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Indications are that Microsoft's "Metro" design scheme, which found its way into Windows Phone 7 and the Zune HD, will play a part in the design for Windows 8. Metro embraces a "less is more" aesthetic, with a distinctive typeface.

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Microsoft has announced that the next version of Windows will support SoC (system-on-a-chip) architecture, in particular the ARM-based systems that dominate the mobile landscape. In theory, that will allow a version of Windows 8 to appear on smaller form factors such as tablets.

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Microsoft Store

In the summer of 2010, a Website called Microsoft Journal posted what it described as a slide deck leaked from within Microsoft that outlined possible Windows 8 features. Among them: a "Microsoft Store" for downloading apps.??í

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Fuller Cloud Integration

Given Microsoft's "all in" focus on the cloud, the next version of Windows will likely include fuller integration with cloud features, including the ability to individually carry settings or preferences between devices.??í

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Ultra-Fast Boot Times

Microsoft Journal's leaked slide deck also included references to the next version of Windows possibly including ultra-fast boot times.

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Bloggers Rafael Rivera and Paul Thurrott recently posted on Rivera's Within Windows blog that early builds of Windows 8 integrate an Office-style ribbon interface into Windows Explorer, complete with tools for viewing libraries, manipulating images and managing drive assets.

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New Lock Screen

Rivera and Thurrott also uncovered an early design for a lock screen reminiscent of the one for Windows Phone 7, with elements such as time and date and icons for power management (for mobile devices).

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Integrated PDF Reader

According to the Within Windows blog, Microsoft could be including a built-in PDF reader with Windows 8.

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Internet Explorer Immersive

Rivera and Thurrott also uncovered an "immersive" version of Internet Explorer that uses the desktop Internet Explorer 9 renderer, but works more like a mobile browser—something that could possibly find its way into Windows 8 for mobile devices.

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Manufacturers such as Hewlett-Packard have been integrating more biometric hardware and software into their consumer and business offerings (including fingerprint-reading and facial recognition). Microsoft could try to leverage this trend with more robust biometric log-ins for Windows 8.

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If Windows 8 is going more portable, trust that the interface (or some version of the interface) will offer more touch-centric design and features.??í

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History Vault

Rumors suggest Microsoft could include a backup utility for Windows 8 similar to the one already present in Apple's Mac OS X Time Machine.

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