Microsoft revealed Windows 8 features a dual interface aimed at both PC and tablet users. By opting for Metro, users will be presented with a tile-based user interface, based on the interface seen in Windows Phone. This series of tiles that can contain live data, application screens, communications screens, and more. When clicked or tapped, the tile opens the content or app in its own window. However, if users press the Desktop toile, an interface which looks more like Windows 7 will be displayed.
For the first time, the Windows operating system also benefits from an app store, known as the Windows Store, where users can obtain apps for Metro. Just like Apple, the tech giant revealed it will approve or reject apps submitted to the store before users can get their hands on them.
Windows Explorer, the operating system’s built-in file manager has also been given an overhaul and has become ‘ribbonised’ to look similar what debuted in Office 2007, was tweaked in Office 2010 and showed up in some applications bundled with Windows 7, notably the bare-bones Paint program.
Windows 8 also offers the ability to have two apps running alongside each other, although one app occupies the majority of the screen.
“We took everything that was really great about Windows 7 and we made it even better in Windows 8,” Sinofsky said.
Furthermore, Microsoft claims a PC running the new operating system will take less than 10 seconds go from powered down to the start screen. The speedy boot is thanks to a new hybrid system that mixes processes used in cold boots and hibernation mode. “We designed Windows 8 so that you shouldn't have to boot all that often (and we are always going to work on reducing the number of required restarts due to patching running code). But when you do boot we want it to be as fast as possible,” Sinofsky said in a blog detailing the function.
Microsoft has previously confirmed the system requirements for Windows 8 will be the same as those needed to run Windows 7 .
"In both of our Windows 8 previews, we talked about continuing on with the important trend that we started with Windows 7, keeping system requirements either flat or reducing them over time," Window's corporate vice-president, Tami Reller said.
"Windows 8 will be able to run on a wide range of machines because it will have the same requirements or lower."
The existing minimum requirements for Windows 7 include a 1GHz processor, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of spare hard disk space and DirectX 9 graphics. These are the same minimum requirements for the operating system's predecessor, Windows Vista. Potentially, this means those with machines running Vista could be able to run Windows 8, although Microsoft has not yet confirmed this.
Windows 8 on ARM
Microsoft confirmed at the start of the year, Windows 8 will run on devices that feature ARM processors, such as smartphone smartphones and existing Android and Apple tablets.
“ARM requires a deeper level of integrated engineering between hardware and software, as each ARM device is unique, and Windows allows this uniqueness to shine through,” said Sinofsky.
Microsoft said that existing apps will have to be redesigned for Metro to run on ARM devices with Windows 8.