MWC 2012: Microsoft unveils Windows 8 consumer preview
Microsoft has made a consumer preview available for its forthcoming Windows 8 operating system.
The new software is designed to work as well on tablets as on traditional computers, and will replace Microsoft Windows 7, which has sold 525 million copies since it was released three years ago.
Windows 8 features an entirely new interface, called Metro, which borrows heavily from Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform, as well as a slightly updated version of the conventional Windows 7 desktop version that runs in a separate mode.
Microsoft has also redesigned the traditional ‘Start’ button, replacing it with a much more angular design that changes colour depending on which theme a user chooses. The Start menu has become an entire homesecreen, and in desktop mode the Start button is no longer a permanent fixture.
The new Metro interface features ‘Live tiles’ which update users on their contacts social media feeds and show pictures from the device or photo galleries online. It also features a unique ‘semantic zoom’ technology which means that, say, a list of search results changes to give more detailed information as a user zooms in to show a selection of results.
Unveiling the product at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Microsoft made clear that the ‘Consumer Preview’ was not a finished product, and said that the new App Store, including versions from video sharing site Vimeo, ereader firm Kobo and The Daily Telegraph, was intended to demonstrate potential rather than to immediately take on Apple’s successful iPad.
Windows chief Steven Sinofsky demonstrated the software, the app store and a range of devices already running Windows 8 to a press audience in Barcelona, saying that the new release built on the software developer preview that has been downloaded by more than three million programmers.
The free preview will be available soon to “early adopters” so Microsoft can test features and fix problems.