We don’t know when Windows 8 is going to be launched yet, but we can already take a first look at the most outstanding features of Microsoft’s new operating system thanks to their Building “Windows 8” video:
What we see in this Windows 8 video is basically the system interface, very much inspired by the latest version of Windows Mobile. Everything is organized in tiles on a colorful, minimalist Start screen. Oddly enough, Windows 8 seems to be based entirely on touchscreen technology – the demo is controlled with finger gestures throughout the whole video – so I wonder how keyboard and mouse will interact with it. The Start screen includes tiles for each app, and also for the Windows Store. Social networks and email are also quite relevant in the new Windows 8 and are directly built-in in the Start screen.
Windows 8 changes the way you make use of media too. The special Snap feature enables you to watch a video on one side of the screen while checking RSS feeds or chatting with friends on the other. You can define the size devoted to each app and use it with whichever apps you have running on your system.
Besides the standard onscreen keyboard that we’ve already seen in tablets, Windows 8 also offers a special ergonomic version that divides the keyboard into two groups and sticks them to both sides of the screen. According to Microsoft this makes typing more comfortable as you don’t have to reach for a particular letter all the way into the middle of the screen. However I can’t help thinking how much time it would take me to get used to that ergonomic design.
The classic Windows interface we’re all used to is also present in Windows 8 – but those folder and file lists are definitely too small to control with fingers. Luckily the file system can also be accessed and managed from Windows 8 apps, where they’re presented as big, comfortable thumbnails you can easily slide around on a touchscreen.
It remains to be seen how ‘traditional’ desktop will be adapted into the new operating system… controlling Excel cells with your fingers can be a real nightmare!