Windows 8: More than just Windows Phone on your PC

Windows 8: More than just Windows Phone on your PC

Summary: Microsoft showed off a first public glimpse of the planned user interface for its Windows 8 operating system at the AllThingsD conference on June 1. Here's what it looks like

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Microsoft showed off a first public glimpse of the planned user interface for its Windows 8 operating system at the AllThingsD conference on June 1. Here's what it looks like:

There were some surprises in Windows President Steven Sinofsky's demo tonight. And there were some confirmations of previously leaked information -- including the Windows 8 codename (which Sinofsky finally used, rather than "Windows Next.")

Microsoft showed a demo of what's been called the "immersive UI." It looks like the Windows Phone UI and uses the live tile metaphor to display applications and make the underlying Windows operating system touch-centric. But this UI isn't going to be the interface only on tablets (from what I could tell from the live blogs I was reading from the event, which wasn't streamed or broadcast). Instead, this immersive UI is the new start screen for all versions of Windows 8: The tablet versions, the laptop/notebook/netbook versions and the desktop PC versions. Users will be able to switch between this UI and a more conventional Windows Aero type interface, it seems.

Microsoft execs said tonight that Microsoft is going to provide developers with application programming interfaces (APIs) and a software development kit (SDK) that will allow them to create Windows 8 tablet applications in HTML and/or JavaScript. Sinofsky and others didn't mention Silverlight or XNA at all, other than to say (when asked) that the Internet Explorer 10 browser that will be part of Windows 8 will support the Silverlight plug-in.

Sinofsky didn't differentiate in his demo tonight any differences between applications that will be supported on Intel x86 or ARM versions of Windows 8 PCs and tablets. He did reiterate that Microsoft doesn't plan to add any kind of compatibility layer to enable legacy Windows apps to run on ARM-based PCs and tablets, however. He also didn't volunteer information on any of the other new features beyond the UI that will be part of Windows 8.

Sinofsky also didn't share any update on the delivery target for Windows 8. CEO Steve Ballmer indicated last week that Microsoft was planning to release the next version of Windows in 2012. Nor did anyone ask whether Microsoft plans to deliver Windows 8 ARM-based tablets before (or after) x86-based Windows 8 PCs. (I am assuming he wouldn't have answered if anyone did.)

Microsoft also opened up registration for its renamed Professional Developers Conference, now known as Build, as of June 1. The Build conference, slated for September 13 to 16 in Anaheim, Calif., will be focused primarily (though not exclusively) around Windows 8.

Topics: Laptops, Hardware, Microsoft, Mobility, Operating Systems, Software, Tablets, Windows

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • RE: Windows 8: More than just Windows Phone on your PC

    Mary Jo, according to one transcript, he did say that Silverlight would be supported on the desktop
    vhaakmat
    • Silverlight

      Yes... The question is whether and how apps developed using Silverlight (like WP7 apps) will run on Win8. That is still unanswered... leaving many SL devs very uneasy. Thanks. MJ
      Mary Jo Foley
      • I'd rather see a push to HTML5/JavaScript than Flash or Silverlight. [nt]

        [nt]
        olePigeon
      • They'd need a browser with HTML5/JS support

        quite frankly IE's the only browser we aren't developing in HTML5 for, it's support being so poor.

        Surprising they'd be pushing it at all, expect when you read the articles than they're nothing more than press releases and thought bubbles. MS must be becoming desperate, it's so far off the pace.
        Richard Flude
      • RE: Windows 8: More than just Windows Phone on your PC

        @Mary Jo Foley

        Why would a Silverlight dev be uneasy? Worst case scenario it works just like it does on Windows 7. The probable scenario given Windows Phone is that it will work better.

        In fact, .NET developers -- unless they use massive amounts of "unsafe" code -- should not suffer from the same legacy issues described in the ARM vs. x86 discussion.

        Frankly, the HTML5 tooling in Visual Studio/Expression doesn't hold a candle to Silverlight tooling. When it does, Silverlight devs won't care.
        Rich Miles
      • RE: Windows 8: More than just Windows Phone on your PC

        @Richard Flude

        Perhaps you would be better trying it than theorising Richard. We've had no trouble with HTML 5 in IE 9. The same cannot be said about FF, Chrome etc as their HTML5 support is patchy at best. Apple's however, is a standing joke as they didn't implement the autoplay for the audio and video tags, probably to restrict Web app developement.

