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Windows 8: What We Know/Open Mysteries

Microsoft's Build conference, where Windows 8 is planned to be showcased, is just three weeks away. We're already expecting to see a radical shift to a Windows Phone 7-like touch-screen user interface. Also, we may see new form factors emerging with system-on-chip integrations on the ARM platform, as well as x86 SoC designs from AMD and Intel.

In the meantime, Microsoft has dispensed information slowly via its "building Windows 8" blog, and here's what we know so far:

Window 8 will have some backward compatibility with Windows 7-capable hardware. It will have some sort of App Store. USB 3.0 interconnects, enabling data transfers of up to 4.7 Gbps, likely will be seen on Windows 8 machines. That's not much, especially since many expect to see the first public build of Windows 8 in September.

We're left with some mysteries going forward:

  • Why did Microsoft emphasize HTML 5 and JavaScript when building Windows 8 apps?
  • Will Microsoft be able to pull off porting its OS to the ARM platform, which is thought to offer less standardization than x86?
  • Will the touch-enabled UI really work well for complex menu-driven applications such as Microsoft Office?
  • Will Windows 8 provide a sort of universal OS that works across PCs, laptops and mobile devices, and, if so, what happens to Microsoft's Windows Embedded efforts?

What puzzles you about Windows 8 and what have you heard? Tell Doug at
-By Kurt Mackie

Posted by Kurt Mackie on 08/25/2011 at 1:18 PM

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Reader Comments:

Tue, Aug 30, 2011 Aaron Suzuki Seattle

I think the thing to consider, or perhaps the lens through which to look at Windows 8 is not as one new, monolithic OS, but rather as two. One is your fancy, touch-enabled, consumption-oriented OS. The second is your traditional, more utilitarian, input-oriented Windows productivity desktop that is mouse and keyboard centric. The touch features will be most useful in the first OS and you can change worlds into your second OS to get work done fast. Based on this, I'm betting that the first will consume the HTML 5/.NET stuff everyone is stewing over, and the second will be as diverse and flexible as to use Silverlight, WPF, C# and anything and everything else. If this is indeed the case, which I expect it to be, this ushers in more options in terms of desktop virtualization models and consumerization and other computing models that people are talking a lot about.

Sat, Aug 27, 2011

Well, if they are going to build a radical interface based on cell phone interfaces, MS better make sure that it is backward compatible or it will not be well adopted. Why should businesses, schools, universities and government go out and buy new hardware JUST to run an OS? There is no reason and it will be a flop. I want to run it on my Lenovo SL500 so MS should listen well. If it doesn't, that could make me frustrated enough to go over to the dark side (Apple). At least Apple OS seems to be backward compatible with hardware...

Wed, Aug 24, 2011 SysAdmin Austin

Not looking forward to Windows 8 especially with a UI that resembles a phone. Would like Windows 7 to be perfected more and hang around for a while longer. We're still in the midst of migrating from Windows XP.

Wed, Aug 24, 2011 jpigott

I am anxious for someone to answer if Windows 8 will support .NET 2.0 - .NET 4.0 WPF and Winform applications.

Wed, Aug 24, 2011 Texas

One comment: Why don't they forego one release and try to get what they already have to work, without adding a bunch of new bells and whistles every couple of years?

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