What? Windows 8?

In what many suspect to be an intentional leak, copies of a presentation authored by Microsoft techies found their way to several tech-oriented blogs. Analysts, eager to find out what’s next for the Redmond based software giant, pored over the supposedly secret documents only to find out that the presentation was short on specifics. However, the directions pointed out by the documents reveal what Microsoft wants to happen during Windows 8’s release in 2012. The 2012 date is in step with Microsoft’s schedule of releasing a new operating system every three years.

More Power

Windows 8, as how Microsoft wishes it, will be a 128 bit operating system. A 128 bit operating system is theoretically more powerful than the current crop of Windows found in most PCs today. Windows XP is mainly a 32 bit operating system because most of Intel’s processors were only 32 bits wide. Windows 7 makes widely available 64 bit versions of the operating system that is perfectly suited to a new line of processors from both Intel and AMD. While there are no 128 bit processors in the market today, the continuous manifestation of Moore’s Law which states that the number of transistors that can be placed on any integrated circuit doubles every two years makes 128 bit computing a realistic target in the near term.

Innovations in the Interface

Microsoft has taken notice of the successes of other companies (notably that of Apple’s) in innovating the human – machine interface. Aside from the mouse and the keyboard, there will be other gadgets that will play a major role in how computers will be used. Things like the webcam, accelerometers, sensors and GPS will make computers easier and more fun to use.

One major innovation is the use of the webcam as a device used by log-in users. Tomorrow’s machines will have proximity sensors that wake up the computer whenever someone approaches it. The webcam, using facial recognition technology, logs in the user. By the time a user has made himself comfortable in front of the computer, all his preferences have already been loaded and the appropriate security settings already in place. Whether at work or at play, the user will have a choice of input devices. Accelerometers, popularized by the iPhone and the iPad will find a place in Windows 8 powered computers.  Touch screens will become a common feature of Windows 8 computers.

Into the Cloud

User preferences and settings will find their way out of the machine and into the cloud. This makes it possible for a truly seamless computing experience as users move from one machine to another. Imagine a scenario where a worker wants to start his day early. He opens up his spreadsheet, works a bit and then saves it. In the office, when the computer recognizes him, the same settings and preferences are loaded so that there is no noticeable difference in the work environment in the home computer and the one in the office. Windows 8 will be connected to the cloud and it is where such settings and preferences are stored. The cloud could also be a repository of data if tomorrow’s user so wishes.

Software Reset

Viruses, bloat, and misbehaving software will make your computer slow down to a crawl. Sometimes the best way to restore the performance of any computer is to reinstall the operating system. Software reinstallation is mostly a painstaking process and is fraught with dangers especially if user data is stored haphazardly in the computer’s hard drive. Windows 8 will feature a software reset button that restores Windows to factory default settings. The main difference between software reinstallation today and how it is done in Windows 8 is that a lot of the drudgery has been removed. Because user settings and preferences are stored in the cloud, restoring the computer to a user preferred state becomes automated.

Faster Boot Time

A feature that is often requested by Windows users is faster boot up time. Microsoft has been listening to their users and average boot up time has impressively been shortened to 27 seconds in Windows 7 which is a remarkable improvement of the 40 second wait it took for Vista powered computers. Windows 8 promises an improvement in boot up time. Innovations in managing the computer’s power state such as sleep or hibernate will be incorporated so that a near ‘instant on’ functionality could be attained.

Networking with Other Appliances

Windows 8 powered computers will utilize various wireless communications technologies to interact with other home appliances. Users can download or stream movies and other content from the web and beam them to any display capable of wireless connection. Users are not anymore constrained to watch movies on a puny 17 inch laptop screen instead they can just connect to the 72 inch LCD monitor via Bluetooth or any wireless network and enjoy watching videos on near cinematic scales.

If the transition from Windows Vista to Windows 7 is a reliable indicator of how Microsoft responds to the customer’s wants and needs, there is no reason not to believe that Windows 8 will be a highly innovative Windows edition. After all, Microsoft has to respond to the challenge hurled by Apple and Linux, two brands in computing technology that defines where the cutting edge lies.

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