The Microsoft Development Team for Windows 8 has been writing a blog about its development. The first post was in August, 2011; the frequency varies from a few days to a few weeks. I have often wondered why certain design decisions are made in the Windows OS. The blog attempts to discuss some of those issues as related to Windows 8. < http://bit.ly/xlUCi8 >
Based on what I have read in the Microsoft blog and in the computer trade press, I think Windows 8 will be both exciting and challenging. Windows 8 will run on legacy x32/64 hardware as well as the ARM processor found in tablets. The blog posting related to the ARM processor called this Windows on ARM or WOA.
You will have your choice of Windows 8 on a desktop, laptop, net book, ultra book, or tablet.
The look and feel of the Metro interface will be the same across all the hardware platforms. The difference is the physical control of the interface. If you want to use the touch interface with your desktop PC, you will need a touch enabled screen, otherwise you will still use the mouse. You can also revert to the old style desktop if you must.
In some ways, Windows 8 reminds me of the transition in Windows that happened with Win 2000. A benefit of melding the Windows 98/Me product line with the NT 3/4 product line was a way to run games that wanted to have direct control of the display screen. The dark side of the Win 2K release required new drivers for devices because Microsoft changed how drivers interact with the OS.
Windows on ARM generally requires new code. Porting most of the existing applications is not allowed because the ported applications would negatively affect battery life and would require more system resources than programs developed specifically for WOA.
And there is the issue of designing the interface for Metro rather than the traditional Windows desktop.
The Windows Consumer Preview (otherwise known as a Win 8 beta release) was available by the end of February. The release is reported to be open to anyone who wishes to download and install the software. The hardware used to run the preview must meet the minimum requirements for Windows 7.
Microsoft is saying there is lots of work to do before the first release candidate is ready. There are few hints about the Windows 8 release schedule. It appears Microsoft is aiming for a grand slam event with Windows 8 on tablets (ARM processors) and on x32/64 hardware.
By John Pearce, Member, Pikes Peak Computer Application Society, CO
March 12 issue, Bits and Bytes
glenihan (at) comcast.net