Microsoft Previews Windows 8 for Tablets and PCs

Microsoft today officially unveiled its next-generation Windows 8 operating system, detailing how the company has "reimagined" the software to allow a single operating system to run on a variety of systems from tablets to desktops and Intel to ARM. The company's new "Metro" user interface emphasizes touch-centered input and full-screen apps much like the iPad, but also supports full mouse and keyboard input with the familiar underpinnings of earlier Windows versions.

windows 8 tablet
Perhaps most notable for Apple observers is Microsoft's tablet effort with Windows 8, marking yet another significant effort to unseat Apple's iPad from its dominating position atop the tablet market. This is my next offers a hands-on look at Windows 8 running on a prototype Intel-powered tablet device from Samsung, sharing a number of details about the functionality of the operating system. But while Microsoft acknowledges that Windows 8 is a work in progress, the current tablet implementation appears to be a somewhat rough integration of the Metro touch experience with more traditional desktop computing. The report summarizes Windows 8 for tablets as follows:

There’s a lot to digest here, and we’ve barely scraped the surface of Windows 8, so we’re sure our impressions will change over time… much as the OS will hopefully congeal later in the development cycle. If we’re going to be totally honest though, we’d describe Windows 8 right now as incoherent and contradictory. Touch response in the Metro UI is stellar, Contracts sound seriously useful, and snapping apps can make you more productive on a tablet, but whenever you want to get down and dirty with a traditional program, it’s back to the traditional desktop interface. There are two Control Panels, two versions of IE, and core apps are nowhere to be found (i.e. Mail, a camera app, etc.) Meanwhile, if you want to do anything with the desktop interface (save things you’ve actually planted on your desktop) you’ll probably find yourself thrown back to Metro since the traditional Start menu is gone. The whole user experience feels schizophrenic, with users having to jump back and forth between the two paradigms, each of which seem like they might be better off on their own. Still, as the title of the Microsoft show suggests, this is very much a work in progress and the apps and the tools are, well, still being built.

Questions also remain about architecture support, with the Intel-powered tablet running Windows 8 serving as a capable device but missing the benefits of ARM-based systems such as power efficiency. Microsoft promises that ARM support is an important component to the Windows 8 strategy, but the company is not yet able to offer hands-on time with such devices.

Powered by a 1.6GHz Core i5-2467M processor and a 64GB solid state drive, the system is absolutely no slouch on performance — everything from scrolling in the browser to the Start screen is extremely speedy and the system boots incredibly quickly. However, fan noise is very noticeable, as is the heat coming out of the top vent, and a fast boot doesn’t excuse the slow wake-up times compared to ARM-based cellphones and tablets.

It’s for these reasons we were pretty disappointed to see the tablet running on x86 architecture, with only a token gesture to ARM during our session, but VP of Windows Planning Mike Angiulo assured us that the progress on ARM is coming along quite nicely. He maintains they wanted developers to have top-notch hardware that was capable of running multiple instances, and thus went with the Core i5 hardware.

A developer preview version of Windows 8 will be available for download later today.

Top Rated Comments

justinfreid Avatar
143 months ago
Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.....

If Microsoft ends up shipping a tablet with a fan the whole team that designed the product needs to be fired.
Score: 49 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ArztMac Avatar
143 months ago
Tablet with a fan... LOL!
Score: 42 Votes (Like | Disagree)
zipster Avatar
143 months ago
I love the idea of live tiles.

Icons are yesterday's way of representing apps.
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
rwilliams Avatar
143 months ago
Only Microsoft would deliver a tablet and OS that would require a fan and produces a lot of heat.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
troop231 Avatar
143 months ago
Downloading a copy tonight, can't wait :cool:
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
nagromme Avatar
143 months ago
One product being all things to all users/devices sounds great!

I don’t expect the reality to be as good as the sound :o But credit to Microsoft for trying some new things, as evidenced by Windows Phone 7. (Unlike so much we’ve seen with Android, Microsoft truly didn’t ape the iPhone!)

I believe that iOS and Mac OS are better products for being separate—and cross-pollinating to share their respective advances. But it’s very unlike Microsoft (or at least Ballmer) to see why that is.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

iPhone 14 Pro Purple Rear Flat MacRumors Exclusive

iPhone 14 Pro Predicted to Start With Increased 256GB Storage Alongside Rumored Price Increase

Wednesday August 10, 2022 11:14 am PDT by
Earlier today, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claimed iPhone 14 Pro models will be more expensive than iPhone 13 Pro models. Kuo did not reveal exact pricing, but he said that the average selling price of all four iPhone 14 models will increase by about 15% overall. While higher prices would be disappointing for customers, it is possible the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max will offer increased...
iPhone 14 Pro Lineup Feature Silver

Kuo: Apple to Increase Prices of iPhone 14 Pro Models

Wednesday August 10, 2022 8:22 am PDT by
Apple plans to increase the prices of iPhone 14 Pro models compared to iPhone 13 Pro models, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Kuo did not reveal exact pricing for the iPhone 14 Pro models. However, in a tweet today, he estimated that the average selling price of the iPhone 14 lineup as a whole will increase by about 15% compared to the iPhone 13 lineup. In the United States, the iPhone...
iPhone 14 Pro Purple Front and Back MacRumors Exclusive feature

iPhone 14 Is Just a Few Weeks Away: Three Tips to Prepare for the New iPhone

Wednesday August 10, 2022 4:08 am PDT by
The launch of the new iPhone 14 is just a few weeks away, meaning millions of iPhone customers will soon upgrade their existing iPhone or perhaps get an iPhone for the first time. Exclusive MacRumors iPhone 14 Pro renders by graphic designer Ian Zelbo Whether upgrading from an older model or this is your first iPhone, we've rounded up a few tips to help you prepare for the next flagship...
battery percentage ios 16

Here's Why the iPhone Battery Status Icon in iOS 16 Is So Controversial

Wednesday August 10, 2022 4:34 am PDT by
In the latest iOS 16 beta, Apple has updated the status bar battery icon on iPhones with Face ID to display the exact percentage remaining rather than just a visual representation of battery level, and while the change has been largely welcomed, some users are unhappy with the way it has been implemented. In iOS 15 and earlier, battery percent has not been present on iPhones that have...
Apple Watch Body Temperature Finished

'High-Accuracy' Apple Watch Temperature Sensor Revealed by Patent Filing Just Weeks Before Series 8 Unveiling

Wednesday August 10, 2022 5:39 am PDT by
Apple has been granted a patent for a temperature sensor suitable for the Apple Watch, just weeks before the company is expected to unveil the Apple Watch Series 8 with body temperature sensing capabilities. The newly granted patent, spotted by MyHealthyApple, was filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office and is titled "Temperature gradient sensing in electronic devices."...