Two and a half years after the release of its current platform, Windows 7, Microsoft has announced its intentions to give their operating system one of the most serious overhauls it has ever seen. Windows 8, as it is tentatively known, aims to catapult the company forward into the growing and interlocking world of mobile computing. Just as Apple has bragged about its leading role in what it has dubbed the “post-PC revolution” and Google has consolidated its cloud services into Google Play (which allows music, books, videos, and more to be viewed from any number of computers, tablets, and phones), Microsoft has showcased an OS based entirely on the apps we’ve come to know and love.
Rather than using the traditional set of limited desktop icons, a small taskbar, and start button that has been the hallmark of Windows for over a decade, Windows 8 utilizes a home or start screen which will allows the user to switch between several customizable categories of applications, each hosting a set of tiles (widgets and icons for viewing and launching programs). A media category, for example, could host music, movie, and e-book apps, while a news category could hold apps for weather, headlines, local happenings, and sports. Switching between categories is as easy as sliding the screen from left to right and, because the new look is so neatly laid out, you will be able to organize hundreds of apps for easy access.
With this sleek, modern interface, Microsoft shoots to have a plethora of apps that can be used with equal ease on any device. A Windows desktop or laptop should ideally handle any program just as well with a mouse and keyboard as a Windows tablet or smartphone does with a touchscreen. To support this endeavor the company will be offering personal Microsoft accounts, each with its own cloud to store photos, documents, files, settings, and other favorites for easy access from any device. All devices will also have access to the Windows Store, which will allow you to purchase (if payment is necessary) any apps you desire.
Of course, it can be hard to visualize a new way of using your computer without experiencing its features first hand, so why not give Windows 8 a try? Microsoft has opened up a preview version of the OS to the general public that you can download and play with right now; the trial is free and, as an added bonus, so are all the apps in the Windows store. Microsoft would like you to keep in mind that this is not the final release of their new product, so you may encounter some bugs and hiccups along the way. You might even need a little help getting used to the new layout, but having an early look at what’s to come will give anyone who upgrades a head start on the using that latest innovations and programs when they become fully developed and available.