- This fall, Microsoft will launch Windows 8, a radical redesign from the Windows of old
- The classic Start menu is gone, replaced by a tile layout full of your favorite apps and files
- In an un-Microsoft move, firm created the most radical desktop redesign in more than a decade
I've been a Mac user for about 11 years. And since I made the switch, I never thought the day would come when I'd say this:
I'm excited for the next version of Windows.
This fall, Microsoft will launch Windows 8, a radical redesign from the Windows you've grown accustomed to since Windows 95 made its debut 17 years ago.
Windows 8 has been reimagined from the ground up, and it's built to run on both the traditional desktop and touchscreen tablets. At first glance, you'll notice the classic Start menu is gone, replaced by a gorgeous tile layout full of your favorite apps and files. Microsoft calls this the "Metro" interface. Imagine it as a blown-up version of the Windows Phone 7 interface used on several smartphones now.
Those little tiles provide live updates with news, sports, weather, Twitter mentions and Facebook updates without you even having to open the app. In one quick glance, you can get all the information you need. It's not the same old Windows.
And that's what makes me so excited to try the final version of Windows 8 this fall. In a very un-Microsoft move, the company created the most radical redesign of the desktop in well over a decade.
It's incredibly functional, too. A beta version Windows 8 is available as a free consumer preview, and I've been using it for the last few weeks. Right now, there are only a handful of prototype tablets that run Windows 8, so I've been using it on a laptop instead.
However, since the Metro interface is designed more for touch than a mouse cursor, there's a bit of a learning curve with Windows 8. Scrolling through the Start screen can get confusing on a keyboard until you learn all the shortcuts.
But once you do, the experience is incredible, unlike any operating system I've ever used. It's the perfect hybrid of old and new. While Apple attempts slowly to merge its mobile operating system into the desktop with new iPhone-like features, Microsoft made a bold move and jumped ahead to the future where most computing takes place on touch-friendly smartphones and tablets.
It's enough to make an Apple fan like me drool.
But what if you're worried you won't be able to catch on to the new look in Windows 8?
The classic Windows is still there in Windows 8. Microsoft hid it behind the Metro interface. That means you get the same old taskbar, Start menu and desktop full of icons for your favorite apps. It's a great way to ease the transition. Plus, some apps such as Excel and Powerpoint just work better on the classic desktop.
Of course, it's far too early to tell if Microsoft's gamble with Windows 8 will pay off. Consumers have been slow to adopt Windows Phones, and Windows 8 is essentially just a blown-up version of that.
But if Microsoft can get me this pumped up over a new product, then it must be doing something right.