Developers Glimpse Windows 8

At a recent developers’ conference, Microsoft handed out 5,000 sleek Samsung tablet computers running a test version of Windows 8. The early sneak peak at Microsoft’s next OS caused a stir among developers and analysts. Windows 8 incorporates the “Metro” user interface with a start screen that displays live application tiles like Windows Phone 7. Apps can run in full screen mode, and can be downloaded from Microsoft’s App Store. Windows 8 features a redesigned Windows Explorer which includes a ribbon style interface. It has a significantly smaller footprint than previous versions, and includes a version that can be installed on a USB Flash drive, so users can boot their own Windows environment from any computer.

Like Apple OS X and Google’s Android operating system, Windows 8 seeks to unify operating systems across PCs, tablets, and smart phones for a common user experience across all three. Some analysts wonder if Windows 8 doesn’t cater too strongly to tablets, sacrificing PC usability. However, the sneak peak of Windows 8 provided last week has found favor with the vast majority of users who have explored Microsoft’s new vision. Microsoft hopes that when Windows 8 launches sometime next Summer it will improve Microsoft’s street cred. Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer stated that he is “rethinking, rebuilding, and reimagining Microsoft.”

More adventurous listeners can try Windows 8 themselves, provided they have a compliant computer, by following the instructions in the show notes.

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