Choosing a platform may have been simple in the past, but given the wide variety of new devices which function as computers the choice has become more difficult, and Windows 8 hopes to eliminate some of the obstacles that steered consumers into purchasing software from Microsoft’s competitors.
While Apple consumers find themselves with innumerable applications at their fingertips on a myriad of mobile devices, Microsoft has lost industry ground in the tablet and touch screen markets. Windows 8 hopes to lure application developers, aiming to offer consumers as great a variety as is currently offered on their competitors’ platforms (Reuters).
The new operating system seeks not only to enter the tablet and smart phone scenes, but to address the criticisms of its users by restoring some greatly missed features which disappeared with former versions such as Windows XP. Among the most popularly requested returns is the “ribbon” which was no longer used in Explorer starting with Vista, and which in 8 is currently set to include tabs named Home, Share, View, and Manage. The “up” function which allowed users to navigate one tier upward in the folder scheme is also meant to be re-added.
Additionally, the long standing partnership of the Windows PC equipped with Intel processors sees itself in danger with the coming of Windows 8; the development stage operating system aims to also function with ARM architecture, which is a low-power processor type found in most modern mobile devices ranging from PDAs, MP3 players, tablets, handheld games and smart phones (Washington Post).
While making this version of Windows more flexible for different devices was a major scope, other changes to frustrating aspects of operating systems were addressed also, including faster boot speeds and navigation.
The Windows 8 user interface is set to be based on a grouping of tiles, larger than icons and with the idea that each would include more personalization and information about the application within the greater allotment of space. The tiles would take the place of the familiar Start Menu and introduce a new ability for apps to share screen space.
While the interface is being touted as designed foremost for touch navigation, Julie Larson-Green, the Corporate Vice-President of Windows Experience, states in her article on the Microsoft News site that it will be equally powerful and simple for traditional mouse and keyboard users.
Many interested websites and computer news publications agree that while the software giant is typically secretive of its release dates, a common interpretation of comments by Microsoft’s VP for Strategic and Emerging Business Development Dani Lewin seem to indicate that the current projected release date for the new OS would be the fall of 2012.
Whether Windows 8 takes the market by storm and paves the road for Microsoft to be a real competitor on the mobile and low-power device software scene remains to be determined, but one thing is certain: as the world of personal computing changes forms, it is imperative for this industry leader to adapt, innovate and expand, and Windows 8 seeks to accomplish just that.