The "accidentally-revealed Windows 8 UI" looks like old bits to me

The "accidentally-revealed Windows 8 UI" looks like old bits to me

Summary: Have you seen that new Microsoft video with the supposed new Windows 8 UI? I have my doubts about what it is we're actually seeing, and here's why.



If you haven't seen the news, the Internet is abuzz with a Microsoft-posted marketing video wherein an unfamiliar -- though presumably more recent -- Taskbar UI is visible on a laptop's screen. The first site to report this could-be SNAFU of Microsoft's was WinRumors. Quickly following suit, Neowin took WinRumors's headline ("Did Microsoft just leak its new Windows 8 UI?") to a completely different level by stating, "Microsoft accidentally leaks desktop Windows 8 UI." After closely examining the evidence presented, I've come to the conclusion that what we see is an amalgamation of past Microsoft thinking possibly coming to fruition. Allow me to explain. First, here is the image WinRumors so kindly clipped out of the video, which showcases a subtly different Taskbar that only seasoned Windows enthusiasts would most-likely ever catch (or care about, but I'm one of them, so I'm not being a hater when I say that):
New Windows 8 UI?

New Windows 8 UI?

See how the Start button is flat instead of being an orb? Part of the evidence given to support the Windows 8 UI claim is from a recent Microsoft video where the Windows team shows off some of the functionality of Windows 8. In the background, you see the following Taskbar of a Windows 8 build:
Windows 8 Taskbar

Windows 8 Taskbar

The Start button in the two images above appear to correlate, right? Well, "not so fast," I say. Proving I've far too much time on my hands and that I've cared far too much about the Windows UI for the past 11 years, below is an extremely shoddy graphic I've created in MS Paint for use with the points I have to make (click the image to see a larger version): Start button: If you go dust off your great-grandfather's monocle and take a closer look, there appears to be a Start button gradient in the video's questionable "new UI" that likens it more to an old Windows Longhorn build 4074 Start button (when the MILExplorer registry value was set to 1) than to the actual new Windows 8 Taskbar's Start button which lacks any sort of gradient. You'll also look like Mr. Peanut with that monocle in your eye socket, so that'll be fun. (And here you were, wondering why I used that image in the article!) Clock: That thicker-styled border around the clock looks like a miniature version of the clock face used in an old Windows Longhorn build 5219 sidebar. It's not 1:1, what with the color being black in the "new Taskbar" while the sidebar's clock is translucent, but I'm just pointing out that it looks a lot like something we've seen before from Microsoft's prototyping. Center-justified Tasks: Long story short, Microsoft has been playing with the notion of center-justified tasks in the Taskbar since the early 2000s, as you can see by the two images I used for proof which are circa 2002-2003. So, why am I even worrying about all of this? Well, I'm not out to prove or disprove the current theory that Microsoft accidentally revealed the new Windows 8 UI. Obviously, there's something to that theory since Microsoft has pulled the video from their site since WinRumors posited their hypothesis. Instead, my point is that what we're seeing in that UI is a bunch of old thinking that Microsoft has conceptualized at least 8 years ago. That's not necessarily a bad thing, though. There's a lot of thinking that went into Windows Longhorn that I'm sure we'll see traces of (whether we know it or not) in Windows 9 and maybe even Windows 10. All-in-all, that UI is either nothing more than another in a long line of concept Windows UIs, or it shows Microsoft is finally looking to implement some of those old ideas. There's evidence to support both conclusions from the outside looking in, but whatever the case may be, BUILD is a mere two weeks away and that's when we'll all get the whole story on Windows 8 directly from Microsoft -- no guesswork needed. So, now that I've outed myself as a huge Windows geek (though some of you already know this about me), what do you think about this whole deal? Better yet, what are you looking forward to the most with Windows 8? If this is the UI we will come to know, do you like it or do you think it's rubbish? Let us know in the comments below! For your entertainment, here's the video Microsoft pulled:


(UPDATE: The source of the UI has been discovered, and it has absolutely nothing to do with Windows 8. For that matter, it also has nothing to do with Microsoft, which is kind of hilarious, considering the source of the video and all (Microsoft). Read all about it in Rafael Rivera's post on WithinWindows.) *Special thanks to Paul Thurrott and Long Zheng for showing up first in the Google Images search queries I ran to find the images I used to support my points. That is all. -Stephen Chapman SEO Whistleblower

Related Windows 8 content here on ZDNet:

Topics: Windows, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software

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  • Message has been deleted.

    • Message has been deleted.

