Could this be the new UI for Windows 8?
A demonstration provided by Microsoft Research at TechForum Monday has ignited speculation that a “radical,” colorful user interface used in a presentation may very well be what’s coming in Windows 8 in the coming years. The bubbly UI was seen running on Surface 2 and accepted direct input from a Windows Phone 7 smartphone, the HTC HD7.
Presented by Microsoft Chief Research and Technology Officer Craig Mundie, the UI auto-generated colored bubbles rather than icons: blue represented specific personal and social features like Facebook, Twitter, and so on; green represented work-related features such as the current presentation; yellow represented special interests such as listening to music, watching movies and more. The size of the bubbles also indicated a specific level of importance– the bigger the bubble, the higher the importance.
During the presentation, he highlighted one green bubble encasing an airplane icon. This bubble indicated that something was going on with a particular scheduled flight that he needed to address. Using the phone as a makeshift motion sensing remote, he clicked on the bubble and thus revealed information that his flight was indeed canceled. The UI thus went through his calendar, checked the weather for possible problems, and then found other flight options, but awaited his authorization before rescheduling. The UI then rearranged all the bubbles on the screen to reflect his new schedule once a flight was accepted.
What made this interface even more interesting was that Mundie was able to use the WP7 smartphone to navigate through the bubbles buy tilting the phone forwards and from side to side. “Our view is that computing is getting embedded in everything, and everything is getting connected,” Mundie said during the closing discussion. “And more and more the computing will be invisible. Most of where you encounter computing won’t be in front of something you call a computer.”