Microsoft Shows Off Windows 8’s Interface at D9

Posted by at 2:43 am on June 2, 2011

Microsoft’s Steven Sinofsky at his D9 speech showed the tablet-native interface of Windows 8 for the first time. Borrowing heavily from the tile-based interface of Windows Phone 7, it can show a user’s apps as well as live widget-like tiles, contacts and other data. Everything is intended to be very easily readable and used entirely with finger touch and gestures.

Apps themselves have also changed, Microsoft said. While truly native apps will behave like they do on the desktop, Windows 8 will also have the option of webOS-like, full screen tablet apps based around a combination of HTML5 and Javascript. Internet Explorer 10 was already modified to run full-screen and had been matched by some early widget apps. Tablet-optimized apps have access to the Windows feature set and can run side-by-side with regular ones.

A prominent “Store” icon has confirmed Microsoft’s plans to copy Apple and introduce a Windows app store. Sinofsky in talking to AllThingsD acknowledged that the iPad had shown Microsoft things that it needed to do for tablets, including both a way of distributing apps through a store as well as having an interface truly designed for touch and creating a streamlined developer model.

Many of these plans were in the framework since July 2009, before Apple had even showed the iPad, Sinofsky claimed.

The OS is also expected to continue the trend set by Windows 7 and lighten the requirements versus its predecessor. Its approach would not only let Atom-based tablets run Windows 8 smoothly but make sure that ARM-based systems would run smoothly. Existing apps would ‘just run’ on Intel-based devices, Microsoft said.

Sinofsky wouldn’t confirm the release date, but Windows 8 is expected to ship in late 2012.

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