Microsoft Previews Windows 8 at All Things D

The software giant gives its first demo of the new user interface coming with Windows 8, purportedly set to arrive next year.

Steven Sinofsky, president of Microsoft's Windows Division, gave the first comprehensive demonstration of Windows 8 Wednesday at the All Things Digital 9 (D9) conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.

Although Sinofsky showed the upcoming operating system running on an Intel x86 platform, another Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) executive halfway across the world at the giant Computex trade show in Taipei later gave a demo of Windows 8 running on an ARM CPU, reiterating the company's stance that it will run on both architectures.

Among the new features coming in Windows 8 are a tile-based user interface similar to the UI on Windows Phone 7 (WP7) rather than the existing Windows start screen, "fully touch-optimized" browsing using Internet Explorer 10, and "Web-connected and Web-powered" applications that use the full power of HTML5 and JavaScript, according to an article posted online by Julie Larson-Green, corporate vice president for Windows Experience.

Despite the touch-centric UI, however, that does not mean users will be stuck with that as the only option.

"Although the new user interface is designed and optimized for touch, it works equally well with a mouse and keyboard ... [which] means ... you get to use whatever kind of device you prefer, with peripherals you choose, to run the apps you love," Larson-Green said.

Neither will developers and users be limited to apps written in HTML5. There will be support for "classic" Windows applications as well, albeit they may not run under Windows 8 on ARM, since the chip architecture is so different from Intel's x86 environment.

In fact, Intel and Microsoft last month had a dustup over ARM versus x86 versions of Windows 8.

"The full capabilities of Windows continue to be available to you, including the Windows Explorer and Desktop, as does compatibility with all Windows 7 logo PCs, software and peripherals," Larson-Green added.

The company has not "officially" said when Windows 8 -- the system's current codename -- will ship, although Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told an audience in Japan last month that it will arrive next year, something that chagrined his own public relations team, causing them to say that Ballmer had misspoken.

Microsoft plans to reveal more about Windows 8 in September at a new developers conference it has dubbed Build, which will be held in Anaheim, Calif.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing editor at, the news service of, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @stuartj1000.

Tags: Windows, Microsoft, Windows 8, x86, ARM

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