Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Microsoft Talks Windows 8

Windows 7 may still be in its infancy but that's not stopping Microsoft from moving forward with their next operating system. Appropriately dubbed Windows 8 the new OS is supposedly slated for real sometime in 2012 (when Windows 7 will have become 3 years and 2 service packs old).

Over the past week several confidential presentations were leaked to the public domain. The presentations were intended to be released to Microsoft's industry partners to outline the ideas in store for the developers. Several sites including Microsoft Kitchen successfully nabbed most of the slides and are now keeping them online for all to see. The information outlined on the slides is mostly high-level and conceptual, likely dating back to even before Windows 7's retail release – but it's still very interesting to see what Microsoft's goals and inspirations are for Windows 8.

Big goals for Windows 8

Instant On - Microsoft wants to cut down on the wait time between powering on and the user being able to access the information or functionality of the OS. This includes both faster boot times and faster resume from sleep. Many of the newly designed operating systems out there are adding in features that considerably cut boots times and there are several instant boot OSs that provide limited functionality. MS however wants to give you access to the full operating system as quickly as possible.

Facial Recognition - Microsoft has proposed that all new PCs are equipped with several new sensors including infrared proximity sensors, accelerometers, ambient-light detectors and web-cameras. These will let PCs detect its user nearby, verify the user's identity by face-recognition, and load-up (or unlock) the user's account on the PC. Later, the user can just walk away from the PC, and it will standby, hibernate, shut-down, or simply lock the PC and turn-off the display, to save power.

Moving to the cloud - MS wants to move more of the OS, and presumably the users information to cloud based computing. Much like Jolicloud, the Chrome OS or any of the new lightweight operating systems we see being developed Microsoft wants to move user account including things like a user's bookmarks and Windows settings onto servers stored via Microsoft. This could lead greater access to user information even from other people's computers.

App Store - Another major development would be the adoption of a major software and content delivery platform along the lines of Apple Store or Valve Steam, where users will be able to buy content and proprietary software. For now the medium is referred to as the "Windows Store".


These are just a few of the improvements MS is looking at and again these are conceptual ideas so there is no guarantee that we'll actually see any of them built into the final release of the new system. Sadly looking at most of these "major improvements" you'll see that they are ideas and features already built into several operating systems out there. The only thing I see that is new and somewhat revolutionary would be the implementation of facial recognition. This would be a nice feature around the office, at home or in any other environment where you have multiple users. It would be nice being able to simple walk up to the PC and have it wake to each individual users own personal settings.

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