This post originally appeared on the Ness Software Product Labs blog. I lead the Travel and Mobile Practices for Ness Technologies.
The biggest news at last week’s All Things Digital’s D9 Conference was the first look at Microsoft Windows 8. Steven Sinofsky, Windows Division President, appeared on stage with Walt Mossberg and got grilled pretty good…until the demo of the upcoming Windows 8 operating system. The demo was very impressive, but also left some major questions about Microsoft’s strategy.
Love the Use of the Metro UI
You’d never guess it was Windows. Sinofsky kept referring to Microsoft’s desire to create a “modern” (even he used air quotes) approach to the OS. The UI adopts the tile metaphor used in Windows Phone 7’s Metro UI and has been redesigned around touch.
However, the remnants of the old operating system are still there for compatibility sake. So is this the proverbial “lipstick on the pig” (although it makes a very fetching pig; Miss Piggy would be jealous) or are we going to see a more lightweight, less buggy and flexible operating system when all is said and done?
It’s Official: Windows 8 is at the Core of Microsoft’s Tablet Strategy
One of the key pieces of information gleaned was that Microsoft, in opposition to the strategies of Apple and Google, is making their desktop OS the basis of their tablet strategy, not their mobile OS. Macworld’s Jason Snell (among others) thinks this decision will sink Microsoft’s tablet fortunes. Whether or not Microsoft mimics Apple’s strategy, the decision does pose a couple of key questions in my mind:
- Will ARM-based (or similar) tablets running an ostensibly heavier OS be able to deliver the kind of performance that users have come to expect of smartphones and other tablets?
- Will the new OS support instant-on/off usage for weeks or months or will it suffer from memory leaks and other ailments that cause Windows users to have to re-boot multiple times a week?
- What will the license structure look like? From what I understand, iOS and WP7 represent a much lower device license cost than OSX and Windows. And tablets are incredibly cost competitive. For years Windows PCs could under-price Macs because they used commodity components amortized over significantly greater volumes than Macs. But that doesn’t appear to be the case in the world of tablets. Will Win8-based tablets be able to effectively compete?If there are different license costs for the same OS that only differ based on the device type (desktop/notebook v. tablet…and what pray tell of the netbook), won’t OEMs go crazy? Especially those that will sell all types of hardware?
I’m All Thumbs: Nice Touch
One interesting UI innovation was the ability to choose from multiple on-screen keyboards and in particular a split keyboard that is supposed to be used to enable “thumb-typing”.
Microsoft Moves Behind HTML5 in a Big Way
AllThingsD’s Ina Fried summed up the announcement as follows:
This is a huge announcement and really signifies a turning point in Microsoft’s stance on HTML5 and Silverlight (which Microsoft essentially already abandoned for Win7, but is still the developer platform of record on WP7) and perhaps WPF and the rest of the .NET stack. I haven’t seen much clarification on this seemingly offhand comment since. I also wonder if this direction will hasten the decline of support of IE7 and IE8 which have virtually no HTML5 support.
So demos are great, but it only gives you directional information on what their future plans are. I would imagine that more details will emerge and Windows 8 will be center stage at Microsoft’s Build conference(formerly Professional Developers Conference) this fall.
What were your reactions to the announcement? Please let me know in the comments.