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Monday, July 26, 2010

Windows® 8 Roadmap Revealed


A couple of weeks ago, an Italian Windows® site, Windowsette, released some presentation slides that revealed Microsoft’s plans for the next version of Windows®. I generally ignore announcements such as these as they tend to turn out to be fakes, but these seem to be the real deal. With that being the case, I feel they’re worthy of a look. It’s never too soon to get excited about what could be in store for the future of Windows®.



There is a lot of information contained in these slides, so I’m going to highlight the things I found most intriguing.


The planned release for Windows® 8 in these slides is 2012, but I don’t expect that date to be a concrete one. It’s still very early in the development cycle and many of the things outlined in the slides might not make the final cut, so don’t expect them all to be concrete either. If fact, when these slides were created, they were still in the Planning phase, which comes before the Development phase. Some slides include disclaimers noting that this is only discussion and not an actual plan of record.




The PCs of the Future


Among the slides was Microsoft’s plans for three main form factor categories; slate, laptop, and all-in-one. They included a mock up of what a Windows® 8 all-in-one machine will be as well as a brief outline of the specifications. It’s a good thing it’s only a mock up and they’re still in the Planning stage, too, because the mock up looks like a bloated iMac. The all-in-one’s specifications call for things you’d see in many modern desktop PCs, but with a few notable exceptions. The items most of you will recognize include things that are present in many notebook systems already; a DirectX-compatible GPU, a webcam, integrated microphone and speakers, wireless LAN and Bluetooth, and of course, a keyboard and mouse. The slides claim that webcams integrated in PCs will ubiquitous by 2012. The notable exceptions include a 17 to 30-inch touchscreen display and an infrared proximity sensor. The touchscreen display isn’t so surprising as Windows® 7 has paved the way for it with multi-touch support, but the proximity sensor definitely is.


Another slide discusses how this will be used in tandem with an integrated webcam to recognize users’ faces and whether or not the user has left the machine. Connect the dots to another slide that discusses the realities of managing all your online user names and passwords, calling for simplification, and your face could be the only password you need. A good portion of the form factor presentation details what using a Windows® 8 slate will be like, so you can assume Microsoft is still looking at tablet options to compete with the iPad and eBook reader markets.




Delicious Apps


Also among the slides is one that looks at what Apple does well and how Microsoft can duplicate their successes. They discuss simplicity and the user experience in many places. One of the ways they plan to implement this is by opening what they’ve named the Windows® Store. The Windows® Store will be basically what the Apple App Store is. As a consumer, you’ll have a one stop shop for Microsoft-approved software that, along with your settings, will follow you as you change PCs. I don’t know about you but that makes me drool a little bit. Developers will be encouraged to get their products into a store that every Windows® user will have. The application submission process aspires to be “transparent and predictable,” giving investors a little more certainty know that, if they follow whatever guidelines there may be, their products will make it to market. For me, the Windows® Store can’t happen soon enough as Windows® Marketplace is a far cry from what it could be.




Help!


Microsoft wants to make PCs easier to manage. They want you to understand your PC better and have the tools to fix yourself and they want to change the Windows® troubleshooting process from rebooting or reinstalling the OS to just making a few tweaks in the task manager to “restore performance.” Part of me is excited about this; I wish everyone fully understood their PCs. On the other hand, they’re trying to make me obsolete! Who is going to come calling with computer troubles anymore? What use will you have for me when you can just reset your Windows® machine back to factory settings while retaining all your data and settings?




Make It Faster!


Finally, it just wouldn’t be a new version of Windows® if they didn’t talk about faster boot times. Microsoft is aiming for “instant-on” and quick shutdowns. This is also tied to a section on being more energy efficient. This also can’t happen soon enough. Many people simply leave their computers on at all times because of slow boot times. Others simply must leave their systems on all the time for other reasons, and this two-prong approach will help to alleviate a lot of energy waste.


There is plenty more in the leaked presentation slides to discover and if you’re interested, have a look at the slides yourself.


Slides link: http://www.hotshare.net/file/269729-118718472d.html


Windowsette article (in Italian):


http://www.Windowsette.com/2010/06/sfuggite-slide-segretissime-sullo.html

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