Windows 8, the first real glimpse: Tiles on a tablet

[Updated below] Microsoft’s Windows 8 will offer new start screen optimized for tablet/slate computers that uses a tile interface reminiscent of the company’s Windows Phone interface.

Windows Chief Steven Sinofsky is on stage right now giving a sneak peak of the interface, talking with Walt Mossberg at the D9 conference down in California. The operating system isn’t expected out until next year, but the preview is being watched closely to see if Microsoft and its hardware partners can field credible rivals to the iPad and Android-based tablets.

[Follow-up: Windows 8: A radical change for Windows, and a huge gamble for Microsoft]

AllThingsD.com’s Ina Fried has an early look at the interface along with comments from Microsoft executives about the company’s approach. The tiles include a large “Store” tile, apparently confirming that Microsoft plans to offer Windows apps through a marketplace.

Update: To clarify, this isn’t just an optional Windows interface for tablets. As shown in the Microsoft video below, users will be able to switch to a more traditional Windows desktop, but the new start screen is for all versions of the operating system. “This is the new version of Windows. It’s going to run on laptops, it’s going to run on desktops, it’s going to run on PCs with mouse and keyboard, it’s going to run on everything,” says Microsoft’s Jensen Harris toward the end of the video.

Also see this Microsoft post providing a summary of the announcements. Among the features highlighted by the company in the post:

Fast launching of apps from a tile-based Start screen, which replaces the Windows Start menu with a customizable, scalable full-screen view of apps.

Live tiles with notifications, showing always up-to-date information from your apps.

Fluid, natural switching between running apps.

Convenient ability to snap and resize an app to the side of the screen, so you can really multitask using the capabilities of Windows.

Web-connected and Web-powered apps built using HTML5 and JavaScript that have access to the full power of the PC.

Fully touch-optimized browsing, with all the power of hardware-accelerated Internet Explorer 10.

Microsoft says a Windows 8 device is “really a new kind of device, one that scales from touch-only small screens through to large screens, with or without a keyboard and mouse.”

Live blogs: Thisismynext, AllthingsD.com, CNet News.com and Engadget.

Mossberg asked at the outset about Microsoft’s exclusion from Google chairman Eric Schmidt’s reference last night to the “Gang of Four” consumer platforms running the modern Internet. Sinofsky replied that nothing that starts with a gang of four ends well.

  • Guest

    Congratulations! This is a brilliant new concept fusing the fluid Windows 7 Phone interface with the desktop choice of millions. I particularly like that I can run multiple applications, or “apps,” side-by-side with no more switching. That’s something you don’t get with the competition.

    • Killer_siller

      Yes, you do.  I can do it on KDE, GNOME, and any Tiling interface.

      Beyond that, you can do it in Win7.

  • http://www.Nave360.com Sebastian Gorgon

    I have a question… Will the interface outside the Metro UI change in time? Because at the moment this is Windows 7 + Windows Phone 7…

  • http://www.atebymonsters.com Matt

    Looks great … so what’s the non-touch interface look like?

    • Guest

      Pretty much like the good ol’ standard windows 7 interface.

      • Anonymous

        Actually, the non-touch interface and the touch interface are one in the same. You’ll have the option to use the traditional Windows desktop, which looks like Windows 7, but the tiles will be the default.

        See http://www.geekwire.com/2011/windows-8-radical-change-windows-huge-gamble-microsoft

  • Guest

    A Windows App Marketplace? Here’s hoping that Microsoft starts taking 30% of all Apple sales in iTunes when it’s installed on Windows. After all, if Microsoft brings Apple the customer …

  • antonio

    I really hate how Microsoft design software that they think is new and innovative, yet it’s been done years in advance by other, usually better, companies. The sad thing is, they’re always going to get the attention they think they deserve.

    Microsoft, holding the industry back.

  • http://www.facebook.com/TimGray4 Timothy Gray

    Glad to see that they are numbing down window even further.  Get rid of all the complexy stuff.   When will they add a “app store” so they can disable downloading and eliminate the Virus and Trojan problem?

    • Guest

      Pay attention, Tim. Windows 8 will have an app store.

      • Guest2

        I hope they won’t add DRM stuff or “lock” you computer so you can’t install apps on your own.

  • Anonymous

    All bell and whistles as usual.
    I want my XP back.

    • http://twitter.com/DaveASmith David Smith

       The year 2000 called…. and all that.

  • Guest

    looks like Digital Signage software, DOOH “digital out of home” :) 
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_signage

  • http://profiles.google.com/kilzzz Kilz na

    Its a phone os, that or a tablet. It will be almost useless to desktop/laptop users.

  • http://twitter.com/mikestoddart Mike Stoddart

    But will it still have that annoyingly painful registry??

    • Dev

      I hope so, the registry is one of the best things ever to happen to an operating system. As a developer, I can, if I feel the need, enumerate EVERY setting for EVERY piece of software on the entire system with about half a dozen lines of code.

      Can’t do that with a scattered collection of flat files, can I?

      • Timebandit001

        A collection of flat files can’t all get corrupted at the same time and stop the OS from booting at all. Only the service needing the corrupted file will not start, at worst.

        • Guest2

          And lets not forget the DLL HELL problem that was never seen on linux or mac

          • http://twitter.com/DaveASmith David Smith

             Umm… yeah, that happens there too.

          • http://twitter.com/DaveASmith David Smith

             Umm… yeah, that happens there too.

    • Dev

      I hope so, the registry is one of the best things ever to happen to an operating system. As a developer, I can, if I feel the need, enumerate EVERY setting for EVERY piece of software on the entire system with about half a dozen lines of code.

      Can’t do that with a scattered collection of flat files, can I?

  • http://twitter.com/kevinmenzel Kevin Menzel

    Ugh. All of this is useless to me. Completely useless. None of this helps me create content faster at all. And how does this handle on multiple monitors? EVERY computer I have I primarily use with at LEAST 2 monitors, if not 3 or 4.

  • http://twitter.com/kevinmenzel Kevin Menzel

    Ugh. All of this is useless to me. Completely useless. None of this helps me create content faster at all. And how does this handle on multiple monitors? EVERY computer I have I primarily use with at LEAST 2 monitors, if not 3 or 4.

    • http://www.JakeMilla.com Jacob MIlla

      Just wait

    • http://www.JakeMilla.com Jacob MIlla

      Just wait

  • Reaper1911

    You will need an quad core, 16bg of ram and what else to run only these eye candy stuff… nothing to get more efficent at work or even at home…

  • mango

    Sorry but Ubuntu Unity and Gnome 3 already have a better desktop experience and innovated first, like this no doubt will need some changes, as users start to feed back on the new experiences. They have a better handle of melting portable device interfaces, laptops desktops etc. Win 8 looks like they are catching up on what other organisations already have, skinning Win 7 with that nasty looking tile which, sorry I do not want “another” stock app, is appalling. With all the money in the world, shows innovation is done by talent not through money at it! Microsoft are losing badly and will continue.

    • Brent

      huh? Let’s forget that “better” is subjective and that a troll commenting on the MS blog might not be unbiased. What did either innovate exactly?

  • http://profiles.google.com/edwinhere Edwin J. P.

    The end of Microsoft is near.

  • Oregondxer

    Sorry, but I think looks ridiculous on the desktop. It might be great for tablets and handhelds, but the desktop? I don’t want mine looking like an iPhone so I’ll be sticking with Win7 for quite some time.