Windows 8 previewed, new touch-oriented UI shown off

By on June 2, 2011, 3:05 AM

The first thing you should learn about Windows 8 is that Microsoft wants its next generation operating system to be a one-stop destination for devices spanning 8-inch tablet screens all the way up to high resolution 30" desktop monitors. The software giant showed the OS for the first time at the D9 conference yesterday.

Taking a strong cue from the Metro UI used in Windows Phone 7, an all-new start screen gets rid of icons in favor of big tiles that can be customized to show live information or launch applications. The interface is optimized for touch-based input and in that sense it seems to be better suited to a large screen than it ever was to a smartphone's display.

The new interface looks gorgeous as long as you stay within boundaries of applications specifically written for it. The demonstration included video playback, photo browsing and sharing, some multi-tasking and task switching concepts, a custom Twitter application that took full advantage of the new user interface, and a sneak peak at Internet Explorer 10.

Launching "legacy" apps like Microsoft Word defaults you back to a standard Windows 7-style interface, which may be underwhelming to an extent, but backwards compatibility means all devices can run Windows applications no matter the form factor. Moving forward Microsoft expects developers to take advantage of its developer tools to create mobile-style applications using HTML5 and JavaScript.

Windows 8's release date and final product name for that matter are still unknown, but sometime in 2012 appears to be the goal. While Apple has built its iOS empire from the ground up, inheriting to the iPad all that was learned by developing for handheld devices (Google is following that same approach with Android), Microsoft is doing the opposite, putting the heftier desktop OS front and center and pushing it into mobile devices. The advantages to this could be rewarding and is Microsoft's way to leverage its dominance on the desktop, but performance and battery life implications remain an utmost concern.

If anything, we've been surprised by Microsoft's showing and certainly look forward to hear more Windows 8 details in the weeks and months to come.




User Comments: 42

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Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Awesome! although, i'm still happy with Windows 7 for now

Xclusiveitalian Xclusiveitalian said:

Looks interesting! As-long as it is cheaper or equal to $35 i'm sold.

R3DP3NGUIN R3DP3NGUIN said:

Looks pretty decent, at-least its an interchangeable UI, seems to restrictive for geeky needs in tile mode, but for tablets its a must. I just wonder how many exploits there might be with the new UI. Its not like Microsoft designs an OS with security in mind.

Guest said:

Just looks like a gimmick to sell touch screens..

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

@R3

Its not that any OS maker can think about 'every possible exploit'. So blaming just one company isn't realistically logical. Every OS have holes, and will continue to have them, only thing is it may take time to find / exploit them.

Also I still think someone need to develop a touch keyboard (or something similar) because for a touch friendly OS the traditional KB / Mouse combination sound bit outdated.

Benny26 Benny26, TechSpot Paladin, said:

burty117 said:

Awesome! although, i'm still happy with Windows 7 for now

I'm gunna bet that this will be the majority thought when it's released. It's certainly what i'm thinking at the moment.

Guest said:

An interface for 3rd graders. I truly and deeply hate Apple, but this interface is a joke. When I first saw the Windows phone interface I was appalled and it locked-in Android for me. With this clunky childish interface now infecting Win 8 - I will stick with Win 7 until I die. Or until MS comes to their senses. Ok, die. CAN YOU SAY "BOB"?

Guest said:

Microsoft are just trying to consolidate their OS across more platforms, this interface is intended for use on tablets, netbooks and the like. They're not doing away with the traditional Start menu interface.

Wagan8r Wagan8r said:

Guest said:

An interface for 3rd graders. I truly and deeply hate Apple, but this interface is a joke. When I first saw the Windows phone interface I was appalled and it locked-in Android for me. With this clunky childish interface now infecting Win 8 - I will stick with Win 7 until I die. Or until MS comes to their senses. Ok, die. CAN YOU SAY "BOB"?

Unfortunately, your reasoning is in the 3rd grade as well. What you're not realizing is that your precious Windows 7 functionality is still there in Windows 8. What you really get with Windows 8 is the ability to run it on any form factor and have your choice of UI flavor. If you want to stick with the traditional Windows "windows", Windows 8 isn't stopping you; only you are.

lawfer, TechSpot Paladin, said:

wagan8r said:

Guest said:

An interface for 3rd graders. I truly and deeply hate Apple, but this interface is a joke. When I first saw the Windows phone interface I was appalled and it locked-in Android for me. With this clunky childish interface now infecting Win 8 - I will stick with Win 7 until I die. Or until MS comes to their senses. Ok, die. CAN YOU SAY "BOB"?

