Now that you’re getting comfortable with Windows 7, it’s time to start thinking about the future. Windows 8 (or whatever it may be called) is well under way by now (it takes years for Microsoft to develop an operating system), so it was only a matter of time before the first real details would find their way out of Redmond.
The biggest motherlode yet has been tapped by Microsoft Kitchen, via Italian Windows site Windowsette — a deck of confidential slides that outline Microsoft’s goals for Windows 8 and how the operating system will be designed and sold.
Some of the most cogent details from the slides are outlined below. Note that, for now, all of these items should be considered mere “considerations,” and that any or all of them could eventually be stripped away from Windows 8 before it is actually released.
• Microsoft is in a full-on love-affair with Apple, and for good reason. Complexity is out, simplicity is in. Can Microsoft really follow through with making Windows 8 “just work” a la Apple? It certainly wants to, and thinks “this is something people will pay for!”
• Webcams will be a big focus for Windows 8, with the potential goal of letting Windows 8 log you in automatically via camera image. Some vendors have built this separately already for earlier versions of Windows, and users seem to like it.
• Windows 8 will embrace “the cloud” by letting you take your workspace from one PC to another via a single login that’s connected to the web. So now you can borrow my computer and I don’t have to worry about my precious documents getting disorganized.
• You’ll also be able to more easily combine your personal computing environment with your business workspace. It’s unclear exactly how, but presumably Microsoft’s cloud focus will play a part here. Yay, more time to work!
• Microsoft is focusing on three computing-form factors when Windows 8 is released: Slates (tablets), laptops, and all-in-one PCs. Traditional desktops may still be around, but this isn’t a major focus of the OS, and for good reason, since sales are falling off a cliff.
• Windows 8 will hopefully start up faster than ever before, thanks to a new and as-yet-undeveloped operating mode.
• More advanced help and support systems were meant to be part of Windows 7, but anyone who’s used the Windows 7 troubleshooters knows this didn’t happen. They’re back with Windows 8.
• One-button “Reset Windows” option will take your computer back to its original state while leaving your personal documents and settings intact. System Restore gets a big upgrade.
• There’s a Windows 8 App Store in the works, which will offer apps for any Microsoft/Windows device, from PC to phone to Zune. It even already has a URL: windowsstore.com.
Windows 8 has no release schedule yet, but the company is on record as targeting three years between its OS updates, which would put things on track for a 2012 release. We’re very early in this process, so stay tuned for more details as they’re announced, or, more likely, leaked.
— Christopher Null is a technology writer for Yahoo! News.
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