      Tim Cook
    • RE: The

      How are they even copying OSX?
      Michael Alan Goff
  • RE: The

    I still don't see how this "old UI" fits with the new "Metro" finger friendly UI... Do I need two sets of apps? Do developers need to implement two UIs? What happens if I start using something while the computer is in a "docked configuration" then "undock it" to take it somewhere? How does the UI adapt? (Does it adapt?) What about when I get to the office and "dock it"?

    This whole two UIs seems like a bad idea waiting to bite the user. My old Compaq TC-1000 couldn't reliably cope with moving between landscape and portrait the taskbar would often end up in the "wrong" place, I'm not sure I trust them to get this right (oddly adding an additional display always went without a hitch).

    Are Microsoft even sure we want our PCs to be like iPads?!
  • Microsoft has innovated in a lot of areas as well as Apple...

    The thing is Apple can do disruptive innovation as their users are liberal and quite open to adapt to new user experiences and paradigms. The opposite happens to Microsoft that must be innovative with caution as a segment of their market (businesses, our parents and grandparents) are more conservative users. They prefer keep doing things as they have been doing for the last ten years, however this may be about to change with Windows 8 UI.

    In this site there are a lot of good conversations about innovation:
    • RE: The
      I agree.
      According to me Microsoft is an overall more innovative company than Apple in a conceptual way.
      In fact i think that what Microsoft often lack are the marketing efficiency,the execution efficiency and the finishing touch that are the three most significant strengths of Apple. If Microsoft manages to take advantage of those two qualities for their projects then it will be unstoppable.
      Since the arrival of Steven Sinofsky, the Windows department has got the execution efficiency and the finishing touch. It remains to be seen if it will have the marketing efficiency.
      • But grandma might just have it right...

        @timiteh To me it seems as though desktop OS's have reached the same point that Office suites had reached about 1997. What I mean is that with MS Office 97 I had a version of MS Word that did everything I needed a word processor to do and had many features that I didn't need and didn't use. The tasks I perform in MS Word 2010 today are basically the same as the tasks I did in Word 97. Upgrading to get more features...that I won't use is pointless but Microsoft (along with every single other software vendor) has to keep cranking out new versions...because having me continue to use the one I bought in 1997 doesn't make them any money. I have 2010 only because of security improvements and because that's what the company I work for uses.

        That's where we are with OS's too. I'm really doing very little to nothing with Windows 7 than I used to do with XP. I'm just doing it more securely. If the tasks I'm performing with the machine are the same, then why do I need a new user interface to keep on doing the same thing? It's disruption in my life that buys me nothing.

        So yup, grandma just may be on to something!
    • Maybe,

      Two links for your to consider regarding grandparents and technology.

      My point is perhaps grandparents are looking for something different.
    • I agree with you... : but I would add the following.

      - Microsoft has thousands of groups inside and some are innovative and others are more retrograde. In the past (before Vista), both group agreed on a compromise and that's the reason XP eventually succeeded all other Windows.

      When Longhorn came, groups started to diverge and the end product was a testament to this divergence.

      Today, although Windows 7 is considered a "hit", it really isn't as neither has it created an increased in demand for Windows products (instead it killed the Netbook and PC sales are down, HP is evidence that makers are fleeing the market no willing to be there), nor it has seen a "massive" upgrade. In this same moment in time XP had 50% market share, while 7 has only 26%. There's even a very loyal Vista group that won't "upgrade".

      Windows 8 will balkanize things further, with most business users not interested in an "integrated" tablet experience, at it will risk company productivity and increase learning curve (TCO) costs.

      My take. 2013 will see 7 stalled in 30%, XP stuck with 45% and Vista and 8 battling for the other 25%. Meanwhile iPad will have 80-90% of the tablet market, Android 100% of the convertible market (aka Motorola Atrix).
  • Windows 8 divetsified

    most likely one OS for Tablet, PC, Phone & soon Smart TV
  • Keep in mind...

    1. It's not uncommon for alphas and early betas to use older technology while it works out the bugs of the newer technology.

    2. Older ideas may have been shelved because of lack of priority. Remember, security has been priority #1 for Windows for the past eight years or so. Now that they've gotten that beast under control, they can finally work on the UI improvements they've been wanting to address.

    3. Even with the UI as a priority, they have to keep in mind that it's tough to make a drastic change in UI without a transitional phase. Even though a ribbon "makes sense" from a theoretical standpoint, people get set in their ways and have to relearn things they have already learned, and there will always be a natural resistance to that.
    Michael Kelly
  • The Apple, Microsoft and, Google debate is over ...

    This Apple, Microsoft and, Google fanboy stuff has got to end. It's old and boring, been played out over and over. Let's move on. Use whatever you like. Who cares anymore? They all have their pros and cons.
    • So in your opinion ...

