Windows 8 Official Debut

On Tuesday, September 13, at 9AM Pacific Time, someone from Microsoft will take the stage at Microsoft’s BUILD conference in Anaheim, California to present the opening keynote and offer the first extended public demonstration of Windows 8.

I have no inside knowledge of Windows 8 and haven’t seen it except for video clips and pictures you can find all over the internet, but rest assured, Windows 8 will be another game changer with a long list of “features” we’ll all need to master.

The Windows 7 release accomplished Microsoft’s immediate goal of cleaning up their Windows Vista mess while attempting to establish Microsoft’s reputation of delivering a well-engineered piece of software on a predictable schedule. With the Vista debacle in its rear-view mirror and Windows 7 being more widely adopted every day, Microsoft concentrated on fundamental improvements in performance, reliability, and the ever important – user interface.

Based on current rumors and videos floating around the web, here are a few “sneak peeks” at Windows 8 and some of the changes we can expect:

  • The new OS will run on x86 systems as well as new designs based on ARM processors. System requirements will be equal to or lower than those of Windows 7.
  • It will have a new Start screen, designed to work equally well with a touch screen or a mouse and based on the same design principles used on Windows 7 Phone devices.
  • A new generation of full-screen applications (based on HTML5) will be especially well suited for tablet devices.
  • The traditional Windows desktop, with support for all the programs you can use today on Windows 7, will be available as a full-screen app, with the capability to switch from the desktop to a full-screen app with a gesture. If you’ve had an opportunity to play with a new MacBook, you’ll understand just how cool “gesture
  • Internet Explorer 10 will be part of Windows 8, and the Trident rendering engine will be at the heart of the new Start screen and application model.
  • The ribbon, a feature so many of us didn’t like in MS Office, will be a key part of the interface for Windows Explorer and other utilities that run on a traditional Windows desktop.
  • There will be a new, Microsoft-managed App Store.

By the end of the day on Tuesday, after day one of Microsoft’s BUILD conference concludes, we’ll know much more about Windows 8. Hopefully, the conference will answer some of the questions Microsoft watchers have been asking over the past few months, questions like…

How will Microsoft manage the transition to a new interface?
Windows 8 will include two interfaces: the “modern” Metro-style interface and the traditional desktop as embodied in Windows 7. This means that business owners will need to carefully evaluate the “re-training” costs associated with a different “tablet style” interface as well as 3rd party application developers deciding which interface to invest their development resources. This question will be on the minds of many BUILD conference attendees.

Where’s is Microsoft’s cloud strategy?
Microsoft has spent the past few years building up its cloud-based offerings. With a Windows Live ID, you can get 25 GB of online storage for documents and photos. You can sync a separate 5 GB of data to SkyDrive using the Windows Live Mesh utility as well. but that’s about it. Google and Apple have already gone public with their cloud solutions. Will the Microsoft cloud picture get clearer this week? Let’s hope so

Can a Microsoft Windows powered tablet really wait till mid-2012 or later?
The stunning success of Apples iPad means there’s some urgency for Microsoft to respond. But a hasty response can be worse than none at all. Just ask HP, which abruptly canned their TouchPad less than two months after rolling it out to the market. Or ask anyone you know who bought a current-generation Android tablet and is now struggling to make it work.

Based on these competitors’ experiences, Microsoft’s decision to wait until it can release a combination of hardware and software that works well together is the right one. One rumor floating around today is that Windows 8 could be delivered in two releases: one version exclusively for ARM-based tablet devices, early in 2012, followed by the full Windows 8 release for traditional PCs later that year.

How much will it cost?
There’s really no way to answer this question without first defining the list of Windows 8 editions. Windows 8 will be delivered in multiple versions just like Windows 7 – at a bare minimum, there will be one for consumers and another for businesses on enterprise networks.

Most copies of Windows are sold through hardware manufacturers on new PCs so don’t expect that to change for Windows 8. With Microsoft’s decision to engineer Windows 8 to run on existing hardware, it wouldn’t surprise me to see discounted upgrades for Windows 7 users. Windows XP and Vista users – my bet is that you’re out of luck – no discounts for you.

There are many more questions waiting to be answered at this conference. If you haven’t seen any pictures of Windows 8 take a look at this article from PC MAGAZINE
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2386317,00.asp

You can follow along with the BUILD conference here:
http://www.windows8update.com

Or just Google “Pictures of Windows 8” There’s a bunch out there!

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