Unfortunately, your reasoning is in the 3rd grade as well. What you're not realizing is that your precious Windows 7 functionality is still there in Windows 8. What you really get with Windows 8 is the ability to run it on any form factor and have your choice of UI flavor. If you want to stick with the traditional Windows "windows", Windows 8 isn't stopping you; only you are.

Ahh, just when I was starting to think the usual "Guests" had any intellect...

Guest said:

Why would I want the UI of a phone or tablet on my desktop? EPIC FAIL

Guest said:

"Why would I want the UI of a phone or tablet on my desktop? EPIC FAIL "

Plus no backward compatibility = double EPIC FAIL

lawfer, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Guest said:

Why would I want the UI of a phone or tablet on my desktop? EPIC FAIL

Because some people have TOUCHSCREEN desktops, and having two interfaces for the same OS unifies the experience. Really, why are you all so moronic? Is it a thing?

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

May be such guests have renal calculus which makes them utter such senseless stuff from time to time?

Guest said:

Are u serious?? Do you even know what you're talking about?? Microsoft is the pretty much the only OS that constructs it's OS' w/ protection in mind, cuz they're the only ones that HAVE to. Of course when you have nearly 80% market share, there are alot more people trying to access the information on those systems... I am anonymous, but I know more than u!

lawfer, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Guest said:

Are u serious?? Do you even know what you're talking about?? Microsoft is the pretty much the only OS that constructs it's OS' w/ protection in mind, cuz they're the only ones that HAVE to. Of course when you have nearly 80% market share, there are alot more people trying to access the information on those systems... I am anonymous, but I know more than u!

Hahaha, you even fail at trolling. Priceless.

Cota Cota said:

I think we are missing a really important point, do we really need a touchscreen interface?

The only real fact in your PC "productivity" is the fact if you are able to think or not

yRaz yRaz said:

Cota said:

I think we are missing a really important point, do we really need a touchscreen interface?

The only real fact in your PC "productivity" is the fact if you are able to think or not

I think the productivity comes from the adaptability of the OS. People who want to use the toyish side of it on touch screens can while those of us who do more "important" things on our PC's can use the old interface. I also think that part of this is an attempt to unify apps. If the same apps works on a windows PC, tablet, or phone it would be a buying point for many users. I really enjoy my windows phone and look forward to seeing this tile based side of windows. I will in all likelihood not use it but I have to say it would be very interesting to experience it for myself.

Guest said:

Hardcore desktop PC enthusiast here. My interest in Windows 8 is now officially gone.

TrekExpert TrekExpert said:

Wow, I was actual impressed by this. I see no use of the alternative UI on a desk top but for a tablet it would be great. As long as it is fast and can run any apps a desk top can (within reason of hardware) then I'm sold. I really hope Asus makes a Eee Pad Slider with this.

yRaz yRaz said:

TrekExpert said:

Wow, I was actual impressed by this. I see no use of the alternative UI on a desk top but for a tablet it would be great. As long as it is fast and can run any apps a desk top can (within reason of hardware) then I'm sold. I really hope Asus makes a Eee Pad Slider with this.

I also think the alternate touch screen keyboard is a BIG improvement. A good touch screen interface is something tablets need if they are ever going to be practical.

Guest said:

Looks like a gadget to me. Not worth the $100 - $200 for the upgrade from 7 (unless you are sightly computer "slow")

ikesmasher said:

same UI as windows 7? meh. Not even a big deal, just wish they would make it different...the start screen seems like it would be cool on a touch, but stupid on a desktop.

akannitaoheed said:

Bill Gates always gives you a reason to buy the next one, could you posssssssibly resist ?

ramonsterns said:

akannitaoheed said:

Bill Gates always gives you a reason to buy the next one, could you posssssssibly resist ?

What does Bill Gates have to do with anything?

nigel said:

Looks good, but knowing Microsoft it will be slow and full of bugs for at least a year and will involve a technology refresh for users. Could this be another "Ribbon" change, where older users especially hate the feature (in Office 2007) and by Office 2010 whilst its there the default is not to be in your face!

