Are you ready for Windows 8?

While Windows 7 continues it’s rather robust sales push, Microsoft is readying the replacement for Windows 7, due sometime in 2012. Microsoft is building on the foundation laid by Windows 7, while refining the user experience, tailoring the operating system for tablets, phones (yes, phones-I know, they JUST introduced Windows Phone 7, hey, it’s Microsoft, what can I say) and all flavors of devices.

Almost daily now, little bits of info are leaking out of Redmond and the last few days have seen some interesting bits revealed. Some will love (like me) the changes, while others (mostly those of you who hate Office 2007) will absolutely despise the changes and, no doubt, pine for the old days of the dreary battleship grey Windows 2000 look.

And, before I go on, the leaks are just that, leaks, and do not necessarily mean that the final product will resemble the leaked images. So, with that said, let’s look at a few of the changes.

Windows Explorer

Windows Explorer gains the ribbon-as will much of the OS-from Office 2010 and the Windows Live Essentials suite. While the current incarnation is incomplete and rather disjointed, it does appear that Microsoft is moving in the right direction with the ribbon. Features that are currently buried in menus will be brought out and more easily found. No doubt, there are those who will detest this. Presumably, your old keyboard tricks will still work.

Metro UI from Windows Phone 7

Metro, for those of you who do not know, is Microsoft’s rather clean and attractive user interface for both the Zune HD and the Windows Phone 7 platform. Bits of it were first used in the Windows Media Center software that has been shipping with Windows since Windows XP Media Center edition. Not all of the UI in Windows 8 will feature Metro, but parts of it will, including a built in PDF reader. The touch interface will also include the live tiles that are part of the Windows Phone 7 platform.

Other (Including Windows Live Integration)

Windows 8 will feature tight integration with Live services such as Hotmail and Live Mail. The task bar will become a notification area for mail. Hardware and driver installation progress will be tracked on the taskbar as well. There will also be an ‘Aero lite’ interface theme for those who do not have hardware that can display the full 3D Aero interface. The user interface is said to be ‘dynamic’ in that it will adapt to user habits. Icons and shortcuts will adjust to usage habits, which, I am guessing, is similar to the old Desktop Wizard that was so bloody annoying in Windows XP. Remember that damned message ‘you have unused icons on your desktop.’ Yeah. No thanks.

Overall, it looks like the user experience is shaping up nicely, at least, for those of us who like such things. For others, Windows 8 will probably be a no show for them unless they can knock it back into the stone age. But, hey, for them, Microsoft is STILL going to support Windows XP until 2014. 2014! That’s 13 years after it was introduced. (give it a rest folks!)

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