‘Building Windows 8’ Blog Reveals Ambitious Microsoft Plans
My initial reception of the Windows 8 tech demo Microsoft debuted in June 2011 was tepid — a touch layer on top of the existing Windows 7 operating system? Not much to look at, really. But according to the official Microsoft “Building Windows 8” blog, there’s more to Windows 8 than meets the eye. Here’s what’s in store for upcoming OS …
On the Building Windows 8 blog, the entire Windows 8 team and subdivisions therein are introduced, and oh boy, there are a lot of them — 35, to be exact. But here are the ones that I find particularly interesting for the channel …
- App Compatibility and Device Compatibility
- App Store
- Applications and Media Experience
- App Experience
- Core Experience Evolved
- Human Interaction Platform
I believe these team divisions represent an effort by Microsoft to make Windows 8 something far beyond a touch layer on top of Windows 7, and that’s good news. What do I personally think will happen? Right now, everyone in the blogosphere is going nuts over the fact that Microsoft is likely developing an “App Store” for the Windows 8 platform (just like Apple). All the exposure and proliferation possible in the Mac App Store applies here for the Windows App Store, and perhaps even more so, considering the market share Windows has.
But for the channel, I see potential with the Core Experience Evolved, Human Interaction Platform and Hyper V divisions. If Microsoft is serious about making Windows 8 something more than a consumer-level experience, it will need to up the ante when it comes to putting Windows on a mobile device. With Hyper-V integration, we may even see some Microsoft thin client-style tablets. Add in the ‘human interaction’ and ‘core experience’ enhancements, and we may see a deeper level of integration between tablet hardware and the operating system. I’m not suggesting full vertical integration a la Apple, but I am suggesting Microsoft has realized that some level of vertical integration is key to mobile device usability (which is why I think Microsoft is also working closely with Nokia for Windows Phone 7).
Do I think we’ll see a Microsoft-branded tablet? Unlikely, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it selected a unique OEM launch partner specifically for the first Windows 8 tablet. That’s something I’m really excited about, and if Microsoft takes up the task of truly making an ARM/SOC-powered device like it has announced, that’s even more exciting since an ARM-based version of a Windows tablet has the potential to eliminate traditional viruses and security risks as well as those annoying driver issues — that is, if Microsoft takes the time to really re-build Windows 8 from the ground up.
What does it all mean for VARs? It could mean happier customers and simpler service offerings if Windows 8 tablet offerings get serious. For ISVs, it means a new platform to build on that already has a huge de-facto install base by virtue of the fact that it’s the next version of Windows. Of course, let’s take this all with a grain of salt and some cautious optimism. I’ll be keeping a close watch on the Building Windows 8 blog and keep you, readers, updated on where Microsoft may be headed.