Windows 8 – A First Glimpse

Posted Friday, April 24, 2009 11:41 AM by Nathan Zaugg

Windows 8 Logo

Windows 7 hasn't even been released (Currently RC1) and there is already buzz about Windows 8.  Of course I know that in terms of development Windows 7 is in it’s stabilization phase so naturally the kernel team and perhaps even some others have started on the next generation of Windows software.  I have spent a lot of time on MSDN’s Channel 9 looking at some of the low level design considerations that went into Windows 7 Kernel and there has been some indication that they have already started on the Windows 8 project. 

This week my news flash talked about Windows 8.  There wasn’t much information to go on other than two job postings for the Windows 8 team and a blog post that included some tantalizing video of possible UI for Windows 8.  This concept design is incredibly cool!  My favorite part is that they completely re-designed Windows Explorer which was in worse need of a makeover than Susan Boyle!

From what I could tell in the short video, some of the new design concepts included:

  • New Windows Explorer Interface- Makes it easier to switch between views (a pain in Vista) and allows you to find the information you need about a file.
  • New Start bar and Taskbar- There is already a new taskbar in Windows 7, but I’m not sure if I really like it.  It’s impossible to tell the difference between a program that is running and a quick launch button.   The new design concept for Windows 8 is obviously based on the Windows 7 design but looked more friendly to use.  My favorite part? You can re-arrange the tabs.  This is really awesome if your OC like I am and expect tabs to be in certain places. The new design focuses on screen real-estate and has a very minimalistic feel to it.  It looks amazing!
  • There is a new feature that will allow a shortcut to launch multiple programs at once.  I don’t think I would ever use this but if I were say a customer service person who had to have 10 apps open all at once it might be nice to have this for after I rebooted the machine.
  • Multiple current users- It looked from the video like you may be able to quickly switch between user sessions & desktops.  You can kind of do this in Windows XP Pro, but it feels more like you are logging out and logging back in as someone else.  This feature kind of looked like I could switch to a new desktop as easily as I can switch between two running applications.
  • The notification area is smaller and sexier!  It is small and looks like most of your nuisance/superfluous notification icons are hidden by default.

Here is the Video of the Windows 8 Concept UI:

Copenhagen User Experience from Copenhagen Concept on Vimeo.

I think Microsoft has the right concept going with this kind of publicity.  While Windows Vista isn’t a great user experience (It’s pretty, but less usable) it has a lot of enhancements under the hood.  Enhancements that make a big difference to a user like me.  They have learned their lesson from Vista and Windows 7 is all about user experience and some minor enhancements under the hood.  There is no information available about what kind of enhancements are in store for Windows 8 other than we do know that it is still based on the Vista / Windows 7 Kernel.  I just hope that Windows 8 has the right mix of usability improvements, kernel / system improvements, and features that create an ROI (Return On Investment) so it’s easier for businesses to justify the upgrade.

Here are some screen shots of Windows 8.  I took them from the video in case you didn’t want to watch that.

Full Desktop

Start Bar

Programs Menu


Explorer 2

Task Bar Preview

Notification Area


Switch Users Moving Start Bar


# Windows 7 RC1 gets special Features

Monday, April 27, 2009 9:18 AM by Windows 7 RC1 gets special Features

Wow First the RC is on time now their are secret features