Microsoft has loosened the sash on its kimono and given us a flash of what Windows 8 will look like. And the answer is...
Sorry, just lost my train of thought. What was I saying? Winwhat? Oh, right. That old desktop operating system. I remember it now.
Microsoft has posted the first of what will be a series of videos previewing the next version of its flagship OS -- what it calls the "re-imagining of Windows."
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Forget PCs. Though Win8 can run on a desktop with a keyboard and a mouse, it's very much oriented toward your fingers. Think touchscreen tablet. Actually, think Windows Phone 7 on steroids. Instead of six colorful tiles you tap to get at your games, apps, email, Facebook, and so on, you get nine at a time (an increase of 50 percent!).
The tiles are live, so they update automatically when, say, there's a new email or tweet you need to ignore. There's a feature called Snap that lets you "snap" one app into place next to another app. To cycle quickly through your open apps, just swipe your finger to the left. To open the control panel, drag your finger up from the bottom. And so on.
It will run all your old Windows 7 programs, plus a plethora of new apps they plan to build just for Win8. And it will work with low-power ARM processors as well as the usual Intel and AMD suspects.
Is Win8 a radical departure from previous desktop versions of Windows? Yes. Does it look cool and groovy. Yes. Is this just a demo? Yes. Then again, Microsoft managed to make Vista look cool and groovy in the demo.
Remember "The Wow starts now?" The Wow never started. The Wow was a cow.
Microsoft's problem is this: Even if Win8 ends up being great, it's probably too little, too late for most of us. Microsoft stopped steering the tech innovation train a looooong time ago. It's spent the last 10 years riding in the caboose. Now it's outside the train, running as fast as it can to catch up. Windows 8 won't change that.