Microsoft has already hinted that it wants to make Windows more like Xbox by supporting the Kinect sensor technology and adopting elements of the Xbox Live interface for Windows-based games. Now it looks like the Windows team has its eyes on Office, Windows Phone, and Windows Live, as well.

That’s one conclusion to draw from a series of leaks over the past few days about Windows 8, or whatever Microsoft ends up calling the next generation of its PC operating system. Preliminary builds of Windows 8 show Windows Explorer (the interface for locating files on a computer) with a tabbed command strip — similar to the Office “ribbon” — replacing the traditional menus and tool bar.

[Follow-up: How Windows Phone apps could run on Windows 8]

Windows authors/bloggers Paul Thurrott and Rafael Rivera, who dug that up in early research for the future book “Windows 8 Secrets,” also report that the new Windows welcome screen is being designed to look more like the Windows Phone lock screen. That follows reports that Windows 8 would come with an alternative interface for touch-based tablet computers that uses tiles and works more like a mobile operating system.

Those types of option will be critical for Microsoft and Windows PC makers to compete against the iPad and Android tablets.

Digging into the ribbon interface uncovered by Thurrott and Rivera, blogger Long Zheng also notices buttons for “sync” and “web sharing” — suggesting that Microsoft might be building functionality similar to Windows Live Mesh and/or SkyDrive functionality into the operating system. As noted by, earlier leaks showed Windows Live ID incorporated into the operating system, so it’s easy to imagine all of this coming together.

But the company will need to be careful with that integration if it wants to avoid another round of antitrust scrutiny.

It’s important to remember that these leaks are based on very preliminary builds of the operating system. Microsoft isn’t talking about Windows 8 features yet, and a lot could change before the expected release sometime next year.

But taking into account all of these reports, the clear message is that the company wants to make its biggest products feel more like members of the same family by incorporating signature characteristics from each into its flagship operating system.

Todd Bishop of GeekWire can be found on Twitter and Facebook.

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  • Paras Valecha

    Freaking amazing. Microsoft is gonna kill all it’s competitors! Can’t wait!!! :) :) :)

    • Anonymous user

       HAHAHAHAHAHA thanks for the laugh.

  • Domainers Gate

    MS waits to see ChromeOS before develop and release its “original” Windows 8 … :)

    • Subopti

      I think you mean “Android.” Chrome OS is dead, another Google experiment with 20% functionality and 80% hype.

      • Yasir Alam

        I think you mean neither, since it’s can only be either delusion or a sad jab at sarcasm to try and insinuate that Windows would have to steal ideas from either a netbook or smartphone OS platform.

      • FooledONCE

        I am new to Android, what precisely is wrong with it?  40% plus of all new phones have this OS.  My first smartphone is Android and was easy to learn and still a great OS.  

  • Roy Leban

    How is it possible that Microsoft hasn’t figured out the Ribbon sucks? Have they ever watched people using it? (Really just watched, not run a flawed usability test that is doomed to give invalid results before they even start it.)

    A good rule: First, build something that works better. Then, make it pretty. Doing it the other way around is a recipe for disaster.

    • Mahadev

      Ribbon is really the best feature on the Office suite! It is so easy to use.. cannot wait for Win8.

    • Yasir Alam

      It takes some getting used to, I’ll give you that, but on the whole I like the Ribbon interface. It’s an interesting evolution from drop down menus. The context sensitive tabs really let you get at more features at a glance than any other way of doing things. I don’t know it Windows Explorer has enough functions to require such an interface, but it was a godsend for office products.

    • Steve

      Oh dear! I absolutely hate the stupid stupid ribbon idea in the new versions of MS Office that claims to be better – trust me, it really isn’t. I have an older version with real menu system. Now I read they want to introduce this daft idea into the new version of Windows? (before even letting the paint dry properly on Windows 7, when is this expected to be forced on an unwilling public?)

      How much does this stink of some sort of desperation that a) it’s being started already, and b) cynically leaking design ideas – I suppose the chatter is worth it. Listen up Microsoft: if it ain’t broken then don’t meddle with it. (read: don’t fuck with it) there are many other places in the operating system where there are plenty of means to improve, appearance isnt one of them.

      This might only be a pre-alpha series of leaked shots, but I really hope they don’t place this in with out other options like regular menus for people who don’t have or want touch screen (your possible saving grace in this argument) but aren’t blind enough to need big stupid buttons to click…

      Stunts like this will drive more people to Linux. ~S

    • Cow

      Microsoft built the ribbon interface almost purely on user test group ideas. People were complaining that too many options were buried under all these ridiculous menus they had to dig through. Besides, keyboard shortcuts (which are still the same) are faster than either.

