More good news for Apple: Microsoft previews Windows 8 (with video)

Today, at the D9 Conference, Microsoft demonstrated the next version of Windows, internally code-named “Windows 8,” for the first time. Windows 8 is designed to scale from touch-only small screens through to large screens, with or without a keyboard and mouse.

Microsoft also seems to have run a “find and replace” on their marketing materials, replacing “programs” with “apps” everywhere. Wonder why.

Microsoft demoed a few aspects of the new “Windows 8” interface, including:
• Launching of programs apps from a tile-based Start screen, which replaces the Windows Start menu with a customizable, scalable full-screen view of programs apps.
• Live tiles with notifications, showing up-to-date information from your programs apps.
• Switching between running programs apps.
• Capability to snap and resize a program an app to the side of the screen.
• Web-connected and Web-powered programs apps built using HTML5 and JavaScript.
• Touch-optimized browsing, with all the power of hardware-accelerated Internet Explorer 10.

The video below introduces a few of the basic elements of the new user interface:

Microsoft is working to get “Windows 8” ready for early testing. No release date has been disclosed.

MacDailyNews Take: Taking into account that demos are, of course, designed to make products look good no matter what, our initial impression is that Microsoft, in trying to cram everything into Windows 8 in an attempt to be all things to all devices, will end up with an OS that’s a jack of all trades and a master of none (which, after all, ought to be Microsoft’s company motto).

By the time this hybrid spawn of Windows Phone ’07 + Windows 7ista actually ships, one can only dream where Apple’s iOS and Mac OS X will be! For Microsoft, it’ll be more like a nightmare. Perhaps Microsoft will someday put some scare into Google’s Android/Chrome OS, but only time – and a lot of it when measured in tech time – will tell. We simply do not see the world clamoring for the UI of an iPod also-ran now ported to an iPhone wannabe that nobody’s buying to be blown up onto a PC display.

From what we’ve seen so far, Windows 8 strikes us as an unsavory combination of Windows Weight plus Windows Wait.

Not to mention that probably no one on earth knows how much or what kinds of residual legacy spaghetti code roils underneath it all (shudder). Is Microsoft giving up on backwards compatibility? If so, people might as well get the Mac they always wanted. If not, then Microsoft’s unwilling to do what it takes to really attempt to keep up with the likes of Apple or even Apple’s followers. No matter what, if Microsoft’s going to ask Windows sufferers to “learn a whole new computer” (and that’s exactly how they’ll look at it, regardless of how Microsoft pitches it), millions will simply say, “Time to get a Mac to match my iPod, iPhone, and iPad!”

As if they needed it: More good news for Apple.

139 Comments

  1. I’ve watched the video and I was mildly impressed, but as MDN says… In tech time this could be very moot point by the time Lion/iOS5 is out and we could be close to Lion & iOS’s successor after having seen the Vista debacle.

  2. Too complicated and gimmicky. Just like most other MS stuff, it’s made by nerds for nerds. Real people who want something straightforward that just works don’t seem to count for much in Redmond. It’s not based on anything familiar that would make the average person comfortable getting started with it.

    1. I agree as well. The thought of tutoring this mess to my mother makes me shudder. Unlike iOS and other OS offerings It lacks obviousness and visible structure. Where the hell are those offscreen tiles and just how is anyone supposed to know where they are? It’s nerdy for the sake of being nerdy. They are so painfully desperate.

      1. Crazy.

        The biggest criticism of OS X / iOS I get from regular people is the non-obvious gestures (I’m thinking of two-finger swiping on a track pad, etc.). These are pretty minor, and almost completely optional. The vast majority of Apple’s interface conventions are understandable immediately.

        And Apple tends to have pretty sophisticated users.

        I can’t imagine most of my clients or my parents understanding this new Windows UI. Mix in the old interface for all your legacy apps and it’s going to get messy.

      2. The truth is many of staff in the office had / are having troubles with Win 7 already. They are custom with WinXP so deeply. Some of the staff are using Office 2007 for testing and the IT guys have to take the blame because most of admin girls were confused to the change (from Office 2003). Some guys are using Win 7 about a year now (along with new laptops and all), and the management is starting to plan migration to Win 7. If windows 8 coming next year, I believe it’s going to be chaotic.
        Win7 has some incompatibility with the old way Active Directory was managed (such as Remote Profile). I am pretty sure Win8 will be more confusing for both IT and users.

