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Windows 8: Microsoft’s next-generation OS

Published: Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Updated: Friday, May 17, 2013 13:05

Microsoft's 2011 BUILD developer conference sampled the latest advancements and innovations incorporated in the company's upcoming operating system, Windows 8.

Start Screen's "Live Tiles," customizable tiles displaying real-time data, will be the place where users can manage all their content. While the classic Window's user-interface will remain accessible, the company's demonstrations primarily highlighted the benefits of the Start Screen's Metro-style graphic-interface.

"Start screen is the place you come to when you start Windows," said Julie Larson-Green, corporate vice president of the Windows Experience division, in a press release.

Several students have taken notice of the different changes Windows 8 has made.

"The new layout is definitely a vast improvement from the tired Windows look," said Gabriel Maul, senior art history major. "I applaud their efforts on improving visual and (functional) aesthetics. I think the minimalist approach will make navigating through their services a pleasurable experience."

In conjunction with the tile-driven theme, the company has integrated their App Store into upcoming desktops and tablets. Similar to application distributors such as Apple App Store or Android Market, Microsoft's store will provide users with downloadable content from hundreds of developers.

Through revamped tools offered to developers, and Windows' ability to utilize most coding languages, Microsoft's expansive platform can prove for a number of virtual innovations.

Although development is still in pre-beta stages, Windows and Windows Live president, Steven Sinofsky, summarized the company's focus towards a touch-eccentric interplay in the press release. Whether it's the multi-touch Internet Explorer browser, or swiping gestures required to switch between apps, Microsoft made it clear that user-touch is the new navigational tool.

"We really pushed a lot on the ways we could deliver touch to you," Sinofsky said. "Touch is going to become a huge part of interaction."

Karen Martinez, junior psychology major, believes Windows' decision to focus on touch reflects the popularity of new technology.

"I think transitioning to a touch-based system is a smart move," Martinez said. "With all the tablets coming out, I believe Microsoft is aware that personal computers might soon disappear. I guess they are preparing for the worst."

For the spec-hungry, Microsoft stated that Windows 8 will require less processing power and will be backwards-compatible with all Windows 7 services. Improved processes range from accelerated boot-up to new components such as picture-based locking, a procedure requiring users to touch specific points within a picture to unlock the computer.

While Windows 8 appears to be a unifying operating system across tablet and desktop users, Microsoft omitted any information regarding possible variations, such as Home Basic or Ultimate. No launch dates on open-betas or a commercial release were provided.

Jerry Aldaz may be reached at prospector@utep.edu

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