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While Apple is making it clear that Mac OS X and iOS are separate beasts for different platforms (at least for right now), Microsoft continues its efforts to shoehorn Windows onto the tablet by simply making a new version that also works well on the desktop, with a big nod toward their own Windows Phone 7 smartphone platform.
Engadget is reporting on the big happenings at Microsoft’s Build 2011 conference, where Windows Division president Steven Sinofsky gave attendees a big walkthrough of the forthcoming Windows 8 on Tuesday. The new operating system promised for next year borrows heavily from the Metro user interface introduced with the company’s Windows Phone 7, and Microsoft is stacking up their chips (figuratively) that Windows 8 will be the great unifier for both PCs and tablets alike.
Perhaps the most bold move Windows 8 has shown thus far is doing away with the Start menu as we know and love (?) it. The Start menu is now its own animal, displaying all of your applications as finger-friendly tiles in what Microsoft calls its “Metro style.” While it sounds a bit like OS X Lion’s LaunchPad, the Windows 8 Start menu goes well beyond that relatively simple feature, promising to do away with traditional application icons.
Because Microsoft is intent on using Windows 8 for both traditional PCs as well as tablet devices, multitouch support and gestures are a big part of the new offering, including the new Internet Explorer 10 web browser which also gets a Metro style user interface overhaul. Microsoft claims that all Windows 7 applications will run under Windows 8, and the company plans to include built-in antivirus software for the first time.
The best news is that everyone can join the Windows 8 party, because Microsoft released a Developer Preview on Tuesday night in both 32-bit and 64-bit x86 flavors which requires no activation or even a formal invitation. Simply hit up the Windows 8 Developer Preview website, pick your poison and enjoy. There have been some scattered reports of Mac users getting the preview working on Parallels Desktop 7 and Boot Camp, although driver support is understandably spotty -- here’s hoping Parallels will add official support soon for the preview as they did for early betas of Windows 7.
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(Image courtesy of Engadget)