Microsoft's next version of Windows could include an Office-style ribbon, and an unlock screen reminiscent of Windows Phone's, according to a new report and screenshots.
next version of Windows could include a version of the ribbon interface already
present in later versions of Office, according to an early build of the
operating system, which two prominent bloggers supposedly previewed. Their
postings also include images from that build, including a lock screen whose
elements suggest Microsoft is taking a page from its mobile efforts in
developing its next traditional OS.
based, quite clearly, on the Windows Phone 7 lock screen, and is just as
attractive," Rafael Rivera and Paul Thurrott, two bloggers with a track record
of delving into Microsoft's proprietary code base, wrote in a pair of connected
postings on Rivera's Within Windows blog. "The display includes the
time, day of week, the date (month and day), and icons for power management
(for portable machines only) and ease of access."
Nothing in the
two April postings indicates how Rivera and Thurrott accessed this alleged
early build of "Windows 8." Although Microsoft has stayed adamantly
tight-lipped about a possible release date for the next version of Windows, a
growing amount of online chatter suggests it could make an appearance sometime
in late 2012. As such, the elements discussed by the two bloggers could undergo
radical changes in the interim-should this early build even represent the main
thrust of Microsoft's thinking and development, as opposed to a test or
the (possible) new elements is the addition of Microsoft's ribbon interface to
Windows Explorer. "If Microsoft goes through with this change, the Ribbon will
replace the menu and toolbar in today's Explorer windows," Rivera and Thurrott
wrote, "and as in Office, it will make many more features visibly discoverable,
albeit at the expense of on-screen real estate and, we think, attractiveness."
The Windows 8
ribbon apparently includes an "extensive" file menu, as well as tools for
viewing libraries, manipulating images and managing drive assets.
current pre-release builds we've seen, the Ribbon is a serious work in progress
and is quite unattractive," the two bloggers added. "It's unclear whether
Microsoft intends to move forward with this UI as-is, or whether it will appear
only in certain UI types." There are indications that, if Microsoft holds to
something approximating this design, users will have the option of disabling
exact form of Windows 8 software remains nebulous, Microsoft has made it clear
for months that the next version of the operating system will support SoC
(system-on-a-chip) architecture, in particular ARM-based systems from partners
such as Qualcomm, Nvidia and Texas Instruments. In turn, that would give
Microsoft increased leverage for porting Windows onto tablets and more mobile
form-factors, currently the prime market for ARM offerings.
Sinofsky, president of the Windows and Windows Live Division, suggested during
this January's Consumer Electronics Show that "under the hood there are a ton
of differences that need to be worked through" with regard to SoC-supported
Windows. Nonetheless, he added, "Windows has proven remarkably flexible at this
under-the-hood sort of stuff."
A new version
of Windows optimized for touch interface would allow Microsoft to make a more
substantial play for the tablet market, currently dominated by Apple's iPad and
a growing number of Google Android devices. The glimpse of a Windows Phone
7-influenced lock screen, if eventually proven accurate, hints that Microsoft
is indeed considering ways of altering Windows that are more conducive to
mobile devices, but given the distant date of a possible Windows 8 release,
anything could change.
Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.