      3. Now that I think of it, the only other complaint I hear about Mac OSX is the issue around quitting an app vs. closing a window (that you can close a file but still be in the app, and that you can then click the desktop and “lose” your app). Makes perfect sense to me, but lots of people have problems with it.

        Lion should help in that respect.

    2. This is what I was thinking. I was surprised when MDN didn’t criticize the complexity and lack of intuitiveness. Are you just supposed to memorize all these “tricks”? Like Brau pointed out, you can just imagine teaching your parents how to use this. “Oh no! I just got this bigass widget in the middle of the screen and there are no close or minimize buttons!”

      1. It’s typical of Apple to make stuff easier to use over time.

        Windows on the other hand just gets harder. The sheer contempt I feel whenever I have to help someone use Windows 7 or that G-d Office ribbon is just indescribable.

        Windows 8’s new slogan: Combining the worst elements of every UI into one inconvenient package.

        1. @ Sucker: Love the last line! However, being the evil contortionist that I am, I can imagine that there will be several versions:

          1. W8 simplex for beginners (comes with Sponge Bob to help you out.

          2. W8 Simplex Complex for beginners who don’t want to identified as beginners (no Sponge Bob), costs more.

          3. W8 Complex Simplex for small businesses. Same as #2 but costs more.

          4. W8 Business Complex Complete for small and medium businesses, adds more crapware and adware but no different between it and #3, costs more.

          5. W8 Enterprise Complex for most businesses but not travel agents and airlines. Same as #4 but many “upgrade” ads every few minutes, costs a lot more.

          6. W8 Enterprise Most Complex Ultimate OS W (Puddy-tat) for Cisco-sized firms, costs $500 per seat, Start Screen features a roaring pussy cat, can only be installed remotely by MS and any upgrades are automatically performed (with resulting upgrade fees sent to license owner), Discounts available if company is willing to co-brand (i.e. “Cisco Certified Internet Ethernet” sticker on front of computer, to accompany the Intel Inside, NVIDIA-Powered, WGA-compatible, XP Certified, Apple-Designed stickers.).

  3. MS is walking toward the cliff on this one. The worse thing for a user is to learn a whole new operating system.

    When Apple moved from System 9 to OS X, it was a gut-wrenching experience for many of us. But to Apple’s credit, each new version of OS X maintains the same look and feel as the previous ones. A person could easily go from Puma or Jaguar to Snow Leopard without a glitch.

    This is not the case with Windows. Switching from XP to Vista/Windows 7 was a big change. A change so big that many users and corporations are still using XP. Now MS is going to totally change the look and feel of their operating system again with Windows 8.

    These guys must have a death wish. Users are just going to say “fsck it” and buy a Mac. I almost feel sorry for MS because they seem so clueless.

        1. That’s not a bad answer since MS can’t let go of the “desktop” paradigm. Tablets don’t need desktops and all the clutter that desktops engender.

          Another indication of how clueless MS has become.

      1. Learn to listen and read.

        Desktop UI = used on desktop
        Tile UI = used with touch screens (laptop, touch monitor on desktop, I bet a surface 3.0, tablets,…)

        And if you absolutely need to, yes, you can use classic windows applications in the touch UI. This is a GOOD thing. You don’t HAVE TO. You have the OPTION.

    1. Unfortunately people are not just going to jump to the Mac.
      A friend of mine was looking for a new computer (she is a photographer) and after talking to her about all the options, advantages, etc of the Mac over the PC she opted for a $900US laptop over a $1300US iMac.
      I tried everything to show her the advantages but in the end it all came down to price.

      1. So price was the most important factor above all else to your friend, so the same mist be true for the entire population of the planet? Wow, every company on the planet that offers a product that costs more than a competitor will be bust soon.

      2. If she only understood that the $400 savings will be easily negated when you consider both platforms over the course of a few years. When I was solely using Windows computers – up until 2008 when I completely switch to Mac – I’d have to buy a new system every year and a half to two years because everything started to become seriously outdated, very much slowed down, and just completely bogged down for one reason or another; you know, the usual Windows PC system stuff. I bought my Mac Pro in January of 2008 (supplied it with 10 GB of Ram) and haven’t needed a new computer in over three years. Actually, since switching completely to Mac, the last three years have been the most productive for me on a computer in my life (I’m a Writer and Small Business owner). The only Microsoft product I’ve downloaded since 2008 was to play WMA video files on my Mac…but I digress. Knock on wood but my system has run just as good today as it did when I booted it up for the first time over three years ago and I’m sure my Mac will run smoothly for many years to come until the need to upgrade just because of the evolution of newer technologies. I cannot say that about Windows machines.