        Since I have to make sure our web apps function in all browsers and OSs, Richard, my experience tells me IE is the best.
        tonymcs@...
      • RE: Windows 8: More than just Windows Phone on your PC

        @Mary Jo Foley
        A major new feature in Silverlight 5 is the ability to have nearly all of the functionality that was previously only available out-of-browser actually inside the browser - I can imagine that was added in anticipation of Windows 8.
        Add to that nearly 100% compatibility of Silverlight on WP7 and desktop (I already have an app that runs nearly unchanged on WP7 and desktop Windows) and it does not sound bad anymore.
        Futurix
      • RE: Windows 8: More than just Windows Phone on your PC

        @Mary Jo Foley //Build - that's when things will become clear. This is a preview not a deep dive.
        jessiethe3rd
    • Silverlight is dead in Windows 8

      It's obvious from Sinofsky's evasive answer that Silverlight apps won't run in Windows 8 (apart from simple browser support).

      All those apps people developed for Windows Phone 7 will now be junked. Why?

      Every person and their dog knows that Microsoft is moving to a 'unified core'. That is, the same OS core for Desktop PC, Tablet and Phone. Windows 8 will replace the stop-gap Windows Phone 7, but those Silverlight apps won't carry across.

      Sorry guys, all that wasted time with Windows Phone 7. Oh well, it didn't sell anyway.
      Vbitrate
      • RE: Windows 8: More than just Windows Phone on your PC

        @gjafg He clearly said "it will still run on the desktop" in addition to the browser part.
        Futurix
      • RE: Windows 8: More than just Windows Phone on your PC

        @gjafg You are totally wrong, they will carry across. That is why they run on top of .NET.
        rmark@...
      • RE: Windows 8: More than just Windows Phone on your PC

        @gjafg
        I can see that yo're not a dev. You should know better that Silverlight is based on .NET. And that makes it portable to whatever platform MS decides to run next. Unlike Apple or Google, who's iPad/Android tablet doesn't run even 1 MacOS/Win32 app, at least MS is showing us a way how we can achieve maximum portability without too much rewrite. .NET is 10 years old (or older) and if you still build your recent app purely using C or C++, yes, then you have a lot of retooling to do. Not so if it is a Silverlight, WPF or .NET app. So please go and check your facts first, before posting comments that just doesn't make sense.
        vhaakmat
      • RE: Windows 8: More than just Windows Phone on your PC

        @gjafg
        IMO, why get Windows Phone 7 apps to run on a desktop?
        One's a phone, the other's a PC.
        Don't try making a phone app run on a PC (like making an iOS app run on Mac OSX).
        They should keep development seperated or else you might end up with a big mess. (And how will Windows Phone apps appear on one of these different screen sizes?)
        The people developing for Windows Phone 7 are not junked... I expect silverlight support to continue, and a similiar platform to be also available for Windows 8 app development (XAML with C#/C++, perhaps?).
        xnederlandx
      • RE: Windows 8: More than just Windows Phone on your PC

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  • RE: Windows 8: More than just Windows Phone on your PC

    Windows 8 is just more junk and a another fine example of how to waste your time
    Luddite24
    • RE: Windows 8: More than just Windows Phone on your PC

      @Luddite24
      Yup so right u r
      pinkfloydhighhopes
    • RE: Windows 8: More than just Windows Phone on your PC

      @Luddite24 LONG LIVE THE ABACUS!
      jessiethe3rd
      • RE: Windows 8: More than just Windows Phone on your PC

        @jessiethe3rd
        I couldn't answer that bone-headed remark any better :)
        @Luddite24, now go back to your DR-DOS game....
        vhaakmat
  • RE: Windows 8: More than just Windows Phone on your PC

    That UI is as crappy on the desktop as Gnome 3 or Unity. Why are developers insisting that desktops/laptops have the same interface as phones/tablets? That's as bad as insisting the reverse. So I guess we can expect the same crap from Lion. Its mass lunacy.

    Looks sorta like LCARS.
    txscott