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At its developer-focused Build conference, Microsoft Corp. showcased a detailed preview of the next release of Windows. For the first time the company highlighted a number of major new features of the forthcoming operating system that will run not only traditional desktop or notebook PCs, but also on various ARM-based devices. The company also detailed new tools for developers to help write applications for Windows.

“We reimagined Windows. From the chipset to the user experience, Windows 8 brings a new range of capabilities without compromise," said Steven Sinofsky, president of the Windows and Windows Live division at Microsoft.

Steven Sinofsky talks to thousands of developers about the Windows 8 developer preview during the opening Build keynote

Windows 8 is built on the foundation of Windows 7, delivering improvements in performance, security, privacy and system reliability. Windows also 8 reduces the memory footprint needed - even on the lowest-end hardware - leaving more room for various applications. The next Windows will support many shapes and sizes, including x86 (32-bit and 64-bit) as well as various ARM-based system-on-chip (SoC) devices, which means that the OS will run across a spectrum of devices, from 10" tablets and laptops to all-in-ones with high-definition screens.

The next version of the world's most popular operating system for PCs will continue to have traditional user interface with "Start" button, taskbar, etc. However, it will also feature Metro style, the UI akin that on Windows Phone 7. Metro style interface is built for touch, shows information important to its owner, embodies simplicity and gives control. The Metro style also works with a mouse and keyboard as well. For those who push the limits of their PC, Windows 8 features an enhanced Task Manager and Windows Explorer and new, flexible options for multimonitor setups.

Windows 8 with Metro interface

Microsoft Windows 8 will sport its own app store as well as a selection of Xbox Live functionality. The Windows Store will allow developers to sell their apps anywhere Windows is sold worldwide. Apps will be able to communicate with each other in Windows 8. For example, you one easily select and email photos from different places, such as Facebook, Flickr or on a hard drive.

The operating system due sometimes in 2012 will also come with SkyDrive cloud service, which will allow to access files, photos and documents from virtually anywhere with any browser or with Metro style apps

With Windows 8, new ultrathin PCs and tablets turn on instantly, run all day on a single charge and stay connected to the Internet so the PC is ready when the user is. Next-generation system on a chip (SoC) support will also enable greatly extended standby and low-power states.

While the general features and peculiarities are more or less clear even today, there are a lot of white spots that Microsoft will have to cover before the release date of the next Windows. In fact, Microsoft again remained tight-lipped about the timeframe when Windows 8 becomes available.

Beyond seeing highlights of the work done on devices by partners including AMD, Intel, Nvidia, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments, attendees at BUILD also received a Samsung prototype PC with Windows Developer Preview to aid them in creating and testing apps. Developers will also be able to download the Windows Developer Preview via the new Windows Dev Center later this week.

Tags: Microsoft, Windows, Windows 8


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