Microsoft showed off a pre-beta build of Windows 8 at its BUILD conference in last September. We got our hands on a copy and took it for a spin in the lab. Is the company's effort to unify PCs, phones, tablets, and its gaming console actually coherent?
Windows 8 was formally unveiled at Computex 2011. However, it wasn’t until more recently that Microsoft released a build to the public.
Before you dismiss this version of Windows, there’s more to Microsoft's announcement than just an obligatory operating system upgrade. The successor to Windows 7 carries with it the company's hope of attracting more developers for tablets and smartphones. That’s clearly the driving force behind a new interface better suited to touchscreen input.
Even if you don’t own a touch-enabled device, you should expect a completely unique experience. Microsoft is trying to unify everything under one roof, which is why the splash screen may seem familiar; it’s basically an updated rendition of Windows Phone 7.
While WP7 smartphones continue to struggle in the midst of iOS and Android, Microsoft isn’t trying to find an alternative use for its mobile operating system. Quite the opposite, in fact. The company is chasing after the holy grail of synergy.
Imagine a world where your desktop, smartphone, and tablet are continuously synched. Visit a webpage on your desktop. Bam. That page is stored in your smartphone’s history. Need to run Microsoft Office on your tablet? Not a problem now that Microsoft is adding ARM support. But that’s just the beginning. Think about also unifying the user interface common to all of those devices, too.
Digging deeper, Windows 8 isn’t a complete overhaul. Much of it is familiar in comparison to Windows 7. That’s why some will call this Windows 7 Plus. At the same time, this represents the most dramatic UI change since the transition from Windows 3.1 to Windows 95. That’s a good enough excuse for Microsoft to dub its forthcoming operating system Windows 8.
And we're going hands-on with the developer preview and loading you down with video to show you what to expect.