Sept. 19, 2011
by Mark Ollig
Microsoft said this would be the biggest change to Windows computing since they released their revolutionary Windows 95 OS (operating system) 16 years ago.
Get ready folks, here comes the new interactive and touch-centric Windows 8.
Last Tuesday, yours truly, along with others online, watched the much anticipated Microsoft keynote address live via a webcast from the Microsoft Windows BUILD conference in Anaheim, CA.
Microsoft Build Professional Developers Conference is an event where hardware and software developers go to learn and exchange ideas for creating the next generation of hardware systems, software programs, and apps (applications) supporting Microsoft Windows operating systems.
Steven Sinofsky, Windows division president, began the keynote address by talking about the improvements made to Microsoft’s current operating system, Windows 7.
He then moved on to the primary focus of the keynote address: Microsoft Windows 8 OS.
Sinofsky is convinced traditional PC (personal computer) users, once they start using Windows 8, will become hooked navigating apps and entering text using on-screen touch-computing.
He did, however, reassure everyone that Windows 8 can be used with the traditional keyboard and mouse.
Sinofsky touted the immersive computing environment and touch-centric capabilities of Windows 8, as the “Metro experience.”
“Fast and fluid” is how Microsoft said they want Windows 8 apps to perform for the user.
Windows 8 uses an intuitive “Metro-style” full-screen touch-centric user interface design, featuring Start Menu program applications viewed as interactive widget-like “tiles,” instead of the familiar looking classic Windows program icon boxes we see on our existing Windows desktop.
The interactive touch-based interface provides the Metro-experience, which has been compared to Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 OS user interface.
Sinofsky also pointed out Windows 8 only uses about 281 MB of memory, whereas Windows 7 requires around 404 MB to operate.
Sinofsky then introduced Julie Larson-Green, corporate vice president of Windows Program Management.
Larson-Green demonstrated features of Windows 8 using mobile tablet devices.
The Windows 8 default screen, or “lock-screen,” pops up when the screen times out or before a user logs on.
The lock-screen displays remaining battery power, Internet signal status, current email message count, video message count, and a timeline display showing the user’s current calendar appointment message.
With a touch and swipe of her finger against the computing screen, Larson-Green leaves the lock-screen and shows us how to use the new log-in screen.
Her individualized, password protect-screen, shows a picture of her daughter holding a glass of lemonade. The “picture password” code is entered as she uses her index finger and presses it on her daughter’s nose and then presses on the lemonade glass she is holding and finger swipes a line.
Larson-Green had previously programmed this particular picture password code-combination.
This unlocked the computer, and brought up the Windows 8 Start screen.
The Start screen held a collection of user apps that came bundled with Windows 8, as well as new prototype apps developed by Microsoft summer interns (who were in attendance).
Users can navigate through and launch Windows 8 apps via finger swipes, taps, and flicks; similar to how we navigate through the pictures, videos, songs, and apps stored on our various mobile devices.
During the demonstration, I noticed how easy it was for Larson-Green to navigate and use the tiled applications on the computing tablet screen.
If a user has a large collection of applications, instead of scrolling through pages of them (via finger swipes), you can see them all at once by using a two- finger pinch technique which zooms the view of all the apps outward, thus shrinking the size of the tiled apps to where you can see them all at once.
The apps can then be individually accessed, customized, re-arranged or moved into separate groups, and can be given individual names.
The Windows 8 Start screen can be personally customized and re-arranged so applications appear where you want them to.
Users will appreciate knowing Windows 8 cold boots (starts up) in less than 10 seconds.
Another feature demonstrated was the system-wide spell-checker built-in to Windows 8 that can be used by any app.
Windows 8 has a convenient one-step process to wipe the computer clean and restore it to the original factory settings; Microsoft fittingly calls this feature: Reset.
Removing corrupted system software without losing your system file settings and applications (downloaded from the soon-to-be Windows 8 App Store) can be accomplished using the Refresh feature.
Microsoft appears to be heading into the future focusing on an operating system using Metro-styled interactive apps functional on both traditional computers and mobile computing device display screens.
Windows 8 is taking us into an immersive, intuitive, touch-centric, and interactive digital computing environment navigable by means of finger touch swipes, flicks, taps, and pinches.
Sounds like fun.
No release date was given during the presentation regarding a beta version of the Windows 8 operating system for the general public.
Sinofsky said, “We’re going to be driven by the quality, and not by a date.”
To watch the two-hour opening keynote address demonstrating Windows 8 features and some very cool developer application code programming, go to http://tinyurl.com/3dycygt.
About Mark Ollig:
Telecommunications and all things tech has been a well-traveled road for me. I enjoy learning what is new in technology and sharing it with others who enjoy reading my particular slant on it via this blog. I am also a freelance columnist for my hometown's print and digital newspaper.