Microsoft’s next operating system—after the massively successful Windows 7—is, as you might expect, called Windows 8. If you can believe what the IT press are saying the changes to Windows 7 to make it into Windows 8 began at least a year before Windows 7 was released.
To put Windows 8 into perspective, Windows 7 was seen as what people in the IT industry call a ‘dot’ release. A ‘dot’ release is when something is upgraded by a decimal point. Windows 7 was a ‘dot’ release upgrade from Windows Vista. In fact Windows Vista’s technical version number is 6.0 and Windows 7 is 6.1. By and large, Windows 7 is Windows Vista with a much improved interface. Okay, there are some other non-trivial changes in there as well, but seriously, Windows 7 is mostly Windows Vista with a much smoother and refined interface.
In Microsoft’s terms Windows 8 is considered a “significant” upgrade which means a lot more under-the-hood technology is being tweaked, changed, or added in Windows 8 than was for Windows 7. Whether Windows 8 will actually carry the technical version number v7.0 or not is unknown (to me at least)—although it would be a trifle bizarre if Windows 8 ended up being technically versioned 7.0. But in reality I am thinking it is more likely to be versioned as maybe 6.5 indicating a significant upgrade from 6.1.
Anyway … Enough of that … Up until about three weeks ago it was expected that the public beta for Windows 8 would be early in 2012 and that Windows 8 would probably not be released until mid- to late-2012. But now there is talk in the IT press that Windows 8 is more likely to get formally released in the first half of 2012 and that the public beta will be later this year.
I have been following Windows 8 and I am excited. When beta copies start to become available I am planning to buy a new computer to use for the beta initially and then when Windows 8 is released I will move over to the new computer as my main computer.
There are even rumours that a Tablet PC running Windows 8 will be given away to all attendees of the Microsoft “Build It” conference in the USA in the middle of this month. If this turns out to be true I seriously doubt that the version of Windows 8 that will be on these Samsung Tablets will be the final release version. It might be the Beta 1 version or even an earlier release. I guess we will find out in a week or so.
One of Windows 8’s many new features is that is has dual-interfaces. It has the ‘new’ Windows Phone style touch interface known as Metro (shown below) but it also has an upgraded normal or classic interface.
You can toggle between the interfaces and use either the new Metro touch interface (above) or the classic mouse+keyboard interface we are used to in Windows 7. It is even possible to have an application on the screen under the classic interface at the same time as the Metro interface. It all snaps together seamlessly.
At this point, as far as I can work out, as was the case for Windows 7, there will be no upgrade available from Windows XP to Windows 8. Upgrading from Windows XP to Windows 8 will require a re-build (as it does for Windows 7), but Windows Vista and Windows 7 users will be able to do an in-place upgrade.
For anyone interested in seeing a little more about Windows 8 you can check out this video over at YouTube.