Windows 8 Tablets Revealed

At the keynote address of its BUILD conference in California today,

Microsoft has outlined how the Windows 8 operating system will work with

both tablets and PCs.

The new OS, which may or may not be called Windows 8, is a

complete redesign of Microsoft’s best known product and has been designed in

such a way as to work with both touch and non-touch interfaces.

The company revealed that Windows 8 will be a touch-first

user interface with the Metro-sytle interface built especially for use with your

fingers. It will run on machines based on x86 and ARM chipsets.

Windows 8 Tablets 4

As wee saw when Windows 8 was first previewed in June, the first thing users will see is a tiled interface which will be familiar

to those who have used the Window Phone 7 software.

Windows 8 Tablets

Steven Sinofsky, president of the Windows and Windows Live

Division at Microsoft told the audience of developers that Windows 7 had sold

450m licences in the last two year but it still only accounts for a third of

Windows machines out there, with many people still clinging to older versions – meaning there will be a lot of people looking to upgrade to the new OS.

All developers at the BUILD conference received a free

Samsung tablet pre-loaded with a test version of Windows 8, which they will use

to test their apps on prior to submitting them to Microsoft for approval. The hardware is basically the same as the Series 7 Slate we looked at recently.

Windows 8 Tablets 1

The tablet contains around 30 different apps written by

Microsoft interns over the summer, some of which were shown off on stage during

the keynote. These all looked slick and very much optomised for a tablet form

factor.

NFC support will also come with Windows 8 with tap-to-share allowing users to share content between a variety of devices.

Microsoft also showed off Windows 8 on a variety of other platforms including all-in-one desktops, Ultrabooks and professional set-ups including dual screens. Also shown off was the new task manager which detailed how applications you are not seeing go into a ‘suspended’ which saves on battery life.

Windows 8 Tablets 2

“We re-imagined Windows,” said Sinofsky in his keynote address to

the thousands of developers in attendance. “From the chipset to the user

experience, Windows 8 brings a new range of capabilities without compromise.”

Microsoft was keen to point out that today was the launch of

the developer opportunity for Windows, not the launch of a product – and

certainly not the launch of new devices. 

Windows 8 Tablets 3

In relation to ARM devices, Microsoft said that everything it

showcased at BUILD also runs on the ARM-based Windows PCs currently being

created by ARM partners and PC manufacturers.

“Windows 8 running on ARM will

ultimately be available with ARM-based hardware that you can

purchase.  ARM requires a deeper level of integrated engineering between

hardware and software, as each ARM device is unique, and Windows allows this

uniqueness to shine through.”

Applications for the ARM version of Windows 8 will only be available

through the Windows Store and only apps compiled to its Metro touch interface

will appear there.

With this in mind it seems that the ARM version of Windows 8

may be the one we see on tablet devices, though the Windows Desktop will still

be present.

We expect to see the first Windows 8 devices coming online in about 12 months time and we can’t wait. Let us know in the comments what you think of what you’ve seen so far.

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