Screenshots purported to be from Microsoft’s Windows 8 show Windows Phone 7-like tiles and a toolbar similar to Office 2007. Windows 8 is expected to be friendly to tablets, which means making it compatible with ARM processors, as shown by CEO Steve Ballmer at the Consumer Electronics Show. Windows 8 may have dual-track versions.
Leaked screenshots supposedly depicting ‘s next-generation operating system, Windows 8, show tiles similar to those on Windows Phone 7. The photos were posted on the site Withinwindows by Windows expert Rafael Rivera as speculation grows about how Windows 8 will run on tablet computers.
Tablets Are Gaining
Other photos obtained by Rivera show a ribbon-style toolbar interface with one-touch buttons for quick commands. The ribbon is similar to those introduced by Microsoft in 2007 with its Office suite of productivity software.
The Windows 8 screenshots posted on Withinwindows and Neowin show a ribbon with tabs similar to those in Word or Excel, for clipboard, new, organize, move to folder, open and select.
The idea of a tablet-friendly Windows is intriguing as mobile touchscreen devices eat into the personal-computer market. Analysts project that tablet sales could reach 40 million devices this year, and last month Gartner Research said the PC market will grow slower this year, 10.5 percent, rather than the 15.9 percent previously forecast. The firm said tablets were a key factor in the slowdown.
The top-selling tablet, Apple’s iPad, uses Apple’s iOS software, and others, such as Motorola’s Xoom, Samsung’s Galaxy Tab, and HTC’s EVO View 4G, run Google’s Android. Android 3.0 has been optimized for tablets.
To run on tablets, Windows would have to be compatible with ARM processors.
Mobile-devices analyst Jeff Orr of ABI Research noted that at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer displayed three tablets with different ARM processors running a future version of Windows.
“Until now, the full Windows OS has not been ported to the ARM processor architecture,” Orr said. “The ARM strategy is important because nearly all of the media tablets available and announced so far are not based on Intel’s x86 architecture.”
Orr said it remains to be seen whether the software giant can cultivate enough of an ecosystem of device drivers, APIs and vendors to make Windows competitive for ARM-based systems, including media tablets.
Huge Testing Tab
“Microsoft has spent more than a decade and upward of $1 billion in developing the Windows Hardware Qualification Labs program, which tests components and peripherals for PCs using Windows,” Orr said. “Can this be replicated in only one or two years for an ARM-based Windows launch?”
He said ABI predicts Microsoft will adopt a dual-track approach for Windows, with one user experience for a desktop-mouse interface and another for touchscreens.
“Current Windows releases incorporate accessibility features for users with limited vision and mobility,” he said. “Adapting operation for touch input should leverage these existing capabilities as another use case.”