11 Features to Watch for in Windows 8 (Part 2)
In part one we took a look at several features expected in Microsoft’s forthcoming Windows 8 operating system, including facial recognition, instant-on and tablet support.
Now we’ll delve into a few more, including a special bonus section with some improbable but possible changes to the flagship Microsoft product.
7. Kinect Support
OK, this is the exciting one: Kinect for Windows. WinRumors claims to have a source at Microsoft who confirmed that a Kinect SDK for Windows will be released.
8. Location Awareness
The location awareness features shown in the slides is another indication of Microsoft’s intention for Windows 8 to be a multi-device OS. Windows 8 will supposedly include support for location sensors, which will be controlled by the user. To address privacy concerns, the applications will have to ask for location access and users will be able to grant permission on a per-request basis or on a permanent basis.
9. Multiple desktops
Multiple desktops are nothing new, and third-party applications have provided the feature for years. However, it’s one of the features shown in the portfolio of Manoj Manduva. Stephen Chapman of ZDNet drudged the portfolio up while searching for clues about what the next Windows OS would look like.
10. Smart Sticky Notes
Another concept from Manduva’s portfolio is “smart” sticky notes – sticky notes with features like reminders and hyperlinks. There’s not much detail on this.
11. Skew Window Managment for Touch
The last piece from Manduva’s portfolio is a mock-up for a skew windows management tool. Chapman thinks this is actually a concept for the Windows 8 touch UI, since it is remarkably similar to the existing 3D windows manager in Windows 7. Perhaps this could also be a means for switching between windows while using Kinect?
Bonus: A Radical New Interface and/or Name?
Microsoft Chief Research and Strategy Officer Craig Mundie demonstrated a concept earlier this year based around a bubble interface. It seems unlikely that something as radically different as this would actually become a part of Windows as soon as the next release. On the other hand, Steve Ballmer said last year that the next version of Windows will be Microsoft’s “riskiest product bet,” and Business Insider reported a rumor that the Windows 8 tablet interface will be based on the Windows Phone 7 interface.
If it does go with the new bubble interface above, or the WP7 “panels” interface, is it possible that Microsoft might even change the OS name? Tech Republic’s Brien Posey writes “I think that in an effort to lose its dated image, Microsoft may rebrand Windows as something completely different. It might even lose the name Windows.”
Stranger things have happened, but I wouldn’t get too carried away. The (again, supposed) screenshots leaked earlier this year show off a new look for Windows, but not THAT new.
It’s easy to be underwhelmed by the proposed features, especially since most of them are already available from competitors or third-parties and Windows 8 won’t even be available until next year. But consider some of them as a whole: instant-on, facial recognition, 3D support and Kinect-esque gestural support. Even without a mad new interface, these could add-up to a radically different experience.
It’s hard to believe that a Minority Report-style system is coming to a desktop near you in the next couple years. And if it follows the recent “dud, hit, dud, hit” pattern that ME, XP, Vista and 7 are following, this one will be a dud. But it could be the start of something genuinely new, and that’s worth paying attention to.