Windows 8 looks a lot like Windows Phone 7. And that is meant as a compliment.
Microsoft demonstrated the next version of its operating system at the All Things D conference on a prototype touch-screen tablet as well as laptops with a keyboard and mouse.
Early headline: The new Windows is a lot prettier than its familiar predecessor.
The touch interface is based on customizable live tiles similar to what Microsoft has on its smartphones. The new start screen replaces the start button, tiles and taskbar every Windows user has lived with. That more familiar-looking Windows apparently isn’t gone for good however—tap a desktop icon for an Office app such as Excel, for example, and Windows looks, well, like Windows.
Under the hood, Windows 8 will include a new set of tools and services developers can take advantage of. But the new operating system (whatever it ends up being called) can run all regular Windows 7 applications, says Steven Sinofsky, the president of the Windows and Windows Live Division at the company.
Sinofsky won’t spill the beans on when the new Windows is coming but it won’t be as early as this fall.
“Right now we’re focusing on getting a release done,” he says. Microsoft is planning to reveal more at his developer’s conference in the fall.
Of course, Microsoft just gave off a flavor of the new Windows. There are lingering questions having to do with boot up times, distribution and pricing and the type of annoying “craplet” software that might be preloaded by computer manufacturers, an issue raised by conference questioner Walt Mossberg. And asked by Mossberg about security on Windows 8, Sinofsky says “I think it always will be a good idea to run security software.”