This morning, Microsoft gave their first detailed demonstration of Windows 8 to an audience of developers at the BUILD conference in Anaheim, California (and via live video feed globally). Below I cover some of the highlights and how to download it.
And was it good? No, Windows 8 looks incredible. When compared with the difference between Windows Vista and Windows 7 this is a much bigger change. Actually Windows 8 is a quantum leap forward, and such a dramatic change in so many ways it leaves me wondering how Apple will respond.
So, what is new? Well first up Windows can now boot in as little as 2 or 3 seconds on some hardware. Oh, and the core operating system actually used about 1/3 less memory than Windows 7. So it's fast and light.
Windows 8 uses a Metro style user interface. It's a fresh approach to computing and one which I think users will grow to appreciate quite quickly (though I'm certain will put some users off).
This operating system is equally at home on a tablet as on a full blown desktop PC. And in many cases I think users will opt for a device that does both - operates as a tablet when needed but docks to deliver a full PC experience in the office.
With Windows 8 Microsoft have made it easy for developers of all types to put together great applications in a small amount of time. And rich applications that draw on the cloud, local content, and the Metro style user experience. I expect to see a lot of applications designed specifically for Windows 8 and ready by the time in launches.
Curious what features are in Windows 8? Here's a sampling:
- Support for sensors (gyroscope, compass, GPS, etc)
- USB 3
- Near Field Communications (NFC)
- Smart handling of mobile data when roaming (3G, 4G)
- Synchronisation and backup of key settings such as email accounts, favourites, photos between systems (via the cloud)
- Runs 100% of Windows 7 applications
- Built in spell checking functionality
- Runs across existing Intel/AMD 32-bit and 64-bit systems and new ARM based systems
- Security baked in including free Antivirus and Antimalware
- A system level mechanism so applications can share data and images with other apps
- 'Reset & Refresh' option to return a PC to an initial state without losing data and settings
- Improved search across the web and Windows applications
- Friendlier Windows Update and notifications
- Cloud storage built in to leverage SkyDrive
- Includes Metro based Email and Calendar client
- Lock screen shows key information such a new emails or missed IM conversations(similar to Windows Phone 7)
- A user interface that is works well via touch, mouse or keyboard
- Improve multi-monitor support
- Windows Store for acquiring and distributing applications
So, what's the cycle for bringing Windows 8 to release? It looks like this - with my predictions about dates alongside:
- Windows 8 Preview (today)
- Windows 8 beta (early January 2012)
- Release Candidate (February-March 2012)
- Release to Manufacturing (April 2012)
- General Availability (May-June 2012)
The preview release of Windows 8 is available now from this link.
The keynote presentation including Windows 8 demos and hardware is available to watch here.
Screenshots below (Notice NZ's Mt Cook in the first image)
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