Windows 8 And Its Incredibly Cool New Touch Interface

So, this is the new Start screen for Windows 8. It looks a lot like Windows Phone Live Tiles. And hey, that looks like an app store.

The whole point of Windows 8, which is just a codename, is to be one OS that'll run on regular computers or on tablets. So Windows 8 will run two kinds of applications: a standard Windows application ("It's Windows. Everything just runs," says Windows chief Steven Sinofsky), and an almost mobile-like app, written in HTML5 and JavaScript, which Microsoft is calling a "new platform". And of course, there's IE10 underpinning those apps.

All apps can be viewed in this tile-based UI, which Josh from TIMN says is, "Very impressive. It looks super fast." You can totally see the Windows Phone influence on the interface, from the tiles to the touch keyboard, which even has a "thumbs" mode. (Sinofsky tells All Things D, "We were clearly influenced ourselves by phones.") The animations and gestures and multitasking are all pretty damn smooth looking, as you can see in this demo video (or, you know, up top).

Better still, it requires fewer resources than Windows 7, which is kind of crazy. Which all sounds great. And sort of what I expected. What sounds (and looks) a little dicey is that the awesome, modern tile UI is basically just a skin over Windows, though totally baked in and part of the OS. The rest of the "classic Windows desktop" is still there, looking underneath, albeit adjusted to be more touch friendly with "fuzzy hit targeting", so regular Windows applications will work with touch or keyboard/mouse. You can't turn either of the experiences off - it's always there. The regular Windows is always underneath the new Live Tile start screen. The Live start screen always is on top of Windows. But the two things together looks like a miscreant experience, even in Microsoft's demo.

The idea of running real, full Windows apps on a tablet (or anywhere) isn't a bad one - in fact, a ubiquitous OS that'll run on any device, perfectly, is amazing in theory - but mixing the two looks kinda gross and weird in practice, so far. Maybe the way Microsoft's gonna translate touch apps to keyboard/mouse and keyboard/mouse apps to touch to achieve this infinite OS will be downright magical in the end. But I'm not seeing this hybrid thing right now, even as impressed as I am by all of the incredibly cool modern interface stuff that's totally designed for tablets. And beyond that, at least when we're talking about tablets, it looks like Windows 8 still has a lot of the rest of the problems that made the current Windows less-than-good as a tablet OS - or it doesn't have the things that makes the other tablets as good as they are. Namely, utter simplicity. This. Is. Windows.

That said, we'll apparently see a lot more in September at Microsoft's Build conference. So I'm still hoping to be blown away as we get deeper inside Windows 8.

Microsoft's official list of new features shown off 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

[Microsoft, This Is My Next, All Things D, All Things D]


Comments

    It's Windows 7 with an official touch UI, on arm.

    Not sure if want.

      Are you kidding? That touch interface looked awesome in the video. The traditional windows area looks like it could use a bit more work though.. but they still have lot more development time.

      Having multiple screens up at once is something ive wanted tablets to do.

    Windows 8 revelead

    Seemed flat?

    http://www.windows8update.com/2011/06/01/microsofts-steven-sinofsky-at-d9-live-blog/

    Douglas Crockford once said that the greatest threat to Microsoft was Windows Mobile... I am inclined to agree.

    Me thinks Apple Fanbois are worried...

      Who cares if they are? Isn't it enough to like something, without wanting the people who like something else to be sad?

      Person 1: Oh, wow, look at this wonderful new car! I bet the people who drive other kinds of car are pooping themselves!

      Person 2: What the hell are you talking about?

    Wow its ugly...

      you spelt beautiful incorrectly

        Not sure I agree with the sentiment... but SO LIKE for this comment!

    Finally Microsoft is again doing things that people will like. They are learning off Apple's ease-of-use policy on their products. Windows is heading in the right direction me thinks. Windows 7 and W7 phones are their methods of testing the waters with what they wish to do in the future in order to remain competitive with Apple and Google. Good on them.

    ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

    i want it

    Looks like it could easily be used with Kinect as well with the swiping gestures...

    now how about some love for non-touch folk? seriously, it's hot

    Looks promising. I agree with not having it hybrid at this stage though...make a OS from the ground up for tablets please!!

      The whole point is to have windows running everywhere so all your applications and data are portable from one device to another.

      This is what you want, you just done't realise it yet.

      The problem is that you are to stuck in the desktop/laptop/tablet//phone paradigm.

      Go ahead and google "samsung sliding 7 pc" and imagine that with windows 8 on it.

      Now, the above paradigm becomes
      desktop/"laplet"/phone

      I don't get why people today are so happy to pay like 800 bucks for a gloryfied mediaplayer, while you can have a full blown quad core laptop with a 64 bit system on it...

      In 2 years, for that money, you'll have a quad core full blown windows 8 multitouch laptop that can be transromed into a tablet... while the iZombies and the droids will still use pads with closed down, dumbed down systems. It's that simple.

      This is exactly the reason why pads aren't breaking through in enterprise. Win8 pads will totally engulf business and humiliate all the other tabs currently on the market.

    Awesome.

    Me want

    Huge steps, but...yuck!
    I can see it working really well for a tablet, it's windows 7 mobile turned tablet, but for a home PC...I'd rather stick to Windows 7.
    I just can't see this working well with my mouse and I think the launch screen will become a part of my system turned off - just like the sidebar in Vista and Win 7.
    Sorry Microsoft, but as freeing as this is, I find it just too limiting.

    "it's Windows. Everything just runs".... BAHAHAHA

    The mixture between Windows Phone and a Desktop OS seems to be crazy. Especially considering that even though they said it works well with a K&M combo, it doesn't seem that way, with all the icons so large seems extremely clunky.

      You can switch between the touch UI and traditional Windows desktop, and the touch UI also works with keyboard and mouse (much like Media Center).

      It has far surpassed anything I expected. Finally a tech company understands that the future of computing is not an low-powered device stuck somewhere in between a netbook and a phone but is a multi-form factor, multi-interface device that bends to the user's needs at any given time.

    I liked it till he switched to the Office apps... then it got really two faced...

      This. I like the new touch interface, but I feel that having it sitting there above the old shell is poor. Switching between the two feels like an unnatural lurch. You should be able to use your old Windows software in the new shell without having to jump back into the old shell. Likewise the new stuff should be accessible in the old shell without having to jump either.

    If they ship that product with that UI and force me to use it on a desktop, then I'm buying a Mac.

    I mean, Apple added the launchpad to OSX, but they didn't take anything away to force people to use it.

    Knee-jerk reaction to Chrome/Lion?

    I think having it always there is the right move, but always booting into it the wrong one.

      I assume you're referring to the 'main' Windows desktop.

      The new UI is just that - a UI over the Windows OS, so you actually need the core OS to be booted up because apps will have access to the full file system and Windows system calls, etc.

      But this will not adversely affect users. Those who don't need the desktop will never have to know it's there, and with sleep functionality they will not even be booting very often. There has been mention that Windows 8 with an SSD (e.g. in a tablet) fully boots the entire OS in 6 or 7 seconds, but will have good enough battery life to be used in standby with effective 'instant on' most of the time.

    Windows media center edition anyone?

    I want it sooo badly, alsmot crying...

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