Last night Steven Sinofsky and Julie Larson-Green previewed the touch user experience for Windows 8 at the D9 conference in California. As usual, Walt asked plenty of tough questions which you can watch here, but today I just want to talk about a couple of things I noticed.
Clearly this is one of the most important changes which is coming in Windows 8, and it shows that Microsoft is serious about embracing open technologies moving forward. For developers this is very good news – web designers can now transition into creating fully fledged apps on Windows without having to learn Silverlight or WPF. This opens up the developer base for the platform vastly, allowing a large and otherwise untapped pool of web developers to create applications for the operating system.
I would find it very hard to believe that there would be no Silverlight and C# application layer coming in September, but for now anyone writing games and applications for Google’s Chromebook will be pleased to know that they’re not going to have to do much work to start surfacing their apps in the Windows App Store next year.
Metro Inspired Interface
Though it was fully expected, we did get to see a first look at the “immersive” interface for Windows. I’d say it looks rather impressive – though I have lots of questions on how it will behave with a keyboard and a mouse, it seems to behave as a ‘side’ interface rather than an ‘on-top’ interface like Media Center.
Jenson Harris of the Windows User Experience team shows us first public video of Windows 8 below.
Windows has clearly changed since Vista came out in 2006, and I think a large amount of that comes down to the change of leadership. Steven, Julie and Jenson are all previous members of the Microsoft Office team, which has traditionally done very well for itself.
Final thought: Kinect
One thing this new interface will no doubt work with is the Kinect system that’s currently available for Xbox 360. This will allow users to talk to their Windows 8 computer and use physical gestures to move through apps and entertainment. While this is probably not going to be shown until the BUILD conference in September it’s obvious this is the way things are going.
The next couple of years is going to be very interesting.