      3. @Anim8me2 The worst part is, I wonder if the laptop she bought can display at least 75% AdobeRGB colors cuz if not (most only do 62% AdobeRGB) then her stuff will look like kindergarten stuff when she delivers images. That happened to a friend of mine who did work on his laptop…but good thing he brought his work over to a desktop monitor that did 75% AdobeRGB and there was a lot of pixels he missed. She will need to hook it up to a good monitor that does at least 85% AdobeRGB/100%sRGB ($400 minimum). iMac’s screens can do about 75% AdobeRGB. She’ll end up spending more.

      4. So does she drive a Tata car (just $2500.00!) or a Nissan Versa? Or perhaps a Trabant?

        I didn’t think so. She probably had her mind made up for a PeeCee and wasn’t confused by your facts.

    2. Windows 8 will not be able to run smoothly on existing Windows machines. Windows 8 will be dramatically alien to millions of Windows users. Corporations that had invested billions of dollars in legacy softwares will have to start anew which I doubt they will be happy to comply. So to avoid a deep learning curve in a new OS, I foresee many corporate and individual users will turn to the Mac to continue to use their legacy Windows softwares.

        1. Are you for real?
          Apple has always pruned its system and kept it lean and mean. MS has always kept all the garbage of yester… millennium.

          As for Rosetta, it’s about time.

          1. Hahaha…
            It’s clear that you are not a professional in the software industry. I’ld like to see you tell millions of companies that “all their expensive custom software is no longer supported and you have to rewrite everything”. Hahaha.

            When companies invest in software, they pay a LOT of money and expect the software to stay relevant for several years, in some cases even more then a decade.

            In the real world, that’s not a good business plan. That only works with toys like mp3 players and mp3 syncing machines.

            Not so much with actual business software.

      1. “Windows 8 will not be able to run smoothly on existing Windows machines”

        Eum… the system requirements for windows 8 will be even LESS then windows 7 thanks to awesome optimisation of the 1337 windows team.

        “Corporations that had invested billions of dollars in legacy softwares will have to start anew ”

        No, they won’t. All applications will still work. Nothing will change on the desktop. Except we’ll have even more powerfull development tools by combining C++ with XAML through the Jupiter project.

        “So to avoid a deep learning curve in a new OS”

        There’s no learning curve in starting your application by pressing a tile with your finger instead of clicking an icon with a mouse. Which btw is also something you’ll ONLY do when on a touch screen.
        You’ll never even see the tiles on your desktop as you’ll be able to configure in which GUI windows should default.

        Can you people get anything right?

        “I foresee many corporate and individual users will turn to the Mac to continue to use their legacy Windows softwares.”

        HAHAHAHA!!!!
        What an idiot. Why would they buy a mac to do that?

    3. What I love most about your post is how you set it up in such a way that no person could ever change systems and it being a good decision at the same time.

      I also love how you set it up in such a way that NO MATTER what microsoft does- you’ll be there to complain about it.

      Legacy code? you’ll be whining about said code
      Breaking with legacy code? you’ll be whining about having to change and learn something new

      Off course, when magical apple does it, you just suck it up like a true fanboy.

      Newsflash: windows has 95% of enterprise and hundreds of hardware manufacturers to support. It goes a bit further then your mothers iPhotobook and your kids iPod.

      And lastly, I also love how mac fanboys have been saying EVERY SINGLE windows release how “that would be the last one” and how “msft will be death soon”.

      Meanwhile, in reality, Windows 7 is the best scoring OS of all time in terms of sales. And windows 8 will be no different. In fact, it will easily break win7 records.

      And while those hundreds of millions of win8 licenses are getting deployed, you’ll be here whining and yapping about how windows 9 is going to be the last windows.

      Give me a break.

  4. Yeah, I want to see that run on a “slate” type system and see how long the battery lasts. I’m guessing maybe an hour. I noticed you didn’t see the machine that was driving it. Plus, it might just be me but that seem complicated, I was confused just watching them.