      @NeoZon@... pragmatics is all, principles don't matter, and big corporations should do whatever they want, and all us sheep should just use what feels good and do what we want, or what makes us the most money, because that's what matters. Hmm ... ok, if that's your worldview, you're welcome to it.
      • RE: The

        No, that doesn't look like what he said at all.

        Windows works best for some people.
        OSX for others.
        Linux for some.

        People should use the tool (which is what a computer is) that works best for them.
        Michael Alan Goff
  • A lack of transparency means...'ll never really know what recycled code is being used with Windows.<br><br>Conversely, open source promotes openness and anybody can see (if they want) the intracies of any given project written with Linux.

    It would appear Windows 8 will be using the ribbon display, at least in Internet Explorer:

    Dietrich T. Schmitz *Your
    • RE: The

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz

      Who the f*** cares?

      That's right, <B>no one.</B>
      The one and only, Cylon Centurion
  • There is no such thing as a new OS just a new GUI

    There has naver been a truly new OS created by anyone, accept maybe open source guys. Microsoft and Apple both still have executables that were based on the first DOS that they ran. Want proof? This is a list of files from 1980 still inside Windows 7 64 bit, 32 bit system folder 64 bit system folder<br>XCOPY.EXE - XCOPY.EXE <br>WINSOC32.DLL - WINSOCCKHC.DLL<br>WRITE.EXE - WRITE.EXE<br>TREE.COM - TREE.COM<br>SYSTEMINFO.EXE - SYSTEMINFO.EXE<br>SVCHOST.EXE - SVCHOST.EXE<br>SUBST.EXE - SUBST.EXE<br>SOUNDRECORDER.EXE <br>SORT.EXE - SORT.EXE<br>SHELL32.DLL - SHELL32.DLL<br>SERVICES.EXE <br>SERVICES.MSC - SERVICES.MSC<br>RUNDLL32.EXE - RUNDLL32.EXE<br>REGSVR32.EXE - REGSERVER32.EXE<br>QUARTZ.DLL - QUARTZ.DLL<br>PING.EXE - PING.EXE<br>NTOSKERNAL.EXE - NTSKERNAL.EXE<br>NETCFG.EXE - INETCFGX.DLL<br>MSPAINT.EXE<br>MSINFO32.EXE - MSINFO32.EXE<br>MSCONFIG.EXE<br>MODE.COM - MODE.COM<br> - MORE.COM<br>LASASS.EXE<br>LSM.EXE <br>LABEL.EXE - LABEL.EXE<br>IPCONFIG.EXE - IPCONFIG.EXE<br>HELP.EXE - HELP.EXE<br>GRPCONV.EXE GPRCONV.EXE<br>FTP.EXE FTP.EXE<br>FC.EXE -DOS 5 FC.EXE DOS 5<br>DXDIAG.EXE - DXDIAG.EXE<br>DOSKEY.EXE - DOSKEY.EXE<br>DISKCOPY.COM - DISKCOPY.COM<br>DISKPART.EXE - DISKPART.EXE<br>DIALER.EXE - DIALER.EXE<br>CTFMON.EXE - CTMON.EXE<br>CHOICE.EXE - CHOICE.EXE<br>CHKDSK.EXE - CHKDSK.EXE<br>BOOTCFG.EXE - BOOTCFG.EXE<br>ATTRIB.EXE - ATTRIB.EXE<br>These are just a few of the historical DOS 5 leftovers. You never get a new OS, they just pretty things up based on public opinions, switch around the GUI, and Presto Window 7 Windows 8 Windows 9999<br>Robert Wright
    • RE: The

      What's your point?
      Most land transport uses wheels.
      If it "does the job", why replace it?
  • Back to the original question

    What am I looking forward to? Hopefully Win8 will give me back the stability that XP gave me. "Not Responding" popping up on so many programs all the time is getting tedious.
    • RE: The

      I notice that on my PC, however I'm not sure it's related to stability.
      Windows 7 seems to panic if a program takes longer than a few seconds to start (e.g. GIMP).
      It also seems to happen if I am running close to my RAM limit.

      IMO, something they should fix is the way the "Rename" function works.
      In Linux (Ubuntu GUI) if you rename a file which has an extension it highlights the file name (the same as Windows 7 does).
      If you press the right arrow key, the insertion point moves to the end of the name, but before the dot and extension (I often add text to the end of a file name).
      In Windows 7 if you press the right arrow key, the insertion point moves to the right of the dot (i.e. in front of the extension text).

      I think that the rename function should work like Ubuntu (GIMP actually does this in Windows 7) or it should have a dialogue box like FreeCommander (The file name and extension are in separate text fields).