Windows 8 news is gushing forth from Microsoft's BUILD conference up in Seattle, as the company exposes the inner workings of the latest iteration of their operating system. Here's a look at all the latest Windows 8 news we're seeing today.
(Microsoft is showing off Windows 8 on a prototype tablet, so most of the emphasis is on the more touch-friendly features of the OS.)
For Microsoft, Metro is the future. Metro is the design scheme that the Redmond megalith dreamed up for Windows Phone 7, and now it's coming to Windows 8 not just as a skin or a launch screen, but as an entire philosophy. We've seen glimpses of this UI in the past, but we weren't quite sure just how deep it would run into Windows 8.
The way Microsoft is talking, Metro style apps may not be at the core of Windows 8 just quite yet, but it seems like it's what they want for the future of their platform in terms of design. Metro is not a separate skin or layer running on top of Windows 8. Everything is handled as natively as anything else in Windows.
According to Mary Jo Foley at ZD Net, the old tools, standards and philosophies for app development are taking a back seat to this new, more immersive style of Metro apps. It's all tiles, full-screen apps, simplicity. It all makes Windows look so modern. Awesome.
In the Metro UI, the new Start Menu will be the Charms element on the right side of the screen. From there you'll be able to search, tweak settings, manage apps, share links/text/info/pics etc. This is akin to the overlay that pops up when you hit the menu key on Android devices.
Split Screen Apps
Despite the fact that the Metro UI moves away from the windowed design of yore, that doesn't mean you have to be locked into one app at any given time. The Metro UI will allow two apps to share screen space so that you can multitask without sacrificing the flattened design of Windows 8. Conceptually, it's a lot like the Twitter app for iPad, (in that app you can view your timeline while having a browser window with a link you clicked open right next to it). It's quick and efficient.
All Windows 8 devices must have a minimum resolution of at least 1024x768 pixels. Any device running on minimum requirements will only run the Metro UI, with apps one at a time. If the screen resolution is 1366x768, it will support the splitscreen apps. If the screen is a full 16:10 and at least 1366 pixels wide, you
Metro vs Pro
Windows is definitely drawing a line between Metro and Pro, defining the limits of Metro (for now, at least). While the Metro is intended for entertainment purposes and consumption of content (tablets, hello!), the Pro UI (which is much more standard looking) is for creation and work purposes. The way Microsoft is talking, they envision you using a desktop during when you're in the office (or working at least). When you're just casually screwing around on the internet, you'll use a tablet device.
Windows 8 will support NFC technologies, meaning that devices can either transmit or receive information. In terms of possibilities, think something along the lines of what Palm/HP showed off with the Pre 3 and the TouchPad. Tap your phone against your tablet and it could take the webpage/app/song/video that's on your device and load it on your phone.
Refresh and Reset
Viruses and malware happen. Microsoft isn't necessarily promising that Windows 8 will be virus free, but they're making it easier to wipe out corrupted system software without wiping out your apps and settings. They call this feature Refresh. There's also a quick one step feature to wipe your device and restore it to factory settings. This is Reset.
You'll be able to download the Developer Preview of Windows 7 tonight. However, it won't be supported by Microsoft in any manner.