Looks like I will skip Windows 8, and hope that Ubunto or Chrome OS gets something that works!

Guest said:

Tablets: Apple has a rival. Desktops: Oh well. Windows 7 works fine anyway.

I

Trillionsin Trillionsin said:

Wow, some idiotic guests posting in here today. More features is always a plus, as long as you have the ability to choose or remove. This is where Apple usually fails.

blimp01 said:

well said, ill for sure get this as long as i can remove everything and get it down to 20 processes

Michael Schmidt said:

This looks like groundbreaking stuff! Only thing is that Ubuntu's Unity desktop already broke the ground.

Guest said:

This is very disturbing. It is too early to pass a judgement but from what I can see this could easily be passed off as an upgrade for Windows 7 (a bit like what Windows ME was to Windows 98).

This latest UI seems to add a new layer of abstraction to the existing OS, which in turn strips the users of the kind of control we are used to, this is exactly what distinguished us PC users from the Mac Kids. I am truly disappointed at the direction Microsoft has chosen to go down. This is nothing more than an attempt to grab hold of everything *spanning from an 8inch tablet to a complete pc*

Leeky Leeky said:

If the final release is anything like what I've just seen, I'm buying myself a full copy the second its released.

I'm seriously, seriously that impressed with it (considering its early in development)..... Not bad for a die hard Linux fan!

Guest said:

as usual, companies would rather develope things to sell to new people rather than fix or make tools for power users that loyally buy X copies.

..that's why the Simpsons movie sucked, they dumbed it down for everyone.

Thanks for devolving the OS[/sarcasm].

Guest said:

"looks liek a gimmick"

You're right, WTF were they thinking We should make the next gen Windows 8 app look like this instead:

http://www.desktoplinux.com/files/article100/coexistence.jpg

Guest said:

"Could this be another "Ribbon" change, where older users especially hate the feature "

You're right, we should make sure all FUTURE apps look exactly like this (to keep older users in mind)

http://www.gag.com/~bdale/talks/2002/dcc/debian/KDE1_with_kw
rldclock_and_psk31_circuit_diagram.jpg

How dare a software company try and think of something NEW, we should be thinking OLD instead!

ILikeMyOsAllOldLookingAndStuff (TM)

Phantombadger said:

I Tried this with my monitor and I couldnt get the touch interface to work in W7. OH WAIT! I like 99% of PC DESKTOP owners dont have touch screens. too bad Honeycomb is a brilliant OS for tablets now. Windows is late to the party again. Anyone else notice how its a slight variation on MCE. I have W7 and am happy,gonna stick with it for a long time.

Guest said:

looks like my android phone, so if this has anything to do with nokia, then i guess they are on the right track. But, making a portable device gui to play well on desktop doesn't seem to work (the new lion seems dumb that way as well, not to mention Ubuntu unity) FAIL for all 3.

Guest said:

I'm pretty sure that this interface will appeal to the vast majority of desktop users who maybe just want to use the pc for media purposes. Most of the people I know are not very comfortable using the computer because its too confusing for them. This just makes it friendlier for non-computer enthusiasts. It still has everything that Programmers and the like would need.

tw0rld tw0rld said:

I think this is a great step for Microsoft, and the future of computing. I have never anticipated an OS release. This one I am looking forward to.

Guest said:

Good idea, but wonder how this will work with traditional desktop pc most ppl have.

Touchscreen desktop aint going mainstream for long time.

Now from what I am seeing basically Windows 8 going to be same interface as Windows 7 for normal desktop users(mouse/keyboard) just more refined and added functionality and fixes.

But for an early build looks great.

Benny26 Benny26, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Guest said:

Good idea, but wonder how this will work with traditional desktop pc most ppl have.

Touchscreen desktop aint going mainstream for long time.

There's no chance this could be meant for "traditional" desktops, in my opinion. Just try hanging your arm over your desk for 5 minutes and you can see how uncomfortable it is. It's far better to rest the arm down and have a hand on the mouse.

Guest said:

Arm ... desktop ..... Windows8 .... I see where you're coming from Watson, Keep up the Good work.

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