Big changes are coming to the Windows OS environment, as Microsoft unveiled the new Windows 8 OS at its BUILD Conference last week. While there are tons of the changes one typically expects from an OS revision—new features, the removal of some older features, etc.—the big news is that Redmond will be taking the “Metro” user-interface design, first introduced in the Windows Phone 7 mobile OS, and applying it as an across-the-board UI for its desktop, tablet, phone, and Xbox operating systems. Despite the underwhelming sales of Windows Phone 7 devices (Ballmer himself admits that they haven’t sold as well as he’d like), the Metro UI is really slick, and it’s exciting to see that Microsoft is fully committed to re-imagining the computing experience it provides to consumers.
Sure, in many ways, this is simply Microsoft’s response to Apple’s meteoric rise of the past few years, as OSX and iOS offer fairly consistent cross-platform visual design and UI elements. What’s exciting about the Windows 8 platform, though, is that it’s not Apple-like at all; Microsoft’s clearly put an enormous amount of resources into completely re-imagining the computing experience, and are attempting to essentially out-Apple the competition by releasing a system that’s genuinely innovative and unprecedented. In many respects, this is probably the most significant new version of Windows since the introduction of Windows 3.1 almost twenty years ago. Read More