app by name (Press Win, start typing any part of app's name, press Enter when it's at the top of the list), instead of wading through a near-unmanageable Start menu tree. It looks like that will be retained, which is good, because now it looks like the Start menu tree will end up barfed all over the screen into tiles. Probably only the pinned apps, though. I hope.Also the new virtual keyboard needs to be aware of screen size and scale appropriately. Looks like that is semi covered by the split keyboard option. But I'd rather have a single keyboard that is aware of physical screen size.Still I'm glad to see Microsoft forge ahead. I hope they can pull off the single-platform on multiple form factors idea, especially if it means an easier life on the developer side.
  • The touch part of the OS isnt supposed to be used with a mouse.When a mouse is detected it will switch to the Windows 7 style interface automatically.
  • You sure about that? The way I understood it The Metro start screen was there on login no matter what. But I really hope they have a setting for it.
  • You can use it with a mouse if you want, MS showed it running on laptops as well, there's no reason why it can't work with a mouse.As for what the default UI is on start, that'll probably be a setting but the thing is that both UI's will be there, they're both part of the "desktop" so to say the new UI is an extention of the old one and so on. You can't turn off the desktop.
  • I cannot wait for W8 tablets... finally, something slick that means my design and use aesthetic. I heart WP7 and it seems that W8 will be no different. Woot.
  • I don't know for PC's but Windows 8 tablets are gonna be the ****.
  • a pc is a personal computer, not to be confused with a personal computer running windows.Lets all remember this before we use this interchangeably
  • Even in this "alpha" state I think this touch interface seems a lot more practical than most of the other solutions I have seen. It is basically WP7 merged with the full power of Windows. I cannot wait to see this in production, this will make full Windows tablets practical and usable. On a side note, using HTML5 and Javascript will allow people to make custom Apps when needed (something that comes up at the small to mid market range).
  • Oh yeah, as to the censored portion... I am going with the research for the new Office interface. Given the touch overhaul for the OS, and the rather touch unfriendly interface of Office, I am guessing there is a major revamp of Office coming. They have to recompile it at the least for the ARM architecture, so why not drag it kicking and screaming into the touch generation.
  • I really don't think it's the Office UI, since that is most likely done by another team, and there are simply too many colors in some of the pictures for that but they are working on a "touch-Office". bottom left picture makes me think that they're hiding the Windows 8 desktop UI. It looks like some sort of 3D thing to me atleast.
  • Ya, I think the blured pictures are the new UI for the desktop version of Win8, no way it'll be what they have now, basically Win7 UI to the right. The two don't match that well, so I expect a good chunk of tweaking to the current Aero UI so the two fit together. Then when you swipe between the two it isn't like you're stepping back through time to 2007.
  • At the first shot, notice the post-it notes to the left of censored portions in 1080p. They say "Share" "Start" "Connect" and "Settings" -- I'm pretty sure they correspond to that and not the images to the left of the notes because there is a post-it above "Share" almost off-screen and no image to the left of it. Also, the post-its line up with the top of the censored images and not to the images on the right. My guess is that those are mock-ups of new UI screens that they aren't ready to show (or were considered and rejected byut not taken off the wall)
  • I wonder if there will be any limitations on using the new Metro UI on multi-monitor systems, especially heterogeneous systems. (i.e. monitors not the same res) -- Obviously we can imagine many ways it could work, but I haven't heard any official news regarding that.
  • The only official bit is that there's a base minimum screen res for the tablet UI, anything lower and it'll default to the desktop UI. I think the min res is 1024x768.
  • I think this looks FANTASTIC! I'm all in for a tablet when they make one.
  • Amazing!! Just amazing! I love it!!! Getting a Galaxy Tab this year and Windows 8 tab next year! Yay competition!!!
  • looks awesome, can't wait
  • To be honest I didn't get excited about anything when watching that video. I like Windows 7's interface...not looking for a Mobile-type interface on my PC. Touch and Kinect support....sure, it would be cool but as an added tool. I still like the typical desktop experience. I am a power-user who might have spent a total of maybe 10 minutes tops playing with the Media Center center interface/application that has been built into Windows for a number of years now. It looks nice..sure...but I never had a need for it. It's much faster to click my way to the file than flip through a bunch of visuals searching through thousands of files with broken/incorrect/missing/unorganized tags. I'm not complaining just yet. Just saying: "try again Microsoft"...cause I expect a lot from them based on the fact that Windows 7 is so nice :)Side note: I would love to see it on a tablet...maybe. I'd need to see with it using my own hands, etc.
