Windows 8: Re-imagining the Windows User Interface
Described both as a “rebirth…of Windows” and “the single riskiest project that Microsoft has ever embarked upon”, Windows 8 is redefining the way PC-users interact with their computers.
Below is a synthesis of some of the more notable changes to the Microsoft interface implemented via Microsoft 8:
• Starting up: Anyone who has ever owned (or even used) both a PC and a Mac has experienced the stark contrast between the two boot-up times: specifically that a PC running on Windows takes significantly longer to load. However, with Windows 8 this is no longer a problem: “In fact, the boot process is so fast on new hardware that you barely see the redesigned Windows logo that greets you ahead of an entirely new OS”.
• The Start Screen: Microsoft’s Windows 8 has also recreated the Start screen. Instead of a Start button and desktop, “rows of constantly changing tiles” that are customizable appear. These tiles automatically display all applications that you have configured with your Microsoft account, such as: e-mail, calendar, contacts, Facebook, and photos.
• Charms: ‘Charms’ are icons that “reveal important information such as the time and date, network status, and battery levels”. There is also a ‘Search charm’ that allows the user to search while in an app or to search “across files and settings”. The ‘Share charm’ serves as a way to share information with others by, for example, formatting e-mails with images and information instead of just a URL. A standard ‘Charms bar’ is pictured above.
• Apps: The applications offered in Windows 8 are, unfortunately, not compatible with previous windows versions. While the apps are more functional and attractive than their predecessors, there are a limited number available to choose from currently (only 5,000 compared to the Apple App Store’s 10,000+)
• Multiple Monitor Support: Not everything has been perfected concerning Microsoft’s multiple monitor function, “but basics like different desktop backgrounds on each monitor are now supported. You can now span a single picture across multiple monitors. [The] taskbar [now has] the ability to [be viewed] on all displays and options to show buttons on all taskbars or individual ones where the window is open and the main taskbar resides.” The Downside? Windows 8-style apps can only be run on one monitor.
• Password: In addition to offering the option of using a traditional password or PIN, “Microsoft has created a built in picture password option that will allow you to sign in by tapping secret areas on a picture of your choice”.
To read more about Windows 8, visit this excellent review written by Tom Warren at The Verge which expands upon the changes mentioned above and also discusses many other new aspects of the interface!
What is your opinion of Windows 8?
Are you planning on making the upgrade?
Does Apple finally have a worthy opponent in Microsoft following this new development?