Microsoft’s latest version of its market-dominating operating system brings the Seattle giant firmly into the age of apps and taps as Bill Gates’ firm joins the tablet age.
The grand old man of operating systems is undergoing one of its most radical updates as the Seattle software giant recognises that the hardware we use and how we use it has changed. With more and more of us tapping tablet screens or browsing on the go on smart phones Windows 8 is designed to work across all hardware platforms.
That means Windows Phone users will already be familiar with the new look interface – Metro – that some critics are warning could be a major shock for PC users. Metro displays programmes and apps as tiles and Microsoft reckon it’s a whole new step forward for them in terms of design. Simplicity and honesty seem to be the keys for this new Windows look, with slogans like “Do more with less”, “Fast and fluid”, and “Authentically digital” accompanying the pre-release publicity.
There is still an old style Windows desktop, but it’s not the default option and to the horror of some reviewers that familiar start button has vanished. Developers have already started to release software that resurrects it.
Windows 8 – and it will be given a fancy title by its October 26 release date – is also designed with cloud computing in mind. It will synchronise a lot of online services like web mail and Facebook through apps and with a Windows password you can log onto any Windows 8 machine and see your own familiar set up. The Skydrive will save documents online for access from any machine.
But change is always painful and reviews of the various preview versions have been mixed. It’s no coincidence that the Microsoft Surface Tablet will accompany the new operating system onto the market and many critics worry that the business and desktop PC user has been forgotten.
PC Adviser liked Windows 8 but warned it ‘is certainly going to take some getting used to’. Californian tech columnist Troy Wolverton found much to like in Windows 8 – not least its speed – but concluded, ‘for PC users, Windows 8 is a major misstep’. Cnet reported on former Microsoft employee Gabe Newell’s view that: "I think that Windows 8 is kind of a catastrophe for everybody in the PC space."
There’s plenty more opinion out there though and, remember, nobody has seen the final version yet. If you have a Windows 7 machine, you can download a version and have a play yourself.
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