  • I dont see the problem. You can always revert back to the classic UI if you feel you need to do a bit more.
  • I hope we can go to an app direct when switching. The idea of swapping app out from the left side of the screen is nice. But I do not wanna keep doing that so many times until I found the app I need to use.Hope we will see some better way of apps switching.
  • So far it looks cool. Even though it is an early build, just to show the idea. As for features in the future - I would welcome a "Voice StartApp" :) Windows Phone already has similar feature. This would work like - pressing a Windows hardware key for a longer period of time and then loudly say the name of the app (e.g Internet) and it would start the app (Internet Explorer). So there would not be any search within the list of apps. As for the 3rd party application - they would be bundled with an "voice shortcut". So one could easily yell "Opera!" an there it would be :DDD
  • yea, i'm glad i didn't invest of any of the other tablet offerings.THIS is what i want from a tablet. a full OS that lets me create things, consume things, and get on with my to the people wondering about the switchability of the UI, they said you can move between both interfaces very quickly and easily, and when non touch apps are launched, it automatically switches out as well.for such an early build, it already looks super smooth and fast, can't wait for the release. :)
  • I'm glad MS didn't listen to all those who kept saying they needed to release a pad device back when Android and iPad first dropped theirs. When you are trying to create your own space you are usually afforded a little more time in the name of innovation.
  • Dammit, I was so set on picking up a Galaxy Tab 10.1 and now I'm wondering if I'd be better saving my money and waitingStill, this has gotta be at least 10 months away from release, maybe the Galaxy will have a decent resell value at that time... :D
  • This is a generation leap from iOS and Andorid. Only problem is that I don't think it will be released until fall 2012. But I don't mind it, if Microsoft take their time to polish the OS for release.
  • It's a desktop OS, not a mobile OS. So it can't be a "generation leap" because it's not really in the same family tree. But I do share your amazement. It looks absolutely great.
  • glad to see there's innovation out there other than apple. the world have mad with iOverated.
  • Me likey.A lot of morons are going to complain. You know, new stuff to learn. But it's more fun. Funny note: I'd love to see what it looks like when it crashes! LOL
  • It will be nice to see what the new desktop UI looks like when they show it us (as we all know the current windows 7 one will be gone for the final release) also hope they replace all the mixed up tile colours with one colour like WP7 because having all of those colours doesn't look right IMO. Also having TellMe voice control, and the Mango style multi-tasking/task switching and other WP7 features should be added (If they aren't in).
  • For developers, it seems developing for WP7 doesn't prepare you for W8.If you want to prepare yourself, switch to ChromeOS and Android tablets now. Your Chrome HTML apps will be more compatible with W8 than your Silverlight apps.
  • Well that's just straight up bullshit.
  • An Android fanboy? How quaint.
  • And you base this on what exactly? A 5 minute video that is a year away from release? I am sorry, but I am not buying that.
  • The blurred images look to be a physical tablet design running W8. They probably can't show it because of contracts with whoever is going to be producing that tablet.I'm pretty excited about this though; I've never liked any tablet, but this looks so smooth and user friendly.
  • Wait so on this windows 8 tablets will it be able to run. Exe apps like say maplestory? If so my xoom will be up on eBay today haha I would also like to see the Xbox live intergration on these.
  • That is exactly what it means. Although there will be a bit more to it. It depends on the chipset in the tablet. If it is an intel based tablet, Maplestory will work. If it is an ARM chipset(snapdragon, for example) then the software developer will need to compile it for ARM. I am betting that Microsoft will release the SDK well in advance.
  • I'm really surprised to see that many professional Silverlight and WPF developers are worried about their investments in the platform, and "having to code in HTML5/JS".You won't have to code in HTML5 or JavaScript, it's still going to be Silverlight, it's probably just going to "compile" to HTML5 & JS, the "languages" that the browser speaks. Silverlight is not really a language or a plugin, it's a software development platform that is tightly knit into Microsoft's business portfolio.Yes, it runs in a plugin right now, but look at Adobe - they have programs that convert Flash to HTML5, and Microsoft has already demonstrated some basic "XAML to HTML5" tools, which leads me to the conclusion that they are heavily working on dropping the plugin part of Silverlight and going full HTML5 with it.Also, Silverlight is a part of WP7 development. Imagine every WP7 app being compiled into HTML5 & JS and being available to iPhones, Android phones, etc. It would be a massive success for Microsoft, and would make almost any developer go WP7 first, because their app would essentially be cross-platform, as well as web-ready.