What will Windows 8 look like?

Windows 8 large

Windows 7 has been with us for one and half years now and thoughts are naturally turning to its successor, Windows 8. Nobody knows an awful lot about Microsoft’s next desktop operating system, but the odd tidbit or two has filtered through in the shape of leaked screenshots and even a (seemingly) official Windows 8 wallpaper from the Milestone 3 development version of the OS.

We’ve gathered together the information that exists about Windows 8 and compiled this short dossier of its possible features.

Aero Lite theme using the ‘Ribbon’

Windows 8 will surely use the Aero theme, but it’s likely to get some important tweaks. Although the general appearance of the windows won’t change, the new default theme, Aero Lite will put less strain on the system. Windows 8, in fact, is designed to run even on low-end devices.

Aero LiteSome enthusiasts have already begun creating Windows 8-inspired themes, such as Aero Lite for 7

The Windows 8 interface should have a lot in common with the Metro UI found in Windows Phone 7. This approach to marrying desktop and mobile platforms is the latest craze among manufacturers, and is something we’ll also see in Mac OS X 10.7 Lion. The most likely outcome? That Aero Lite will be used in embedded systems, and regular Aero on standard machines.

Windows 8 ribbon

The Ribbon in Explorer. Some will love it, others will hate it. Which group do you fall into?

But what will the new Aero bring with it? Apart from the change to the Lite theme, will be the integration of the Ribbon into Explorer. The ribbon has gained popularity through its inclusion in certain Windows 7 applications (Paint and Movie Maker, for instance), and in Office 2007.

A button to restart from scratch

System Restore was an important addition to Windows MEP, and the following iterations of the Microsoft OS have retained the feature in more or less the same form. One click and this feature will return your computer to its previous state.

Reset function

With Windows Recovery, formatting and reinstalling will be a thing of the past. Will it be better than Time Machine?

It seems like Windows 8 will ramp this utility up a notch, with a function to return your computer to its factory settings, as if you had just purchased it. As a result, this new function would mean an end to formatting the hard disk and reinstalling Windows anew.

According to some sources close to Microsoft, this process of starting over will only take a few minutes. It remains to be seen what options will be available to the user. For instance, will there be an option to reinstall Windows without all the junk bundled by the PC manufacturer? That would be a widely welcomed move for everyone but the manufacturers themselves.

More identification options and data in the cloud

These days our data is scattered all over the cloud. Consequently, the Windows 8 rumor mill has been full of stuff about the cloud capabilities of the new OS. Apparently the developers of Windows 8 are working on something called Portable Profiles, where user data is stored on remote servers. Greater integration with Live services, such as Skydrive is also expected.

Face recognition

Logging in to Windows 8 could be as easy as just looking at the screen

Elsewhere, the presence of integrated cameras on the majority of new portable computers could offer an interesting alternative to text-based passwords on Windows 8 computers. Facial recognition solutions already exist in the form of third-party applications, (such as Blink, for example) and would be a welcome addition to the new Windows.

And there’s more…

In this series of Windows 8 screenshots that were leaked to the web some time ago, there are clear references to faster booting, hibernation, improved support for 3D and touchscreens, and also the fabled Windows Store, a software center in the style of the Mac App Store.

If all of these features materialize, Windows 8 will certainly be worth upgrading too if you’re a PC user, but will it be enough to win back users who have already switched to Mac?

[Via: OnSoftware Spain]

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