Microsoft recently announced the next version of Windows, called – yep, you guessed it: Windows 8. For those that aren’t in the techno-loop, this iteration follows Windows 7, which itself was a vast improvement over the disgrace that was Vista.
So what I found interesting about this announcment is the Redmond Giant’s complete overhaul of the user interface, and by extension, the entire user experience of Windows. This is serious news for just about the majority of computer users – Windows runs on most personal, small-and-large business computers, and school computers.
Windows 8’s UI is based on Microsoft’s visual concept called Metro. It’s a text-driven user experience that proffers a clean, intuitive interface that departs from Apple and Android’s icon-based interfaces. More precisely, it allows Microsoft to package Windows for tablet devices.
When a giant like Microsoft makes a move in the wake of Apple’s trail-blazing innovation, one should definitely sit up and take notice. What these two Titans of technology do in the next few months will significantly impact the way we as a human race live, work and entertain ourselves.
For starters (pardon the pun), Windows 8 takes leave of the traditional “desktop” interface. Gone is the Start bar that’s been on almost every version of Windows. Now, booting into your computer takes you to the Start screen, a tile-based interface that gives you access to your favourite applications and utilities (see picture at top). You can still page back to the “traditional” desktop interface from previous Windows (this looks exactly like Windows 7), but Microsoft is making it clear with this new interface: computing is moving in the direction of the touch era. Apple’s iPad and iOS are so far ahead of the competition, that companies like Microsoft – once industry leaders – are battling to keep up with One Infinite Loop’s pace. Thus, partnering with OEMs that can provide sufficient hardware, Microsoft is pinning its hopes on winning back a portion of Apple’s tablet marketshare, which is, if you didn’t already know, quite large.
So computing is certainly moving away from the traditional “mouse and keyboard”. Touch interfaces, whether we like it or not, are here to stay, and from what these companies are doing, it’s clear that the technology can only get better (although, being an Apple fanboy, I still maintain that Apple’s work outshines the rest…).
What are your opinions on this new era of computing? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.