Windows 8 will debut next week (Oct. 25th) and the drumbeat of marketing has begun. You’ve probably seen the ‘countdown to launch’ TV adds… “Ten… Nine… Eight, Eight, Eight…” priming us for the launch. There probably has not been a more effective mind-prod to a new Windows debut since the Stones rocked “Start Me Up” to launch Windows 95 so many blue moons ago.
Microsoft has a lot riding on this release. The mobile world is fast subsuming the PC world (the latest PC sales figures are dramatically down, while tablet and phone sales from Apple and Android just keep going up and up). Microsoft knows this better than anyone, and needs to plant a rather large footprint in mobile web. Windows 8, besides being a new version of their ubiquitous operating system, and a very touch oriented one at that, is aimed squarely at the mobile user. Perhaps more importantly, it’s a sign that Microsoft wants to move from desktop dominance to its mobile equivalent. Windows 8 is their long-awaited answer.
You can find a number of websites that have posted early looks at Windows 8. Most of us go about our daily jobs, not thinking about this stuff much. For those ‘ordinary; users, here are a few highlights…
Right off the bat, desktop Win8 users will notice: There’s no START button (or Start Menu) on the desktop! Now you’ll see more of the newer, flatter UI (user interface). Square corners. Square flat edges. Tiles that act like icons. And flat edges to the tabs on the ribbon interface on the desktop. Windows are no longer translucent. Whereas before this feature could be helpful, to some it was distracting, and worse still, it’s a battery hog.
The taskbar retains some transparency, blending the look of the desktop and the start screen. You can still choose from a variety of desktop themes. Press the Start key on your keyboard and you get the modern UI screen, but roll your mouse to the left corner and you get a thumbnail of the old familiar start screen.
Users missing the older interface can use the new MobilityCenter, a collection of Win-X keyboard shortcuts.
With Windows 8, Microsoft brings its Windows Store front and center. It’s a repository of Apps, befitting of the new mobile orientation. Like iTunes for Windows.
Touchscreen also moves front and center in the new UI. There’s also better multi-monitor support, and the IE 10 browser now features Do Not Track by default.
For business users, i.e., you and us, Microsoft employee and blogger Erwin Visser points out new features like:
- Windows To Go – a fully manageable corporate Windows 8 desktop on a bootable USB stick.
- ‘Working from anywhere’ with new enhancements to eliminate work boundaries while keeping users secure.
- End to end security for what promises to be the most secure version of Windows yet, enabling more secure foundations wherever employees travel.
- And of course, Tablets, which offer lightweight mobility, and deliver convenience and flexibility by running all the Windows 7 line of business and productivity apps.
There’s a lot more. For info, see Visser’s blog (linked above), or go here for Microsoft’s official “preview.”
And for a counter point of view, we’ll look at some comments in our next post on Windows 8 as recounted in a recent Wall Street Journal article.