  • Vanno Davis

    wow i cant wait for windows 9 to see how they move up from this

  • Thedlinktv

    I really like teh fact that Microsoft is really keeping all info about Windows 8 closed, it just builds up excitment. I personally think Ribbon is a great addition to Windows 8, I use it on Office 2010. Also adding Xbox and Windows Phone UI to Windows 8 would really slap Apple across the face. Plus a Windows Store, for apps? Microsoft is definetely stepping up to the plate. Who knows what could be next, maybe better software like Windows Live Essentials, or change of the taskbar. Let’s take our place back Microsoft!

    • Olisaebuka Maduka


    • Steve

      You know the problem here? (not a major problem, just a minor annoyance) is that we have to get yet another online ID, and personally I prefer to keep my laptop separate and only log in to services when I need them not have it built into the operating system…

  • Sure

    Yeah! More MicroSatan and Winblows.

  • Anonymous

    Never really thought about it like that before.

  • London Snoward

    Apple copy..Once Again… incorporating their mobile successes(zune) into their newest Operating systems… good job Microsoft, keep trying

    • Anonymous


  • Craig Alberino

    More evolution than revolution. Agree with @Roy, the ribbon sucks.

  • Davmarts

    I don’t like the idea of putting the ribbon everywhere… In my opinion, ribbon is usefull when used in business software, not in an operation system. Personnaly, if Microsoft releases Windows 8 with ribbon everywhere, I’ll go buy a Mac.

    • Olisaebuka Maduka

      You couldn’t be more wrong. Ribbons uses a user experience that goes beyond just a moused based user interface to a touch based user interface. In essence since win 8 is being made for tablets, ribbons provide a familiar yet touch friendly and intuitive user experience (UX).

  • Peter

    Oh no, are they really gonna use that terrible ribbon everywhere? I had only wished they’d give it up…

  • David Bastien

    Seriously guys? I love the ribbon. I like having things grouped by what I’m doing.

    Fighting the menu bar used to drive me insane.

    I’m definitely in the minority I’ve noticed but I can’t help but wonder if a good part of it is just people being resistant to change?

    • Olisaebuka Maduka

      Precisely. And there is also the fact that ribbon is touch friendly; some people would just rather have the same thing over and over again rather than taking the time to see how the new interface increases productivity and user experience. Like I’ve said before ribbons provides a touch friendly experience and maintains a bit of familiarity.

    • The D.A.D.I.

      Personally, I have never understood the hatred of the menus. In my experience, if you can find it in the ribbon, you should be able to find it in the menu. Both seem equally as much as about becoming familiar with the system to me. I knew where items were in the menu system, and after the switch I was totally lost as to where to find the various features in the ribbon system. Alas, after some time using the ribbon system, I got good at it, too.

      It seems the biggest problems with the ribbon system is merely being resistant to change and/or not using the software often to familiarize yourself with it.

      That said, I’m not sure that I am a fan of them being used everywhere in an OS. It seems to me that they belong more in office-centric applications like the Office suite. However, I will reserve judgement until I actually get some hands-on experience with the system — it may be delightful, I can’t say without trying it out myself.

  • Bubblecyber

    If windows 8 is just another ‘face-lift’ then MS will self-destruct, hopefully soon…

  • sôsô

    Agree with @Davmarts..
    Ribbon bar doesn’t meant for OS, even classic bar doesn’t help much…
    personally I use shortcuts when using OS;

    so if they include a ribbon bar I wish they include an option to get ride of it :)

  • MSBassSinger

    I wish MS would come out with a well-publicized, definitive statement as to whether the VB6 runtime will be included in Windows 8 or not. A lot of small to medium sized businesses have vertical market apps written in VB6, and never moved forward to VB.NET or C#. It needs to be well-publicized by MS that Windows 8 will not support VB6 apps and there will be no “XP mode” to use as a crutch (if indeed that is true).

    VB6 was a great language and IDE – 4 versions ago! When those aforementioned businesses realize the customers – who are their revenue stream – can’t run their apps in about 12-18 months, they will migrate to .NET. If MS doesn’t make a clear, pointed issue of this now, the bad publicity for MS when these companies blame MS for “breaking their apps” will be harmful to MS.

  • Anonymous user

     You forgot to mention they’re adding about 50 lbs of suck to Windows 8, just like they did to Vista, ME, 2000 before SP2, the first version of 98, NT 4 before SP3, the retail version of 95, and every version of NT 3.x; I’m sure we’re going to be told the next version is even easier, yet every setting is buried under 10 levels of “What would you like to do?” instead of 4 or 5 in Windows Vista or Windows 7.

  • Gbd

    I use excel every day now for many years. The ribbon is a pain. Plain and simple.

  • Crstn_udrea

    You should be on your way to buying a mac, I guess :D
    Yes, windows 8 has Ribbon, Ribbon Everywhere :P

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