It is the next iteration in a long line of operating systems from Microsoft. After the success of Windows 7, Microsoft has taken its operating system in a whole new direction in line with its Metro UI which was designed for smartphones sporting Windows Phone 7. Windows 8 does have some big shoes to fill especially with the popularity of the MacOS and other open source operating systems on the rise.
When given the chance for a fresh start, the Windows Phone design team drew from many sources of inspiration to determine the guiding principles for the next generation phone interface. Sources included Swiss influenced print and packaging with its emphasis on simplicity, way-finding graphics found in transportation hubs and other Microsoft software such as Zune, Office Labs and games with a strong focus on motion and content over chrome. Metro places emphasis on good typography and has large text that catches the eye. Microsoft says that Metro is designed to be “sleek, quick, modern” and a “refresh” from the icon-based interfaces of Windows, Android and iOS.

Here are a few aspects of the new interface:

  1. Fast launching of apps from a tile-based Start screen, which replaces the Windows Start menu with a customizable, scalable full-screen view of apps.
  2. Live tiles with notifications, showing always up-to-date information from your apps.
  3. Fluid, natural switching between running apps.
  4. Convenient ability to snap and resize an app to the side of the screen, so you can really multitask using the capabilities of Windows.
  5. Web-connected and Web-powered apps built using HTML5 and JavaScript that have access to the full power of the PC.
  6. Fully touch-optimized browsing, with all the power of hardware-accelerated Internet Explorer 10.
The concept of everything in the cloud applies here with Microsoft placing heavy emphasis on giving the user the ability to access all files, photos, settings and the lot everywhere you go. It has also been designed with touch screens in mind. Not unlike previous versions, Microsoft has provided a Consumer Preview of Windows 8. You can see videos of Microsoft’s latest creation or if you feel a little adventurous, you can also download a copy and install Windows 8 on your machine. We did both and are pleased. Mind you it isn’t the finished product and there are still a few bugs that need fixing, but it still gives a great insight into what is almost certain to become the standard operating system of a majority of PCs sold in the market around the world.

Microsoft plans to finish up Windows 8 this summer, in time to launch it in October, according to a Bloomberg report on Monday. Microsoft has not announced a ship date for Windows 8, but the reported timeframe would completely be in keeping with Microsoft’s previous Windows 7 roadmap. Windows 7 was released to manufacturing on on July 21, 2009, and Microsoft began shipping Windows 7 on Oct. 22, 2009. As Bloomberg points out, the proposed ship dates would align Microsoft with a schedule that would allow OEMs to ship new Windows 8 machines by Christmas. We can’t wait to get our hands on the final version!

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