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The state of Windows 8

Jared Newman | Jan. 24, 2011
Only Microsoft knows how the next version of its Windows operating system will look and what it will be called, but big changes could be ahead for the OS observers refer to as "Windows 8."

We've also heard rumblings about a new application de­­velopment framework code-named "Jupiter," whose goal is to help developers create dynamic, visually appealing, and immersive applications for a forthcoming Windows app store. It may also be an attempt by Microsoft to enable developers to create apps that work on both traditional x86-based CPUs and ARM-based processors without extensive recompiling and reprogramming.


If you doubt whether Windows 8 will be a profoundly different operating system from its predecessors, consider this breathless bit of hype that briefly appeared on a Microsoft developer's blog in 2009:

"The minimum that folks can take for granted is that the next version will be something completely different from what folks usually expect of Windows...The themes that have been floated truly reflect what people have been looking [for] for years and it will change the way people think about PCs and the way they use them. It is the future of PCs."

Microsoft quickly removed the blog, as if to erase the evidence. So is the company really trying to shake things up with Windows 8?

The Big Picture

Microsoft clearly wants to create an operating system that scales between devices. ARM support provides the foundation, and cloud services could be a major building block. The challenge for Microsoft will be to leave the core Windows experience and legacy compatibility intact while also pursuing its lofty ambitions.

A final rumor: Reportedly, Microsoft is targeting a 2012 release for Windows 8. Think the company can get everything figured out by then?


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