Take a Look at Windows 8
Article by George Norman
On 01 Aug 2011
At the time of writing this, the latest and greatest version of the Microsoft-developed Windows operating system is Windows 7. To date, more than 400 million Windows 7 licenses have been sold worldwide, which prompted Microsoft to say that Windows 7 is the fastest selling operating system in history. But Microsoft isn’t resting on its laurels; it is already working on the successor for Windows 7. Below you can check out some useful info about the upcoming operating system.

The name is Windows 8
During the development process of the current version of Windows, the team referred to it as codename Windows 7. Little before showcasing a pre-Beta developer-only release, Microsoft decided to adopt the codename as the operating system’s official name. With the successor of Windows 7, everyone assumed that Microsoft would use the name Windows 8. And they assumed correctly, but for a long time Microsoft denied that it would use that name and referred to the operating system as Windows Next.

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This May, at a conference in Japan, Steve Ballmer referred to the upcoming version of Windows as Windows 8, prompting many to say that Windows 8 had been picked as the official name. At the time Microsoft released a retraction saying that “no final decision on a name had yet taken place”. Then earlier this month Microsoft confirmed that Windows 8 has been adopted as the official name of the upcoming operating system.

What will it run on (system requirements)
When Microsoft rolled out Windows 7 it wanted to ensure that every Windows Vista user out there (and even XP users) would be able to upgrade to Windows 7. That is why the minimum Windows 7 system requirements were not too scary. Here they are again:
  • Processor: 32-bit or 64-bit 1GHz processor
  • Memory (RAM): 1GB for the 32-bit edition, 2GB for the 64-bit edition
  • Graphics card: DirectX 9.0 capable with WDDM (Windows Display Driver Model) 1.0 driver or better.
  • Graphics memory: 32MB
  • HDD space: 16GB for the 32-bit version, 20GB for the 64-bit version.
  • Other drives: DVD-ROM
  • Audio: Audio Output


Microsoft does not want to alienate its Windows 7 userbase (as I’ve mentioned above, more than 400 million Windows 7 licenses have already been sold) and consequently it announced that Windows 8 will have the same system requirements as Windows 7, or perhaps even lower. This bit of info was made public by Corporate VP of Microsoft’s Windows Division, Tami Reller, at the Worldwide Partner Conference 2011 that took place this July in LA. Tami said that if a PC can run Windows 7 now, it will be able to run Windows 8 when it will be released to the public.

When it will be released
All we have to go on here are rumors as no official date has been presented by Microsoft. According to the rumors floating around on the web:
  • A Beta version of Windows 8 will be released in September 2011 at the BUILD Conference. The rumor says that Microsoft will announce the release of Internet Explorer 10 (IE10) at the same conference.
  • Windows 8 will reach the RTM (Release to Manufacturing) milestone in April 2012.
  • Windows 8 will hit GA (General Availability; the moment when it’s available for purchase) in January 2013.

When Steve Ballmer said once that Windows 8 would be released in 2012, Microsoft promptly issued a retraction saying that Ballmer misspoke. In my opinion if Microsoft does roll out Windows 8 in 2012, the operating system will hit GA by the end of August or beginning of September (the “back to school” period) or by December (the 2012 holiday season).

Windows 8 will have a new interface
We don’t have the full list of changes for Windows 8 just yet, but we do know is that the operating system will feature a redesigned user interface that has been optimized for touch devices (tablets). Instead of a Start menu there’s now a Start screen that features live application tiles; or to put it in other words, there’s now a tile-based Start screen instead of the classic Start menu. The live app tiles display notifications and up-to-date information from the user’s apps.



And speaking of apps, the new interface will allow the user to easily switch between apps; Microsoft said the process of switching between apps will be a fluid and natural thing. The apps can also be snapped and resized to the side of the screen, making multitasking that much easier. The apps will be web-connected and web-powered and built with HTML5 and JavaScript.

A video that presents that new interface optimized for touch devices is available below.


Microsoft not interested in your ideas for Windows 8
The Windows 7 advertising touted the fact that Windows 7 was the customers’ idea. So do you think Microsoft takes ideas from the public for Windows 8? Turns out that Microsoft is not interested on your ideas for Windows 8. Those who submit a suggestion for Windows 8 will receive a notification telling them that Microsoft does accept suggestions for existing products and services, but not for new products, technologies, processes.



Disney Director hired to help with Windows 8 campaign
To help out with the marketing campaign for the upcoming Windows 8 operating system, Microsoft has turned to former Disney Director of Brand Strategy Jay Victor. When he worked for Disney, Victor’s duties included “market research, business development, product development, creative, and marketing.” His job for Microsoft includes “accountability for brand stewardship on primary brand(s)” which is fancy talk for “he’ll be responsible for introducing Windows 8.”



Supports ARM chipsets

There's not much to say here: Windows 8 provides support for ARM chipsets as well. This means that Windows 8 will be the first viable Windows operating system for tablets.

Rumor roundup
Apart from the rumor that Microsoft will RTM in April 2012, there are a bunch of other rumors making the rounds online. Here’s a quick look at these rumors:
  • Windows 8 will be safer as it will include SmartScreen, the URL reputation system and a file reputation system included in Internet Explorer 9.
  • Microsoft plans to drop the Windows brand following the release of Windows 8. This rumor says that sometime in 2015 or 2016, Microsoft will drop the Windows brand and will release an operating system for PCs, tablets, smartphones and Xbox.
  • Windows 8 will provide support for Xbox 360 games and it will provide a subscription service similar to Xbox Live, but the online gaming will be carried out through the Windows Live Marketplace instead of Xbox Live.
  • Windows 8 will include native support for 3D monitors
  • Microsoft will release its own Windows 8 tablet.




Tags: Microsoft, Windows 8
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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