  5. What can I say here, I mean at least they are trying. With Vista and 7 it was almost like they were letting Apple catch up to them and now they’ve dug themselves in a deep hole with no means of escape, so the only place they can go now is down. This OS looks like a windows 7 phone, so to reiterate it looks crappy. I can guarantee you that the common users computer/tablet is not going to be so smooth. It’s gonna lag, it’s going to be a pain just to scroll back and forth. Then instead of following apple like usual they decided to keep with a regular excel/word/powerpoint on touch screen. It’s exactly the same, how the hell would one use that on a touch screen, it simply won’t work. And that is supposed to be their A game. Microsoft Office is their best work but, what are they trying to do here? But, like I said great job for trying, their trying to make it simple and like a mac with these tiles but I’m afraid that it’s not gonna work. I ALMOST feel sorry for them. Their one innovation in windows 8 is the thumbs friendly keyboard which no one will use because it will be hard to use. But I guess I’ll still boot camp it on to my mac. I’m looking forward to using windows 8 next to lion on Parallels every once in a while. Microsoft you get an E for effort. But Ballmer, 3 strikes and your out, and your going on 7 strikes

    1. You know what this has a lot of the things that lion lacks. This is quickly going to be adapted for computers and for tablets well that may take a while but it will happen. I disagree with what you said. Microsoft is not in a hole in fact with this one I think they just threw a little bit of dirt on apples grave with this one.

      1. @Just Maybe…
        You’re kidding right? If you know a little about Microsoft’s history at their previews and videos, then you’ll know that their end product won’t look like what you just saw in this video.

        In order to keep up with Apple’s innovations in Lion or the next cat, which will most likely be released by the time Windows 8 finally arrives, MS will drop a lot of their new features just to get it out to market. Either that, or the new features will be half-baked.

        For the regular Joe Consumer, how will you know if the hardware you’re buying can handle Windows 8? Oh, that’s right…. The “Compatible with Windows 8” sticker will say so.

        1. “If you know a little about Microsoft’s history at their previews and videos, then you’ll know that their end product won’t look like what you just saw in this video”

          And if YOU knew a bit about msft’s history, you’ll know that the video’s and previews YOU are talking about (longhorn/vista), you’ld know that THOSE vids and previews were animations and sketches.

          The UI demo here is running code. This allready exists. Win8 is in a pretty advanced stage allready in terms of GUI and touch.
          Most of the work that they still need to do is about jupiter, marketplace and general cloud based stuff.
          They also haven’t done a lot in the desktop mode either, which is also getting a boost.

          Amazing how ill-informed the iFanboys here are.

  6. This is so radically different from the current (and past) Windows that it shouldn’t even be called “Windows.” A Mac running Mac OS X Lion (and probably the following major release) will feel far more familiar (and comfortable) to a current Windows user than what is shown in this video. It’s like using a giant version of Windows Phone 7.

    This has the potential to be the best thing to happen to Apple since the Windows Vista disaster, as millions of Windows PC users say “WTF is this…?” and “Get a Mac.”

    However, I suppose I have to give some credit to Microsoft for trying to be different. But it is really dumb to hype it SO early. Now (and for at least the next 12 to 18 months), Windows XP users are going to hold on to their aging PCs even longer, as Windows 7 is portrayed as “obsolete” technology. Microsoft’s “partners” are no doubt ticked off at Microsoft for indirectly encouraging customers to delay purchases until “Windows 8” is released.

    1. This approach to interface almost makes sense for a TV or Tablet, but I can’t see it working well in a desktop scenario (or even on a notebook), where Windows is used most often.

      Is Microsoft really willing to accept frustration for their core users (wait — did I actually write that?) to potentially grab a slice of the “touch” market?

      The biggest complaint I heard about Vista wasn’t the performance, but that Microsoft changed things for the sake of change. Microsoft’s core market fundamentally does not want change.

    2. It really does look like a giant Windows 7 phone. Never seen one in the wild so I have no idea how well it functions, but I thought it did look fun, with the guy swiping windows all over the place – left, right, up, down – and dividing the screen up in various ways. All very pretty and kinetic. I agree though that the interface looks extremely confusing, and I can imagine new users getting exasperated very quickly and giving up.

    3. English, do you know it?

      There are 2 (TWO) UI’s in windows 8.

      Desktop mode and touch mode.
      When at a desktop with mouse+keyboard, you don’t use the Tiles, Einstein.

      Desktop mode = classical mode = windows 7 interface.

      Who would have thought ha? Hmmm, probably everybody who watched the vid without confirmation bias.

  7. Who made that terrible excuse for a video? Sounds wretched and looks totally amature. Great way to roll out your next big thing guys. Cecil B. Debachal would be proud.

    1. What? You didn’t like the random moments with the corporate sounding, “paino of wonderment”? It sounded like something ripped off from a commercial from the 1970s touting “the future”. D

      Some cool ideas, mostly derivative of iOS and the upcoming Lion. I wonder how much of this will make it the actual OS.

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