Microsoft has revealed that Windows 8 will include an app store, some sort of Windows-branded online component and a host of other features.
Microsoft is revealing a bit more about Windows 8 ahead of
September's BUILD conference, as part of what will be surely a long marketing
campaign for the operating system.
In his second posting on the "Building
blog, Windows and Windows Live division President
Stephen Sinofsky offered a further drill-down into the engineering teams
putting the operating system together. "We have about 35 feature teams in the
Windows 8 organization," he wrote. "Each feature team has anywhere from 25-40
developers, plus test and program management, all working together."
He then provided a list of "features or areas" under
construction by those teams. Many of them seemed obvious: "Graphics Platform,"
"Hyper-V," "Media Platform," and so on.
Others were more ambiguous, including "Human Interaction
Platform," "Telemetry," and "Windows Online." In theory, the last could refer
to some as-yet-unannounced cloud initiative, along the lines of the company's
Office 365 or Apple's upcoming iCloud. And given Windows 8's expected presence
on a variety of hardware form-factors, including tablets, "Human Interaction
Platform" could refer to touch-based input or other, non-keyboard methods of
telling the operating system what you'll want to do.
However, all this remains pure conjecture. Despite some early
glimpses of the user interface, paired with Sinofsky's rather lengthy postings,
actual details of Windows 8's elements remain scarce. We do know, thanks to
Microsoft, that the operating system abandons the "traditional" Windows desktop
model in favor of colorful, Windows Phone-style tiles.
"So much has changed since Windows 95-the last time Windows
was significantly overhauled-when the -desktop' metaphor was established,"
Sinofsky wrote in the
inaugural Aug. 15 posting
. "Today, more than two out of three PCs are
mobile (laptops, netbooks, notebooks, tablets, slates, convertibles, etc.).
Nearly every PC is capable of wireless connectivity."
According to the feature list, Windows 8 will also feature
an App Store of some sort. That could directly counter Apple's Mac App Store,
which lets users download applications to their desktop instead of having to
purchase boxed software. The presence of a Microsoft-branded App Store would
also let Windows on tablets compete on equal footing against rivals such as the
iPad (which offers access to Apple's App Store) and Android devices (which
include Android Marketplace).
Windows presence on tablets could give Microsoft a way to
make up for the occasional slackness in the traditional PC market. Windows
revenue declined a bit last quarter, for example, largely due to softness in
the overall PC industry. But the other question is whether Windows 8, coming so
soon after the bestselling Windows 7 (and with Windows XP a dwindling but
significant presence), will find an audience hungering to upgrade to the newest
thing out there.
Nicholas Kolakowski on Twitter