Friday, June 3, 2011

The New Cool Touch Interface Of Windows 8!

Windows 8 is a brand new interface for tablets. It looks a lot like Windows Phone Live Tiles. 
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  is, very impressive. You can totally see the Windows Phone influence on the interface, from the Live Tiles (which show info without having to open the app) to the touch keyboard, which even has a "thumbs" mode.
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). Swiping from the right reveals the taskbar, with the Start button, search, share and settings. Swiping from the left switches between apps, the background application zipping in and unfurling like a magic carpet. Snapping lets you have two apps next to each other, simultaneously. The main app takes up most of the screen, while the secondary app is like a docked sidebar; you can swap which you've got snapped very rapidly by swiping from the left to cycle through background applications.
Better still, it requires fewer resources than Windows 7, which is kind of crazy. Which all sounds great. 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. (That said, since old-school Intel Windows applications won't be able to run on the ARM version of Windows—there won't be any kind of emulation layer—maybe this won't be such a problem. And hence the HTML5 and JavaScript apps.)
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, would be totally amazing—but mixing the two looks kinda gross and weird in practice, at least in its current state. 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. (I really, really want that stuff on a tablet, to be clear.) 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.


  1. I heard about this! It's going to be crazy

  2. That looks nice. I'm doing tablets promotions now and then, so can't wait until I get a call for this one!

  3. Windows 8 that sounds nice i am a user of windows 7 but i can't say that i like it much better than XP lets hope that windows 8 is going to be something more cooler than those two operation systems

  4. I hope that Windows 8 is a step forward from Windows 7 and not like XP to Vista cause that was a disaster.