(This article is a re-post from the Telerik Watch blog by Todd Anglin)
By now, you've no doubt seen the first preview of Microsoft's follow-up to the hit Windows 7 release (if not, take five minutes and check-out the video on YouTube
- don't worry, it's "official" and not a leak). Windows 8 finally has a
name and a face, and we finally have a (public) glimpse of where
Microsoft is driving the modern OS experience. The preview does not dive
deep or provide the full story for Windows 8 (expect more details as
Microsoft marches towards the September Windows 8 "BUILD" conference), but it does highlight some interesting facets of Microsoft's plan you should start to think about as a developer.
Win8 Preview Summary
For in-depth analysis of the the live D9 Windows 8 preview, and analysis of the follow-up preview in the aforementioned YouTube video, Windows "super fan" Paul Thurott has your ticket. Microsoft RD and long-time Microsoft insider Andrew Brust also has some interesting commentary on RDN.
I'll leave the reporting to the reporters, and simply highlight some of
the bigger revelations to come out of this week's news so we're all on
the same page:
- Windows codenamed "Windows 8" will not ship this fall (no surprise)
- Win8 will offer a new Windows Phone 7 like "Start" experience (tile view)
- Further, according to the D9 Q&A, it will not be something that can be turned-off. (We'll see about that…)
- Win8 will still offer "full Windows" (aka Explorer) to run "real apps"
- Also according to D9 Q&A, OEMs will not be able to prevent/hide access to "full Windows." (We'll see about that…)
has not ruled-out Silverlight, though. He defended Silverlight at D9,
so we'll just have to wait and see how that mixes with this story…
- Win8 is fully embracing Metro UI theme and touch input
Look Past the Hype
a lot of people are very excited by this week's Windows 8 preview.
What's being shown is very new (for Windows), and uncharacteristically
bold for Microsoft. It's amazing how many people seemed to need this
preview to avoid full-out Microsoft depression.
It's important to remember, however, that this is not the first of Windows 8 we've seen. Active industry watchers have been leaking bits-and-pieces of Windows 8
for the better part of the the last year (much to Microsoft's
displeasure). From those leaks and other information shared by Microsoft
in that period, we also know this about Windows 8:
- It's being built to run on Intel, AMD and (most importantly) ARM chips
- It won't require any additional horsepower beyond Win7 (in some cases, less)
- It will likely integrate (to some degree) with WebCams/Kinect
- It may feature more integration with Xbox/Xbox Live/Xbox Avatars
- It definitely will feature more native integration with social media (twitter, Facebook)
- It will feature direct integration with a Windows (App) Store (confirmed this week)
- It will likely feature a renewed cloud integration story (based on Azure)
- It will focus on delivering super fast start-up, sleep, and wake times
- It will likely use the Ribbon UI throughout Windows Explorer
- It will offer native support for mounting ISOs (finally!)
last two items are small, but important. Mounting ISOs or using
Explorer are features that only matter when you're still using
"traditional" Windows. The new "Start experience" getting the attention
this week is cool, sure, but Microsoft is not forgetting, abandoning, or
even stalling "traditional" Windows evolution. This is still Windows at
the end of the day, the OS powering millions of business machines, and
that core experience will continue to incrementally improve with Win8.
What Microsoft is showing now is a recognition that it needs to do something dramatic to re-win the hearts and minds of Windows consumers.
It needs something to stem the flood of computing happening
increasingly on non-Windows devices. It's an important piece of Window's
future, but not the only piece.
The Gloves Are Off
What many observers are failing to key-in on with these Windows 8 details is that this is the first time, in a long time,
that Microsoft is evolving Windows without the anti-trust consent
decree settlement hanging over their heads. In 2002, to avoid splitting
the company, Microsoft settled it's long anti-trust battle with the
government, agreeing to a number of constraints that have limited
Window's ability to evolve aggressively. Those limits expired last month, so now Microsoft, in a landscape where Windows is clearly no longer a monopoly, is freer to make some aggressive moves.
the limits imposed in 2002 essentially said that Microsoft could not
exclude competitors from Windows, and conversely, that it must make
Windows interoperate with non-Microsoft software. The net effect has
been that it is difficult for Microsoft to build vertically integrated
solutions because doing so could be perceived as excluding competitors.
that regulation now a footnote in the history books, Microsoft can
theoretically pursue vertically integrated strategies that have made
rivals Apple and (to a lesser degree) Google very successful over the
last 10 years. For example:
- Maybe Microsoft will
introduce tighter integration between Windows Phone, Windows "Slate" (or
Tablet or Pad or whatever), and Windows PC.
- Microsoft should
finally be able to add features to Windows that have been conspicuously
missing (like mounting ISOs, and maybe a native PDF reader, or more
robust unzipping tools).
- Microsoft might finally start
shipping Windows with more of its "core experience" software
pre-installed or embedded, like Live Writer (which I'm using now), Zune
media experiences, or maybe even Silverlight. And let's not forget that
$8.5 billion Skype purchase. We can virtually count on that playing some
role in Microsoft's evolving Windows strategy.
the case, Microsoft is finally free to boldly create experiences that
are "better with Microsoft" rather than always creating vanilla
solutions designed to support everyone equally.
Bottom Line Windows 8 Impact
the hype stripped away, and the full perspective in focus, what is the
bottom line impact of the Windows 8 news up to this point? What is the
real value in this week's very early preview? I think there are a few
- Windows 8 is being designed for a multi form-factor world
There is a reason most of the demos of Windows 8 so far have been on
touch-enabled, ARM-powered, "ultra mobile" devices. Microsoft is making
it clear that Win8 is not a "PC" operating system with some device
"layers" added last minute. Instead, Microsoft is showing that at its
core, Win8 is being designed for different form-factors, processors, and
input models. If nothing else, this week's preview plainly signals how
Microsoft will bring Windows to tablets, and phones (maybe even
replacing what we know as Windows Phone 7 today), while carrying
traditional PCs in to the future.
- Windows 8 is a renewed push to bring more people in to the Microsoft developer ranks
In 2000, Microsoft introduced a brand new way to develop for
Windows called .NET. At the time, Java was starting to takeover the
Enterprise, and Microsoft needed a language to bring Java developers in
to its camp and help reinforce its position in corporate computing. Now,
roughly a decade later, Microsoft is watching consumer computing drive
the success of phones and tablets, and they're eyeing the HTML5 push by
part of the Windows 8 strategy does for Microsoft what .NET did 11 years
ago. It makes the Microsoft platform appealing to developers with
"non-Microsoft" skill sets, and potentially represents the next
explosion in Microsoft developer community.
- Windows 8 will be significant, but not life changing (and that's good)
Yes, Windows 8 will deliver some significant new experiences, it will
embrace some new developer languages, and it will extend the reach of
Microsoft to the new era of computing devices. But at the end of the
day, it's Windows under the hood. Your apps will still run. Silverlight
will still run. WinForms will still run. The changes coming to Windows 8
help propel Windows in to the future of computing, but they don't
equate to a Windows reboot. Windows 8 is about new opportunities, not
about changing the way things are done.
Don't get lost in
the emotional buzz of this week's preview. Enjoy it for what it is- an
early preview- but then turn to level-heads and facts to see how this
all fits the bigger picture. As long-time Microsoft partners, and
experts in providing solutions for Microsoft developers, you can be sure
Telerik is at the front of the Windows 8 process and you can turn to us
to provide our informed analysis of Microsoft's directions.
Until then, have fun with the Windows 8 preview and start planning your travel for Anaheim in September!