Imagine if you could walk up to your PC and it automatically logged you in without you having to lift a finger. Or if something went wrong you could just press a reset button to make the problem go away–without losing your data. Or being able to start your PC in the time you can say “come on, boot already!” According to the Microsoft Kitchen blog, these are just some of the features promised for Windows 8. Microsoft has apparently began pitching to PC makers heading up to a rumored 2012 watch (though we hope its sooner).
Here are the 8 biggest highlights of Windows 8:
- Form factor focus on slates (they’re not dead yet), notebooks, and all-in-one PCs. In Microsoft Kitchen’s post you can see a concept all-in-one device that promises enhanced touch capability with five contact points. In another shot talking about the Windows Store, you see a slate tablet playing a Monopoly game. Looks like touch will play a much bigger role with the next OS.
- Facial recognition log in. Apparently identity will play a large role in Windows 8. Your notebook or other device’s webcam will automatically recognize you and log you in. In addition, your information and data could follow you from machine to machine with tighter integration with the cloud. A separate blog has posted screens of what the log-in process will look like, and it says its using Microsof’t’s Kinect technology. (Perhaps loosely, since this doesn’t seem 3D).
- Windows Store. It’s about time. If Microsoft hopes to attract more developers to Windows when it comes to touch apps, it will need a digital storefront. A leaked slide says it’s a priority for users to get “applications they want, that they can feel confident in, that they can use on any Windows 8 device.” Apparently both settings and apps will follow users from device to device.
- Fast startup. We’re not quite sure how it works but by combining logoff and hibernate Microsoft finally hopes to make notebooks like applicances. If you believe the slides, Microsoft hopes to power on PCs in half the time of a cold boot. Not bad.
- Reset button. Well, it’s better than a paper clip-sized hole. If you ask us, it would be better if Microsoft concentrated on making Windows stable and secure enough that an option like this wasn’t necessary. But we have to admit that having a push-button reset option is better than spending hours troubleshooting. This option will supposedly keep your personal data in tact while performing a factory reset.
- Better integrated help. According to the leaked slides, this was something that was left on the cutting room floor for Windows 7. Microsoft promises to arm users with better tools to help them better understand the state of their PCs and to troubleshoot. If you can’t do it yourself Windows 8 will connect you with your machines’s manufacturer.
- Internet Explorer 9. Duh, we knew this was browser was coming (preview here) but it’s noteworthy that Microsoft considers this an important part of its OS pitch, especially at a time that it continues to lose share to Firefox and Chrome.
- Microsoft has serious Mac envy. Assuming the leaked slide deck is accurate, Microsoft very much wants to emulate what Apple’s brand is known for: “It just works.” The company also says Mac products have a user experience that is low in friction. I’m not sure that’s the way I’d characterize a Mac. The app store and focus on slates for Windows 8 are proof that Redmond is playing catch-up to Apple in some ways.