Microsoft certainly pulled a rabbit out of the hat with Windows 7, but given its traditional one-good-one-bad release schedule we're somewhat cautious about Windows 8...
Consequently it is a pleasant surprise - though not entirely unexpected given Microsoft's Swiss cheese security - to see official company slides leak this week detailing numerous features for the impending OS.
The main things we learn are Microsoft remains keener than ever to keep Windows lean and mean after shedding the flab from Vista. It claims "Windows 8 PC's turn on fast, nearly instantly in some cases, and are ready to work without any long or unexpected delays." The focus is wider interoperability, including the tablet sector (or 'Lap PC' as Microsoft's slides bizarrely refer to it) meaning it will need to compete with mobile platforms like Android and MeeGo.
Taking another step towards this is talk of 'Windows Store' - an inbuilt application store similar to Apple's App Store from which users can download and update software. Interestingly it appears Windows 8 will also be able to reinstall itself and Windows Store downloads as well as keeping user settings intact - which could prove a handy way of fixing any serious platform crashes.
On top of this a visual login is proposed using webcams for facial recognition with the option to automatically lock, unlock or switch user profiles depending on who is sitting in front of a computer. Meanwhile it looks like support for FireWire (IEEE 1394) is under threat.
Lastly Microsoft has unveiled an all-in-one hybrid that looks like something from an Apple design reject pile (or the set of Wall-E), but we won't put much stock in any specific hardware at this stage.
In fairness we wouldn't put too much stock in any of this since many slides are stamped "Windows 8 Discussion - this is not a plan of record", but it does give some serious insight into Microsoft's thoughts with coding on the OS only just underway.
With private and public betas of Windows 8 not expected until mid and late 2011 respectively and a release sometime around Q3 2012 expect a lot to change - and even more to leak out...