Microsoft has gradually taken the wraps off Windows 8, the most recent version of its flagship operating system (OS). Windows 8 is the first “MS OS” to be developed from the ground up for multiple devices – your laptop, that PC desktop computer rental, various tablets, big-name smart phones and who knows what else down the line (your refrigerator?). You can get a preview version of the OS online and use it until the final product is released late this year.
Microsoft “spokesfolks” describe the current pre-release version of Windows 8 as “a work in progress [that] will change before the final release,” advising those who install the trial to expect “hiccups and bugs.” Companies that distribute “beta” and “consumer preview” releases count on getting a lot of feedback – via user forums, blog posts and telemetry – for refining the final product. There is a little feedback trickling in, and it is cautiously optimistic. Let’s check it out.
Windows 8 strikes some as a “crazy quilt combo” of the iPad, classic desktop Windows, Windows Phone and Microsoft’s Metro interface. The tile layout is meant to appeal to folks that have adopted and adapted to the uncluttered interface of the latest smart phones and iPad rental. The Redmond firm clearly wants this new, growing generation of multi-device users to see Windows 8 as a common interface.
That common interface comes in three versions. The newest member of the family is Windows RT, optimized for use on a tablet or all-in-one multitouch display PC with such “touch-optimized” software as OneNote, Word, Excel and PowerPoint. With a lean, clean interface and excellent battery-power management, Windows RT is what you’ll run on your new ARM-powered tablet.
Not your Daddy’s Windows OS
The standard package, Windows 8, is headed for most people’s laptops and desktops as the successor to Windows 7, with Internet Explorer 10, built-in access to the new Windows Store and all the flexibility most users need. Windows 8 Pro, for serious business users and geeks, ups the ante with virtualization, encryption, network management and domain connectivity. Finally, Windows Media Center – with expanded capabilities for controlling external devices like A/V (audio visual) equipment rentals – is a simple “media pack” add-on to Windows 8 Pro.
This isn’t your Daddy’s (or Mommy’s) Windows OS. Windows 8 was developed to combine standard desktop components with new-fangled elements from the parallel world of pads, tablet PC rentals and phones. Tiles, finger swipes, icons and apps, the touch-driven interface – these are among the new threads that tie everything together in Windows 8. Microsoft execs have not announced a precise release date for Windows 8, but they’re smart, so expect it in the fall, right on time for holiday shopping.