Microsoft Unveils Windows 8 at BUILD Conference

Dennis Faas's picture

After months of waiting, developers have finally got their first peek at Microsoft's next operating system (OS), Windows 8. The major difference between Windows 8 and any other version of Windows, for that matter, is that it embraces tablet computing and tablet technology from the ground up.

The demonstration came Tuesday during Microsoft's first BUILD developers conference in Anaheim, California (the show runs until September 16). About 5,000 developers are expected to attend the event. (Source:

Sinofsky: Windows 8 is "Reimagined"

According to Microsoft Windows president Stephen Sinofsky, the new design is intended to completely change how people think of Microsoft's ubiquitous OS.

"We reimagined Windows," Sinofsky said. "From the chipset to the user experience, Windows 8 brings a new range of capabilities without compromise."

Upon taking a closer look at the changes, the most obvious update has to do with Windows 8's interface.

Windows 8 GUI Very Similar to Windows Phone 7

Rather than take previous desktop versions of the OS as an inspiration, it's clear with Windows 8 that many of the design elements have been borrowed from the Windows Phone 7 platform found on smartphones. The most obvious example of this trans-hardware sharing is the inclusion of the Metro interface, which uses separate blocks called Live Tiles for navigation.

Live Tiles are touch sensitive and, when clicked upon, immediately display information associated with email, social networking, instant messaging and other services. Of course, such a system is ideal for tablet devices.

For its part, Microsoft doesn't appear at all ashamed that it's borrowing so heavily from its mobile platform for a new PC OS.

"Windows 8 introduces a new Metro-style interface built for touch, which shows information important to you, embodies simplicity, and gives you control... The Metro style UI is equally at home with a mouse and keyboard".

Flexibility a Windows 8 Buzzword

In an attempt to win over developers, Microsoft also unveiled a series of tools for Windows 8 that it says will make the software more flexible. It's hoped that such flexibility will help the company in its ongoing war with Apple and Google, particularly in the tablet arena.

Microsoft says that Metro applications will be available in a number of developer languages, including "HTML5/JavaScript, C/C++, and/or C#/XAML."

"The investments you have made as developers in all of these languages carry forward for Windows 8, which lets you choose how to best make use of the Windows 8 system services. We talked about Windows 8 being a no-compromise OS for end-users, and it is also a no-compromise platform for developers," Sinofksy announced. (Source:

Although it's not yet known when Windows 8 will ship, Microsoft's ability to shed light on so much of the OS' navigation system has fueled rumors that it could be ready for early 2012.

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