Microsoft opened up an incomplete version of Windows 8 for the public to download and test yesterday, looking to rev up excitement for its slick, new-look operating system it hopes will restore its fading tech supremacy.
Windows 8, as the first Microsoft operating system compatible with low-power microprocessors designed by ARM Holdings plc, will run on tablets as well as desktops and laptops, in an effort to counter the runaway success of Apple’s iPad.
“It’s an even better Windows than Windows 7,” said Steven Sinofsky, head of Microsoft’s flagship Windows unit, as he demonstrated the new system at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
Windows 7, Microsoft’s last operating system, was its fastest-selling ever, racking up 525m sales in less than three years.
“It’s incredibly fast and fluid to just navigate this UI (user interface)”, said Sinofsky, showing off Windows 8 on a tablet and laptop.
The test version of Windows 8 is available at preview.windows.com, but will only work on laptops and PCs running traditional Intel x86 chips. The ARM-compatible version of the system is not yet ready for public use. Microsoft said it would distribute ARM tablets running Windows 8 to select developers at some point.
Microsoft says it is aiming to get machines running on both the ARM and Intel platforms into the market at the same time but has not set a target date.
In both versions, Windows 8 features a completely new interface, borrowed from what Microsoft calls the “Metro” style of the current Windows Phone software. It features blocks or “tiles” that can be moved around the screen or tapped to go straight into an application.
For the first time, this version of includes the Windows Store, where users can download free apps; get access to cloud storage, with the ability to move content across a range of devices; and download a test version of Internet Explorer 10.
A big innovation is Charms. These are icons that make it quicker and easier to get around Windows 8. Users can swipe from the right edge of a device or move the mouse to the upper right-hand corner to reveal the icons such as Start, Share, Search, and Settings.
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