[Updated June 2]
They did it, the bastards blew themselves up….
Tonight, Windows President Steven Sinofsky showed off Windows8, the next Windows release and the one with a tablet ready interface at the All Things Digital D9 conference.
I admit that my first reaction was muted and I was trying to digest the information through a combination of Twitter and This is My Next’s live blog. Overall I’m torn; part of me was a bit let down, there were some interesting ideas going on. There are also questions left unanswered. Windows 8 is an interesting gambit.
First, the interesting parts.
Win8 embraces a lot of the Metro design language of its mobile counterpart. It also takes cues from the Zune desktop client. So expect live tiles and side scrolling. Windows 8 continues Microsoft’s slow move away from traditional GUI design. I like Metro, but I keep think Redmond should hire someone (or bring back Pioneer Studios) to really smooth out its rough edges and refine it (so I can have a background images).
Secondly the UI shown was highly responsive, with the demo apps looking good. I particularly liked the snap screen feature.
Third, and this was shown at a separate event in Taipei, Microsoft is setting hardware guidelines. Windows 8 is being built for a good out of the box experience, which is long overdue.
Now having said something about the positives of Win8, there are negatives.
Win8’s tablet interface is a bit like the Origami experience Microsoft made for the Ultra Mobile PC, so it looks like a shell sitting on top Windows. Now Microsoft has said its not, but that is how its being perceived.
Secondly Sinofsky talked about a new framework using HTML5 and Java Script. What was left unsaid and will need clarification is where in this new framework do Silver Light, XNA, and the .Net framework come in. These are the tools used to make apps for Windows Phone. The developers using these tools are a major part of the Microsoft ecosystem. My hope is that these technologies will also be a part of the new framework. HTML5 is an interesting technology but it should be added to the arsenal
Lastly, and this is more an observation than a negative, is the positioning of Windows8 itself. Instead of doing what Google, Apple, and HP are doing taking a mobile OS and enlarging it to a tablet, Redmond is clearly making the tablet a variation of the PC.
It’s an interesting move that may not be understood by some. Microsoft isn’t separating tablet from computer it’ll be the same. Windows8 is as much a strategic move as a technological one.
It allows Microsoft to use its size as an advantage. Instead of making a companion piece, they make tablet PCs almost laptop replacements. And by pushing HTML5/Java Script they blunt whatever effect Google Chrome OS may have on them. Windows8 also allows Redmond to have response to Apple OS X Lion which brings IOS features to the Mac desktop.
Windows8 is a logical move for Microsoft, it utilizes its biggest weapon. Does it solve all its problems? No, ultimately the people in Redmond still need to have a discussion on what comes next.
All in all Microsoft has placed its bets, now it’s got to see where the ball lands
Okay these are links to articles if you want more info on Win8:
Final draft; somewhat edited, still unbalanced