Today at its developer-focused BUILD conference, Microsoft showcased a detailed preview of the next release of Windows, code-named "Windows 8." The company also detailed new tools for developers to help write applications for people who use Windows.
"We reimagined Windows," said Steven Sinofsky, president of the Windows and Windows Live Division at Microsoft, in his keynote address to the thousands of developers in attendance. "From the chipset to the user experience, Windows 8 brings a new range of capabilities without compromise."
The company also highlighted a variety of new features in Windows 8, including the following:
Touch-First User Interface
Metro style. Windows 8 introduces a new Metro style interface built for touch. The Metro style UI is equally at home with a mouse and keyboard as well.
Providing a fast touch-browsing experience, Internet Explorer 10 puts sites at the center on new Windows 8 devices.
Metro style apps built for Windows 8 are the focal point of your experience, filling your entire screen so there are no distractions. Apps communicate with each other in Windows 8. For example, you can easily select and email photos from different places, such as Facebook, Flickr or on your hard drive.
Live roams all the content from the cloud services you use most - photos, email, calendar and contacts - keeping them up-to-date on your devices. With SkyDrive, you can access your files, photos and documents from virtually anywhere with any browser or with Metro style apps in Windows 8.
Windows 8 is built on the foundation of Windows 7, delivering improvements in performance, security, privacy and system reliability. Microsoft says that Windows 8 reduces the memory footprint needed - even on the lowest-end hardware ? leaving more room for apps.
For those who push the limits of their PC, Windows 8 features an enhanced Task Manager and Windows Explorer and new, flexible options for multimonitor setups.
New Developer Opportunities
The Windows Store will allow developers to sell their apps anywhere Windows is sold worldwide, whether they're creating new games or familiar productivity tools. Windows 8 also lets developers leverage their existing skills and code assets to create great experiences using the programming language you prefer.
DirectX 11 gaming power underlies Windows 8, allowing the easy creation of full-screen games with smooth, flicker-free action.
New Generation of Hardware
Support for ARM-based chipsets, x86 (as well as x32 and x64) devices, touch and sensors means Windows 8 works across a spectrum of devices, from 10-inch tablets and laptops to all-in-ones with 27-inch high-definition screens.
With Windows 8, new ultrathin PCs and tablets turn on instantly, run all day on a single charge and stay connected to the Internet so your PC is ready when you are. Next-generation system on a chip (SoC) support will also enable extended standby and low-power states.
The new Windows 8 systems boots up in seconds, and it is the first to be compatible with low-power chips designed by ARM Holdings, which have become the standard for mobile devices. Actually everything we showcased today at BUILD also runs on the ARM-based Windows PCs. Windows 8 running on ARM will ultimately be available with ARM-based hardware. ARM requires a deeper level of integrated engineering between hardware and software, as "each ARM device is unique," Microsoft said.
Attendees at BUILD also received a Samsung prototype PC with Windows Developer Preview to aid them in creating and testing apps. The test Samsung device was using Internet Explorer 10 as its browser. Developers will also be able to download the Windows Developer Preview< via the new Windows Dev Center
later this week. This includes a 64-bit (x64) build with development tools to build apps, and a 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) build without development tools. The releases also include a suite of sample applications.
Tablet makers are expected to start selling products with Windows 8 by the middle of next year at the earliest.