The reason that I am writing this blog post is because I have been thinking about Windows 8 all day after having watched (for the second or third time) the conference on Windows 8 in Taiwan introducing Windows 8. This was basically a thirty minute talk where a man from Microsoft talked a lot about Windows 8 running on almost every device be it ARM or Intel. It’ll even happily run on the same computers that Vista was launching on. The also talked about how the UI wasn’t really going to best on 4:3 screens (like 1024 by 768 – probably the most common resolution on the planet) and that manufacturers should be using 16:9 and touch. I find this interesting because I have two 5:4 screens that sit next to each other, so I’m looking forward to seeing how Windows 8 will handle these.
Interestingly enough in the talk Microsoft were showing off the new ‘Start’ menu. I suppose you could call it a ‘Start’ menu considering that it is where you start at, but frankly to me it just looks like a bunch of squares that do stuff. All are icons for stuff. Microsoft only showed what was behind a few of these squares, or ’tiles’ to give them their proper name. The pretty much just showed Twitter, Internet Explorer, Piano, Weather, Stocks and Shares and a video. That was about it. The failed, obviously, to show us what was behind the tile named ‘Store’ with a picture of a shopping bag with the Windows logo on. I suspect that this was an early hint at the up and coming App Store – even though Microsoft only mentioned in writing in a blog post the other day.
Today I have also wondered about Internet Explorer 10. There is already a platform preview available, but this isn’t much of a gain over IE9. I wouldn’t be surprised if Microsoft fit in every last HTML5 and CSS3 standard so that developers will be able to fully use it to develop Windows 8 applications. The risk is, of course, that IE10 will actually be quite good for Windows 8 and therefore tempting not to use – I fear the day that Internet Explorer is better than Google Chrome or Firefox.
I’ve also thought about how Microsoft will influence the look of applications. It is very unlikely that every last Windows application is going to be converted to be ready for the new UI, however it is worth considering that Microsoft’s UI probably won’t be best for things like Word, Excel or PowerPoint. They have demoed that normal applications will just return to the normal desktop, however I am sure that they have every intention of making this as annoying as possible so developers are more likely to use the new UI. This is a pain, because I use a lot of applications on my computer and I wouldn’t be surprised if less than a third of them (which would probably be all the Microsoft applications) actually get updated. I pity the fact that some wonderful applications are going to have to change their design just to fit in with Windows, instead of looking like they did before, and how they would look on Linux and Mac too.
Windows 8 is going to be Windows 6.2 (technically) to show similarity to Windows Vista and Windows 7 in architecture. This means that it will probably be regular Windows 7 with a very dressed up UI, some new libraries and the whole thing recompiled for ARM.
Despite looking forward to it, I am worried about Windows 8. Nearly all of Microsoft’s demos so far have been touch. I don’t have touch. I don’t like it. I can work just as fast, if not faster using a regular mouse and keyboard. It is what I have used all my life and it is what I find natural. My main problem at the moment is that it looks like it is a tablet OS. It doesn’t look right on a desktop PC. If you compare it to Windows 7, Mac OS X 10.7 or any Linux distro, they all have a desktop. I wouldn’t say that Windows 8 has a desktop in the usual sense.